BOY SCOUTS IN THE WILDERNESS, by Samuel Scoville, jr. (1919)
Instantly a tiny glowing coal showed in the heap
BOY SCOUTS IN THE WILDERNESS BY SAMUEL SCOVILLE, Jr. ILLUSTRATED BY
CHARLES LIVINGSTON BULL NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1919, by THE CENTURY CO. ------- Copyright 1919, BOYS LIFE THE BOY SCOUTS MAGAZINE ------- Published, September, 1919 Printed in U. S. A.
TO MY OWN BOY SCOUTS GURDON TRUMBULL SCOVILLE AND WILLIAM BEECHER SCOVILLE
[table of contents]
CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGEI PUT UP OR SHUT UP ... 3
II PUTTING UP ... 17
III FOOD AND FIRE ... 38
IV THE DEATH TRAP ... 55
V THE QUILL PIG ... 73
VI BEAVER LAND ... 88
VII THE RED RUSSULA ... 106
VIII THE CARCAJOU'S DEN ... 121
IX WILD HONEY ... 140
X BEAR ... 164
XI THE PINK PEARL ... 180
XII WIZARD POND ... 195
XIII THE ESCAPE ... 214
XIV THE SIEGE ... 239
XV RESCUE ... 253
XVI THE PAYING OF THE PRICE ... 266
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Instantly a tiny glowing coal showed in the heap ... Frontispiece
Neither of the two saw Will standing in the shadow ... Facing page 78
Joe followed him indignantly ... [Facing page] 204
"Why don't they come?" he muttered hoarsely ... [Facing page] 250
BOY SCOUTS IN THE WILDERNESS
BOY SCOUTS IN THE WILDERNESS CHAPTER I PUT UP OR SHUT UP
"No, sir," said James H. Donegan, pounding the top of his library table with a big red fist about the size of a ham, "you can't do it. I 'm not going to have a pack of lazy, good-for-nothin' kids build any cabin in my woods. It 's all nonsense anyway, this Boy Scout business. It don't get you anywhere. When I was you boys' age, I was making a living with my own hands and feet and brains. That 's why I own a hundred square miles of the best timber land on the Canadian border to-day."
Mr. Donegan, the lumber-king, often known as "Big Jim," paused puffingly and scowled at the four Boy Scouts who stood be-
fore him. There was silence for a moment while he peeled the tinfoil from an expensive cigar and carefully lighted it. Then Dick Johnstone, the assistant scoutmaster, spoke up.
"You 're mistaken, Mr. Donegan," he said, a little shakily, for Dick was not used to public speaking. "The Boy Scout movement is n't nonsense. We thought you might let us build a cabin out of some dead-and-down wood that you had on your hundred square miles, but if you won't--all right. Anyway, Boy Scouts learn to use their heads and hands just as you did and to be brave and self-reliant and prepared and--and--courteous--just as you did n't," and Dick started for the door, followed by the three patrol-leaders of the Cornwall Boy Scouts, all walking very straight and dignified in their new uniforms.
"Hi, there, you come back!" shouted Big Jim as the boys were going out. "You say you learn to be brave and self-reliant and prepared and that you learn to use your head and hands?"
"That 's right," responded Dick.
"Well," rumbled Mr. Donegan, "I 'll just give you fresh kids a chance to prove that. Pick out a couple of your best scouts and bring 'em here next Monday. I 'll run them up twenty-five miles north into the thickest part of the woods. Let 'em strip and stick it out there for a month. I understand you fellows claim to know how to make fires by rubbin' sticks together and how to track and trap and make lean-tos and all kinds of fool-nonsense of that sort. Well, here 's a chance for you to prove what you can do. If two of your scouts can stay out for a month and find their own clothes and food and fire and come back without being helped by anyone else, I 'll give the Cornwall Boy Scouts the finest log-cabin that was ever built and ten acres of timber land. And say," went on Big Jim, with a chuckle, "if those boys are so blame reliant and prepared, they ought to be able to earn a little something in a whole month even out there in the woods. I'll agree to give them double the value of any property they bring out. Now, put up or shut up," ended the lumber-king. "Have your scouts ready to start
on Monday morning, August 20th, or don't come whining around for any more favors."
"You 'll hear from us, Mr. Donegan," was all that Dick said as the boys filed out and marched off down the great driveway that ran for half a mile to the stone gates which guarded the lumber-king's estate.
That night a special meeting of the Boy Scouts of Cornwall was called down at the Grange Hall, where they met every week.
Half an hour before the time set, from a patch of woods over near the hall was heard the call of the screech-owl. Three times it wailed from the woods. Then there was a pause. Three times again it sounded. Another wait and for the third time the mournful, tremulous notes shuddered through the still air. This triple owl-call was the signal of the Owl Patrol of the Cornwall Troop and when it sounded every member was in honor bound to drop everything and hurry to the totem-tree. Whereby it happened that Billy Darby, in the very midst of a last late piece of pie, astonished his family by dropping the same and dashing without a word from the
dining-room. It was the first instance in the family-records where Billy had been known to set duty before pie. Even more sensational was the exit of Johnny Morgan. When the call came John was in the tub in the middle of a much-needed scrub. With a mighty splash he sprang out and grabbing his flannel shirt and trousers disappeared into the darkness with nothing on but soap-suds, dressing as he ran.
Beyond the brook came the long wailing howl of the gray timber wolf which Fred Perkins, leader of the Wolf Patrol, had spent many an evening in learning from old Jud Adams, the trapper, who could imitate every bird and animal which he had ever heard. Close beside the Grange was heard the yapping bark of a red fox. So perfectly was it done that by the time it had sounded nine times, every dog in Cornwall was barking fiercely in answer. Seven panting boys hurrying from different parts of the town knew, however, that it was only Buck Whittlesey of the Red Fox Patrol who was calling his band to their meeting place in the dark corner of the Grange Road.
It was the Owl Patrol which first assembled. Billy, the pieless one, beat out the rest of his company by several seconds, closely followed by the still dripping Johnny, and in less than five minutes all eight of the Patrol were gathered beside a deep-carved figure on an oak-tree fondly believed by them to represent an owl.
As the last boy came panting into the little circle around the tree, Ted Bacon, the patrol-leader, in a few quick sentences told them of the offer of the lumber-king.
"Fellows," he said, "there is n't any question as to what we 'll decide to-night. We 've got a chance to get a cabin and we 're going to take that chance. The only thing that I want to make sure of is that one of the boys comes form us Owls. We ought to pick out our candidate and be ready to push him hard at the meeting."
There was a silence. Each boy looked dubiously at his neighbor. Johnny Morgan, still dripping, shivered a little in the sharp air and reflected that a month in the woods without clothes had a cold sound.
"Of course the Wolves will put up Will Bright because he 's an eagle scout," said Billy Darby at last, "and I guess he ought to go, for he knows more about woodcraft and nature-stunts than the rest of us. What 'st he matter with you, Ted, for the other one?"
"That 's the stuff," assented Johnny Morgan, much relieved, and the vote was unanimous.
"Well," responded Ted, "if you fellows think I 'm the one to go, if I 'm elected, I 'll do my best to stick it out."
Similar caucuses were being held by the Wolves and Foxes and each patrol came to the hall prepared to support its own candidate. Mr. Sanford, the scoutmaster, who had been mainly responsible for the organization of the Troop, took charge of the meeting. He was te principal of the high school, although still in his twenties, and was much liked and respected by the boys. As soon as the meeting was called to order, Dick Johnstone, as chairman of the committee that had been selected to wait upon Mr. Donegan at his house, made his report as to what had happened there.
"Our committee thinks," he ended, "that we ought to put up and not shut up."
There was a roar of applause.
"I move we accept Big Jim's offer," shouted Billy Darby at the top of his voice.
"Second the motion," came from all parts of the room.
Mr. Sanford paused before putting the motion.
"Boys," he said, "this is a pretty serious thing. we want a log-cabin, but the price that Mr. Donegan is asking is a high one. I don't know whether we can pay it. The two boys we send out are going to have a cold, hungry time. It will be much better not to try this thing than to try it and fail."
His words of caution, however, had no effect and the motion was carried unanimously. Then came the task of selecting the two boys who were to hold the honor of the Boy Scouts of Cornwall in their hands for one month.
"Mr. Chairman," said Buck Whittlesey, rising impressively, "I nominate Will Bright as one of the boys who are to represent the Boy Scouts of Cornwall in the test which Mr.
p. 111 Donegan has fixed. Will is the only eagle scout we 've got. He has won twenty-one merit badges, including angling, archery, camping, forestry, bird-study, path-finding, pioneering and stalking. All of these ought to be a help to him. He's got good sand," went on Buck, "and will stand a lot of freezing and starving before he quits. Last and best of all," finished Buck, "he 's a Wolf and a member of the best patrol in the state."
Buck's speech was received with loud applause from his own patrol and equally loud hisses from the Owls and the Foxes. On the vote, in spite of the hisses, Will was elected unanimously.
Then came nominations for Will's companion. Fred Perkins was at once put up by the Wolves. The Owls nominated Ted Bacon and the Foxes, Buck Whittlesey. The debate was a heated one.
"How many fellows do you Wolves expect to get anyway?" inquired Billy Darby.
"You can't have two many," responded Boots Lockwood. "The best 's as good as any."
"Why, Buck Whittlesey is only just a first-
class scout," responded Billy, scathingly. "The only out-of-door thing he knows is cooking and the chances are he 'd have mighty little of that to do."
Mr. Sanford with some difficulty shut off the debate and a vote was taken. It was a dead-lock, each patrol voting solidly for its own candidate. Mr. Sanford, as Chairman, rose to cast the deciding vote. Every boy in the room watched him anxiously.
"Scouts," he said, "it is my duty to cast the deciding vote, but before I do that I have a proposition to make. Why not let Will make his own choice? I think we ought to give him a chance to pick out the boy that he thinks he can depend on most."
There was a long pause. Then Buck Whittlesey jumped to his feet.
"Mr. Chairman," he said, "I think that 's a fair plan and I withdraw my name."
The other two candidates followed his example and a motion was then carried giving Will the right to choose his companion. He did not hesitate an instant.'
"I like all of the chaps that you fellows have
named," he said, rising, "but if you put it up to me I choose Joe Couteau."
For a minute no one said anything. Then from all sides of the hall came objections through which Joe, a well-knit boy of fifteen, sat silent.
"Why, he only just pulled through his tenderfoot," said Johnny Morgan, disgustedly.
"He has n't lived here more than a month," opposed Fred Perkins.
"Well, fellows," said Will, after he had listened to them all, "I 'll tell you why I 'm taking Joe to be my side-partner in the woods. He has n't been here very long, but I 've got to know him pretty well. Joe knows more about the woods than all the rest of us put together. You see," he went on, "Joe 's an Athabascan Indian on his mother's side and his father was a French trapper. They 're both dead and he has no one who will mind whether he goes or stays. Is n't that right, Joe?" he said.
The boy nodded gravely, still without a word.
When the meeting adjourned the scouts crowded around the Indian boy with a re-
spect that they had never shown him before. Fred Perkins wanted him to come back and spend the night at his house. Billy Darby, who specialized in Indians and could give a war-whoop and would have worn a scalp-lock if his mother had not persisted in cutting it off, followed Joe around in open-mouthed admiration. As for Ted Bacon, the leader of the Owl Patrol, he felt very much as he would if he had found Uncas in his patrol disguised as a farmer-boy. In spite of all their attentions Joe refused to talk. It was only from Will that they learned about the adventurous life that he had led with his tribe in the far North where the great MacKenzie River flows into the silent Arctic Sea, and how he had been clawed by a bear, chased by wolves, had seen herds of migrating caribou miles long, and hunted wood-bison, lynx, panthers, musk-oxen and other rare, delightful, dangerous beasts. Ted thought sorrowfully of the wasted opportunities which had been his to add to the fame and name of the Owl Patrol with such a member.
When the meeting finally adjourned, there
was still much to be done during the three days before the twentieth of August. The consent of Will's parents and Joe's uncle had to be obtained. At first Mrs. Bright was horrified at the very thought of turning her boy into the woods without food, clothing or equipment.
"I honestly don't believe, Mr. Bright," said Mr. Sanford, "that your son will be in any danger. He and Joe between them know enough of woodcraft to keep themselves warm and fed. If they don't they can come out at any time."
It was Mr. Bright who cast the deciding vote. He had listened to Mrs. Bright's protests, Will's pleadings and Mr. Sanford's arguments in silence.
"Let him go," he said finally. "It will do the boy good to scratch along the best way he can. He 's got enough sense to come in if he is beaten. I think, Mother, that you 'll see him home in about three days and when he comes back he won't be so fussy about what he eats either."
It was an easier matter to obtain the
consent of Joe Couteau's uncle, a little wizened-up Frenchman who owned a tiny farm over in the Hollow, as a deep valley between two rugged hills some three miles out of the village, was called.
"Sure I let him go," he said. "I have to. He go anyway."
CHAPTER II PUTTING UP
The sun rose as usual on August 20th, just as if it were an ordinary day, instead of being the most important in the history of the Boy Scouts of Cornwall. At nine o'clock they marched sternly up the Donegan driveway, each patrol-leader carrying a little pennant at the end of his scout-stick showing the totem of the patrol, to the intense amusement of Mr. Donegan, who stood on his veranda and watched them come.
"Owls and wolves and foxes," he said. "Well, the boys that go out to-day will need to be all three."
In front of his house stood his big touring-car.
"Now, I plan," he went on, "to take the two you have chosen, your scoutmaster and your patrol-leaders, if that 's what you call 'em, twenty-five miles north into the woods. At
the end of the trail I have a little shack with a telephone in it. When the boys get too cold and hungry to stand it any longer, they can find their way back to the shack and telephone me. I 'll send the car out for them with some clothes and food.
"I expect to hear that telephone ring early to-morrow morning," he went on reflectively, as they all climbed into the car.
On the way out the lumber-king seemed to be in a particularly bad humor.
"It 's a pity, Mr. Schoolteacher," he remarked to Mr. Sanford, "that you can't find anything better to do than to put these crazy notions into boys' heads. These two chaps seem like clever little fellows and if they were n't wasting their time fooling around carrying banners and making noises like wolves and owls, they might amount to something."
"I 'm not going to quarrel with you, Mr. Donegan," answered the Scoutmaster quietly. "We expect to gt a log-cabin and ten acres of good land out of you, so you can't start anything with me."
The old man was not used to being answered back and he looked at Mr. Sanford and the grinning scouts blackly for a moment.
"Don't you count too much on that cabin and don't you sell any of that land until you get it," he replied dryly.
As the car whizzed northward, the sky became more and more overcast and by the time the party had reached the beginning of the wood-road it was raining, a cold northeast drizzle that promised to last for days. Big Jim was delighted with the change.
"I guess that telephone will ring to-night instead of to-morrow," he chuckled.
"Say, Mr. Donegan," spoke up Will, "you 've got three more guesses coming and I don't believe you 'd be right in any of 'em."
"Quiet, Will," said Mr. Sanford.
"O, let him talk," returned Mr. Donegan, "later on, this rain 'll wash the freshness out of him."
In spite of Will's brave words all the scouts watched the weather anxiously. It had turned cold and to spend the first night naked in a driving rain was not a pleasant prospect.
Only Joe remained entirely unconcerned.
"Do you think we can stick it out in the wet?" whispered Will to him at last.
Joe only sniffed, yet it was such a fine big contemptuous sniff that his partner felt much encouraged.
Before long the car turned into the thick woods and ran lurchingly over a rough, moss-covered wood-road which led due north into the heart of the dripping forest. For over an hour the little party travelled through the dark trees. Suddenly the road ended in a tiny clearing. In the middle of this was a rough shack built of logs and bark with a stone chimney showing at one side. Inside were some bunks, a stone fire-place and a rude table on which stood a telephone. Mr. Donegan promptly tested this and found it in working order. In the meantime his chauffeur began to unpack a big hamper full of food.
"I 'll give you fellows one square meal," said Big Jim as the packages of eatables were piled up. "It 's the last that you get for thirty days if you really stay out--which you won't."
The long ride had made everyone hungry and the way the scouts fell upon that defenseless lunch astonished the lumber-king.
"Say, son," he finally remarked sarcastically after Joe had swallowed his ninth sandwich, "try a sandwich. I don't want you to go into the woods hungry."
Joe's only reply was to eat three more.
"Now don't strain yourself," said Mr. Donegan again as Joe began on the chocolate cake. "You 're only going to be out thirty days."
Joe drank a couple of steaming cups of cocoa from the thermos bottle, ate another sandwich and two cookies, and at last stood up ready to start. No one spoke as the boys laid off their clothes and stood stripped for the test. Although Will was big and well set up, yet Joe with his wiry frame rippled over with tough muscles and tanned skin, seemed more fit.
"I 'll bet the little chap stays out longest," remarked Mr. Donegan to his chauffeur as the boys shook hands all around.
"He ought to," said that individual, "he could go pretty night a month on what he ate just now."
The lumber-king's farewell address was short.
"Hike due north, boys," he suggested. "You 'll find the wildest stretch of country anywhere in this part of the world, and bear and lynx and wild-cats and perhaps a few panthers. Kill as many as you like," he went on kindly, "I can spare 'em. If you stay out, I shall want your word of honor that no one has helped you and that you have n't spoken to anyone. Any time you want to get some clothes, a square meal and a ride back home--telephone me from here."
The scouts gathered around Will and Joe and gave them a long scout-cheer and with the cold rain glistening on their bare skins, the two boys stepped off the trail into the dark woods. In a minute they were out of sight. As they went deeper and deeper in, they could hear the farewell honk of the horn of Mr. Donegan's car and then the whir of the engine which grew fainter and fainter until at last
there was no sound except the beat of the rain on the west leaves above them and the crackle of the dry branches under their bare feet.
For about a mile they trotted along in perfect silence. Though wet, so long as they kept moving, they felt the cold but little. In spite of his rank as eagle-scout and his twenty-one merit badges and his advantage in age and size, Will found himself unconsciously turning to the younger, smaller boy for guidance. Most of his knowledge was book-knowledge. Joe had actually lived in the woods and had spent summers and winters wandering with his tribe through the barren lands of the far North where he had learned to face and overcome cold and hunger and fear.
There was an air of confidence about him that made Will more and more thankful that Joe was his companion instead of any of the others.
Before long the little deer-trail which the boys were following wound upward and they found themselves climbing the vast rock-strewn slope of Black Hill, one of the wildest and grimmest of the chain of low mountains
that stretched away to the north. The light began to fade and the air became colder. Will hesitated as the path led straight up the mountain but Joe trotted along as if he knew exactly where he were going.
"Where shall we stop this first night, Joe?" asked Will at last. "How about looking for a cave?"
"No," said Joe, "cave he mighty cold in summer. Find white pine."
Think we can make a fire?" inquired the other as they went on, remembering that he had been able to do it only with the greatest difficulty even with specially prepared sticks, a buck-skin cord and dry tinder.
"No fire to-night," said Joe, briefly, "no find any dry punk."
What do you want to find a white pine for then?" asked Will a little crossly.
"Come on, you see," was all that Joe would answer.
Another hour and they were beyond the belt of hemlock and spruce and balsam fir which grew all along the lower slope. Here and there beech and maple showed with now
then a small white-pine. As they were passing a smooth beech with low-hanging limbs which stood a little apart from the others, Joe stopped and catching hold of the branches, swung himself up into the tree. He climbed up the regular, smooth branches as easily as if he were walking upstairs and only stopped when he had reached the very tip-top. there he looked long through thd dimming light until finally he seemed to find what he had been waiting for and at once swung himself down and joined Will, who in the meantime had been running around the tree trying to keep warm.
"Well, old scout," panted the latter as Joe reached the ground, "glad you came down. I was kind of afraid that you were going to wrap a few beech-leaves around you and roost up there for the night."
"No," responded Joe briefly, "me no roost, me burrow to-night. Very cold before morning."
Turning off at right angles to the direction in which they had been going, Joe began to skirt the side of the mountain followed by
Will at a dog-trot. Before long they came to a little grove of pines which he had seen from the tree-top. A few of these trees were towering old-timers but most of the grove were second-growth pines whose low limbs touched the ground. Joe bent down and crawled through the tangle of branches until he reached the side of a large tree in the very middle of the grove. All around were smaller trees while the ground beneath was thickly carpeted with dry pine-needles. The Indian then began to break off the dead boughs underneath the trees until he had a cleared space five feet in diameter. The hundreds of boughs covered with long needles which towered above them kept off and deflected the rain so that when they were under the trees hardly a drop reached them. Two of the largest boughs Joe slanted against the pine-tree and across them laid first a layer of dead branches. Then the boys broke off armfuls of the brittle live twigs covered with fragrant green needles. With these they wove a thatch over the dead limbs as rafters. The big trunk of the pine formed a solid back-wall
while on both sides they drove short dead limbs into the soft ground and twisted in and out between them wattles of green boughs until they had a lean-to open only at one end which through frail was at least warm and dryer than the open air. When their shelter was finished both boys were well warmed up as they had worked at full speed. Then by Joe's directions they went out under the trees and took up armfuls of brown pine-needles until the lean-to was filled half way to the roof. With a chuckle, the Indian burrowed down under the dry needles until only his black head showed and was followed a few seconds later by the white boy, who dug himself out of sight like a woodchuck. Far overhead the wind whistled and moaned among the tree-tops and drove the rain hissing against the branches. Yet beneath their thatched roof and the over-lapping limbs the boys lay dry and warm under their brown coverlet.
"White pine he great tree," remarked Joe, snuggling a little deeper under the soft needles, "he always have blanket for Indian. We sleep here till to-morrow, then perhaps rain
stop and we build fire. If not, we stay here until it does. Skin get hard, no feel cold."
"What about grub?" inquired Will.
"Plenty grub everywhere," replied Joe, "berries, roots, bark, then when rain stops we build fire, get fish, partridge, cook them up nice--"
"Say, Joe," interrupted Will, "that will be about all for you. I 'm hungry enough without hearing you talk of different kinds of eats. It 's a long time since lunch."
"Hungry," returned Joe, scornfully, "how you like go two, three, four days in winter with nothing at all to eat?"
"Have you done that?" asked Will, much impressed.
"Yes," responded Joe, "many times. Some years all rabbits die, then wolf, fox, lynx, weasel and Indian all have bad time. Indian live on dried fish, when that gone eat dog, moccasin, bark--anything."
By this time it was nearly dark and the wind howled down the mountainside like a wild beast and the rain swirled coldly through the tree-tops.
"Go on, Joe, tell me about it," urged Will, "I 'm too cold and hungry to sleep. Don't give me any talk about good dinners and lots of food. What I want to hear to-night is starving and freezing to death. That 's what 's going to make me feel more comfortable.
"Indian children always cold, always hungry in winter-time," he said at last, "many of One time when I was little boy, I very hungry, nothing to eat for two, three days. My mother she hungry too, but she give me all food she can find. I get too weak to walk, she get too weak to carry me, tribe go off and leave us in little teepee beside frozen lake. She have old axe, knife and one fish-hook with bark-line, but not anything for bait. I cry and cry so hungry am I. I was only very little boy," Joe explained apologetically.
"Then she look everywhere but no bait. She take axe and cut hole through ice. Very weak, have to stop and rest. Then she sit down beside hole and cut a piece right out of her leg for bait and let blood run in water to
make fish come. She put piece meat on book and catch big jack-fish something like what you call pickerel, only bigger," Joe explained.
"She pull it up, cut off piece, give it to me, eat big piece herself, tie up leg, use rest of fish for bait and catch enough to keep us alive till we found tribe again."
There was a long silence after Joe's story.
"That was a good kind of a mother to have," said Will at last. "Is she still living out there in the Northwest?"
"No," answered Joe, briefly. "She get sick one time when I away on a visit. I come back find tribe had gone off and left her. She dead. My father he dead too long before. Clawed up bad by bear. Then I leave tribe. Afterwards I walk and walk and walk and walk all the time east until at last I get to Cornwall where my father brother live."
Joe stopped talking and some way Will did not feel like asking him any more questions. The hours went by and the Indian's regular breathing showed that he was asleep. It was dark with the absolute blackness of a midnight forest on a stormy night. Although the boys
were only a foot or so apart Will could not see Joe's face nor make out the nearby tree trunks crowded around the little door-way. He began to realize what the Bible meant when it spoke of the horror of great darkness. For the first time in his life it was not possible to have light at a moment's notice. To-night whatever happened in the blackness that boiled before his straining eyes Will must wait until dawn for light. Then he remembered uneasily that through the storm and the darkness, fierce, silent beasts were hunting among the trees. In spite of himself Will began to imagine the horror of being suddenly clutched in the dark by the great paws of some prowler of the night, perhaps the dreaded panther that Mr. Donegan had spoken about so lightly. Suddenly with a shock that made his scalp tingle and a cold wave run up and down his spine the boy heard something that made him sit up so suddenly that he sent a shower of pine-needles all over the shack. Again he heard it unmistakably and gasped breath as if suddenly plunged into a bath of ice-water. It was the sound of a light,
stealthy foot-step in the brush and among the dense lower dead branches of the little grove where the boys were. Something was walking around and around the lean-to, coming nearer with each circle. Will could stand it no longer. Reaching over he touched Joe. Instantly the deep breathing stopped and Will knew that the Indian was wide awake.
"Joe," he whispered, "there 's something walking around outside."
Joe sat up and listened intently for a moment to the circling foot-step.
"Humph," he remarked, and lay down to go asleep again.
"Is--is it dangerous?" faltered Will at last, much relieved by Joe's actions, yet anxious to know more about their invisible visitor.
"Nothing you can hear is dangerous," returned Joe. "Dangerous animals always go quiet. This nothing but old porcupine."
"How can you tell?" inquired Will.
"No other wild thing dare walk around so loud in the night," explained Joe, "except Old Man Quill-Pig. He know that nothing touch
him and so he don't care who hear him," and Joe went off to sleep again.
Will tried to follow his example but without success. After a time the foot-falls stopped and he could hear nothing but the wail of the wind and the hiss of the rain. He was at last just beginning to drop off when from overhead came a noise like the ringing of a bell. "Ting, ting, ting," it tolled, then "Ting, ting, ting," again, with a weird unearthly cadence.
"This is certainly some night," muttered Will to himself. "I wonder what 'II come next," and he turned over to wake up the Indian, only to find him sitting up, as much puzzled over the sound as himself.
"What is it, Joe?" Will whispered for the second time that night.
"Don't know," responded the other briefly. "I think 'um Indian devil."
"Are you scared, Joe?" queried Will again.
"Yes," admitted the Indian honestly.
Some way this answer gave back to Will a of lost courage.
"Ting, ting, ting," went the unseen bell from a hundred feet above them in the rain-swept branches of a great pine. "Ting, ting, ting," it chimed not fifty feet away, as if it were flying towards them through the air.
"I 'm scared of panthers and bears," exclaimed Will, suddenly jumping up, "but I 'm not afraid of Injun devils--for there ain't such a thing," and he grabbed a dead bough and stepped shiveringly to the doorway of the shack.
"You lie quiet," counselled Joe, "let 'um devils alone, devils let you alone."
Will, however, moved out into the darkness beyond the lean-to, bound to make up in Joe's eyes for his fright over the porcupine.
"Ting, ting, ting," sounded the bell right over his head and from a limb above he could see two, round, fiery eyes gleaming through the dark. For a moment he was tempted to plunge back into the shack, but he reasoned to himself that anything that flew must be a bird or a bat. Only one kind of bird flies at night and has fiery eyes. Then it was that he suddenly remembered a description that he had
read somewhere of that rare owl of the far North known as Richardson's owl.
"That 's what it is," he said aloud. "I remember the book says it makes a noise like a bell. You 're a thousand miles too far south, old chap," he went on, whirling his stick up into the tree. Without a sound the owl drifted off in the darkness on those silent, muffled pinions so fatal to many a little night wanderer.
"It was a Richardson's owl, Joe," said Will learnedly as he scrambled back into his hole in the pine-needles. "It 's lucky for you that your partner holds a merit-badge in bird-study," he went on. "I certainly am ashamed at you for mistaking a poor old owl for an Indian devil. Don't you know there is n't any such thing?"
"You know about Indian devils same as porcupine," commented Joe sarcastically. "Once I hear one," he went on after a pause, "I out in canoe, fish for trout with salmon eggs. Eggs spread oil long ways in water, trout come from all around crazy for 'em. We only about forty feet from shore. It very
dark and quiet. Right under big tree something cry. It cry and cry and wail, first soft then very loud, then soft again like woman all alone out in black woods. The man I with grab paddle and push boat far out in lake. 'That Indian devil,' he say to me, 'tree goin' to fall.' In a minute great pine tree hundred feet high fall with smash in water right where we been. Man he say that Indian devil often cry like that just before great tree go down."
"Say, Joe," said Will, whose nerves had been somewhat shaken by the porcupine and the owl. "You cut out any more devil-stories. This is n't the night for 'em. Tell me about something cheerful."
A faint snore was the only answer which came from Joe's burrow and Will settled himself down to try to sleep. As the night wore on the air became colder and colder and although Will burrowed down as far under the needles as possible, yet his unhardened skin shivered and shook. Finally, in spite of himself, his teeth began to chatter like a pair of castanets until the sound woke Joe up.
"You cold?" he inquired.
"Oh, no," replied Will peevishly, "I 'm just rattling my teeth together to pass away the time.
Joe made no answer in words to this attempt at sarcasm, but crept out of his hole, burrowed down beside Will and took him in his arms while he pressed his warm body against Will's shivering skin and piled a fresh supply of pine needles over them both.
"We roll up together and keep warm," said Joe "In winter hunting-camp, men and dogs always roll up together in one big ball." Gradually Will stopped shivering and before long the two boys were fast asleep in each other's arms under two feet of pine needles.
CHAPTER III FOOD AND FIRE
The next thing that Will knew it was morning and a big blue-jay was squalling and hopping and scolding among the limbs of a tree above the shack. The rain had stopped, the sun was out and the air was clear and sharp and fragrant with the smell of pine, balsam and hemlock. There was something in it, too, which made Will think instantly of breakfast.
"Wake up, Joe," he yelled, kicking off pine needles in a tremendous shower.
But Joe was gone. Will looked out fr beyond the lean-to, but could see no trace his companion. For a minute he felt frightened.
"I hope none of those Indian devils I got hold of Joe," he said to himself as he the long wailing owl-call. Twice he sent the
call quavering through the woods and up the mountainside, before there came back like a faint echo the signal of the Owl Patrol. Will started toward the sound which seemed to come from a deep hollow at the foot of the farther slope of the mountain. He hastened through the underbrush and soon found himself in a tiny game-trail which had been made by the wild-folk on their way to water, for it proved to be a short cut to a mountain-brook that splashed and gurgled through a little upland valley. As he reached the brook, Will saw Joe's lithe brown figure coming toward him. On his usually impassive face was a full-sized grin and in his right hand dangled from a forked stick slipped through its gills a monster trout that must have weighed all of four pounds.
"Hi there, old scout," shouted Will, rushing at him in great delight, "where did you get fish?"
For answer Joe threw back his head and from his puckered mouth sounded a deep "Hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo," the note of the great-horned owl.
"Stop that hooing," said Will, slapping the Indian vigorously on his bare back, "and tell me who gave you that fish."
"I did tell you," responded Joe with a final sepulchral "Hoo-hoo," "my totem give 'um us."
"Your totem," exclaimed Will in bewilderment.
"Sure," answered Joe, "owl, my totem and big owl he give Joe this fish."
"Tell me about it," insisted Will.
"Well," replied Joe, "the time to get things is early morning. Indian hunters always wake up before light. I wake up, but you all curled up round and grunty like woodchuck. I follow trail down to water. Over in long grass in clearing when it get light I see something move. I creep up very quiet. Big horned owl he stand in grass right close brook. He know trout feed close to shore in early morning. He watch trout. I watch him. Old man owl he grab something in the water quick. Great splash, great flutter, owl he jerk, fish jump and owl clinch in other claws and pull and haul and flutter and fly
until pretty soon up in grass he land nice big trout. Then I run down path at him and I yell, wave arms and jump high and old owl he make me present big fish. Say, 'Take it home, eat most yourself, give some, perhaps tail, to lazy, grunty woodchuck.'"
Sure enough on the broad crimson-flecked back of the great trout were four deep holes where the steel-like talons of the owl had gripped the struggling fish.
"Gee, Joe, you 're a peach," exclaimed Will.
Joe made no answer but hurried along the trail and seemed to be looking for something. Suddenly his eye caught what he wanted. Near where the trail sloped up from the water grew a large red cedar. Handing the trout to Will to hold, Joe pulled off the dry outer bark. Then with a sharp piece of quartz which he had picked up by the brookside, he made two parallel jagged gashes for nearly a yard down the tree-trunk and pulled off long strips of the tough inner bark. Carefully splitting these into equal sized lengths he knotted them together and in a very few minutes had braided them into a tough, smooth,
cord. Then Joe searched up and down the brook-bed for some time until finally he found a piece of jagged quartz with a sharp cutting edge. With two large hard stones, he pounded the part above the edge until he had ground out a hand-hold and had a rude stone-chisel. Over the edge of the brook grew a huge balsam fir. One of its roots had grown through the brook-bank and hung dead and dry. Joe grasped an end and pulling with all his might, split off a long, flat slab. With his quartz chisel he cut in one side of this a notch half an inch wide and about three-fourths of an inch deep. At the angle of the notch with some difficulty, with the same sharp piece of quartz which he had used for cutting off the cedar-bark, he managed to bore a shallow hole. Then with his chisel he split off from the root a splinter of wood about foot and a half long and a little less than inch thick. This splinter he rubbed and chipped and ground with his rude tools he had made a long pencil of wood at each end. This was the fire-drill. One end was thrust into the shallow hole which he
had made in the balsam block and over the other end he fitted a small flat piece of wood with a little hole in the center into which went the sharpened upper point of the upright drill. Breaking off a dry, hard branch, Joe bent it into a short bow a little over two feet long and making a notch at either end with his chisel, fastened on loosely the braided cedar bow-string. In the meantime, under Joe's directions, Will had been preparing tinder. He managed to cut out a few slivers of the dry cedar wood and shredded this between two stones until it was a mass of tiny splinters. A pinch of this he wrapped in a piece of the loose dry outer bark of the cedar-tree. When this was done, he peeled off a piece of white birch-bark which burns like oiled paper and carefully tore it into a handful of fine slivers. When this was ready Joe passed the loose bow-string once around the erect fire-drill which took up all of the slack, and then resting his foot on the fire-block and his left hand on the upper drill socket, he pressed the drill firmly into the little hole in the fire-board and began draw the bow back and forth with steady
even strokes at full length. This whirled the drill around and around in its pit and made it bore slightly into the dry wood of the fire-block. Gradually Joe's strokes became faster and faster, but without losing their rhythm or causing the drill to stop for an instant. As the hard stick whirled back and forth more and more rapidly, a little stream of brown wood-dust fell on the fire-board around the whirling spindle. Faster and faster whirled the drill until the dust began to turn black and a little cloud of smoke rose from it. Joe gave a last few swift strokes and suddenly blew on the smoking pile. Instantly a tiny glowing coal showed in the heap. Taking a pinch of the tinder from Will the Indian held it against the spark and again blew until the dry, shredded wood burst into a blaze. Over this he built a tiny teepee from slivers of birch-bark, dry dead twigs of mountain-laurel and in a moment Fire, that ancient friend of man, stood between the boys and man's oldest enemies--darkness and cold. On the slope grew a white ash tree with several low, dead limbs. These Will managed to break off by swing-
ing on them and then with the aid of a heavy stone shattered them into lengths. Five minutes later a hot, clear flame was roaring three feet into the air. It seemed to Will that his chilled body would never have enough of that delicious heat. Leaving him toasting first one side and then the other, Joe made a short trip along the brook and came back with a mass of soft, gray clay. In this he wrapped the fish until it looked like a big gray cocoon, and with a pointed twig made air-holes at either end. Then digging a hollow among the embers he covered the clay six inches deep with the great glowing coals that white-ash makes when burned, and heaped more fire-wood on top.
Will had watched the operation with intense interest.
"What 'll we do while we wait?" he inquired hungrily.
"Eat," answered Joe concisely, starting for a clearing that showed through the woods some distance away from the brook.
"Oh, Boy!" shouted Will dashing after him, "just show me the eats--I 'll do the rest!"
Joe led the way until they came to a stretch of burned land left by some forest-fire of by-gone years. Among the piles of tree-trunks and brush-wood grew myriads of the berries which always spring up in the wake of forest-fires. There were huckleberries with six large stones which crackle under one's teeth, and blueberries, whose many stones are too small to be noticed when eaten. Among them were the balloon-shaped black-huckleberry, glossy black and tasteless, the tiny dwarf-blueberry, mawkish-sweet, the southern huckleberry whose leaves pointed are at both ends and the high blueberry, six to fifteen feet high covered with crowded clusters of vivid blue fruit. Best and largest all was the luscious dangleberry, a great berry hanging in blue pendants from the end of long stems, and growing nearly as large as a small cherry. All these botanical facts came later from Will as a result of his merit-badge study in forestry. For the present the boys preferred to gobble rather than botanize. They fell upon the first patch like a whirl-
wind and crammed handfuls of big, sweet berries into their hungry mouths.
"Say, Joe," mumbled Will, after a few moments of stuffing, "I could die doing this," but Joe was too busy scooping in dangleberries make any reply. The boys ate and ate until the first edge of their hunger had been dulled by a quart or so apiece of assorted berries. Beyond them as far as they could see stretched patches of heavy-laden bushes.
"If we don't find anything else we can live on these alone for a month," exulted Will starting in on a fresh patch.
As he worked his way towards a small ridge, the boy noticed a deep, fresh track in the soft mould ahead of him like the foot-print which a small bare-footed boy would make if he weighed about two hundred pounds. The strange trail puzzled Will and he stopped eating to follow it. The wind was blowing toward him from the tracks and his bare feet made no noise on the soft ground. As his head came to the top of the ridge, he saw sitting directly in front of him by a thick patch
of high blueberry bushes, scooping with both paws the berries into a mouth filled with sharp white teeth, a glossy black animal that to the boy's startled eyes looked as big as a cow. A dry huckleberry branch broke under Will's foot making a tiny crackling noise. It was enough.
"Hoof! woof!" remarked Mr. Bear, and in another second he was dashing away through the brush, tearing up rocks, crashing through branches and throwing behind him showers of earth and leaves with his sharp claws as he broke into a lumbering but extremely swift gallop. The last that the boy-scout saw of him as he went over the next ridge was a pair of wrinkled little black feet dangling in a cloud of dust and leaves that floated in his wake.
"Well," soliloquized Will as he hurried back to Joe, "I 'm blame glad that bear wu going instead of coming."
"He big bear," said Joe a few minutes later as he examined the tracks. "His skin make nice blanket."
The two started back to the camp keeping a
sharp lookout for any other black berry-pickers. By the time they reached the shack the fire had burned down and the big clay ball was covered deep with glowing coals. Joe poked them away and sniffed. There came up from the embers a savory fragrance which made the mouths of both boys water.
"It done," said Joe briefly, rolling out the fire-hardened ball with a long stick. Then he tapped the clay until it broke away in big pieces and there lay the trout roasted to a turn. Using thick white-oak leaves for plates and dry sticks for knives and forks, the boys fell upon the fish like hawks. The thin scaleless skin curled off in brown flakes showing the steaming, delicious close-grained flesh underneath. Opening the fish carefully, the entrails came away unbroken leaving nothing but the sweet, white meat. Fifteen minutes later all that was left of that four-pounder were the bones. Joe carefully picked out all of the longest and sharpest of these to be used as needles and pins later on, while Will busied himself in making a calendar with Joe's quartz knife. It did not take long, be-
ing only a straight short stick of the soft white pine. On this stick Will planned to cut a notch each morning. After the thirtieth notch they would be free to come back to Cornwall and civilization again. The calendar finished Will built up the fire again and began to plan for the future. In that he showed the difference between the nature of an Indian and a white man. Generations and generations ago Will's ancestors had learned to live for the future as well as for the present. Joe's forebears had starved and frozen for hundreds of years because they had not learned that first lesson of civilization, that the future will not take care of itself. No one could meet the immediate present better than Joe. No one had less thought for the days that were to come. Accordingly it was with some difficulty that Will could get the Indian's attention for his plans. The day was one of those hot, still days which come in August--the high tide of summer before it begins to ebb into the fall. Will's skin, as Joe had promised, was already beginning to harden and before long he felt entirely comfortable in the
open air without clothing. Yet, he knew that there would be cold and frosty days and nights ahead and made up his mind that he must have some covering before many days had passed. Before doing anything else, however, the boys examined the hurried lean-to which they had thrown together the night before. If they had taken a month to select a camping place they could not have found a better one than the site which Joe had hurriedly chosen in the rainy twilight of the day before. The little group of pines under which their shack stood, was on a knoll which sloped down to the mountain-brook a few yards below. At that point the clear cold water widened into a rocky basin which made a natural bathing-pool. The lean-to had been well built in spite of their haste but the boys spent their first hour after breakfast in strengthening it at various points, substituting, where possible, live branches for the dead ones which they had used the night before, until it was a cozy, snug, little house fragrant and spicy with a smell of the fresh, green, pine boughs and twigs from it was made and thatched.
After this carpentry work, at Will's suggestion, they started after more provisions. Joe taught Will one of the simplest-known ways of catching fish. They walked up the main brook toward its source until they met a little stream flowing into it, perhaps from a nearby spring. This they followed, the trout darting ahead of them all black, and gold and crimson in the clear shallow water. At some narrow part of this stream the boys walled in a pool with piles of stones and small rocks. This pool they filled up with flat stones until the water in it was only a few inches deep, building up the sides, however, until they were fully a foot above the water. Then making a detour away from the brook they came out some fifty yards above this fish-trap. Stepping into the brook both boys waded rapidly down with a stick in each hand, splashing the water ahead of them and driving the fish down-stream. By the time they reached the shallow, walled-in pool it wts packed to over-flowing with small, plunging1 darting trout from four to six inches long. So thickly were the fish jammed into the shal-
low water that all the boys had to do was to wade in and catch as many as they needed with their hands. By the time that they had made two or three of these traps, they had caught over a hundred small trout. These they carefully strung on long willow twigs thrust through the gills of the fish and started back to camp at noon. Joe showed Will how to broil the fish on the top of flat, thin stones laid over the fire as broilers. Others they roasted on long green twigs and made another hearty meal of fish with blueberries for dessert. The rest of the afternoon was taken in building a stone smoke-house being nothing more than a chimney some three or four feet high with an opening at the bottom for fire. At intervals in this chimney they made racks of green twigs on which were laid layers of dressed split trout. Then a small fire was kindled below on which were thrown strips of green hemlock bark and wet willow wood, all of which made a dense smoke. With these simple methods of catching and curing fish they soon had a great store of smoked fish which they carefully stored away in swinging
dishes made from white birch bark and fastened a safe distance from the ground in a dry place in the pines. So long as it was in a swinging basket, Joe told Will, no one of the forest-folk would dare to touch it fearing some trap in the hanging cords made of twisted cedar bark.
Another day they tramped up to a white birch tree which they could see jutting out from between two rocks on the mountainside. Gashing the smooth white sides of the tree with sharp bits of quartz, the boys soon succeeded in peeling off slabs two or three feet long of the beautiful bark. The outside was dry and tough and chalky-white, while underneath were layers of pink and yellow, flexible bark. Out of these the boys twisted huge cornucopias which would hold several quarts of berries. They filled these from the bushes in the burned grounds until they had nearly a bushel of dangleberries and different kinds of blueberries. These they spread out on strips of birch bark on a high flat rock to dry in the hot sun, and soon had a goodly store of dried berries safely swung in the same tree with the smoked fish.
CHAPTER IV THE DEATH TRAP
"Get up," said Will, raising his head from the great pile of pine-needles in which he had burrowed for the night. The rim of the rising sun was just showing above Black Hill.
"Get up," said Will again, poking Joe in the ribs with one foot through the needles.
"Why?" grunted the Indian.
"Because," explained Will, "this is the greatest day of the year. I don't want you to miss a minute of it. This, Joe," he went on impressively, "is my birthday."
"Ugh," grunted Joe, "very bad day, indeed. I go asleep again and try and forget it. No wake me up," and Joe curled himself into a round ball, dexterously stealing the greater part of Will's pile of pine-needles as he did so.
"Bad day, eh," returned Will indignantly, "I 'll show you. I 'll wake you up all right," and pulling Joe out of his burrow with a tremendous tug he began to roll him down the slope toward the bathing-pool. The Indian kicked and yelled but Will had him going and with one tremendous push rolled him down the soft bank and into the pool. Joe struck the water with a splash and a whoop.
"That 'll teach you," said Will from up the bank, "to be more respectful about one of the great days in American history," and he stood on the bank waiting for Joe to come up. Strangely enough after the first splash there was no sign of the Indian in the dark foamy water of the pool. Half a minute passed and Will became anxious thinking that something might have happened to Joe. He was leaning over the edge of the pool about to dive in when he was suddenly seized in a strong grip. Joe had swum under water until he was concealed by the ripples near the falls at the outer edge of the pool and then, still under water, had gone around a little bend and noiselessly scrambling up on the
bank, had come up from behind on his unsuspecting companion.
"Heap bad day," he grunted. "I teach you roll old Joe into water," and with a tremendous heave he sent Will flying out into the pool. Every time he tried to swim back Joe would splash such quantities of water into his face that he would have to take to the pool again. Finally, gasping and nearly strangled, Will made a rush, broke through the barrage and clinched. The boys wrestled around on the dry bank until they were both weak from laughing and dry enough to get breakfast. As usual it consisted of trout and blueberries.
"Gee, Joe," remarked Will after finishing his sixth trout, "this fish-food some way does n't seem to stay with a man. I wish we had some real meat."
"I think there be pond over next ridge," responded Joe, pointing away from Black Hill. "Perhaps we find deer there."
"Much good it would do us if we did," grumbled Will. "We have n't got anything to kill a deer with."
"You come along," returned Joe patronizingly, "I show you."
Sure enough half a mile down the slope between two little ridges they came upon a small shallow pond nearly filled with lily pads. Joe at once made a long detour through the woods so as to approach the pond to leeward. Stealing silently through the pine-woods the boys at length came upon a deer-trail which wound through dense thickets of mountain-laurel directly down to the water. Joe led the way toward the shore, using the greatest precaution not to make a sound. As they came around a bend, right ahead of them in a little cove not fifty feet away, well out in the shallow pond, stood a young buck which seemed to be grubbing up roots. The wind, what there was of it, was blowing directly from the buck to the boys whose brown bodies were well hidden by the bushes. Joe motioned Will to conceal himself in some dense brush on the other side of a curve in the trail. The boy obeyed the Indian's motioned directions but could scarcely
keep from laughing when he saw Joe searching the ground for stones.
"He might just as well use a bean-shooter," thought Will to himself.
The Indian finally found three or four pebbles which seemed to suit him and carefully concealed himself in the bushes just opposite to where Will lay. Then with great care he threw a stone clear over the deer so that it fell with a splash in the water beyond him. Like a flash the buck lifted his head and viewed the lake with suspicion. When another and still another splash came nearer and nearer to him from the lakeside, he evidently decided that he was being exposed to some submarine attack. With a couple of wallowing jumps he reached dry land and swung up the game-trail at a slow trot, evidently intending to retire to some dark safe place back among the dense laurel thickets. As he came opposite the bush behind which Will lay the Indian suddenly sprung out like a panther and gripped the astonished young buck by his budding horns. Twisting his neck and throwing his weight on
the animal, the boy managed to hold him in spite of his desperate struggles. Will leaped into the fray from the other side, armed with a heavy knobbed section of an old pine stump which had caught his eye. As the deer struggled to get away Will brought his rude club down with a crash right between the animal's eyes and the buck dropped dead with hardly a quiver. Tying the legs together with strips of cedar bark, the boys hoisted him upon a long pole and with much difficulty and many halts to rest, staggered back to camp with their first game.
"You certainly are the great old hunter," remarked Will as they finally laid down the fat buck for the last time not far from their lean-to.
"Birthday present for you," was Joe's only response, although he was evidently delighted at his companion's praise. Using bits of sharp quartz which they picked up from the brook bed, the boys skinned, dressed, and hung the buck under Joe's directions, reserving a plump, juicy haunch for the mid-day meal. Then it was that Will for
the first time aroused Joe's admiration by showing the latter a new idea in cooking. The Indian had planned to broil steaks of venison on long green twigs but Will had set his mind on having the whole haunch cooked in the very best way of all. He repeated to Joe a verse which he had often heard his mother use:
"Fried meat is dried meat, Boiled meat is spoiled meat, Roast meat is most meat."
While Joe built up a roaring cooking-fire from the hardest, dryest wood he could find, Will cut a forked stick and fixed it in the ground some little distance from the fire. Through the crotch of this stick he thrust a long pole, one end of which went into the ground while the top extended out well above the blaze. To the end of this pole he fastened a twisted cord of cedar-bark, tying the other end to the roast so that the meat hung close to the fire. Right in the middle of the cord and almost at right angles, he fastened a flat, thin paddle which he had fashioned from a
strip of bark. As the wind caught this fan it slowly wound the cord up. When it reached a certain point the weight of the haunch unwound the cord which again the push of the wind wound up once more. Between the wind and the weight, the roast continually twirled round and round in front of the blaze. Underneath Will set a little birch-bark dish to catch the drippings with which he carefully basted the spinning roast until it was done to a turn. This labor-saying invention especially appealed to lazy Joe.
What a meal that was! There is no meat that takes the place of a rich, tender haunch of prime venison. The old trappers always believed that buffalo-hump and venison-haunch were the two strongest meats that a man could eat. To the fish-fed boys it seemed the very essence of good food and they did not stop eating until every scrap of meat wag gone and the bones had been picked clean and well scraped.
Joe had carefully saved every bit of the skin and after dinner, fleshed it with a quartz-
scraper, and rubbing it with a mixture of soft clay and the brains of the deer, stretched it out and hung it on a long pole which he fastened between two pine trees, lashing it with strips of cedar-bark.
"I get some thread this afternoon," said Joe at last to Will who had been watching him admiringly. "Later on I make you nice shirt."
"Where do you expect to find any thread around here?" inquired Will incredulously.
Joe made no answer but began to extract the tough, white sinews from the legs of the deer.
"No," said Joe to Will's inquiry, "this make good cord. Later on I use them for bowstring but I get my thread at another shop."
Storing away the sinews in the cabin, Joe beckoned Will to follow and started up the mountainside.
"You find me big, black spruce," he directed.
"All right," said Will, and in a few minutes he stopped before a large tree.
Joe grunted scornfully.
"This white spruce. No good at all," he said. Breaking off a twig he bade Will notice that the needles stood up nearly perpendicular so that the twig felt rough to the touch. A few steps farther on he halted opposite another spruce tree. Breaking off a twig he showed Will that the bent needles felt smooth instead of bristly when stroked. Grubbing in the ground the Indian soon pulled up a slender root nearly four feet long and about the size of a pipe-stem. Splitting one end of this with his quartz knife and taking a half between the thumb and fore-finger of each hand, he rapidly separated its whole length into two equal halfs. There was a great knack in this for when Will tried, the split ran off immediately to one side and he only got a short piece. Joe peeled the bark from each half by pressing a short piece of cedar-bark against the rounded side with both hands while he drew the root upward with his teeth. In a minute he had two, tough flexible cords. The Indian kept up this thread-making until be had a store sufficient to make several suits of clothes instead of two buckskin shirts.
This he stored away along with the sinews in a little pocket in the thatch of the lean-to. There were still several hours of day-light left and the boys decided to take their birch-bark buckets and pick them full of berries for supper. Before doing this, however, Joe made another visit to the brook-bed and after considerable hammering and pounding, came back with two sharp heavy fragments of white quartz for cleavers. With these they soon cut the carcass into quarters which, under Joe's directions, they hung from a rack above the skin. Joe told Will it would not be necessary to smoke this meat, for venison has the property of keeping when hung anywhere in the dry open air.
A few minutes later both boys were in the heart of the berry-patch filling their bark pails with both hands. Suddenly Joe called his companion's attention to a decayed log covered with a creeping evergreen plant with small oval-pointed leaves, whose stems were studded with snow-white berries.
"That's the creeping snow berry," said Will, glad to air his botanical knowledge.
"That," said Joe, "is Indian tea plant. Pick all leaves you can find and we have nice pot of tea to-night."
Accordingly the boys both picked a bunch of the spicy aromatic leaves before they began their berry picking.
Then they moved over to a new part of the clearing which they had not visited before. There berries of all kinds grew in wonderful quantities. Picking them in double handfuls; it was not long before their rude pails were filled to the brim with shiny, solid, ripe berries. Simultaneously each picker decided to pick a few berries for immediate home consumption. Picking and gobbling like the bear that Will had seen, it was not long before each boy had disposed of a quart or so of miscellaneous berries. Will was the first to stop.
"Say, scout," he called, "leave a few for the bears. What are you trying to do--eat up the whole patch in one day?"
Joe grinned and arose from the ground where he had been sitting, luxuriously scooping berries into his open mouth, and started
over to join his partner. As he stepped around a big bush there suddenly sounded in front of him a keen, thin, insistent whirring noise much like the note of the upland grasshopper but louder and some way menacing. Will heard the sound too.
"Look out, Joe!" he shouted. "There's 's [sic] a rattler near you."
It was too late. On the other side of the bush was a coiled circle made of ridged scales of sulphur-yellow and dark brown. It was the death-trap of the grim timber-rattlesnake, that ruler of the dark places of the forest. From the circumference of the coil eleven rat-ties whirred in a haze of rapid movements. Set in the center was a cruel heart-shaped head with fierce, motionless, black eyes with golden pupils whose oval shape is the hall-mark of the fatal family of the pit-vipers which includes our only venomous northern snakes--the rattlesnake and the copperhead. Between the horrid lidless eye and the nostril, was the deep pit which gives its name to this deadly family.
Before Joe could stop himself, his bare foot
crashed through the bush and landed directly in the center of the whirring coils. The ghastly mouth gaped and two long glistening, crooked fangs, sharp as needles, thrust themselves straight out like poisoned spear-points from the movable ridge of white gum which concealed them. Half-way down each fang was a tiny hole from which oozed the yellow, fatal venom. There was a flash of the snake's head and both fangs pierced Joe's brown skin just above the knee and the great serpent was back again in coil almost before the eye could follow its movement. Joe groaned and leaped back just in time to avoid a second lightning-like lunge. Snatching up a heavy dead bough, the Indian struck the snake with all his strength--once, twice, three times. The first blow broke its back and while it was writhing, hissing and rattling in a vain attempt to coil and strike again, the boy, panting with rage, beat the hissing head deep into the ground with repeated blows. It was all over in an instant and when Will reached his companion, Joe was standing scowling down on the still writhing snake with a curious white
pallor showing in his face under the brown skin. The air was heavy with the musky smell that an angry rattlesnake gives off.
"Did he get you?" Will cried out.
Joe pointed at two deep, stab marks above his left knee from which tiny drops of blood were oozing. Then it was that Will showed the value of his scout training.
"Let me have that stone-knife quick," he said shortly.
Joe passed it over without a word from the berry basket where he had put it when they left the camp. From his own basket Will tore the length of twisted cedar-bark which he had fastened there for a handle. Tying it around Joe's leg just above the fang marks he knotted it as tightly as he could and then twisted a stick into the cord, turning it until the braided bark sank deep into Joe's flesh, removing it after five minutes to avoid gangrene.
"Now, I 'll have to hurt you, Joe," said Will, "but you 'll hurt a great deal worse in a few minutes if I don't do this."
"Go on," grunted Joe impassively.
Taking the sharp quartz edge, Will gashed
each puncture deeply, cutting down to the very bottom of the stab wound. The blood gushed out from each gash. Kneeling down Will sucked the wounds with all his might, spitting out the poisoned blood every few seconds.
"Now, you must hurry back to the camp," he said finally. "The worst is yet to come."
"Wait," said Joe and he stepped over to the snake which was still writhing feebly. "I take him skin for good-luck belt," he remarked briefly, taking the rattlesnake up cautiously behind the crushed head. It was fully five feet long and as thick around as the boy's forearm.
The two hurried back to the camp and Will blew the fire into a blaze, thrusting in a hard stick of seasoned ash and when the end became a glowing coal, carefully cauterized the wounds to the very bottom. All through this operation Joe never showed by word or sign what he was suffering. When it was over Will looked whiter and weaker than the Indian.
"Say, old scout, you 're right there with the
nerve," he said admiringly, when the last horrible, hissing bit of amateur surgery had been finished.
"That nothing," returned Joe briefly.
Then Will unloosed the ligature and washed the place carefully out with cold water.
"Now, you sit around and be good," he said. "I think we caught this in time. It'll probably swell and hurt a lot but you 'll not lose your leg or your life."
Sure enough the injured leg did swell and by night-fall was much puffed up and very painful. Will built up a big fire and let it burn down to a mass of glowing coals. Then, under Joe's direction, he took a great sheet of birch-bark free from knots and bent it into a trough-shaped dish, pinning the folds together with sharp thorns that he broke off from a nearby white-thorn bush. This bucket he filled with water and set it on the bed of coals, taking care not to let the coals touch the bark above the water-line. To his surprise the dish did not catch afire and in a short time the water was boiling vigorously.
Leaving Joe beside the fire, Will hurried through the woods to a little stretch of marshland near the deer trail where he remembered to have seen patches of yellowish-gray sphagnum moss growing abundantly. This moss is a natural antiseptic dressing. Soaking handfuls of it in the boiling water, Will poulticed Joe's leg with layer after layer of the soft moss. Will kept up the fire at full blaze all night and at intervals brewed dishes of spicy, hot snow-berry tea. By the next morning Joe was much better.
CHAPTER V THE QUILL PIG
Although Joe's good constitution had pulled him through, yet the life and death struggle had left its marks. His face looked paler and he was a long time in getting back his full strength. In order to keep him quiet, his medicine man suggested that they spend two or three days in carpentry, weaving, tailoring and other light work before starting out on any of the hunting and exploring trips which they had planned. Accordingly Joe laid in such large stores of cedar-bark that he flayed every arborvitae tree in the neighborhood of the camp. In the meanwhile Will spent the time in getting a supply of fire-wood. Hour after hour he would break and pile up masses of seasoned hickory and flowering dog-wood which has a bark scaled like the skin of a lizard and burns
with an intense heat. Will also broke up, with heavy stones, quantities of dead horn-beam or iron-wood--that little tree whose heavy wood is ridged like the muscles of a man's arm, and now and then a small trunk of the chestnut-oak whose notched leaves look like those of the chestnut and whose wood, next to hickory, makes the best fuel in the forest. For kindling he gathered sheets of birch-bark and fagots of dead twigs of the mountain-laurel. For the campfire he collected heavy knots of balsam-fir and hemlock which he dug out of rotted old stumps. For this same fire he invented a labor-saving scheme which Joe admired nearly as much as he had Will's patent roaster. This was a kind of chute made by piling the wood on a sloping bank which led down to the fire-place. Will penned in the pile with stakes so arranged that by drawing out a cross-bar one or more logs would roll down to the edge of the fire-place, pressed forward by the slanting mass behind. In the meantime Joe had cut and woven his cedar-bark into pliable strips each one five or six feet in length and half an inch wide.
Then building up the fire he set on two large birch-bark kettles of water to boil while he cooked the bark and young wood of the stag-horn sumac which bears big bunches made up of hundreds of soft, sticky, intensely sour berries. This bark and wood he steeped in one of the kettles until he had a bubbling pot of rich yellow dye. In the other kettle he put handfuls of the crushed roots of the flowering dog-wood which soon turned the boiling water into that brilliant color known as "Indian red." Filling up his dye-pots from time to time, Joe stained all of his woven bark-strips red and yellow alternately. When they were done and dry he called for Will who was still working on his wood-pile.
"Well, boss, what now?" inquired the medicine man, hurrying up.
"You get fitted for pants."
"Sure," responded Will obligingly. "Let 's see the cloth."
At the first sight of the brilliant colored strips Will gave a hollow groan.
"Take 'em away," he exclaimed, covering his eyes with one hand.
"What the matter with you?" said Joe much incensed. "You make your own pants."
"Now, don't get sore," said Will soothingly. "I only hoped that you had something quieter. You see, old scout," he explained, "it takes a good looking chap like you to get away with red and yellow checked jeans."
"You wear red and yellow pants or you don't wear any," was Joe's last word on the subject.
"All right," responded Will resignedly, "go as far as you like. I only hope they fade some before the month is over."
Joe hurriedly knotted a loose bark-ring around each of Will's legs just above the ankle. To these he fastened a score or so of alternate red and yellow strips and when he had a close circle all around the leg, began to plait them together in clusters of fours in a curious network. It was nothing more than the fishnet knot which all of the northern Indian tribes understand, except that the knots were on the outside and set much closer together than in a net. Joe knotted and twisted and wove so quickly and certainly that before Will
had even time to get tired of standing, he found himself wearing a pair of long red and yellow bark trunks or trousers. To be sure they were of a somewhat open pattern, something like one of Will's cherished crocheted neckties and until he got used to them they were even scratchier than flannel underclothes. Still they were a great improvement over going naked through briers and brush. The rest of the day Joe spent in fashioning himself a similar pair with some assistance from Will on the rear elevation of the same.
The next morning Joe spent in blacksmithing. Taking the horns of the buck, with some bits of rough, sandy stone he filed off the prong of each horn and then leaving a place for a handle, ground the remainder into a keen cutting edge between two gritty stones. Each handle he wound closely with white cord made from inner birch-bark. When this was done each knife looked as if it had a round nfia handle and when a skinning point had been ground on each, he had two serviceable hunting knives. While he was working over these and fashioning his dearly won
rattlesnake skin into a belt, Will started on an exploring trip up the mountainside. He had hardly gone a quarter of a mile from the camp when along the slope he heard the clatter of hoofs and panting, growling noises. Suddenly in front of him, from behind the trees, flashed out a wounded doe. She had evidently been shot by some hunter. Right on her trail lumbered a black bear nearly full-grown. Neither of the two saw Will standing in the shadow of a large pine. Just as the two came opposite to him the bear gained enough to deliver a smashing, fatal blow with one of his armed paws, which brought the poor doe dying to her knees. As her black pursuer leaped on her with a rumbling growl, he caught sight of Will not twenty feet away. With a fierce snarl he sprang away. Involuntarily Will raised both arms and gave a tremendous yell. If the bear had been older there would have been trouble. As it was he slunk reluctantly off through the trees leaving his prize to the boy. Will gave him no chance to change his mind but hoisting the still quivering body on his back staggered off
Neither of the two saw Will standing in the shadows
on the way, along which he came, back to the camp. Joe was overjoyed at this new gift of the gods.
"You certainly great medicine man," he declaimed, "make old man bear catch deer for you. Now, we each have fine buckskin shirt," he promised as the boys skinned the deer with their new knives.
Then came another season of tanning and drying, which ended only when Joe finally produced two beautifully cured skins, supple and soft as only real buckskin is. Shirt-making was easier than the other branch of tailoring. All Joe did was to cut two arm-holes, a series of button-holes and sew on firmly with sinews a row of square wooden buttons which he whittled out of soft birch-wood and each boy had a loose, armless hunting shirt. There was enough left of the hides to fashion a couple of pairs of buckskin moccasins, which, although their feet had become well hardened by this time, the boys found a great comfort.
It was a morning or so after that Will suddenly stopped in the middle of his break-
fast with half a roasted trout in one hand.
"Say, Joe, there 's something wrong about this grub. It don't seem to touch the right spot."
"Salt," grunted Joe.
"That 's just what 's the matter," decided Will, nibbling reflectively, "has a kind of a cold taste."
"You find hickory tree this morning," advised Joe. "Get me strip of inside bark. I make food taste right."
Accordingly when breakfast was over, the white boy started along the mountain leaving his partner curled up on a bed of pine-needles before the fire, putting the finishing touch to his snake-skin belt. The air was warm and soft and spicy and as Will loped along through the trees in his new moccasins, he felt the joy of living which a week in the open had put into his blood. At first he saw no signs of any hard-wood trees. Everywhere were hemlocks with short tiny needles, spruces whose needles are longer and grow all around the stem and balsam-firs which have flat, curved needles about the length of the spruce grow-
ing on the side of the twigs with the inside of the needles of a lighter color. Here and there was a white pine, easily told by its long, fine needles and slim towering trunk. Beyond the evergreen belt came the white birches gleaming like ghosts, sugar-maples, beech and white ash, whose leaves have stems instead of growing directly from the twigs like the stemless leaves of the black ash. Finally on an upper slope Will spied what he wanted, a large shag-bark hickory with its rough, dry bark hanging from the trunk in tattered fringes.
After working for a long time with his flint knife, the boy managed to cut out a good-sized piece of the tough inner bark and started back for camp by another route, intending to strike the brook farther up. As he passed through a grove of hemlocks, beyond which the brook showed like a silver ribbon against the green, he heard far above him a steady grating sound like that made by a dull saw. Looking up he saw in the small wpper branches of a large hemlock near the trunk, a brownish and sooty-black animal
about three feet long from the tip of its blunt, triangular tail to its black, hairy muzzle. The beast was gnawing bark with great orange-colored teeth, slowly and unceasingly as if under contract to strip the tree. Its head and body were a mass of long, sharp, white quills with dark tips, while its flat tail was studded with shorter ones. The boy recognized the animal as a monstrous "quill-pig"--the name given by trappers to the clumsy, stupid, untouchable porcupine of the northern woods. It was not common around Cornwall and Will had never seen one before the size of the giant which gnawed above him and which must have weighed nearly fifty pounds. At first he tried to frighten the big bark-eater down by throwing sticks, shouting and pounding on the trunk, but the old quill-pig kept right on with his gnawing. At last Will decided to climb up and shake that indifferent porcupine down by main force. Laying aside his little package of hickory bark, he began to gingerly climb up the tree from which the bark had been stripped in large irregular patches. Climbing steadily
he was about fifteen feet below the animal when he noticed that the gnawing sound had stopped. Looking up he saw that the porcupine had turned around and was looking down at him fixedly with its dull eyes. Suddenly without a sound the animal uncoiled from the tree-trunk and with surprising swiftness began to climb down towards where Will was perched. It did not descend head-first but backed down, sinking its long claws deeply into the trunk at every step. All in a second the beast suddenly doubled in size. It had erected its long quills, and as it came on began to flick its armed tail back and forth threateningly. It suddenly occurred to Will that a tree-top was no place for an argument with a quill-pig. He remembered unpleasantly how he once saw a small porcupine sink a score of barbed poisonous darts into a dog's nose with one swish of its flat tail and he realized too late why the giant porcupine above him was backing down towards his unproteted head and face. Panic stricken he began to clamber down the ladder-like branches of the hemlock. Climb as he would, how-
ever, he was no match for the porcupine in this exercise and by the time that he was twenty feet from the ground, the big beast was only a couple of yards above him. Will stopped and breaking off a small, dead bough for a club, decided to make a stand. He pounded on the trunk and shouted at the top of his voice hoping to stop the approaching animal. The porcupine only turned its head and regarding the boy menacingly with its dull eyes, kept on down the tree. When the swishing tail was a few feet above his head, Will heard a voice from below.
"Jump quick!" it called. Looking down he saw Joe standing under the tree more excited than he had ever seen him before.
"Hurry!" the Indian shouted again, "no fight porcupig in tree, he kill you. He catch you before you climb down, jump quick!"
Twenty feet was a long jump and Will tried to climb farther down before risking it. Even as he moved the wicked, spiked tail hissed through the air just grazing the top of his head. He felt a sharp pain as three or four of the keen, barbed quills pierced his scalp
coming loose from their sockets and rankling in his flesh. The next stroke would drive scores of the tiny venomous darts into his head, and face and eyes. Without any more hesitation he sprang out and crashed through the bending green boughs. Joe caught him just before he struck the ground and broke his fall somewhat, but was knocked down, and both boys rolled over and over through the brush. Joe was the first to get up, rubbing his head where he had bumped it on a stump.
"You big fool," he remarked earnestly as he pulled his friend to his feet, "what you try do. Better go into old man bear's den than climb up into old man quill-pig's tree."
Will made no answer but felt himself all over carefully. Although his back looked like a map of South America and his arms and legs were covered with a network of scratches and gashes from the branches and the brush, no bones were broken. After making certain of that he looked up. The porcupine had gone back to his place in the topmost boughs and was gnawing away again as if nothing had happened.
"You darned old porcupig," yelled Will suddenly, shaking his fist at the undisturbed feeder. "I'll come back and get you yet."
That evening around the camp-fire Joe extracted the quills amid grunts and squeals from Will telling him stories the while of what happened to unwary hunters who climbed up trees after porcupines and how he himself had once found a dead Indian at the foot of a tree with his head and neck horribly swollen where the sharp quills had worked and festered through the flesh. When Will looked closely at the quills he realized what a savage weapon they were. Each one had a conical point which was a mass of little barbs. Moreover they seemed to have the power of infecting or poisoning the flesh into which they were thrust as Will learned from his swollen head the next day. Joe told him that porcupines had been known to kill wolves, lynxes and even panthers with their quills. The fisher, however, is able to feed on the porcupine and even to swallow great quantities of the quills without suffering any harm.
"Are quill-pigs good to eat?" inquired Will.
"Yes, if man starving," responded Joe. "He need strong stomach any other time to keep meat down."
CHAPTER VI BEAVER LAND
One morning Joe and Will woke up feeling especially fit. There was a snap and a tingle to the August air which showed that frost was not far away. Just as the rim of the rising sun peered over the edge of Black Hill the boys rolled out from their warm bed of fragrant pine-needles. By this time their sturdy lithe, brown bodies had become well hardened to the cold. Close to the edge of their camp a little waterfall had hollowed out of the granite rock a round basin some fifteen feet across and over six feet in depth. Through the golden-brown water showed the gleam and glimmer of the trout which lived undisturbed in this pool. At one end the falling water made a spray of white foam. This basin the boys used for their bath-tub and every morning took a
plunge into the tingling icy water of that mountain stream. To-day they dived together off a bank covered with soft green moss and swam through the whirling water like the trout which flashed away in front of them. After a swim back and forth they climbed out on the bank and rubbed down with handfuls of the dry, soft sphagnum moss which they had piled up there to use for bath-towels.
A minute later Joe was blowing live coals under a carefully-built cooking-fire made from twigs of dry horn-beam and beech, while Will cleaned a dozen brook-trout which he caught with his hands from the little storage-pool where they kept the fish which they took on their daily fishing-trip. The meal began with a considerable amount of excitement Will had found a flat, thin piece of shale and had propped this up on two stones over the fire to use as a broiler.
"That stone no good," suggested Joe.
"Aw! go on, Joe," returned Will, "just watch your uncle broil trout on a gridiron instead of toasting them on a stick."
"I 'll watch," was all that Joe answered, but
he moved some distance away from the fire. Will had just laid one trout on the hot surface and was about to spread out another one when there came a bang like a bomb and the air was full of pieces of stone, trout and ashes. Will went clear over backwards and lay kicking his bare legs frantically in the air. When he finally got up, he found that the trout, the gridiron and mos,t of the fire had disappeared. Only Joe was left doubled up in fits of silent laughter.
"Who fired that gun?" inquired Will in bewilderment, and it took him some time to realize that all the trouble had come from using a piece of soft stone which held enough moisture so that it exploded when heated red-hot.
Will built up the fire again and went back to the old system of cooking. Without a word Joe went down to the brook-bed and came back with a slab of thin, curved, close-grained gneiss which he offered to his friend.
"No, sir," remarked Will, "you can try that to-morrow yourself. I 'll stick to my toasting fork."
It was not long before breakfast was ready.
With a square of clean white birch-bait for a plate and a pinch of green hickory-ashes for salt the broiled trout did not last long. Then came a quart apiece of sweet blueberries and a big drink of spring-water and the boys were ready for the business of the day. Both boys were in magnificent condition. Joe had worked out of his system the last traces of the rattlesnake venom while Will's scratches and cuts in his tussle with the porcupine had healed up entirely. Today they decided to explore the brook on which they had been depending for their supply of trout.
For a mile or so they walked through country which many fishing-trips had made familiar to them. At last they reached a long narrow gap like a sword-slash among the hills beyond which they had never passed. Through this gorge the brook rushed from out of a tangled growth of spruce and fir. Beyond they caught the gleam of a wide stretch of water. Pushing their way through die thick trees they finally stood on the shore of a pond covering perhaps some twenty-five
acres. Across the outlet stretched a dam fully one hundred feet in length. At the base it was some fifteen feet wide and about ten feet in height and was built entirely of long branches whose butts faced upstream. These seemed to have been cut off as if by a blunt chisel. Each branch had been anchored by a dab of mud and the whole surface of the dam against the water showed a curved mud facing through which showed the ends of the sticks.
Someone has been building a mill-dam," said Will, examining the structure.
Mogweena," replied Joe briefly.
"Who 's he?"
"Beaver," explained Joe.
"Do you mean to tell me that beaver can build a dam like this?" inquired Will incredulously.
For answer Joe bent down and with some difficulty pulled one of the branches out of the dam and showed it to Will. The end was cut off in a wedge as if by repeated chisel-strokes but along the surface of each cut was a little groove as if a knife or chisel with a
nick in the blade had been used. This groove marked the space between the four orange-colored, self-sharpening, front teeth of the beaver and shows in every beaver-cutting, the trademark of the beaver-builder. The boys walked across the dam from end to end. The down-stream side was a mass of rough-piled brush, with the base made of old water-worn sticks while along the upper edge new cuttings showed, and here and there were peeled white aspen poles. The thrifty beavers had eaten the bark and added the stripped branches to the structure. The upstream side was carefully plastered with mud which had been patted and moulded as if by a trowel.
"I suppose they do that with their tails," said Will, remembering that a beaver has a long, flat, scaly tail.
"Lot of fool stories about beaver," he grunted. "He never use tail for trowel. He slap water with tail when he dive to tell other beaver someone coming and when he cut down trees he slap ground with tail just be-
fore tree fall to tell other beaver to get out of way."
"Oh, go on, Joe," objected Will, "you 'll be telling me beaver talk next."
"Sure beaver talk," answered Joe, "just like you. Only they talk with tail and you talk with mouth--most of the time too," he went on sarcastically. "Beaver use tail to talk with and to swim with and he carry sticks and mud between tail and belly, but that 's all he uses it for. Another fool-story," went on Joe, waxing eloquent over the slandered beaver, "is that beaver suck air out of logs and make 'em sink. He anchor log at bottom with mud."
"What 's he do that for?" asked Will.
"Eat 'um bark in the winter," said Joe. "Come, you see."
He led Will along the top of the dam on which ran a regular path, the thoroughfare of generations of wild-folk. Diagonally above the dam stretched a long trench or canal some four feet wide and about two feet deep. It ran straight as an arrow back into the woods. The mud and earth had been
dug out and piled neatly on each side of the trench.
"Some man dug that with a shovel," said Will, examining it carefully.
Joe did not answer, but led the way along the side of the trench through the underbrush to where ended a little grove of quaking aspen-leaves. At the end of the canal a number of the trees, some of which were two feet in diameter, had been cut down by a series of deep chisel-strokes, each one with the tell-tale groove in the center. The trunks had been stripped of limbs and cut up to four-foot lengths and then piled together close by the canal. A deep slide in the mud showed where a number of them had already been pushed down into the trench and afterwards the boys saw in the deep water near the dam a pile of them anchored in the mud. It took Joe some time to convince Will that all this was the work of the beaver.
"They come back and live here now," said Joe. "All summer they travel, visit, play, live in holes in bank and have good time. About time of August moon they all come
back, work every night, sleep all day, get dam patched up, store up wood for winter and fix up houses."
"How do you come to know so much about them?" inquired Will.
"I used to trap 'em," responded the Indian. "Once I caught big one weighed seventy pounds. Old beaver in trap never make noise, never fight like lynx or wolf. He stand up and cover his head with his hand. You strike at him, he turn off blow with hand and cover head up again. Once I had a little young beaver. I tame him until he follow me like dog and sleep under my blanket and ride on top of my pack when I travel. When I stop he swim around in brook, but come every time I whistle for him."
"What became of him?" inquired Will as Joe came to a dead stop.
"White man shoot him for skin," answered the other briefly. "I shoot white man," he went on, after a pause.
"Do you mean you killed him?"' asked the horrified Will.
"No," responded the other, "only break his arm. Other white men come and drive me away before I could shoot again."
The boys went back to the dam and examined the beaver-houses of which there were a number. They looked like small Indian teepees. Most of them were built in water several feet deep and were from three to four feet above the surface and about five feet in diameter. One, however, was a huge house built in deep water and fully twice as large as any other. It was made mostly of peeled cotton-wood poles and stood on a firm foundation of mud and sticks built up from the bottom. The poles leaned together from the top and had been woven in and out with thick brush and plastered with mud and turf until the walls were fully three feet thick.
"Old chief live in that house," said Joe, pointing it out to Will. "Every beaver-tribe have chief. He lead them, tell them what to do. Sometimes he take them through woods, ten, twenty, thirty miles and start another colony if fire come or water dry up. He always have biggest house."
Will was much interested.
"What 's inside and how does he get in?" he inquired.
"Two holes go in under water. Inside is room made out of sticks with floor, and dry bed. Air come down through top of house."
Will stared at the chief's house for some time.
"Say, Joe," he said suddenly, "what 's the matter with us diving down and doing some exploring? The old chap would n't hurt us, would he?"
"No," he said at last. "I don't think he move in yet. Even if he there he not fight unless he cornered."
"Let 's try it," urged Will.
"Pretty big dive," objected Joe. "Hole may not be big enough. May get stuck."
"Oh, come on," scoffed Will. "Be a sport. If you get stuck I 'll pull you out."
"Go ahead," grunted Joe.
The boys stood on the dam, took a deep breath, plunged in and swam down through
the dark water to the base of the house. On the side nearest to the bank was an inclined plane where sticks had been dragged down from the food-pile. At the end of this slanting path was a round hole in the house-wall some two feet in diameter. Nearly opposite was another of the same size. Will reached the hole first and hesitated a moment. He wished then that he could stay under water without breathing for eleven minutes which is the beaver's record. Being a boy, however, his time was limited to only a few seconds more. Suppose the hole narrowed as it came into the house and he got caught. He might drown before he could pull himself out. Then he thought how Joe would guy him if he came up without trying and with a quick stroke he flashed into the entrance almost as fast as a beaver. Fortunately it was wide and smooth throughout its length and in a second he found himself in a room nearly seven feet across. In the middle a floor had been built up from buried sticks, which stood six inches above water-level and was perfectly dry. Near the entrance was a big, dry, warm nest
made entirely of shredded wood which had been split into splinters. On the side was another bed made mostly of dry grass and moss. For some distance around the entrance and the exit were spaces of deep water. Several feet above the flooring a little light and air filtered in through tiny crevices between the rafters. Will had just time to pull himself up on to the floor when Joe's head emerged puffingly from the tunnel. Unfortunately for the Indian the owner of the house had been taking a snooze over in the moss-lined bed. Just as Joe poked his head out of the water a tremendous black beaver dived for the hole. The two heads, one of the beaver and the other of the boy, met with a bump. It was difficult to tell which was the most startled. Joe grunted like a stuck pig, as Will said afterwards, while the beaver, with a loud spat of its tail, turned around like a flash. With a stroke of his webbed hind-feet and a paddle of his flat, scaly tail, the beaver which was nearly four feet in length, flashed out of sight. Joe
looked so funny with his eyes bulging out of his head as he clung to the edge of the flooring, that Will nearly rolled into the water from laughing.
"Welcome to our home, Mr. Couteau," he finally managed to say weakly. "Mr. Beaver had to hurry off to keep an engagement but he asked me to take care of you. Will you have a bite of cotton-wood or would you like a bit of beech?"
Joe pulled himself up beside Will and gasped for awhile without a word. Then he rolled comfortably into the warm dry bed of shredded wood which the beaver had just left. It had a faint, sweet, rather pleasant smell of musk.
"Biggest beaver I ever saw," he finally remarked. "He black beaver. Once in awhile beaver born black or white, usually reddish-brown. This old fellow's skin worth lot of money."
"Well," returned Will, "it 's bad enough to borrow his house without taking his skin."
As their eyes became used to the dim light, the boys moved around the domed chamber, the palace of the King of the Beavers.
"Some water in the cellar," remarked Will, "and the front yard needs draining, but on the whole it 's a snug, warm place. If it gets too cold outside we 'll come down here to live with your friend. Though I must say, Joe," went on Will solemnly, "he did n't seem very glad to see you. You must have hurt his feelings in some way."
Joe made no reply but rubbed the bump on his head. For a long while the boys curled up in the warm bed and talked beaver. Joe told Will many stories of this wise beast which he had heard from the trappers. Once it was found all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson's Bay except in Florida where probably the alligators kept them away. It was their dams which had flooded out great tracts of forest. Later when the water killed the trees and the ruined dams let the water out, the beds of these beaver-lakes became filled up with sediment and became rich meadow-land. In the old days be-
fore the white men came to this continent millions of beaver-ponds collected rich soil, stored water in time of drought and by checking floods prevented the washing away of many a fertile hillside. Will never forgot that morning in the beaver-hut. In the half-light Joe spoke of the beaver as he would have spoken of a wise, brave, happy tribe of brother Indians. They mate for life and any time they will sacrifice their lives to save their young. He told Will how his people believed that originally there was nothing in the world but shoreless waters in which only giant beaver dwelt. Under the direction of the Great Spirit these beaver dived and brought up mud and boulders out of which they shaped mountains, plains and meadows. Coming down to his own experience he told of seeing them roll into place in their dams hundred pound boulders and of their towing big logs up against the current without an effort. He had watched them cut down trees two feet in diameter as neatly as a man could with an axe. Once Joe found three young heaver feeding on the shore of a brook and
managed to get between them and the water. When they found they were cut off from escape, they gave a long, shrill, frightened cry like a hurt child. Instantly the old mother-beaver came swimming down the stream and floated on the top seeming to be terribly crippled. When that trick would not work, the old father-beaver also appeared and the two dived and floundered in the water close at hand. At last both of them came out on the bank almost at Joe's feet and dragged themselves around as if fatally wounded. When he tried to catch them, in spite of their apparent clumsiness, the beaver managed to dodge him. In the meantime the young beaver had edged far enough toward the water so as to be able to make a rush and escape. Then both the old ones dived in like lightning with a scornful slap of their tails as they disappeared. Joe told of a fight he had once seen between a beaver and a wild-cat, when in spite of its claws the great cat finally went down before the slashing, crashing bites of the beaver's terrible teeth.
"No wonder," said Will when the time came to go back to the outer world again, "that Canada has a beaver for its coat-of-arms. It 's a great animal."
CHAPTER VII THE RED RUSSULA
It was the week after the boys had learned their way to Beaver Land. Nearly every day they would travel up to visit the colony. It was wonderful how much work the heaver would do between dark and dawn. They seemed to know that the frost was on its way. At the first moment of twilight, the old black patriarch of the colony would thrust his head above the water close by his house and then swim slowly and silently around the whole pond, keeping close to the shore, evidently scouting to see if there were any enemies which might threaten his large family. One evening he failed to see the boys crouched close behind a screen of hemlock boughs by the margin of the pond. Finding no sight, scent or sound of danger, this old-timer, whom Will had christened "Granpop,"
climbed up on a round rock near the center of the pond. This seemed to be the signal that all was well for almost immediately a score or so of other beaver showed in the water and at once separated into different groups. Granpop evidently felt that his age and wisdom entitled him to the easy job of sentry-duty, for during the whole time that the boys were there he did not stir off his rock. Under his watchful eye the others worked with desperate haste. Nearly a dozen marched silently in single file through the woods to a clump of aspens some two hundred yards from the bank. Each heaver chose his tree before beginning the labor of the night. This finished, all of the wood-cutters rose together on their hind legs, embraced their trees with their fore-paws and began to chisel out chips as regularly and swiftly as if they were run by machinery. For nearly an hour they worked. Finally one, who had picked out the smallest tree, an aspen nearly four inches through, suddenly thumped the ground with his tail, dug out a few more chips and scuttled into the under-
brush. The tree creaked, swayed and then fell with a crash. All the other beaver at the signal had likewise scurried into the underbrush and for nearly five minutes after the crash there was no sign of them. They were evidently waiting to see whether the noise had brought to the place any of their forest-foes. At last one by one they came out and each started in again on his own tree while the first beaver proceeded to cut off the branches and divide his fallen tree into lengths, preparatory to carrying it down to the food-pile.
While this was going on, another detachment could be seen working busily on the other side of the lake, lengthening the canal. The aspen-trees near the canal had been cut off the year before, but another grove showed three hundred yards in from the bank. The beaver had seemingly figured out that it would be easier to lengthen the canal than to drag the logs down through the brush. Accordingly the canal-diggers were hard at work running the ditch as straight as if drawn by a ruler, five feet wide and three feet deep.
Each worker would dive under the water and come back to the surface carrying a shovelful of earth in his forepaws while another mass of mud was clasped between the digger's flat tail and belly. It was awkward work, but the boys were amazed to see the next morning how far the canal had lengthened during the night and how many trees had been felled and cut up before sunrise. That evening, after an hour or so of watching, the boys stole silently out from behind their tree on their way back to camp. In spite of their caution their very first movement was seen by the watcher on the rock. There were a couple of loud spats on the water and in a moment every worker was safe under water not to return until Granpop was sure that the lurkers under the boughs had gone for good.
The next day the boys started off exploring. In a short two weeks under Joe's coaching Will had become able to take care of himself in the woods. The living in the open, the cold morning plunges and the constant exercise had added to his weight, his strength and above all to his vitality. He had the feeling
that he could do anything and that he was afraid of nothing, which any of us can have if we are only willing to live in the open instead of the shut. For ordinary trips the boys no longer bothered to take provisions with them for they had learned that there is always food waiting for those who know where to find it. Joe in particular was an expert in breakfast-botany and he showed Will many an emergency-dish which our forefathers knew in their pinching times but which we have forgotten in our days of plenty. One of the first grew by the shores of Beaver Pond, where the water was covered in places with the large green arrow-shaped leaves of the swamp-potato, as it used to be called two hundred years ago. Joe and Will would plunge in and wade around underneath the leaves until they had loosened the roots with their feet when round tubers as large as hens' eggs, would float to the surface. The roots were bitter when raw, but when boiled tasted something like a sweet potato and made a welcome change from the fish-and-berry diet on
which the boys had lived so long. It was Joe too who gave Will new light on the wild bean or ground-nut which they found growing here and there in open spaces. Will had always known and admired the beautiful brown-purple, fragrant flowers of the vine. Joe wasted no time on the blossoms. Grubbing at the roots of the plant he dug up tubers growing in strings of thirty or forty, some of them as large as hen's eggs. These too the boys boiled and ate and found them much like chestnuts in taste. It was in Beaver Pond too that Will first learned to dive for the roots of the yellow pond-lily or spatter-dock. These grew under water and were one or two feet long. Joe roasted them in hot ashes. They had a slightly sweet, glutinous taste and when cooked were light and porous. The last root that Will learned nearly brought about a break in the family. They had been wandering across the slopes of Black Hill one warm afternoon searching for new things to see and hear and smell and taste. Suddenly Joe stopped in a damp patch of woods and began to pull up the bulbs
of half-a-dozen big jack-in-the-pulpits or Indian turnips.
"Well," remarked Will, "I 've seen that flower ever since I was a kid but I never knew before that it was any good."
"Bulb make Indian bread," grunted Joe, "best plant in woods."
Before Joe could stop him Will took a big bite from one of the largest.
"Spit out quick, quick!" cried Joe, "no good raw, hurt mouth."
"Don't seem to have much of any taste," said Will, obediently ridding himself of the mouthful.
"You feel taste all right in a minute," responded Joe grimly.
"O! ooh! hi! Ouch! help!" bellowed Will in less than half that time. The juice had an effect on his tongue much like a mixture of powdered glass and sulphuric acid. For awhile he was almost frantic with the pain which water does not stop in the least. Even Joe could think of no cure.
"Get better soon," was all he would say. Yet it was nearly an hour before the aching,
smarting, tearing pain through Will's tongue and palate was gone. Only the big black bear can eat these bulbs raw.
"You can have my share in that blamed stuff," he said bitterly. "I 'd as soon eat raw hornets and poison-ivy."
That night, however, he changed his mind. Joe boiled the bulbs for over two hours and then roasted them, being careful to eat only the soft outer part for wherever the bulb was at all hard it kept some of its bite. Joe finally persuaded Will to sample a bit of the mealy mass. It tasted like roasted chestnuts and he kept coming back for more until it was all gone.
The next day as they were scouring the woods for food like any other hunting animals, they heard from a thick growth of young spruce a faint cackling note. Joe stopped in his tracks.
"Quiet!" he whispered, pushing Will back from the place, "we have good supper to-night."
Running his sharp quartz knife down the side of a nearby cedar tree he made a twisted
bark cord some four feet in length. At one end of this he tied a hangman's knot, that long, deadly slip-noose which never jams and which will pull tight at the least pressure. Then he fastened the cord to a pole some eight feet long which he shaped from a moose-wood sapling and started back for the thicket.
"Whatever are you going to fish for with that?" whispered Will following him.
"Suckers!" hissed back Joe sarcastically, disappearing among the spruces.
When Will caught up to him he was standing near a little tree on the lower limbs of which sat six large black-breasted black-and-gray birds each of which showed a line of bright red bare skin above the eye. Will recognized them at once as spruce-partridge which differ from the more common birch-partridge or ruffed grouse in having their feathers shaded with black instead of brown. As the boys came close to them, instead of flying away with a roar of the wings as the ordinary partridge would have done, the birds began to side-step up and down the limb raising their wings and bobbing their heads in a
kind of dance. Joe slowly stretched out his pole toward the nearest bird. As the noose came close to it the silly grouse actually thrust its gaping head right through the noose. With a quick jerk the Indian snared it and swung the flapping bird back to Will who wrung its neck and loosened the noose. Then Joe caught another and another in the same way, being careful to always fish for the lowest one until he had caught the whole flock.
"That beats any fishing I ever saw," said Will as they hung the dead birds two by two on some high limbs. "I never believed there could be such fool-birds."
That 'um's name," returned Joe and Will afterwards found that both the Indians and the lumbermen alike call spruce-partridge "foo1-birds." As they went on Joe told him that the spruce partridge will fly instantly at the sight of a dog while an ordinary partridge will stay in its tree as long as the dog barks.
Beyond the next rise the boys made another discovery. From the side of a maple tree grew a crimson fungus like a long red tongue sticking out from the tree.
"That 's a beefsteak mushroom," said Will, breaking the fungus off from the bark. "We 'll just broil it along with the birds."
Joe sniffed at it suspiciously. Loosened from the tree it did resemble a piece of rare beefsteak and the red drops which dripped off the broken end were just what would have been found in a freshly cut steak.
"No good," said Joe.
"Sure it 's good. So are these," and Will picked a double handful of dry mushrooms with grayish green tops, the green russula, one of the most delicate of the wood-mushrooms. Will munched several of these before he could persuade Joe to try them. When the Indian at last learned that they were good to eat he began to scout the woods for more. Unfortunately Will had forgotten to warn him against two other wood-dwellers, and Joe jumped to the conclusion that the test of a mushroom was its taste. That mistake nearly cost him his life. A few minutes later Will found him calmly swallowing the last fragment of a large snowy white fungus.
"Where did you get it?" he inquired, much alarmed.
For answer Joe merely pointed to another one growing at his feet.
"Taste good," he said, "try it."
Will picked the mushroom with trembling hands. It had a broad, flat, snowy-white head with white gills and on the stem just under the gills was a white veil. At the base the stem broadened and grew out of a fleshy socket fixed in the earth. He recognized this socket and veil as the hall-marks of one of the two fatal mushrooms which no one can eat and live.
"Are you sure the one you 've swallowed was just like this?"
Joe nodded while all the color went out of Will's face.
"Quick, Joe," he shouted, "we must get back to water. That 's the death-angel and If it stays more than a few minutes in your stomach you 're a goner!"
"Um taste good, um smell good, um good to eat," objected Joe.
"Don't stand here like a fool arguing,"
cried Will half sobbing. "I know. It 's all my fault. I should have told you, but I got so used to your knowing everything, that I did n't. Hurry!"
The boys ran together in silence towards the brook which was a long two miles away.
"I feel all right," observed Joe at last.
"That does n't mean anything," panted his friend. "You 'll feel all right for about twelve hours. Then you 'll die."
"Humph!" was all that Joe found to say to this cheering remark.
As they raced down the hillside, Will's eye caught sight of a gleam of red from a dry bit of clearing.
"Stop! we won't need to get to water," he shouted as he saw that the ground was covered with a colony of red-topped mushrooms. Hastily picking three or four he crammed them into Joe's hand.
"Here," said he, "swallow those. They 'll taste something like that Indian turnip but you swallow every one of them."
Joe gulped down the first one. An expression of surprised indignation came over his
face and the tears stood in his eyes. He rubbed his stomach.
"Bumble-bee flower!" he gasped.
"Eat another," commanded Will. "You must if you want to live!"
With streaming eyes Joe finally swallowed another and at last under threats of certain death forced down two more.
"Ugh, I sick. I very sick. I think I going to die," he observed faintly a little later.
"That 's the stuff," said Will unfeelingly, "you 'll be sicker yet in a minute." He was. In less than that time the russula emetica lived up to its name and Joe lost everything that he had eaten that day. In fact the paroxysms of nausea were so severe that for awhile it seemed as if he might lose various useful inside parts of himself. When the last fit was over Joe sat down on the ground pale, perspiring and entirely empty.
"There," remarked Will, "you greedy old pig, that will be a lesson to you not to go running around the woods swallowing everything you see. You may be hot stuff on por-
cupines but when it comes to mushrooms you want to remember that you don't know it all."
Joe was too sick to say a word. That evening Will broiled two of the spruce-partridge and Joe finally managed to keep down a small piece of one and a cup of broth. After dinner he meditated for a long time.
"Next time," he finally remarked, "you let me die. Don't give me any more red bumble-bees."
"If you ever eat another mushroom without my permission," responded his friend severely, "I will."
CHAPTER VIII THE CARCAJOU'S DEN
One evening the boys came back to camp after a day spent at the beaver pond and Will had his first experience with an animal-family far different from that of the industrious bark-eaters. Joe was blowing the coals to start up the fire when he heard a shout from Will who was over by the wood-pile. In the half-light he saw him suddenly snatch at his throat and throw his hand down toward the ground. Before Joe could reach him he did the same thing again, springing back from the wood-pile. For the third time, as Joe came toward him, he saw his friend clutch at his throat, gasping and struggling as if fighting an invisible enemy. Not until he was close to him could he see that his hand was clenched around the neck of a slim, brown, writhing animal which time and again had run up his leg and sprang at
his throat with a silent ferocity that was terrifying in spite of its small size. Will panted heavily and gripped the little beast until the red glare died out of the fierce eyes and he threw on the ground the limp shape of a dead weasel.
"Whew!" he panted, "that little devil nearly got me. His teeth were at my throat before I caught him."
"That Tel-ky-lay, the Killer," said Joe. "He quickest thing in woods. Fight anything. If big as fox he kill anything that lives."
Will picked up the body which looked like slim, brown squirrel with white throat and paws and small tail. The muscles around the jaws were enormous and the neck was peculiarly long and slender.
As they sat around the camp-fire that night Joe told Will of following the tracks of the weasel in the snow in the Northwest and noting the trail of blood and carnage which it left behind it in a single night. Mice, rabbits, partridge, rats and even red-squirrels had been caught and killed, not for food, but
the lust of killing. The weasel would suck a mouthful or so of hot blood from each one and start on after fresh prey.
"One time," finished Joe, "I wait in rushes for duck. All of a sudden black shadow sail over me. I look up and see big eagle flying low looking for dead fish. I shoot arrow right through its breast. Old eagle fall down. When I look at it, I find something hang on its throat. It skull of weasel. Old eagle catch weasel once, weasel wriggle and twist and sink teeth in eagle's throat so deep eagle never able to get head out. All its life little skull swing from neck like necklace."
Then Joe went on to tell Will of the three kinds of weasels which he had found. The weasel which Will had killed was the common short-tailed or brown weasel. Up in the northwest was the long-tailed weasel which was larger and of a rich buffy yellow underneath.
"Then there is lucky weasel," ended Joe.
"Lucky weasel," said Will, "what 's that?"
"He little small weasel no bigger than mouse. Only once in long lifetime anyone
see lucky weasel. Fierce, all same as big weasel. If Indian catch lucky weasel he sure to be big chief."
"Why?" said Will.
"How do I know," said Joe. "I only know it so. My uncle he see one catch field-mouse. He run after it and it fall into puddle and he catch it. It most bite his thumb off, but he hold on and he became very great chief."
"That settles it," said Will, "if a man gets to be a big chief by catching a weasel the size of a mouse, I 'll probably be president because I caught a weasel a foot long."
"You never be anything but big bonehead," said Joe, crossly, as he curled up to sleep.
The next day the boys started to follow Beaver Brook to its source. As usual they stopped at the pond to see what had been done overnight. There they found that beavers no more than humans can escape their fate. At the far edge of the grove the beaver had cut down a large tree. As it fell it struck another tree, swerved off to one side and killed two of the wood-cutters. Will rushed for-
ward sympathetically, but Joe's face showed nothing but a quiet joy.
"Roast beaver-tail," he remarked, patting his stomach.
With some difficulty the boys removed the heavy, plushy, brown pelts and put them on drying-boards out of the reach of any prowling animal, first scraping each bit of meat off the skins and rubbing them until they were soft and supple with a mixture of clay and beaver-brains. That noon Joe broiled the livers and roasted the plump, scaly tails and they had a feast on the rich food.
After dinner they had another weasel-adventure. As they were standing on the bank they heard a crackling rush through the boughs and up a birch-tree overhanging the water scampered a striped chipmunk running for its life. Right behind followed the long, slim, reddish-brown body of a weasel. Chippy is a good sprinter and climber for a short distance, but he is not in the same class with the weasel. Around and around the tree the two ran as if linked together--the chipmunk all the time making a pitiful little
squealing noise. Foot by foot the weasel overhauled the ground-squirrel but the latter had good brains in his little striped head and with a last desperate effort, ran out to the very end of an overhanging limb and sprang through the air into the lake. The weasel struck the water not a yard behind. Then followed a great swimming race. Both animals went through the water faster than a man or even a dog could go. At first, swimming desperately, the weasel gained on the chipmunk. Chippy, however, knew his own strength in the water and kept on cooly without even looking back. Inch by inch the weasel closed up the space until it was only two feet away, but it was not able to hold the pace, and little by little the chipmunk began to forge ahead and seemed to be swimming in far better form than its pursuer. At the end of one hundred yards the space between the two had widened to nearly ten feet. Suddenly the weasel seemed to realize that he was not the equal of the ground-squirrel in the water and giving up the chase, turned around and swam back to shore slowly as if almost ex-
hausted. It was not too tired, however, to dodge a blow from Will's stick and disappear like a flash into the underbrush.
"Too slow, too slow," laughed Joe, "porcupig about only animal you can catch."
"Would he have caught the chipmunk on land?" asked Will, hastily changing the subject.
"Sure," said Joe, "all weasels catch what they go after on land. Pine-marten, a big golden-brown weasel, live on squirrels. He run through trees faster than squirrel and jump just as far. He heavier though and if squirrel keep to long jumps, sometimes he get away. Then," went on Joe, warming up to his subject, "there 's blackcat, bigger weasel yet he catch most anything."
"Blackcat?" said Will, "how can a cat be a weasel?"
"That 's his name," said Joe, peevishly, "blackcat does n't mean a black cat any more than Will Bright means bright Will."
"Well," laughed Will, "go ahead and tell me about the old blackcat or weasel-cat, or whatever you call it."
"In tree it look like a black cat. On ground it look like a black fox. Squirrel he run fast through tree. Marten catch squirrel, but old man blackcat make his living catching martens. He can jump forty feet from one tree to 'nother and drop thirty feet to ground and no be hurt. On ground he run down and catch fox. Old man coon he great fighter. Blackcat kill coon every time. Blackcat kill lynx, drop from tree on to back of deer. He only animal not afraid of porcupine quills."
"Say," announced Will, "me for the blackcat. I'm for anything that 's against the old quill-pig. But how do you know about the quills?"
"My uncle show me once. He catch blackcat in trap, skin full of quills, no hurt, no swelled up. When we skin him, insides full of quills all laid in little bunches and none of them stuck into him."
"Kind of an animal sword-swallower," commented Will. "Is there anything that he is afraid of?"
"Yes," responded Joe, "there one big devil-
weasel that can kill blackcat, kill gray wolf, kill man."
"You 're fooling."
"If we ever fight with old man Noggyay you find out whether I 'm fooling," was all that Joe would say.
As they covered mile after mile the stream became narrower and narrower finally leading to the side of an enormous mass of perpendicular rocks several hundred feet in height and broken here and there into rough ledges and crags of pale granite. It was a wild, desolate country. As the shadows began to lengthen Will, who was exploring the woods some distance from Joe, saw a strange animal watching him intently some distance away through the trees. Its general color was a deep blackish-brown while its head and cheeks were gray and from each shoulder a pale chestnut stripe stretched down either side. It was armed with tremendous horn-colored claws. As he stopped the animal sniffed several times to catch his scent and then suddenly sitting on its haunches, shaded its eyes with both its forepaws with a cu-
riously human gesture and sat looking at Will intently just as a man would do. A moment later the beast dropped on all fours again and moved off with a strange galloping gait with its hindquarters hunched up half a foot higher than its fore-parts. As it ran its bushy tail looked like that of some huge skunk while its skin had the shagginess of a bear. It showed no sign of alarm but moved off with an air of grim confidence. Will hurried silently back to the Indian and in the low voice which all woodsmen learn to use in the woods told him what he had seen. Joe looked very grave.
"He hear us talking 'bout him," he finally said. "Never safe to talk 'bout devil. His spirit hear and he come."
"Do you mean to say that funny, humpy, skunky-looking animal is your Indian devil?"
"No talk 'gainst Noggyay any more," muttered Joe warningly. "He stronger than bear and fightier than wild-cat and braver than blackcat."
Will had never seen the Indian so disturbed nor would he go any further without some kind of a weapon. In a rocky ravine
Joe found a gnarled dead hemlock stump from which grew a number of smooth, weather-worn limbs. With some difficulty he managed to split off one of these with a sharp, flinty bit of the trunk attached. It made a heavy war-pick something like the rude battle-axes that the early Indians used. Joe hefted it, shortened the handle and ground off part of the head until it was balanced to his liking. Will in the meantime had found a straight white-oak branch iron which he also fashioned a club.
"I guess," said Will, after aiming several mighty blows at imaginary Indian devils, "that with these we can stand off a whole flock of skunk-bears."
As they walked along Joe told story after story of the strength, the fierceness and the devilish cunning of the carcajou, wolverine, or Indian devil for it answers to all of these names. Evidently Joe believed that now that the beast had discovered them it could not make matters worse to talk of it.
"One time," he related, "our tribe cache grub in middle of pile of wood seventy yards
around and go off on hunting trip. When we come back whole pile of great logs and dead trees scattered all over place. Grub he all gone. One carcajou he do it all. Another time," he went on, "old carcajou follow trap-line thirty mile long. Kill every animal in trap, carry off all trap and bury 'em. Sometimes he break into trapper's cabin, carry off blankets, guns, axes, and wood so to make trapper freeze or starve to death. My uncle see two carcajou drive old cinnamon bear away from dead elk and old man bear he some fighter, too. Noggyay he come here to do us harm. He send his spirit very far ahead and listen and listen and come when he talked about. He try and hurt you first."
"How do you make that out?" inquired Will, frightened in spite of himself. "He 's just as likely to take a crack at you as me."
"No," returned Joe gloomily, "you the one. He look at you under his paw. That very bad medicine. He hurt you first," and Joe regarded Will sadly.
"Say," said Will, beginning to get angry,
"you talk as if I was as good as eaten. That carcajou was n't more than a couple of feet high and if I once land a crack on him with this old club of mine I 'll show him a few things about bad medicine that 'll make him sit up and look around."
By this time the boys had skirted the foot of the cliff down which trickled a thin stream full of little water-falls evidently the beginning of Beaver Brook.
"To-morrow," remarked Joe, "we climb up and find where brook start. To-night we look for some dry cave for camp."
Separating they began to explore the face of the cliff. Will had not gone far before turning a little wall of rock which jutted out beside a spreading yellow birch, he saw an opening in the rocks that seemed to lead into a roomy cave carpeted with dry leaves. As he stooped to look, he noticed a musky animal smell and suddenly there sounded from the darkness within a fierce, snarling growl. Before he had time to draw back there flashed out from the cave the same strange animal which he had seen earlier in the af-
ternoon. Will sprang back with all the speed that a much-scared boy could show and dodging to one side started to run toward where he had left Joe meanwhile shouting for him at the top of his voice. He was a swift runner, as even Joe, no mean judge of running, had often admitted, but the carcajou was far swifter. In spite of its clumsy appearance and curious galloping gait the grim animal overtook him before he had covered fifty yards. Again it seemed to Will as if he were fighting for his life in some nightmare. The beast made no sound after that first fierce snarl. As he turned it sprang full at his throat just as the other weasel had done. This time, however, it was no tiny animal that Will could hold off with one hand. The tremendous hind-quarters of the Indian devil stood fully two feet from the ground while the flattened head and the tremendous shoulders were about half that height. Will had only time to strike once for his life as the silent, slavering brute sprang. His club landed between the strange, glaring eyes with a thump that Joe heard a hundred yards
away. The blow checked the wolverine's rush but only for an instant. Before Will could even raise his weapon again it was on him. Dropping his club the boy grasped the beast by the forepaws, thinking to hold it back until Joe could come up. Although Will, who was an unusually powerful boy for his years, could lift the carcajou clear off from the ground, yet when it came to holding hack that mass of knotted iron muscles it was like trying to stop the thrust of a piston-rod. His hands were bent in irresistibly and the sharp claws grazed either side of his neck1 Just as the fierce face was thrust almost against his own Will suddenly shifted his grip and clenched his hands desperately around the carcajou's throat. This was better tactics. It gave him a chance to bring his greater weight to bear directly against the rush of his assailant. His arms were longer than the forepaws of the carcajou so that by holding the beast off by the throat its claws did not strike him full in the neck although they ripped the bare skin and taut muscles of his arms until the hot blood ran down to his waist. Fortun-
ately for Will the carcajou has the weasel's fondness for the throat-hold. The bears and the cats depend on their claws but the weasel-folk believe that anything but a throat-hold is a waste of time. Accordingly now the carcajou only used its claws in an effort to force its muzzle into Will's throat. Straining against its rush Will stumbled backwards and held off that devilish head with every atom of strength that his lithe body contained. Yet he felt himself weakening and his strength ebb with the flow of the blood from the gashed muscle. He gave a last call for help and heard a fierce answering whoop from Joe as the latter burst from a thicket fifty yards away. The frightful jaws of the beast opened and from the hedge of white bristling teeth sounded the same roaring snarl which the animal had given as it burst from its den. Will felt his strength going. The hot breath of the brute blew close to his face. Slowly his weakened arms were forced back and inch by inch the red eyes came closer and the glistening teeth gnashed nearer. He gave one spring backwards as he felt that he could no longer hold
off the weight of the beast, and tripping on a root, fell and lay stunned at full length. The fall broke his grasp and with a gutteral snarl of satisfaction the freed animal thrust its head forward for a death-grip. At that instant Joe burst through the fringe of juniper scrub in which the struggling pair had fallen. Whirling up his heavy battle-axe in mid-air he struck with every ounce of weight and strength that there was in his slim brown body. Down through the open ear-passage of the round head whizzed the sharp point and pierced deep into the very center of the beast's brain. Without a sound or a struggle the carcajou rolled limply off from Will's body and lay still.
An hour later Will opened his eyes to find himself lying in a dry, warm cave reeking with a musky smell so strong that it made him cough. His gashed arms were bandaged with cool, wet sphagnum moss. In front of the cave a crackling fire burned while not far away lay the carcass of his enemy, horrible even in death, along with two cream-colored cubs which Joe had found and slaughtered in
the cave. As Will lay there he saw the Indian begin a strange performance. Thrusting a long splinter of fat pine deep into the blaze Joe drew it out and solemnly burned off the whiskers from the grinning head of the dead carcajou. Then he walked around and around the animal backwards and forwards all the time chanting a strange song in the Indian tongue. Will watched him weakly.
"You ain't much on singing," he observed as Joe finished his incantation, "sounds a good deal like a sick cat."
The other regarded him grinningly.
"Guess you think old Joe know something about Indian devils, hey?" he remarked, cheerfully. "No come back any more, burn off whiskers, sing good medicine song. You lie quiet while old man cook supper."
Will did as he was told for awhile. Then an alarming thought came to him.
"Say, Joe," he called, "how about old man carcajou, suppose he comes home tonight and wants to use his bungalow?"
Joe smiled cheerily. "Old man carcajou no where near here," he said, "he leave Mrs. Car-
cajou when cubs are born and never come back. She kill him if he did."
"Humph," said Will, "nice happy family that."
"Yes," agreed Joe, "I make you fine shirt out of skin. Carcajou's skin best in world. Good medicine. Only great Chief Bright, the quill-pig hunter can wear it. Wear carcajou's skin, live in carcajou's cave. Little smelly now but get better soon. No other animal come near this place."
"I should think not," said Will, taking one deep sniff and at once sticking his nose out for fresh air.
CHAPTER IX WILD HONEY
It had been a cold night. Joe had taken the pelts of the two unfortunate beavers and sewing them together with a thorn for a needle and the sinews for thread had made a warm blanket just about big enough for one. The consequence was that all through the night first one and then the other would wake up shivering to find that his bedfellow had taken more than his share of said blanket.
"We 'll certainly have to make some kind of a quilt big enough so that you can't swipe it all," said Will crossly as they sat down to breakfast. "I'm all frost-bitten up the back."
His bad temper lasted through breakfast.
"I sure am tired of food without salt," he grumbled. "These hickory-ashes are better than nothing, but what we need is s-a-l-t,--Salt! Is there any chance of finding some?"
Joe shook his head.
"No salt-lick around here," he said, "if it was spring we get maple-sugar."
"What good would that do?" objected Will, "I want salt."
"You find it all same," answered Joe, "old trappers go for years and years and use maple-sugar for salt."
"Well," responded Will, "it does n't sound right but I 'll take your word for it. Certainly anything sweet would taste mighty good just now."
"Say, Joe," he went on anxiously, "speaking of eats I want you to promise me one thing."
"What?" inquired Joe unwarily.
"Give me your word," said Will solemnly, "that you won't get the habit of eating those red-topped mushrooms regularly."
Joe made a face and flipped a stone at Will with a sudden sinking sensation in his stomach at the very thought of those peppery, quick-acting russulas.
"If you not spend so much time talking," he grunted, "you might find bee-tree. Honey better than sugar or salt."
Will became interested at once.
"I saw some bees in the blueberry patch the last time I was there," he remarked. "Give me some down off those spruce-partridges and we 'll go over and see if we can't line out a tree."
The Indian did not move.
"No," he said. "You go. I got to make bow and arrows."
"What for?" inquired his companion, "you don't expect another carcajou, do you?"
The other did not answer at first.
"Bad medicine somewhere," he said at last. "I feel it. Last night too I hear strange noise way over mountain. Something wrong. I feel better with good bow and some arrows."
"I 'll bet it 's wolves," exclaimed Will much excited. "We 've had about everything else."
"No," asserted Joe, "no wolf live so far south. The noise something like wolf but not wolf."
Will meditated on this for awhile.
"I don't take much stock in hunches," he said at last resignedly, "but you sure were right about the carcajou and you may be right
about this. If we 've got to fight any more of your Indian devils I suppose we might as well get ready. You go ahead and make a bow and I 'll look up a few throwing stones and between the two of us we ought to put up a pretty good argument."
"What you mean, throwing-stones?"
"Oh, round heavy stones about the size of a hen's egg," replied Will carelessly. "Give me a few of these and a day's practice and I 'll get as much game with my stones as you will with your old bow and arrow."
Joe grunted scornfully, not knowing Will's reputation through his whole county as a marksman with the earliest of all missile weapons. Will was one of those curious throw-backs to the days of the cave-men like the man of whom Borrow tells who could jerk a stone over a steeple, or that slave in the days of the Revolution who boasted quite accurately that he could kill his man every time at thirty yards with a stone, or the young mountain white of more recent times in Tennessee who used to hunt rabbits and grouse successfully with no other weapons than a pocketful of large peb-
bles. Like those seven hundred left-handed fighters in the Bible from Ai, Will could sling to a hairs' breadth, only unlike them he needed no other sling than the steel-like fingers of his right hand. As far back as he could remember he could fling a stone as accurately at an object as an ordinary boy could point. In fact his gift seemed to be really but an extension of the faculty which most of us possess of pointing a finger directly at a moving or stationary object. As Joe continued to grunt in an incredulous and insulting manner Will made up his mind to give him a taste of his quality. Slipping down the bank he came back with a half dozen selected stones in his hands.
"You set up any mark that you can hit with your old bow-and-arrow," he said on his return, "and I 'll spot it with one of these stones."
Without a word Joe got up and some thirty yards away set up a white peeled stick of poplar which he had brought back from the beaver dam the day before. It was the same kind of a white wand that Robin Hood and Little
John had shot at in the olden days when the bow of yew and the gray goose-feather ruled Merry England.
"I don't believe you can hit that once in six shots with an arrow," grumbled Will. "Now watch your old stick and see if you can do better than this."
Holding his ammunition loosely in his left hand, the boy swung into a pitching position with his left foot out and with a quick peculiar jerk of his right arm, sent a stone whizzing at the white mark. It shot through the air like a bullet. There was a sharp spat and the stick quivered as the thrown stone struck it square and full. Hardly had the noise died away before there came another and another until Will had thrown the six stones in as many seconds. Every one hit the mark except the fifth which curved off. The last one which was heavier and rounder than the rest, struck with such force that the top of the stick splintered and broke under the blow. Joe for once became enthusiastic.
"I not believe that," he said gravely, "if I not see it. You better with a stone than my
uncle. He able to keep six arrows up in air at same time and once he shoot arrow clear through running buffalo and when he no get arrow, he throw stone better than any Indian man--but not so good as you."
This was Joe's highest praise, for his uncle, the big chief, represented to the Indian boy all that was brave and strong and skillful.
"Well," said Will, picking up a few downy feathers that had come from one of the partridges, "I 'm glad that you appreciate me. I 'm going to hunt for a bee-tree. Don't get into any mischief while I'm gone."
On his way to the blueberry ground the boy stopped and hurriedly fashioned a little box out of a bit of birch-bark and a couple of thorns. A little further on he scraped a lump of gum off a spruce-tree and reached the berry patch fully equipped for a bee-tree-hunt as per the instructions of old Jud Adams, the best bee-man in Cornwall.
In one place where a quantity of brush had been burned over by some forest-fire, beds of white clover had sprung up, a plant which charcoal always seems to attract. In this
patch of pure white blossoms a number of bees were humming. Of all honey the white clover-honey is the best. There is the rich golden, perfumed linden-honey and the brown, spicy, buckwheat honey, but the few snowy translucent combs of white clover are always the prize of the hive. Most of the bees which were buzzing over the blossoms were small, dark-brown native wood-bees. Here and there, however, were larger bees with golden stripes around their long slender bodies. These were the imported Italian bees, swarms of which had escaped from towns and villages and taken refuge in the wilderness. To these Will directed his attention. Not only does the Italian bee make and store more honey, but it is not so much of a fighter as the Yankee variety, an important fact to remember when one is about to go bee-hunting without many clothes. Holding his box tightly in one hand, Will fumbled through the clover trying to catch a good healthy bee between his thumb and forefinger without damaging either the bee or the thumb. His first attempt was not very successful. He grabbed
a large, energetic Italian worker from a head of white clover, but he caught her a little too far amidships. Bending her supple body the insulted bee inserted like lightning her sting into the very middle of Will's right thumb.
"Ouch!" observed Will loudly, dropping the bee like a hot coal. "Ouch! Ouch!" he remarked again with great emphasis sucking his thumb which tingled and burned as if it had been pierced by a red-hot needle.
"Well," he announced at last to the world in general, removing his thumb from his mouth, "I'm glad that sting killed her," for he remembered that the old bee-man had explained to him that a bee's sting, unlike that of a wasp, is barbed, which means that a bee can only sting once. Then the barb holds and the sting is torn from the stingers' body, causing her speedy death. "Once is a' plenty," soliloquized Will. "I only wish that the old fool had died before that once. I 'm going to make myself a holder," he continued, "before I pick up any more red-hot bees."
Doubling a few green leaves he managed to put several bees into his box without receiv-
ing any further attention from them in the way of stings. To each bee he gummed a white tuft of down and then released one in an open part of the berry-patch where he could observe her flight marked by the white tuft. The bee dashed out with an angry hum, rose in the air, circled two or three times and then started off as straight as a bullet, high in the air, toward the edge of the forest where it sloped down from the mountainside. Will followed her flight carefully with his eye and marked the place where she had disappeared in the tree-tops several hundred yards away. Hurrying over to the exact spot, he released another bee who went through the same performance. This bee, however, was evidently from another swarm for as soon as she was released, she disappeared in a direction nearly opposite to that taken by the first one. So did the next one. The fourth bee, however, went over the tree-tops straight up the side of the mountain. Will followed her line carefully scanning every tree until he had passed through the scattering growth of larger trees and crossed a belt of evergreen and was well
up the mountain-slope. There he released another. This bee circled around and went directly back on the track along which he had come.
"I guess that means," said Will to himself, "that I have passed the place. I am on the right line anyway."
Following his back-track he passed through the black belt and found himself again on the lower slope. Hunt as he would, however, he could find nothing which looked like a bee-tree. Then he remembered one of Jud Adams' maxims--"When your eyes don't help you, use your ears." Sitting down with his back against a huge, wrinkled, giant sugar-maple whose enormous branches stretched out fifty feet from the vast twisted ridged trunk, he listened with all his might. At first he only heard the bark of a red-squirrel, the faraway caw of a passing crow, the grunt of a nuthatch, the sharp click of the downy woodpecker and the constant soft call of the black-capped chickadees which fluttered all around him head down or head up as they hunted through the trees for insects. After awhile he
became conscious of a noise like an organ tone underlying all the louder, sharper bird and squirrel-notes. When he finally made it out, he realized that he had been hearing it for a long time. It was the deep, rich, humming note of a prosperous working hive. At first it seemed to come from all sides of him. He found, however, that when he walked away from the tree where he had been sitting the hum seemed fainter. At last he decided that the strange sound came from the very maple against which he had been sitting.
"Some folks have to run their head into a bee-tree," he remarked sarcastically to himself, "before they can find it."
Far up on the great trunk was a decayed stub nearly as big around as the boy's body. In this stub was a round hole where many years before had been the nest of a downy woodpecker. Generations of birds and squirrels had hollowed out the whole bole of the dead branch which had then been claimed by some wandering swarm. In and out of the hole a black smoke of hurrying bees drifted back and forth. At first Will thought of
climbing up and trying to bring back some honey as a surprise to Joe, but when he looked at his still throbbing thumb he changed his mind.
"Let Joe do it," he said to himself. "I 've found the tree. It's up to him to get the honey. He 's so smart with his old woodcraft that I 'll just give him a chance to show what he can do."
Accordingly after first locating the tree carefully he hurried back to camp. There he found his side-partner testing the qualities of a new-made bow. The Indian had searched stream-beds and hill-sides until in a pile of brush and leaves washed up by the spring freshets he had found a long, dry white-ash sapling. The bark had been peeled off and the wood worn white and smooth by water, ice and frost. It had been whirled up on the bank before it became water-logged, and seasoned by the sun until it was as supple and springy as a strip of steel. With his stone knife and chisel Joe had cut and shaped the stick and smoothed it with a rough bit of pudding-stone, sharp sand and dry moss until he
had a light, strong bow-stave of about his own height which would have delighted the heart of Robin Hood himself. It was about two inches thick in the middle with tapering ends in which he cut twisting, deep grooves for the bow-string. This last he made by plaiting carefully together the sinews of the deer. For the lower horn Joe made a slip-noose and for the upper he tied a bowline, that difficult never-slipping knot which bowmen use the world over. Will came in just as Joe had fitted on the string. Setting his foot against the lower horn the Indian with difficulty bent and strung the great bow. Holding it in his left hand, he braced himself and pulled the string with all his force back to his shoulder. The bow bent stiffly, but with never a crack although Joe put all of his sinewy, young strength into the effort.
"Heap good war-bow," grunted Joe.
Then came the question of arrows, which are much more difficult to make than bows. The boy, however, had learned his craft from his uncle, that fountain-head of all knowledge. Beside him was an armful of shafts of arrow-
wood, that viburnum with the oval, sharp-toothed leaves and long straight branches which is the favorite arrow-wood of all the wood-Indians. These Joe had peeled and patiently seasoned in the smoke of many a fire. Notching several for the string the Indian shaped the other end of each into a heavy, blunt head. These were bird-arrows. Then came the supreme test of an arrow-smith--the making of the points. Before Will's arrival Joe had collected a handful of flints and selected bits of white and smoky quartz from the beds of a number of dry water-courses which ran down the hillside in the spring. In a heavy handle of dead wood he had fixed the prong of a broken antler found in the woods. This he had ground and shaped until it made a very tolerable chisel with an unusual leverage from the heavy handle. A rough boulder served as an anvil. Will watched him curiously for he had supposed that the secret of shaping those grooved sharp arrowheads which are found now and then in our fields and beside streams and springs, had long been lost to us latter-day folk.
"You don't expect to be able to cut flint with a horn chisel, do you?"
"You watch," was all the Indian would say. After fixing the stone on his home-made anvil, Joe studied its grain carefully, placed the sharpened horn at a certain angle and suddenly pressed with all his weight on the block-handle of the chisel. To Will's astonishment instantly a flake of flint split off. Again and again the Indian adjusted his chisel and pressed at varying angles. Almost every time splinters of flint seemed to fairly peel off the stone, leaving the familiar ridges and grooves that are part of every stone arrowhead. At times Joe would tap the chisel with a short, heavy stick for a mallet. Then the splinters would be larger and longer. For all of the delicate shaping required for the sharp point, however, he used nothing except the pressure of his hand. He had learned the secret which the arrow-makers of the Stone Age had discovered that if only the angle of cleavage, as it is called, can be found, the hardest stone can be shaped and fashioned with nothing but wooden or horn tools. The quartz
was much easier to work than the flint and even while Will watched, Joe made no less than three as vicious, sharp, grooved arrowheads as ever whizzed through the air against beast or human.
"You try it," Joe grunted at last passing the chisel and a flint to Will.
Work as he would, Will could make no impression on the steel-like stone either by pressure or with the mallet.
"How do you do it, Joe?" he asked at last in despair. "Show me."
"No," grunted the other, "no white man got brains enough to ever make arrow-heads."
Nor did Will ever succeed in solving his secret.
Taking the three arrow-heads which he had just shaped, the Indian boy notched the heads of a corresponding number of shafts and fastened in the points with bits of sinew dipped in spruce-gum and tied with a series of splicing knots which held them as firmly as if they had been set in a vise. Then he carefully feathered them with quills from the numerous partridge-wings which he had kept for this
purpose. The feathering of the arrows is one of the most important of the arrow-maker's arts. Not only must the quills be carefully selected, but they must be properly clipped and fastened on at just the proper angle. Some Joe attached with threads of sinew, others he glued on with spruce-gum. Then he feathered a number of the bird-arrows which had no points but only a heavy wooden knob for a head. Leaving the gummed feathers to dry and set in the hot sun the boy picked out a bird-arrow whose feathers had been wound on by threads. Fitting it to the string he drew the bow-string back nearly to his right ear. There was a deep twang and the arrow whirred through the air and struck what was left of the original target-stave with such force that it was splintered clear down to the feathers.
"Good boy," said Will admiringly, "you certainly are the old hawk-eye when it comes to a bow-and-arrow. I don't believe there 's a man in New Hampshire, red or white, who could do that."
"I make you good bow later on," responded
Joe, secretly much pleased at the compliment.
"No, replied Will, "I could never learn to use one in the time that we have left. I stick to my throwing-stones." And as he spoke, he buzzed a stone at the jagged splinter which still stuck up from the ground smashing it off clean.
When at last Joe unstrung his new bow, Will decided to break to him the news that he had been elected bee-man of the camp.
"Joe," he began solemnly, "I 've discovered the biggest bee-tree that this world has ever seen. It has over three thousand pounds of honey in it at the very least calculation. I was going to bring some back with me, but 'No' says I to myself, 'I 'II just let my old friend Joe be the very first one to taste this honey."
"Umph," said Joe.
"Yes," went on Will, "some fellows would be afraid of bee-stings, but not you. I 'll bet your uncle was the best bee-man in America."
"No bee-trees up where we live," responded Joe. "I not afraid of bees though, they don't sting me."
"That 's the way to talk," said Will, grin-
ning. "They may buzz around a bit, but don't you pay any attention to them. Just climb right up the tree and pass down the honey. I could eat about eight pounds right this minute."
"Come on," said Joe.
Half an hour later found the boys together under the bee-tree, carrying long trays hurriedly made of birch-bark stretched and fastened on crossed sticks.
"There she blows," shouted Will showing Joe the cloud of bees around the woodpecker's hole. "All you 've got to do is to shin up that tree and bring down the honey. I 've done all the hard work catching the bees and finding the tree. Make a noise like a queen-bee as you go up so that the swarm won't bother you."
Joe paused and regarded his bare brown legs reflectively.
"I thought you were n' t afraid of bees," scoffed Will.
"I 'm not," asserted the other, "but that old tree looks kind of scratchy."
"Well, well," jeered his companion, "if
you 're going to be such a fussy old hen I suppose I 'II have to help you. Come along and I 'll give you a lift to the end of one of these long branches so that you won't hurt your delicate legs."
At the end of a branch which came within six or seven feet of the ground Will hoisted Joe up on his shoulders.
"Careful now," he snarled, "don't jump around on my back. What do you think I am--a spring-board! Ouch!"
This last remark was jerked out as Joe gave him a tremendous kick with both feet and caught the end of the branch while Will rolled over into a white-thorn bush.
"I 've a mind to take a shot at you with one of these throwing-stones," he yelled wrathfully, picking himself up.
Joe said nothing but glided up from branch to branch like a blacksnake until a minute later he was seated astride a limb directly in front of the opening from which the bees were swarming. There he carefully fixed the birch-bark platter in a convenient crotch and then began to break out a section of the de-
cayed wood. Will forgot all about the threatened throwing-stone as the bees poured out in a black cloud which completely hid the Indian's head and shoulders. Yet not one of them stung him. Joe belonged to that rare and fortunate class who are safe from stings. From his babyhood he had always been able to handle bees and even the fierce white-faced hornets and the huge digger-wasps without being harmed by them. Will of course did not know the secret of the Indian's seeming courage.
"Great Maria!" he observed to himself as he looked up at the whirling mist of bees above. "I 'm glad I 'm not up there I That kid certainly has the nerve. I hope they don't sting him to death."
Just then a part of the swarm dropped down to investigate Will and proceeded to prove on his bare back that he at least was not a natural-born bee-man. With a howl that sounded like a siren-whistle Will burrowed deep into the brushwood and pulled the branches and leaves over himself until he was entirely hidden from sight. There he lay un-
til the attacking party buzzed sullenly back to the hive. When at last he ventured to peek out of the brush he could hardly believe his swollen eyes. Seated comfortably astride a smooth stub was Joe with a dripping comb of golden honey in either hand. Looking down while taking a large satisfying bite from his right-hand comb, the Indian noticed his partner's head peering out from under the leaves.
"M-m-m-m! heap nice, heap sweet," he called down. "You come up here, Will, quick before I eat all honey up."
Will did not dare to answer for fear of calling the attention of the swarm to himself again and had to lie there watching Joe conscientiously fill himself to the brim with choice bits of honeycomb. When at last the Indian began to lower the honey-filled platter towards the ground about half the swarm came down with it. Some of the advance-guard found Will again and this time that injured individual crawled out of his refuge and frantically waving his arms ran down the hillside towards the camp.
"Come back, come back!" shouted Joe after him, "you not like honey?"
Towards sunset the Indian approached the lean-to carrying both platters loaded with masses of honey, golden-yellow, golden-white and golden-brown. Will, swabbing his stung face with sphagnum moss dipped in hot water, regarded him reproachfully.
"I suppose you think you 're smart," he said at last to the grinning Joe, "but I 'd give a dollar, if I had one, to know how you kept those bees from stinging you to death."
"M-m-m-m-m," was all that the latter would answer.
"What 's that?"
"I don't quite follow you."
"That noise like queen-bee," explained Joe. "You forget to make it."
Thereupon he laughed and laughed until he had to lie down and roll around on the pine-needles. Nor did he stop until Will threatened him with a dish of hot water.
CHAPTER X BEAR
The night of the bee-tree day was one of feasting. The boys began with roast-partridge and broiled brook-trout flavored with great mouthfuls of dripping honey-comb and ended with quarts of fresh blueberries covered with honey. Will found that Joe was right. After two sugarless weeks it seemed perfectly natural to eat honey even on fish and fowl. Its penetrating sweetness took the place of the tingle of salt. For awhile it seemed to Will as if he could not get enough and he realized that his whole body had been needing just that taste ever since he came into the woods.
"What do you Indians do for sugar," he asked between bites.
"Mostly go without," grunted Joe. "Sometimes if far enough south we get honey. In
spring we drink maple and birch-sap and boil pods of honey-locust and eat all kinds of sweet berries,--blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, beach-plums, service berries and dig up sweet roots."
After supper they heaped wood on the camp-fire until the flames roared high through the still air. The boys lay on their backs on a thick bed of soft pine-needles and toasted their toes and talked. It was a night of stars. The clear sky above them was filled with the shimmer and sheen of tbe late summer constellations. Mounting the sky in the east was the golden swarm of the Pleiades. As Joe drowsily watched them climb toward the zenith he was moved to impart valuable star-secrets to his friend.
"Those good-luck stars," he remarked, waving his hand toward the crowded little constellation. "My granpop say when he was a little boy and these stars come back into sky in May, whole tribe come out and dance and sing and have big dinner. In fall on night when they stand in top of sky at midnight, chief always go and hide."
"Why?" inquired Will much interested.
"Because when good-luck stars stand in top of sky in middle of night, chief must do anything or give anything that any one ask. Granpop say that tribe all scatter out and hunt for chief. He bound to give anything to man who found him."
"Gee!" said Will after some thought. "If I was a chief I'd spend that night in the tip-top of a tree where no greedy beggar like you could find me."
"You would n't dare stay up tree. Old man quill-pig might come along," laughed Joe.
"Give me some more dope about the stars," said Will, hastily changing the subject.
Just then the moon, nearly full, rose over the top of Black Hill. On its golden face were the faint markings of the lunar mountains and vast craters which a telescope makes so plain.
"Rabbit scratch moon's face all up," observed Joe, pointing out the marks to Will.
"What do you call the rabbit?"
"In winter time," responded Joe, "you se
rabbit-track in sky underneath Hunter."
"That must be Orion," said Will, "with his belt made of three bright stars."
"You look down underneath Belt," he said, "and you see rabbit-track same as in snow, two prints far-apart, two prints near-apart When rabbit jump his long hind-legs come in front of his fore-legs and make far-apart tracks while the fore-paws make near-apart tracks. In the sky the track is made by four stars, all the same as snow-track.
"One night," went on Joe, "Mr. Rabbit went fast asleep behind a bush. Old moon came down and took him up into the sky but rabbit kicked with hind-legs and scratched moon's face so that moon drop it and rabbit get away and he leave his track where he jump half across the sky."
"Some jump that," commented Will. "I 'ye often wondered," he went on, "just what did make those marks on the moon and I sure am glad to find out. Go on, Joe," he urged, "tell some more."
Joe looked lazily skywards.
"All right," he said, "I tell you star-story. One time big chief had lodge on far side of the sky-river," and he pointed with his foot toward the Milky Way that streamed whitely clear across the heavens. "Chief, he had fine looking daughter--handsome just like me."
Will gave a hollow groan.
"There she is now," continued Joe paying no attention to the interruption and he pointed out to Will the great Harp-star, Vega of the Lyre, that bright star which stands on the edge of the Milky Way and is marked by two fainter stars beneath which with it make a little isosceles triangle.
"One day," resumed Joe, "young chief of another tribe across the river came to see this squaw. He going to take her with him when her father come and chase him into the river. He swim clear across though father shoot an arrow at him," and he showed Will the tiny, dim, little constellation of Sagitta, the Arrow, in the Milky Way which looks like a tiny feathered arrow not far above that little diamond which is sometimes called Job's Coffin but which is really the Dolphin.
"When he get to the other side," resumed Joe, "he look across and want very much to get squaw and she want very much to go to him but she no can swim and he have no canoe. There he is now," and Joe pointed out the bright star Altair of the Eagle, that brilliant summer-star at the edge of the Milky Way which shines between two guard-stars. "There he stand," continued Joe, "with two young braves of his tribe and call and call to the squaw and she call back. On the seventh night of the seventh moon, if the sky clear, then all the bluejays in the world fly up into the sky and make a bridge across the sky-river and the chief and the girl meet on middle of bridge. When morning comes they go back, bridge breaks up and bluejays fly down. If any bluejay seen 'round on seventh day of seventh moon all children throw stones at it because it too lazy to fly up into the sky and help make bridge. If it rain that night we say rain is tears of chief and squaw because they 've lost the chance to meet for another year.
Will was greatly impressed by Joe's astronomical knowledge.
"Go on, Joe," he urged. "You sure make a hit with me as a story-teller. I never heard any of these before."
"White man know nothing about stars," he observed. "He call all those stars Great Bear," and he waved an arm scornfully toward where the Great Dipper hung in the northern sky. "No bear ever have long tail like that," he resumed.
"What do you smart Indians call it?" inquired Will.
"We call big part The Bear," explained Joe, pointing to the bowl of the Dipper. Right behind Bear come Three Hunters," and he pointed to the three stars in the handle. "Now you look close at the second star," went on Joe, pointing to the star Mizar. "The second star from the end of the handle."
Will squinted his eyes and stared with all his might.
"Why," he said at last, "that star is double. I can see a little star just under the big one."
"Sure," said Joe, "that little star cooking-pot which Second Hunter carry to cook piece of bear in when hunter kill it."
"It seems an awful small pot," objected Will.
"You see red on leaves in fall after frost?" questioned Joe, paying no attention to the criticism. "Well, that Bear's blood. Hunters catch up with him and kill him and his blood fall down and stain all the leaves."
This was Joe's last effort of the evening and a few minutes later found both the boys fast asleep in the cabin under a coverlet of pine-needles.
During the night Will dreamed that he had been wrestling with Joe and that the latter suddenly began to grow and grow until he weighed about a ton. By such unfair methods Joe won the bout and in his dream Will found himself on his back with Joe holding him down and getting heavier and heavier every moment. He woke up to find something soft pressing so heavily on his chest that he could hardly breathe. His first thought was that he was still dreaming and had a night-
mare; then that Joe was either playing a joke on him or was walking in his sleep.
"Get off me," he gasped, "what do you think I am--a door-mat," and he pushed with all his might against a dark form which seemed to be holding him down. His hands came against a mass of rough, shaggy fur from the midst of which sounded a deep fierce growl. At the sound Joe burst like a bomb out of the pine-needles.
"Out! Out!" he cried, "Old Man Bear come after honey!"
The shout brought Will to his senses and he realized what had happened. The boys had stored the honey in the cabin and the smell had attracted favorable attention from some wandering bear who, like his family, was ready to dare anything for honey. As Joe slipped out of the door Will started to follow him and his hand closed on his club which had been resting close to his bed. There was another snarl followed by the swish of a blow in the dark from the bear's mighty paw which, if it had landed fairly, would have battered every bit of life out of the
boy. As it was the sharp claws just nicked his shoulder, cutting a shallow furrow through the skin. As he rolled into the open, he found Joe standing in the pale light of the setting moon hastily stringing his bow and searching vainly around for his arrows. Before he had found one, a black shape showed in the entrance and a head the size of a peck-measure was thrust out threateningly.
"Hit him on nose," shouted Joe, dancing around with his useless bow. Will swung the heavy club above his head and with every ounce of strength in his body brought it down full on the tip of the beast's muzzle, the one weak spot in a bear's make-up. There was a gurgling roar, the thud of a heavy body followed by a sound of ripping wood as the bear in its death-struggle ripped the sides of the lean-to apart as if they had been made of paper. Joe drove one of the arrows, which he had finally found, almost to the feather in the breast of the struggling animal, but it was not needed. It had been Will's blow that had crashed the life out of that fierce huge body.
"That good swat you made," was all that
Joe said as panting, the boys looked down on the black mass at their feet.
When they had caught their breath again they managed to drag and roll the great body of the bear out of what was left of the lean-to. It was still an hour before daylight but neither of the boys felt like sleeping any more that night, so building up the fire until the blaze lighted up the whole place, they began to skin the carcass while it was still warm. With nothing to work with but flint knives and sharpened deer-horns this turned out to be a slow and tedious affair only to be relieved by much conversation and story-telling.
"This is what comes from you talking so much about sky-bears," began Will as they tugged and hauled at the tough, heavy skin. "How does this old chap match up with a grizzly?"
"If this bear had been a grizzly," responded Joe feelingly, "neither one of us would be alive now. You can never tell what a grizzly will do. You always sure though that he 's going to be mighty quick about it.'
"Did you ever have any fights with one?"
questioned Will working away at one of the massive fore-arms of the dead bear.
"No, grizzly not found often in my country. I hear about him from trappers and old men who hunted further south. They say he carry off a full-grown steer, that he run fast as a horse on smooth ground for hundred yards and on rough ground much faster. He good swimmer, too, but no climb trees."
"How about the cinnamon bear?" queried Will a little later.
"He all the same as black bear," returned Joe. "Sometimes black bear born brown, red, white or yellow. Sometimes half cubs be brown, rest black. When cubs born," went on Joe, "they not so big as rat. Old trapper tell me that he has held three in one hand. They blind and have no hair," finished Joe.
For awhile the boys cut and pulled away at the heavy skin in silence. As Joe laid bare a hind leg he was moved to relate a bear-experience of his own.
"Once when I very small," he began, "I go out in late winter with another bigger boy, hunting. He had old muzzle-loading shot-
gun with one charge of powder and shot in it. I had long stick. We hunt around the barrens until up on side of hill, under big rock, I see deep hole in snow. I poked my stick in. It hit something soft. 'Something there,' I say and keep on poking. There was. The snow bust open all at once and big, lean, cross, old bear jump out. I been poking my stick right down his air-hole."
"What did you do?" queried Will much interested.
"Snow too deep to run, no use to climb tree," continued Joe. "Other boy cocked gun, I get behind him and we wait for bear. 'Don't you miss,' I say, 'cause this stick not very sharp.' He wait until bear get very close and stand up on his hind-legs, then he aim at white spot just under chin and pull trigger. Shot make a big hole like a bullet right through throat and bear fall down dead so close that blood go all over our moccasins."
Will was much impressed.
"You certainly had some fun when you were a kid," he said enviously. "The only time I ever saw a bear before this one was
once late in the fall when I was out shooting with some larger fellows. We had a dog along and all at once he ran through the bushes under a bank and barked and barked. When we got there we found a bear just beginning to den-up. It had dug a round hole into the bank which did n't seem much larger than a woodchuck-hole. Inside was a big, jug-shaped burrow which sloped up and had a shelf dug in one side all covered with leaves and dry, withered grass. On the top of the bank was another little hole which opened out among some thick bushes."
"That the air-hole," interrupted Joe.
"I guess so," agreed Will. "Well, right by the hole was a big bundle of dry sticks. I suppose the bear was going to pull those over the entrance after it had settled down inside. By the time we got there it was coming out. One of the boys fired both barrels into its head at close range and killed it and when we pulled it out we found it was only a half-grown bear."
"If it had been an old one," remarked Joe with conviction, "you 'd never have found its
den. Old man bear he pretty wise. He make no noise even in the brush. He pretty hard to see and even my uncle he never find him in his winter-den."
"One of mine did," returned Will suddenly, remembering a family bear-story.
Joe only sniffed.
"Well, he did," persisted Will. "You need n't think you had the only uncle in the world. My great-great Uncle Jake was a Revolutionary soldier. The British captured him and shut him up in the Hulks."
"What those?" inquired Joe.
"Old broken-down ships that they anchored in the harbor and used for prison-ships," responded Will. "While he was there one of his company, who had been captured with him, died. Uncle Jake escaped and swam ashore and found his way back to Connecticut and married the widow and became a great bear-hunter. One winter he killed eleven bears. This time I'm telling you about was early in March. He was climbing down the side of a mountain when his feet went through a snow-bank which had drifted over a wind-
break. He struck something soft and stamped down on it. The next minute he was sorry he did for something rose right up under him and the next thing poor old Uncle Jake knew he was a-straddle a big black bear going like mad down the mountain."
"Riding bear-back," suggested Joe slyly.
"You have the idea," agreed Will, grinning. "Anyway good old Uncle Jake was pretty well worried. He did n't want to fall off and he did n't want to stay on, so what do you suppose he did?"
"Rode him up a tree and push him off broke his neck," guessed Joe.
"Nothing of the kind," returned Will. "He pulled out his hunting-knife and just as they got down to level ground he stabbed the old bear right through the spine, just back of the head and killed him."
There was a long pause.
"Don't you believe it?" demanded Will indignantly, as Joe still continued to say nothing.
"Umph," was all that Joe would say.
CHAPTER XI THE PINK PEARL
"Joe," said Will severely one morning right after breakfast, "how much money have you made this week?"
"Money!" responded Joe, "I no make money, I got no pants-pockets to put money in."
"That 's no excuse," reproved Will. "Pants or no pants, we 've got to make some money before we go back to Cornwall. Don't you remember how that generous, noble Mr. Donegan promised to give us double the value of anything we brought back? It 's up to us to get busy and find a gold mine or something and break that old rooster."
"He mean man," reflected Joe.
"You ought not to talk that way," chided Will, "when you ate up about ten dollars' worth of his lunch before we started. Any-
way, is n't there something that we can find in the woods that 's worth a lot of money. How about a black-fox pelt, I 've heard they sell for as much as a thousand dollars."
"No good," grunted Joe, "you never even see black fox. Take smart man to catch black fox. I too busy keeping you away from bees and porcupines to trap one. Anyway, pelt no good this time of year."
"If we were only down by the seashore," complained Will, paying no attention to Joe's talk, "we 'd stand a chance to find some ambergris."
"It 's a kind of a gray spongy stuff that 's sometimes found on the beach. Sick whales spit it up and it 's worth its weight in gold."
"I 'd spit it up too," said Joe with conviction, and he began to search through bushes and turn over logs and peer among the trees with a great show of excitement.
"What 's the matter with you anyway?" yelled Will at last, after watching him scurrying and scratching around like a rabbit-dog.
"Me? I looking for sick whale," re-
sponded Joe, staring anxiously up a hollow tree.
Will ran at him with a stick and the whaling expedition ended in a tussle.
"Let 's take a walk," suggested Will when they had got their breath again. "Perhaps we can come across something that looks like money."
Accordingly they tramped up the stream towards Beaver Dam but saw nothing new except a black bird about the size of a crow, with a scarlet head and crest, cutting a great square hole into the side of a live spruce tree. Will was much excited.
"It 's a pileated woodpecker," he whispered to Joe. "It 's the first one I 've seen. What a beauty he is. I 'll bet we could sell him for a good bit to a collector. I would n't kill a magnificent bird like that for any amount of money though," he finished virtuously.
The woodpecker evidently did n't put much trust in Will's good intentions for it suddenly spread its wings and flew off with a loud cackling call while the boys kept on to the pond.
At the edge of the bank Will came to a halt.
"Here 's our money," he shouted, pounding Joe on the back, and he pointed to a few clam-shells left by some wandering mink.
"No good," responded Joe, "no taste to fresh-water clams."
"That 's the trouble about you, Joe, you don't think of anything but eats. Why, I 've read that every year nearly half a million dollars worth of fresh-water pearls are found. These clams are probably full of them."
Joe shook his head.
"Don't shake your old head," went on Will. "I guess I know. My mother used to live in a place called Notch Brook in New Jersey. An old cobbler named Dave Howell lived in the village and when spring came, he always went fishing and did n't do any work as long as the fish bit."
"He got good sense," grunted Joe, "I would n't either."
"No," retorted Will, "nor when the fish did n't bite. Well, anyway," he went on, "this old chap always used to celebrate the beginning of the fishing season by having a
clam-bake of fresh-water clams. He 'd roast 'em and put salt on 'em and eat about a peck. One spring he started in to have his usual big feed and he had n't eaten more than a dozen or so before he nearly broke a tooth on something hard and round in one of the clams. It turned out to be a big pearl. It had been spoiled by the heat, but they sent it on to New York and poor old Dave found that it would have been worth about a thousand dollars if he had n't cooked it."
"Humph!" remarked Joe, "that pretty expensive dinner."
"Yes," agreed Will, "poor old Dave nearly broke his heart as well as his tooth over that pearl. He stopped fishing and cobbling and began to collect clams and so did everybody else, but Dave never found any more pearls. A carpenter named Jake Quackenbush did though. He got a big one that a New York jeweler bought for fifteen hundred dollars. He sold it in France and it finally was bought by the Empress Eugenie and was named the 'Queen Pearl' and is worth about ten thousand dollars now."
Thus discoursed Will as they tramped to the upper end of the lake. In spite of himself, Joe began to get interested.
"My grandfather," he at last volunteered, "he used to be great medicine-man. Then he got so old that he talk about his medicine because he so old that he did n't care if he die."
"Why, is it dangerous for a medicine-man to talk about his medicine?" queried Will, much interested.
Joe nodded solemnly.
"Yes," he said, "medicine-man talk about his medicine, it kill him. Anyway," he went on, "one day he show me handful of pearls, all dull and spotted like little balls of lime. He say he travel months and months down from his own country when he young man until he come to great mound like a snake hundreds of feet long. He dig in the back of the head of the snake and find bones of old peoples. With bones he found many pearls they used to wear. He take these and make strong medicine and travel back home and become big chief."
"He must have dug in some of the mounds
of the old mound-builders, but I never heard before of anyone finding pearls there," said Will much impressed.
Further treasure-talk was interrupted by a far-away splash from the other side of the lake. Looking closely the boys could see that some large animal was swimming across. As they stood in the shadow of the hemlocks, it evidently did not see them and made direct for the little cove on the edge of which they stood. Joe was the first to name the swimmer.
"Here come Old Man Lucifee," he said to Will. "He swim right at you and unless you hit him bang on the nose, he claw you up."
Sure enough as the animal came nearer, Will could see above the water the long, tufted ears and big round head of the lucifee, as the trappers call the Canada lynx. Nearer and nearer came the swimmer until it was close enough to make out the two boys waiting on the bank. Its fierce yellow eyes gleamed and a snarling growl came up from the water. Will expected every minute to see it turn back or at least turn aside, but Joe was right. Once in the water a lynx swims des-
perately to the point for which it starts and although not a brave animal, it will fight to the death to land at the place for which it set out. Will stood on the edge of the beach carrying his heavy wooden war-club. Snarling fiercely the lynx swept through the water, swimming like a dog, its head and back showing clear of the water at each powerful stroke. As it came to shallow water and its paws struck bottom, with a tremendous snarl, the great cat splashed towards the beach and rushed directly at Will. If the latter had got out of its way the lynx would have been only too glad to disappear in the woods beyond, but Will knew that he would never hear the last of such a side-step from Joe. Moreover, he wanted the long, soft, shaggy pelt for the cold nights which were coming. Accordingly, just as the lynx reached dry land, the club came down with all the strength of Will's arms and the weight of Will's body back of it. The blow was intended to land just between the glaring eyes, but Will had not allowed for the spring of a scared lynx. As the lucifee's fore-paws
came up the bank and it found a firm footing for its hind-paws, it sprang clear over the sweep of the war-club. Will toppled forward with the weight of his blow and as the lynx passed over him one of its dangling hind-paws touched Will's back, the sharp claws raking the bare flesh with two bloody, smarting gashes all the way from hip to head. The lynx nearly landed on Joe, who was standing behind Will grinningly watching the fight. The Indian ducked and dived into the bushes just in time to escape, while the lynx with another tremendous bound shot forward along the trees and disappeared out of sight. Joe crawled out of the underbrush, picking splinters, thorns and other bric-a-brac from his arms and chest as he came, to find Will the maddest boy who ever had his back scratched. He had pulled his club out of the sand into which it had sunk deep and was dancing around with the pain of the scratch, telling the world in general what he would do to that lynx if they met again.
"You shoot too low, Will," said Joe sol-
emnly, "I told you Old Man Lucifee scratch you up."
"What were you doing all the time, you juggins?" sputtered Will, trying to splash water on his smarting back. "How 'd I know that the blamed old lucifee would fly over me like a bird? Why did n't you hand him one when he landed?"
"Me!" objected Joe, "it was n't my cat, he belong to you. I resting in the bushes to watch you get him."
"Well," returned Will, looking at Joe's scratched and scrambled surface, "all I can say is you picked out a pretty prickly place to rest and you went into it pretty darned sudden."
During this conversation both boys had been looking for sphagnum moss and a moment later were cooling their smarting wounds with handfuls of that ready-made poultice. It was many a long day, however, before Will's scratches fully healed, for, as Joe told him, next to the bite of a man, the scratch of any of the big cats takes longest to heal. All the rest
of the afternoon Joe kept referring to the encounter in the dry solemn way in which he cracked all of his jokes.
"That very powerful blow you strike," he would say suddenly. "Warm lucifee's skin come in handy some cold night," he soliloquized later.
"The trouble was," returned Will, "that he wanted it more than I did."
As they talked they kept a sharp lookout for clams but at first saw no trace of any fresh shells. Finally, some distance from the shore, where a little ridge of sand bordered with mud thrust itself out, they found a bed of fresh-water clams. Joe started to pick them out by hand, but Will stopped him before he could muddy the water. Breaking off a long willow wand with a bud at the end, he showed Joe how to catch clams scientifically. He thrust the end of his stick between the gaping shells of the nearest clam. Instantly the latter snapped shut on the bud and Will pulled it in. This he repeated until the whole clam colony was piled up on the beach. The clams were of a dark horn-color with fine green lines rad-
iating in all directions on the outer surface of the shell, and Will learnedly instructed Joe that they were radiated unicos, being one of some fifteen hundred varieties found throughout the United States.
"None of them any good," grunted Joe, who was probably the most pessimistic treasure-hunter on record. From each shell stuck out a round roll of muscle, the clam's foot by which it pushed its way through the mud or moved along the surface of the sand for considerable distances.
"Sometimes," said Will, "the pearls are fastened to the shell. Sometimes they are in the mantle, the soft part of the clam which lines the inside shell."
"Most times they ain't anywhere," interjected Joe discouragingly.
"I bet you I get the first pearl," finished Will, paying no attention to the interruption.
Then followed the mussy business of opening the clams with flat sharp stones. The shell of each had to be examined carefully to see whether any pearl was sticking to it and the clinging, wrinkled folds of the mantle
lifted and carefully searched. Clam after clam was opened, searched and thrown on an increasing heap of discards, but there were no signs of any pearls. For some time the boys kept about even. Then Joe began to get tired of clam-opening. Will finally finished all of his own and then turned in to help the Indian. In spite of the fact that he had taken over the larger part of Joe's pile he finished first while Joe still had two clams left. By this time the Indian's patience was all gone. Throwing the last one which he had opened into the discard pile, Joe kicked the other two unopened ones back into the water.
"Heap foolish job," said he, starting down to the water's edge to wash off the slime and grease from his hands.
"There you go," called Will, "probably throwing away a magnificent pearl. Don't be a quitter. Open up those last two."
"No," said Joe, "you open them and keep the pearl."
"All right, you 'II be sorry," prophesied Will, dabbling in the muddy water until he found the two clams which Joe had kicked
away so scornfully. The first one was unusually large with a plump, round shell.
"Do you see that boy?" inquired Will, holding it up. "He 's got his teeth set on a pearl about the size of a pigeon-egg."
As he spoke, Will opened the clam and searched it, with the usual result. The last clam of all, judging from its crooked shell, had been badly treated in early childhood.
"Chuck it in, wash your hands, stop foolishness and come home for supper," remarked Joe, starting off down the lake.
He had only gone a few yards when a tremendous shout brought him to a standstill.
"Here it is, here it is!" yelled Will, wildly waving a streaming shell.
Joe shook his head wisely.
"No," he said, "you try fool poor Indian boy," and he started off again. The sound of rapid footsteps behind him made him turn once more to see Will springing at him like another charging lynx.
"Look at that, you old dumhead!" gasped Will.
Inside the crumpled, crippled shell, too
large to be concealed by the soft mantle, was a round, pink pearl as big as a pea. Perfectly round and loose without a blemish or a dull spot to mar its shimmering surface it seemed to fairly glow against the pale yellow lining of the shell.
"It's probably worth a million," remarked Will as they started back. Joe said nothing and kept on saying it all the way to camp. That evening he worked in the firelight for a long time and finally handed Will a little leather bag with a long neck-thong in which to carry the treasure.
"Joe," said Will solemnly, "you were all wrong about those clams?"
"Yes," said Joe.
"You kicked away thousands and thousands of dollars just because you would n't listen to your Uncle William?"
"Yes," said Joe.
"And you 're lazy, shiftless, ignorant and generally good-for-nothing?"
"Yes," admitted Joe.
"Just for that," said Will, "you get half of my million."
CHAPTER XII WIZARD POND
Only a few days were left of the month as shown by Will's wooden calendar which he carried in a duffel bag fastened around his waist along with half a dozen throwing-stones, a flint-knife and his fire-making tools. Each morning after breakfast Will would cut a notch for the day. The three weeks in the wood had made a great change in both of them. Will was burned by the sun until his skin was nearly as dark as Joe's copper-red complexion. Both boys wore heavy deer-skin moccasins which Joe had fashioned while puttees of braided cedar-bark cords covered their legs and met well above the knee the bear-skin breeches which each had made for himself after great mental anguish and the enduring of much rude criticism. The deer-skin shirts completed the costumes. These too were Joe's handicraft
and were laboriously tanned, softened and suppled by methods which the squaws of his tribe had used from earliest times. No other shirts are so prized by hunters and trappers the world over. They are soft and warm yet the buckskin is so porous that one can blow through it and unlike most other leathers it never shrinks or hardens when wet. When in full marching order Joe carried a bow and a birch-bark quiver ornamented with stained porcupine quills and containing a dozen arrows. Swung across one shoulder by a buckskin thong Will carried his club which with the throwing-stones completed his armament.
The finding of the pearl had left the boys with a feeling that the business part of their trip was over. It was property of a value far more than anything which they had ever expected to find. They had plenty of food stored up and were well clothed and armed and, barring accidents, would be able to stick out the remaining days of the test. Accordingly they decided to spend the rest of their time exploring the unknown country beyond the carcajou-den and back of the precipice
down which dashed Beaver Brook Will had never forgotten those strange sounds which his companion had heard from the mountain. He had often tried to talk about them with Joe, but the latter would only shake his head silently and all that Will could gather from him was that they were bad medicine.
It was a beautiful day in late August, clear and crisp, when the boys started out to discover the source of Beaver Brook. Each carried besides his weapons, two days' rations and a fur blanket which they planned to leave in the carcajou's cave while they climbed the mountain-side and explored beyond in light marching order. It was nearly dark when they at last reached the foot of the cliff after a long day's tramp. The den was as they had left it, carpeted and lined with clean, dry leaves. The scent of the carcajou, which still clung to the place, had evidently kept any other animal from claiming the snug, dry little cave. After supper they built a camp-fire on the slope in front and lying out on their bear-skin robes, toasted their tired feet and talked until bed-time.
It was the gray hour just before the dawn when Will suddenly started up wide awake. Beside him Joe lay sleeping heavily. At first he could neither hear nor see anything unusual. Yet he had such a strong feeling that there was something hostile about that at last he crept noiselessly out of the opening of the den into the still night. Above him flamed the winter constellations which had wheeled into the sky with the passing of the hours. Right overhead gleamed the jewelled belt of Orion guarded on either side by rose-red Betelgeuse and snow-white Rigel while further down the sky was the green glare of that sky-king Sirius the fell Dog Star. As Will peered about in the starlight, from far up the mountain-side beyond the cliff floated down the sound which once before had so alarmed the Indian. It was a long, wailing, indescribably sinister howl that seemed to come from a great distance with a peculiar muffled quality as if it sounded from underground. Again and again it trembled through the still air. It was something like the howling of a dog and yet with an un-
earthly wail to it that made little shivers run up and down Will's spine. Just as the stars began to pale in the east it stopped and was heard no more and Will remembered uneasily that all ghostly visitors are supposed to disappear at cock-crow. The sound was something like that of a dog yet how could there be a dog on the lonely deserted summit of Black Hill. Joe had been sure that it was not a wolf and Will was equally sure that the sound did not come from any kind of an Indian devil alive or dead. Still puzzling over the problem he fell asleep. When he awoke again it was broad daylight and Joe already had the fire going and was making severe remarks about sleepy-heads. In the sunlight the fears of the night seemed very far away and Will decided to say nothing about the strange sounds to Joe.
After breakfast the boys explored the cliff down which Beaver Brook dashed. For a mile or so on either side of the brook the rocks were almost perpendicular, towering some two hundred feet without even a foothold. It was evident that the boys would have to go
around to the other side of the mountain or else follow the brook up the gorge which it had cut through the rock on its way down the mountain-side. At first sight this seemed almost as impossible as climbing the cliff. The gorge wound its way like the letter "S" in spirals cut by the stream out of the solid slippery soap-stone. Here and there were little falls, and the rock was so smooth and slippery that for a long time the boys were unable to make any progress. Finally by wriggling and zigzagging their way from one finger-hold to another, they reached a point almost half-way up the gorge. Here they found a curved slope of absolutely smooth rock. Only where it joined the cliff-side were two or three little notches which Will at last managed to reach with one of his fingers after much balancing and stretching. With infinite pains he adjusted his weight to the curve of the rock. The least slip would send him gliding down the slope into the pool below beside which Joe stood grinning hopefully. Once or twice Will started to slide but each time managed to catch himself in time. At last he reached
a ledge where he could get a firm hold on a little knob of roughened stone that thrust itself out from the slippery face of the rock. There he lay watching Joe teetering and worming his way up from one slippery point to another until he reached the most critical place of all, a rounded slope just below where Will was lying. Just as Joe reached the spot and was gruntingly trying to balance himself on the glassy slant, Will stretched one foot down and gave his head a little push. It was fatal. With a startled yell Joe began to slide down towards the pool below. Even as he went, however, he threw up his arms and with a desperate clutch managed to catch hold of Will's ankle. Will tugged in vain. In a minute the full weight of Joe's body broke his insecure hold and with piercing yells both of the boys coasted down the slope together clawing in vain at the slippery rock and together disappeared in the pool below, where they ducked each other and tusseled on the bank until they were glad to stop and rest. A little later they started again on the same difficult climb after each had promised the other
that there would be no further foul play. Half an hour later they were both at the top of the slope where the gorge turned almost at right angles and seemed to end in a perpendicular wall of rock a hundred feet high. Down this floated a waterfall of cloudy spray and foaming water to fall into a green pool at the foot of the perpendicular cliff which barred the boys' way. Nothing without wings could surmount that slippery face of rock. For a time they stood admiring the waterfall. Both were hot and tired after their climb and the cool green depths of the pool gleamed invitingly before them. It was perhaps twenty feet across churned white by the force of the fall at its far side, with smooth dark rocks showing apparently some six feet below the surface. Will was the first to jump in. He stretched his legs down expecting to be able to stand on the rocks which seemed just below his feet, but to his surprise they were not there. Stretching his arms above his head he allowed himself to sink down through the clear water as far as the weight of his body would carry him until his outstretched arms
had disappeared below the surface. Still the rocks remained at the same level below him. Turning over he swam down toward them, but they receded before him although he swam until the pressure at his lungs warned him back to the surface. It was like swimming in air. Above him he could see the sky, the trees, and even Joe's face grinning down at him as he flashed up from the depths. Swimming mightily his head bobbed out of the water none too soon for his laboring lungs.
"That old pool is about a hundred feet deep," he gasped to Joe as he swam to the bank. "I 'll bet you can't reach bottom even by diving. The water 's just like green air, but it sure is deep."
"That 's why it 's green," explained Joe. "Green water always deep water."
When Will got his breath again both the boys filled their lungs two or three times. When they had finally stored away all the air that their chests would hold they shot down together into the pool with clean-cut dives. This time Will dived as deep as he could and swam down with all his mighL Not until his
head was nearly bursting, however, did his hand touch one of the black rocks fifteen feet below him. Even as he reached the first rock he saw that beside it was a square chasm which showed green depths that extended far below him. Joe reached the rock almost as soon as he did and side by side they shot up into the air above and lay gasping like two fish out of water at the side of the pool.
"Joe," said Will at last, "you don't dare swim down into that square hole below the rock we touched."
"I swim anywhere you swim--and then some," retorted Joe.
This time the boys rested for a full fifteen minutes and filled themselves up even fuller than before with a supply of air. Diving as deeply as possible and swimming down with all their strength and speed they shot past the first rock and into the dim green depths of the shaft. A few more strokes and the faint, wavering appearance of other rocks far below convinced them that the ultimate bottom was beyond their power to reach. As they turned to come up in the clear water they caught a
Joe followed him indignantly
glimpse of what seemed to be a cave opening into the side of the shaft. There was a daredevil streak in Will's make-up and without stopping to count the cost, he shot into this slanting opening believing that the cave led up into the heart of the mountain above the level of the pool. Joe reached to stop him but it was too late and he followed him indignantly. It was a foolhardy thing to do. If the opening reached the air above, the boys' breath would just last long enough to bring them up. If not and the cave ran in a short distance and stopped neither boy would ever get back to the surface of the pool. The passage widened beyond the entrance and far above showed a faint gleam of light. Toward this Will swam with all his might with Joe just behind. Not a second too soon the heads of both of them shot out of the water into the twilight of a long tunnel sloping up towards the point of light. Both boys clung to a protruding rock for awhile, gasping for breath. Joe was the first to speak.
"You big fool," he observed with conviction. "Suppose this cave had stopped. You
and Joe would have stopped too--stopped living."
"But it did n't," Will reminded him, "and now your Uncle William has found a way to climb the cliff on the inside instead of the outside."
The opening narrowed a short distance from where it ran into the pool and soon became nothing more than a long crooked tunnel which had evidently been made ages before by some underground stream. It was rough, steep walking towards the spot of light, but the dry brook-bed made a trail which could be followed without any great difficulty. The pool into which the boys had dived had been not more than a hundred feet from the summit but the cave in which they now were stretched fully a quarter of a mile in front of them, showing that it came out some distance beyond the edge of the cliff. After a long, rough climb, which was hard even for their toughened feet, they came to the entrance through which they had seen the light far below. The cave narrowed and twisted at this point and the open-
ing which came out from under a jutting rock was hardly larger than an ordinary fox-den. The boys scraped out the sandy soil with their hands until the hole was large enough to squeeze through. Both were stripped to the buff. Clothes, weapons, fire-sticks and food--all had been left on the edge of that green pool. Only around his neck Will wore like an amulet the little bag which held the pearl.
Like a pair of foxes first one touseled head and then another came out from under the rock. From some unexplainable impulse Joe replaced the earth where they came out, entirely hiding the opening. They looked about for the edge of the cliff but to their surprise found themselves on the shore of a tiny dark lake which lay at the foot of a great slash in the top of the mountain. There were a few feet of beach around its edge, and above was a fifty-foot wall of rock down which wound a rough path which showed signs of having been recently used. Just in front of the boys towered a great boulder, nearly the size of a small house. Joe stared at the path and sniffed the air suspiciously while Will studied
the little lake carefully, memories of old stories flitting through his mind as he did so.
"You know what this is, Joe?" he finally asked.
"I no like this place," said Joe, "it bad medicine."
Although they could neither see nor hear anyone, both of the boys unconsciously dropped their voices.
"It's Wizard Pond," whispered Will. "Years ago an old trapper found it, but it has n't been seen since but two or three times in the last fifty years."
As they moved on there seemed to be a sort of waiting stillness in the air. It was as if someone had just stopped talking. They crossed the open space which led up to the boulder and drew close together as they started to go around it. Just as they turned the corner there burst out the same wailing howl which Will had heard the night before. In front of them stood a rude shack built against the boulder. Outside of it three black hounds tugged at the chains which fastened
them to a tree. Their long, flapping ears showed their bloodhound breed while their size and fierceness seemed to show some strain of mastiff in their make-up. Just beyond the dogs was a curious apparatus out from which ran a many-coiled, twisted pipe. Will recognized it as a rude still and there flashed through his mind the stories he had heard about a gang of moonshiners and marauders which was supposed to operate somewhere on the border and for whom both the Canadian and United States authorities had been hunting for years. Before the boys had a chance to get back three men sprang from out of the shack and grabbed them. One seemed to be a full-blood Indian. Another had a dark skin and hooked nose and wore the ear-rings of a half-breed. It was the sight of the last man, however, who had seized Will that made both boys faint and sick with fear. A giant in size, standing nearly seven feet in his moccasins, he had a long scar which ran from the inside of his right eye down through the cheek to the corner of his lip. In healing the wound had twisted the flesh into a fixed sneer. Above
the fierce face thick eyebrows met, matted like the fur of a wild beast, making a straight black line across the low forehead. The cruel eyes gleamed green in the dim light with an inhuman glare in their depths like the eyes of a tiger Will had once seen at the Boston Zoo. It needed but one look to make the boys believe that the stories about "Scar" Dawson were true. He was the leader of a gang of men who spent their time in stealing horses in the States and running them over the Canadian border and in making and smuggling bad whiskey into both countries. It was Scar's gang which had tortured old Mose Butler and his wife nearly to death up on top of Yelpin Hill trying to discover the money they were supposed to have hidden somewhere in their lonely cabin. It was Scar himself who only last year, in a running fight with the Internal Revenue officers, had killed one and although badly wounded, managed to get away into the deep woods where he was supposed to have died of his injuries. He was said to heartily approve of the proverb that dead men tell no tales, which perhaps was the reason
why he had never been caught or all of his hiding-places discovered.
Dawson's grip tightened on Will's throat until everything went black before him with only the murderous eyes of the outlaw shining through the darkness. Tearing Joe from the half-breed who was holding him, Dawson suddenly threw both boys like sacks of meal through the open door of the shack. Will came to himself a minute later to find Joe bending anxiously over him. This little bag that held the pearl was gone. Dawson had torn it from his neck and slipped it into one of his pockets before any of the rest had noticed it. The gang had hurried out to see if there were others coming and for a minute or so the boys were left alone. Joe had just time to whisper to Will "No talk, no talk, play dumb, else we lose the cabin," when their captors burst into the shack.
"There 's no one at the entrance and no signs of any tracks," they heard Dawson say to the others in a snarling voice. "Who are you?" he roared at the boys. "How did you get here anyway?"
Remembering their agreement with the lumber-king that if they spoke to anyone during the month they lost the promised prize, both boys kept still. Shaking their heads and looking steadily at the men, they made no sound. When the giant approached them threateningly, Will had an idea. Waving his arms grandly skyward he pointed first to himself and then to Joe. Undoubtedly this gesture and their silence saved their lives. The half-breed and the Indian were both superstitious and became certain that there was something supernatural about the two naked boys who could not speak and who seemed to have dropped from the sky. Dawson was not so easily impressed. From what he said to the others it was evident that he suspected that the boys were crazy and had escaped from some asylum into the woods. In that case it would be safer to take them a long distance from Black Hill and let them loose where they could be found rather than chance the continued search which their permanent disappearance might bring about. On the other
hand they might be spies of the Canadian mounted police.
"I don't know whether you young devils are playing with me or not," he growled after studying them for some time in silence.
"We 'll just tie you up until I find out. If you are--" and he drew his hand slowly and significantly across his throat.
It took all the nerve Will had to keep from trembling as he looked into that evil face. As for Joe he was as impassive as ever. At a signal from Dawson the half-breed tied the arms of both boys behind their backs with strips of raw-hide and they were dumped down on a bed of leaves, while Dawson went out to feed the hounds which apparently he alone could control.
CHAPTER XIII THE ESCAPE
The boys lay there in silence all the rest of that afternoon. When evening came a little camp-fire was lighted and the men gathered around it and cooked their evening meal. No one seemed to think of them, but after the others had eaten, the Indian came over and looked for a long time at Joe. Finally he touched the boy's high cheek-bones and stiff black hair with his hand.
"You red man too," he grunted.
A little later he came back with a rough bowl full of venison-stew in which floated several boiled potatoes which some of the gang had evidently brought back on their last trip to the settlements. Neither of the boys had eaten since morning and that stew smelled better than anything they had ever tasted. The Indian loosened the thongs which bound
Joe's right arm, leaving the other arm still tied up and placed the bowl so that he could reach it. Before he touched a thing, Joe worked away at Will's fastenings until both boys had each a hand free with which to eat. When they had emptied the bowl and scraped and polished the inside of it, the Indian came back and tied them up for the night. As he wound the straps around Joe's arm the boy slyly stiffened his muscles so that afterwards when they relaxed there was considerable play between his arms and the thongs. Just before the men turned in for the night, Dawson went to where the dogs were tied and led them over to the rude, ladder-like path down which he thought the boys had come. As he fastened the last fierce brute to the tree at the foot of the path, he looked at the boys significantly.
"If you fellows try any funny business," he growled coming back to the tent, "them hounds 'll rip you up in about thirty seconds."
Hour after hour went by of that long night--the longest which either of the boys had ever known. Around them slept the men
while every now and then one of the dogs outside would give a long, shuddering howl. Joe managed soon after midnight to at last work his right hand and arm out from the loosened thongs. That done it was only a matter of minutes before he was entirely free. Then quietly he untied the hard knots which held Will. For a long time both boys rubbed the numbness out of their arms and legs. Joe waited until that gray hour just before the dawn had come when men sleep most soundly. Then with infinite care he led the way past the sleepers. It was necessary to step over Dawson, who, wrapped in his blanket, lay across the entrance. In the dim light of the setting moon the whites of his eyes showed from under the half-shut lids and his face looked like the face of a fiend.
As they stepped out of the door, the corner of the rock hid them from the chained sentries. Once beyond that and the dogs would certainly sense them and give the alarm. Their only hope would be to reach the entrance to the secret passage before the men were awakened. Each boy crouched down beside the
rock like two sprinters on their marks and suddenly shot around the rock within a yard of the hounds. Two of them seemed to be sleeping, but the old bitch, fiercer and more wary than the younger dogs was on her feet in a second. Straining against the heavy chain, she snapped viciously at the boys and as they passed her, gave a yelling bay that sounded more like some furious wild-beast than a dog. In a moment the sleepers were aroused. As the boys sped through the dark they heard the fierce voice of Dawson.
"Wake up!" he shouted. "I knew we ought to have got rid of them boys. I 'll untie the dogs. They can't be far away. When we catch 'em this time, we 'll take no more chances."
The maddened hounds strained so at their chains that it was a minute or so before the outlaw could free them. That little start was all that the boys needed. Running down the path as they had never run before, they came to the small hole blocked with earth through which they had wormed their way the day before. As with their bare hands they opened
up the hole, Joe tried to make Will go in first, but Will would have none of it.
"You 're younger," he whispered. "Anyway I got you into this and you 're going to have the first chance to get away," and he pushed the reluctant boy into the opening.
It seemed to Will, as if Joe would never work his way through, for the hole was much smaller from the outside than it had been from inside the tunnel. He dug and tore frantically at the burrow scattering the sand and earth behind him like a woodchuck. At last he managed to force his shoulders through. Will could hear Dawson cursing the dogs as he tried to unleash them. If the hounds reached them before they could block the passage their last chance of life was gone and they would die like rats in a trap. Just as a yell from the outlaw and a roaring bay from the great hound showed that the latter was at last loose, Joe disappeared and Will plunged in after him not a second too soon. Down the boys' trail howling like a demon came the bitch with the other two hard on her heels. Will had just time to pull himself through
the hole and with Joe's help to roll up a round boulder which lay inside the tunnel against the opening. Then both boys turned and raced down the black winding passage, for their lives, now dashing against the rocky wall as the trail wound here and there and sometimes tripping and falling over stones without a thought of the bruises and the blood that streamed down their faces, for they knew that Death was on their trail in the dark. As they ran they heard the hounds scratching and barking at the rock which blocked the hole. In a moment the men had joined the pack.
"Here they are," exulted Dawson. "Wait till I get this rock out and we 'll let the dogs finish the young foxes."
The boys reached the edge of the pool just as one hound after another scrambled into the entrance of the tunnel above them. So swiftly did the hunting pack follow that as the fugitives dived into the inky, motionless water the snaky muzzle of the foremost hound thrust itself around the first corner of the passage not ten feet away. Down through the
water-filled shaft the two shot and out into the main pool. With desperate strokes they flashed up through the deep water. Just when it seemed impossible to last another second they broke the surface and faint and gasping reached the bank. Will was all for pushing on, but Joe held him back.
"Wait," he said, "if dogs follow, we fight 'em better here."
Will saw the sound sense of this. Slipping on their clothes both boys seized a couple of heavy jagged bits of rock ready to brain the first dog which came up through the pool. Evidently, however, there was no water-dog strain among the fierce breeds which made up the blood of the pursuing pack, for the boys were not followed. From underground they heard a babble of voices and the yelps of the hounds as they refused to take the water. Then the voices became fainter and died away.
"If they want to get us," said Will as they hurried down the trail, "they 'll have to go down on the other side of the mountain and around. By that time we 'll be so far away they 'll never find us."
Joe was not so sure.
"That big chap he do something yet," he prophesied. "He bad one."
The boys hurried down the path up which they had plodded a day or so before. Neither one knew that the dogs from which they had so narrowly escaped were of a blood-hound strain nor the danger to themselves of the open trail which they were leaving. They passed the carcajou's den and followed Beaver Brook. The sun was just showing clear among the trees when Joe stopped and listened. From far up the mountain-side sounded the long howl of a hunting dog which grew louder and nearer every second.
"They 're after us," said Will, turning very white. "They must have had a secret path down the cliff. If we can only get to the cabin, we can telephone for help and stand them off until it comes."
Joe answered not a word, but led the way with the tireless lope which he had learned on many a long hunt in the far-away Barrens. The sound of the hounds, although clearly heard in the still air, was yet a long ways off.
The boys raced down the slope and along the side of Beaver Brook running for their very lives' sake. Yet no matter how fast they went, the fierce belling of the pack behind them sounded louder and louder. Finally, as the dogs came out from behind the corner of the cliff and swung into the long straight-way by the brook-side their baying burst out so loud and clear that the boys stopped and looked back thinking that the black hounds had sighted them at last. The sound, however, had been carried through the long valley as if through a funnel and the pack was not yet in sight.
"We 'll never get to the shack much less the cabin," gasped Will. "I wish you had your bow and I was wearing my old war-club."
Joe pointed ahead to where Beaver Brook showed in the distance.
"We make pond before dogs see us, we swim down to beaver-lodge and be safe."
Will made no answer but ran desperately with Joe always a stride or so ahead. As they came to the pond and plunged in the dogs were still not in sight. A minute later a
chorus of howls and barks showed that the pack was in full cry on the fresh trail. The boys swam low in the water and although their pursuers had reached the upper end of the pond before they came to the lodge, the dogs did not sight them in the water. Without a splash they dived down and swam through the still water to the entrance which they had used weeks before. In another minute they were safe within the warm, round dome and lying at full length on the shelf inside. As they came in they heard the startled plunges of the beaver going out on the other side. From overhead through the water and the thick thatch of their refuge they heard faintly the sounds of the pack and at last the hoarse shouts of the men who came hurrying up behind them. At the point where the trail reached the water the dogs checked.
"Here 's where they took to the water," sounded Dawson's voice. "They must have landed somewhere. Separate the dogs and circle the whole pond and we 'll pick up the trail."
For nearly two hours the boys heard the fierce shouts of the men and the yelps and bays of the puzzled dogs as they went back and forth and around and around the lake. Finally toward the end of the morning the sounds died away.
"We 'll stay right here until dark," said Will. "They 'll get tired of hunting for us and go back. Then we 'll slip off and hike for the cabin."
"Me for big sleep," agreed Joe, and the boys curled up on the soft dry grass which covered the shelf and slept until late in the afternoon. They woke up towards sunset fiercely hungry. It seemed a week since that great bowl of venison stew. Joe began to fumble around at the bottom of. the hut where the beaver had already made a neat pile of food-sticks, the beginning of their winter supplies. Joe pawed them over and finally pulled one out about four feet long and commenced to gnaw the bark like an over-grown hungry beaver. Will got one sniff of the sweet, fragrant black-birch and grabbed the other end and gnawed away even faster than his com-
panion. They kept it up until they met in the middle of the stick and had each swallowed some feet of green birch-bark. It was not very good food, but at least it filled their hungry stomachs and was better than nothing.
When at last they were unable to see any gleam of light through the tiny air-holes, they crept down to the entrance, swam through and made their way without a sound to the edge of the shore and in a minute were following the familiar trail which led to their camp. It was a black, starless night. The woods were full of sighs and murmurings as an uneasy wind wandered through the upper branches. They stole along, feeling that their lives depended upon their silence, for it might well be that the enemy were lying in ambush beside this well-marked path. Gradually in the darkness the shapes of well-known objects began to loom up. In the depths of a thicket under a huge beech was hidden their storehouse made of woven, wattled boughs where they kept a supply of dried venison, smoked fish and wicker baskets of dried berries. Silently as hunting snakes they crept through
the thicket, undid the bar of the door and reached up their hungry hands to the long strips of savory venison on the upper shelves. Never was a meal more enjoyed. As they ate they could feel the strength coming back to their bodies. Not until they had eaten most of the meat and smoked trout and tucked away the rest in the pockets of their deer-skin shirts and then emptied a few baskets of dried berries for dessert, did the boys stop.
"Better than birch-bark," whispered Will.
Joe patted his stomach respectfully to show what that square meal had meant to him, as they slipped out of the storehouse and slunk down the trail to drink deep of the cold spring. Just back of that was the "weapon-tree," as Will had christened a thorn-bush on which they hung their clubs, arrows and bows when not in use. In the dark they fumbled around until Will's fingers closed on the smooth handle of Joe's war-pick and he swung it by its thong over his shoulder. At the same time Joe found his bow and quiver filled with a dozen arrows. Will had his pouch full of throwing-stones and after Joe had fastened a
short round-headed club to his belt they started on toward the shack, fully armed. In the dim light they could see the wood-pile and the black opening of the door-way. Though there was no sound, yet the Indian sensed something hostile. With a quick movement he pulled Will down on the ground and motioning to him to lie quiet, wormed his way along the path until he came to the door-way. As he started to creep in his head almost touched the body of a man lying asleep just inside. Joe drew back like a flash and waited. He could hear the sound of deep breathing and finally rose to his feet and looked in. For nearly five minutes Will could see him standing motionless, peering and listening through the darkness. Then he stole back, lay down beside his companion and whispered into his ear--
"They all there asleep. Dogs away. We sneak down trail to cabin."
"Not until I get my pearl," Will whispered back.
Joe looked at him long.
"I 'm with you, Chief," he said finally.
Without another word the boys flitted like shadows up to the open door where Will stood until he could make out the dim outlines of the sleepers inside. The one across the threshold was the Indian. Over to the right on Will's couch was a huge bulk which they knew must be Dawson. Around his neck presumedly he wore the leather pouch with the pearl which he had taken off Will when the boys were first captured. Stepping carefully over the Indian the boys stood and looked down upon the sleeping giant. He was lying flat on his face and his huge arms entirely hid his throat. Bending down close to him Will could just make out the dark line of the cord. It would be impossible, however, to get it off without awakening him. Will decided upon the desperate plan of snapping the cord with one quick jerk and escaping in the darkness. Joe guessed what he was about to do and as he stepped forward pulled him gently back. Like the Spartan boys of old the Indian had been trained by his tribe in the lore of theft. Pushing Will to one side, he stooped down and began to blow softly at a spot directly be-
tween the sleeper's shoulders. At first it had no effect. Then as the persistent current of cool air chilled Dawson 's bare skin, he began to toss uneasily. Finally, with a grunt he turned completely over until his back wu against the warm blanket. By this motion he exposed his throat and both boys could see the precious little bag black against his white skin. The movement, however, had half aroused Dawson and he seemed almost on the point of waking. Joe quietly reached down and lifted the outlaw's felt hat which lay beside him and began to softly fan the sleeper with it. As the little current of air cooled Dawson's hot face, gradually he relaxed until at last he was sleeping heavily as at first. Slipping out the piece of sharp flint which he carried in his pocket as a knife, Joe, with the utmost care, raised the little bag, at the same time pressing his fingers lightly on the place where it had lain so that no difference in the pressure would awaken the sleeper. Then with tiny strokes he sawed away at the stitches until the bag's mouth gapped open. Pressing it gently there slipped out into Will's outstretched hand
something round and cool which even in the darkness showed shimmering and lustrous. Slipping the pearl safely into the pocket of his shirt Will followed Joe towards the doorway. Unfortunately he turned slightly away from the direction which he had followed in entering and just as Joe had cleared the sleeping Indian at the door, Will stepped full on the outstretched foot of the half-breed who lay in the opposite corner. The man awoke with a yell and clutched at Will, who avoided his hands with a quick writhe of his body. Joe at the first sound leaped through the doorway and was safe outside. As Will reached the door the Indian sprang up barring the way. Will stepped back and was suddenly seized around the waist by the sinewy arms of the half-breed. In vain he pulled and tugged desperately to get away. The shrill shouts of his captor aroused Dawson who sprang up just as Will managed to get his club loose. With a quick, short-arm sweep Will brought it down with a tremendous smash full on the forehead of the half-breed who was holding him fast in his locked arms. The crash
echoed through the little room, the straining arms relaxed and the man rolled over backward and lay like a log. At that moment the Indian in front and Dawson from behind sprang at the boy. Only his football training saved him. The Indian tackled too high and Will dived underneath his out-stretched arms and with a wriggle and a rush was through him and out the door into the dark before the cursing, shouting men behind knew what had happened. Down the long, dark trail the boys sped and in a second were out of sight in the blackness. Dawson wasted no time in pursuit. Standing in front of the cabin he whistled shrilly through his fingers until from far up the mountain-side the runners could hear the answering bay of the bloodhound pack which had been released to hunt on their own account that night. When once they returned pursuit was certain and the boys strained every muscle to get a good start and, if possible, reach the cabin and telephone for help before it was too late.
As they sped down the trail the sky began to lighten in the east over the edge of Black Hill.
"Anyway," gasped Will as he caught sight of the coming dawn, "we 've won the land and the cabin for the troop. Yesterday was the last day."
"If we don't go faster," grunted Joe, "we 'll never see the troop again. Those dogs getting very close."
Even as he spoke the howls of the hunting hounds behind rang out loud and louder. They had evidently dashed down the mountain at Dawson's whistle and picked up the boys' trail almost instantly. By the time the fugitives had covered another quarter of a mile, the baying of the pack was dreadfully distinct. The path at that point took a sharp bend and almost doubled on itself to skip a patch of marshy ground where a hidden spring had made a quagmire. Just beyond the bend the trail ran between two enormous white oak-trees. As they passed the trees, Will gripped Joe by the shoulder.
"We 'll never get to the cabin before the hounds," he muttered. "Here 's a good place to stand them off. They 'll have to come around the bend in the open and we may crip-
ple one or two of them before they get to close quarters."
"'Spose men right behind them," returned Joe doubtfully.
"Then we 're done for," decided Will. "They 'll pick us off with their rifles. That 's a chance we 'll have to take."
Crouching each behind his tree they recovered their breath for the coming struggle. Joe strung his bow carefully, loosened the arrows in the quiver and placed his favorite on the string. Will chose his best throwing-stone, a well-balanced bit of heavy sharp-edged quartz. The tense waiting strained the taut nerves of both boys almost to breaking. The sweat stood out on Joe's forehead in little beads while Will balanced his club first in one hand and then the other. The howl of the hounds came near and nearer. Suddenly it stopped. The pack knew by the fresh scent that their quarry was at bay. Both boys kept their eyes fixed on the trail some thirty yards below the bend. If the dogs showed there alone, they had a chance. If through the bushes appeared the heads of the men, it
meant quick death for them both. Far down the path they could hear the rapid padding of the feet of the hunting pack and soon the fierce sniffing of the leader nosing out the trail. A few seconds more and they would know what chance was theirs. Suddenly from out of the thicket shot the long, fierce head of the bitch as silently, with flaming eyes, she followed the trail. At her shoulders showed the black forms of her whelps which, run as they would, never once headed their dam. As the pack burst into the open, both boys stared with straining eyes into the thicket to see whether death was there. No sign or sound came from the bushes. Evidently the outlaws had allowed the pack to go on ahead at a pace which left them far behind. Slowly Joe raised his great bow and drew the arrow until it was level with his breast. Just as the dogs reached the middle of the little clearing beyond the bend, came the twang of the bowstring and a flash of light seemed to pass through the air. There was a gurgling howl as the sharp point pierced the neck of the second dog and lodged in the very center of
the vital knot. The hound sprang straight up into the air and fell back dead. At the same instant Will threw his jagged throwing-stone at the other hound who had dropped back for an instant at the sight of his stricken mate. The stone buzzed through the air and catching the dog's foreleg just below the shoulder-joint, snapped the bone like a pipe-stem. The howls of her wounded and dying whelps maddened the grim leader. With a roar she rounded the bend and with bristling hair rushed down the straight path at the boys. There was but time for one more shot. An arrow and a heavy throwing-stone whirred through the air at the head of the charging brute. Neither reached its mark. At the first motion of the boys' arms the bitch suddenly dropped her head between her forepaws as she sprang. The arrow whizzed harmlessly just above her ears while the stone only grazed the back of her skull. The boys had but time to grasp their clubs when the fierce head showed on the trail between the trees. The great dog would certainly have gripped one of the boys in her slavering jaws if she had not hesitated
a fraction of a second as to which to attack first. This tiny pause was fatal to her. With all of his force Will brought the keen point of his club crashing into her skull just as Joe's war-club smashed down upon the black back. With one long howl the fierce beast stood motionless for a moment and then slowly toppled over on her side. Her death-cry was echoed down the trail by a furious shout from the men who had been left far behind by their swift pack. Without another look at the struggling bodies, the boys sprang from behind the trees and sped down the path at a tremendous pace, well-breathed by their rest. Still, however, their pursuers would probably have come within gun-shot, for the path was a straightaway from the bog, if it had not been that they lingered over the hounds. For long the boys could hear as they ran the shrill voices of the half-breed and the deep curses of Dawson as they tried to help the wounded and dying dogs. At last around a sudden bend the squat shape of the log-cabin showed ahead. Down the home stretch the boys dashed, cleared at a bound the steps of the porch and fumbled with
shaking hands above the door where the key was supposed to be hidden. Fortunately it was there and in another minute they were inside with the door locked and barred with a huge wooden bar which stretched across the doorway and fitted into heavy iron sockets set deep into the wall. Both the front and back windows were secured by thick wooden shutters. For a time at least the boys were safe. Will seized the telephone while the crafty Joe started up the little stairs and unbarred the shutters of one of the windows which commanded the space just in front of the door and the two lower front windows. Opening another window at the back he was in a position to bring his bow to bear upon anyone trying to break in either at the front or from behind.
In the room below Will clicked the telephone frantically in an effort to get the distant central while along the trail the voices of the outlaws came nearer and nearer. When central at last answered Will gave Mr. Donegan's number.
"Hurry," he added, "it 's life and death."
It seemed an hour before anyone answered.
"What do you want?" sounded a gruff voice which could belong to no one but the lumber-king.
"This is Will Bright," came the answer. "Joe and I are in your cabin. We were caught by Scar Dawson and his gang but we got away. They 're coming now and I don't know how long we can hold out. Get some men and come as fast as you can. Say, Mr. Donegan," went on Will, and his voice shook a little, "if you don't get here in time tell my folks good-bye for me. Joe and I've won the cabin for the troop. We stuck it out and have n't spoken to anyone or been helped by anyone since we saw you."
Whatever might be said against the lumber-king's manners and temper, no one ever accused him of lacking energy and decision.
"Stand them off, my boy," he shouted back over the 'phone, and this time there was nothing gruff in his voice. "I 'll pick up the sheriff and one or two others and break a world's record coming. Stick it out till we get there!"
CHAPTER XIV THE SIEGE
For a few moments there was neither sound nor sight of their pursuers. The woods stretched away fresh and still in the early sunlight. Just back of the cabin chimed the golden notes of a hermit thrush. As if there were no danger nor death in the world the bird sang until his little body trembled with the ecstasy of his song. Up and up soared the notes beyond the range of man's ears and still with open beak and shaken breast the bird sang on, a song which we humans can never hear.
Joe crouched close to the wall beside the open front window while Will at the other side of the long upper room guarded the back entrance. As the minutes went by, he dared hope that the moonshiners had turned back.
"I don't believe they 're coming," he whispered.
Joe only grunted and pointed to the open sky where a moment before a red-tailed hawk had been hovering just above the tree-tops. As Will looked the bird began to circle higher into the sky while a passing crow suddenly cawed warningly.
"The birds see 'em hiding," said the Indian. The boys crouched quiet and tense for a full ten minutes longer.
"I'm going to peek out," muttered Will at last.
"No, no," hissed Joe, "you wait," and he crawled along the floor to where lay an old cap which some one had left in the room. Picking this up he raised it cautiously on the end of his bow just above the front window-ledge and moved it back and forth. At first nothing happened. Finally Joe raised the bow until the cap showed full and fair beyond the sill. Instantly from two different points at the edge of the woods came the sharp crack of high-powered rifles and the cap spun through the air to the floor with two round holes showing through it. Joe gave a shriek ending in a deep groan. The trick worked.
From out of a tangle of dry grass and huckleberry bushes, which did not seem sufficient cover to hide a rabbit, peered the fierce face of the half-breed with a patch of blackened blood smeared across his forehead where Will's club had landed in the fight at the shack. Grinning savagely he rushed to the door. Joe fitted an arrow to his bow and waited. Sounded a twang like the open bass string of a banjo and the arrow hissed through the air and sank deep into the thigh of the outlaw. With a yell of pain and fury he swung his repeating-rifle up and fired two shots in instant succession through the open window. Both boys lay close to the log wall and escaped unharmed. Almost before the sound had died away he, was gone. Only a tiny red trail marked where he had stood. For a few moments there was a silence. Will caught himself counting his heart-beats and wondering how long it would take a high-powered car to cover thirty miles of rough roads. If only the enemy could be persuaded to make a long siege of it help would come in time. The attacking party, however, was headed by a
leader of no ordinary ability. For ten years the huge moonshiner had successfully pitted his wits against the best of the internal revenue officers on one side of the border and the craftiest of the mounted police on the other. He had instantly noticed the telephone-wire which led to the cabin and realized that probably a call for help had already reached the town. Yet he was not the man to give up the fortune which he had lost overnight or to forego the secret of his best hiding-place without a struggle. His next move was a shrewd one. Stationing the wounded man back of a tree which commanded the whole front of the cabin, Dawson and the half-breed suddenly appeared in the open carrying between them a log fully ten feet long and nearly a foot in diameter. With this as a battering-ram and guarded by the rifle of their companion they hoped to force an entrance. Staggering under the heavy log they swung it with a crash full against the front door. Fortunately for the boys it was built of solid oak and held in place by a massive bar. No ordinary door would have stood up for an instant against the
smash of that heavy log swung with all of Dawson's giant strength. As it was the planking split from top to bottom and the cabin rocked on its foundations. Still the door held fast. Joe tried to stand up cautiously for another shot. The sniper's tree, however, had been craftily chosen so as to cover every point and at the very first movement a bullet whined through the open window just grazing his hair. Lying on his back the boy raised his bow up over his head intending to shoot by guess at his unseen foes. The half-breed, however, was a noted shot and to-day was shooting from a rest less than fifty feet away. As the end of the bow showed above the window-ledge, he drew a careful bead and fired. There was a sharp crack as the bullet shattered the end of the bow, leaving nothing in Joe's hands but a useless jagged stick. With the shot came another crash of the battering-ram. It was evident that the door could not stand up against many more such blows. Creeping like snakes along the floor, both boys leaped down the stairs and began to pile everything moveable against the
battered door. First came the heavy oak table which they tipped up on one end and stood up flat so that it was almost like an inner door. This they braced with a heavy chest and propped with chairs and logs of firewood. Reinforced by all this barricade the door yielded so slowly that it semed probable that it would hold out until help came.
The same thought evidently occurred to the moonshiner for suddenly the blows of the battering-ram stopped. Both boys scurried back upstairs to guard the windows, fearing that the sudden lull might mean that one of the enemy was trying to enter there. Clutching their clubs they both crouched close, ready to beat back the expected attack. It did not come. Instead in the silence sounded a tiny ominous crackle and up the staircase floated a faint wisp of blue smoke. The besiegers had touched a match to the dry brush and leaves piled against one side of the cabin and lay in ambush where they could pick the boys off with their rifles when the flames drove them into the open. The crackling sounded louder and louder until the living-room was blue
with thick choking smoke. For a moment the boys stared into each other's faces and there was despair in the eyes of both. Little tongues of red flame began to creep in through the chinks in the logs. At last Joe spoke[.]
"You stand here, by front window," he said. "I try to get out back door before it get too hot. When you hear door open you jump and dive into brush. They all be watching door and you get away."
"What about you?" said Will.
"Perhaps they miss me in the smoke," said Joe. "Anyway you gave me first chance to get in cave. I give you first chance to get out of cabin."
Will looked at the Indian's face. It was as stolid as ever, but in the deep eyes gleamed a look which Will had never seen there before and he realized for the first time how much Joe was to him.
"No," he said, gripping the boy's hand, "I won't do it. They 'd shoot you down like a dog. Even if I got away I 'd never forget that I let you stay and be killed for me. No good scout would leave a friend."
A choking coil of smoke eddying up the staircase cut him short. Below they could see the whole room filled with a whirl of red flames.
"Too late now," said Joe quietly. "We both jump out. Easier to die quick by bullet than slow by fire."
"Wait a minute," cried Will as the other approached the window, "we 'll bold on until the very last before we do that. Mr. Donegan may be here any minute."
As he stopped speaking both boys listened hoping against hope to hear the whirr of an approaching car, but there was no other sound than the crackle and hiss of the fire as it gained headway and began to roar up the narrow stairway. Already the flames were so near that the boys, huddled in the farthest corner, felt their blistering touch. As they crouched Will caught sight of a rude ladder some six feet long lying against the wall.
"What 's that for," he said thickly to Joe. "It can't reach the ground. There must be a loft here."
Even as Will spoke he caught sight of a lit-
tle trap-door in the ceiling, evidently leading to some air-chamber or garret. In a second the boys had the ladder up. As Will started to mount it a burst of flame came up the stair-case.
"If we go up," said Joe slowly, "we never come down. We die like rats in a trap. I want to die in the open--fighting," and he fitted the thong of his war-club around his arm and again started for the window.
"No, no," gasped Will. "Come here quick. There may be a chance to reach the roof. If we can only get a few minutes more we 're saved. The car may be almost here now."
Joe hesitated and then followed his friend. They swarmed up the ladder and as they squeezed into the little loft, a whirl of red flame circled the rounds up which they had just come. Slamming shut the trap-door they found themselves in a loft not four feet high where although the air was hot and heavy, they were yet safe for the moment from the smoke and the flame. In the darkness the boys ran their hands along the slanting rafters
overhead. They could discover no opening leading to the outside roof and it was immediately evident that with their rude clubs it was hopeless to expect to break through the heavy joists and double layers of shingles which lay between them and the open air. At one end of the loft Joe's groping hands came against the sides of the great stone chimney. The masons who had built this had not troubled to plaster that part of the chimney passing through the loft and as Joe's hands touched two or three stones they felt loose. With a grunt he called Will over to him and the boys tugged and pried with hands and clubs until finally one of the larger stones yielded and came out. This loosened others. Tugging and pulling frantically with the flames knocking at the door, the boys at last made a yawning gap clear through the side of the chimney which at this point was only two layers thick. Wriggling into the opening Joe filled his lungs full of deep draughts of the cool outside air. Fumbling within he found a jutting ledge on which he could stand with his head almost on a level with the top of the chimney.
Crawling back to Will he explained the situation to him in a few hasty words. A moment later both boys were inside the chimney after closing the gap through which they came with some of the smaller stones so as to keep out the fire and smoke. For the present they dared not climb up to the top of the chimney lest they should be easy marks for the watchers below. The thicker stones would keep out the smoke and even the heat for some time. When it became unendurable, they could either climb out on the roof or climb down the chimney where the walls were thicker and take their chances of living through the fire. At any rate they were certain of a respite until the flames forced their way into the loft whence they had come.
With their heads on a level with the cap-stone they could hear distinctly all that was going on below them. The Indian from his ambush was shouting out something in the Chippewa tongue that made Joe smile grimly from his perch.
"What does he say?" inquired Will.
"He say," translated Joe, "he hope we like
quick roast. If we come out he promise to kill us long and slow."
As the loft from which they had come began to blaze, the heat penetrated the walls of the chimney like the breath of a furnace. The thick stones grew hotter and hotter. When the boys could bear their touch no longer they climbed down into the very middle of the vast chimney where the stone-work had been built thicker to protect the logs of the cabin from charring under the heat of the fires in the ten-foot fireplace. There although the air seemed to sear their lungs as they breathed, yet the stones did not actually burn their flesh as those of the upper tier had done. Soon, however, a new danger arose. Coils of choking smoke began to eddy up through the opening of the chimney drawn up by the draught. At any moment they might be followed by a whirl of flame which would leave the boys blackened and burned. As the smoke grew denser they turned their faces straight up and winding a strip of their shirts around their mouths and noses, breathed
"Why don't they come?" he muttered hoarsely
slowly and infrequently as possible through a layer of fur. Even with this protection Will felt himself becoming dizzy. Before his hot, straining eyes a flame-colored veil seemed wrapped. The blood pounded at his temples like hammer-strokes and he felt that at any moment the red veil might turn black and he would topple down unconscious into the smother of flame and smoke below.
"Why don't they come?" he muttered hoarsely through his swollen lips to Joe who only stared impassively up at the little square of cool, blue sky which showed above.
Suddenly Joe moved ever so slightly and tried to speak. Will bent over toward him and finally heard the word which clacked on his swollen tongue.
"Wolf, wolf," Joe was muttering chokingly.
Will listened, but for a moment could hear nothing except the taunting yells of the Indian outside. Finally through the layers of stone and above the hiss and crackle of the fire he too heard the wailing cry of a timberwolf louder and nearer every moment.
"Some of my patrol are coming, Joe," he whispered thickly. "Stick it out and they 'll save us yet."
Joe said nothing but his black head wavered from where he clung against the scorching stones and the eyes which stared upward were hot and glazed.
CHAPTER XV RESCUE
Thirty miles away big Jim Donegan had lived up to his reputation of being the quickest-acting man in the state. Hardly had he finished answering Will's breathless call for help, when he grabbed the receiver of his house-'phone.
"Bring the racer up to the house as fast as the Lord will let you," he shouted to Donald, his chauffeur, a grizzled old soldier of fortune who was a wizard with a car. In another moment he had Mr. Sanford on the wire.
"Your scouts are at the cabin held up by Dawson's gang of murdering moonshiners. If you can get over here in five minutes with a gun, come along."
He sent the same message to Buck Masters the village constable, a cool, daring fighter, who in his time had been a Canadian ranger.
"It 's Dawson's gang, so you better pack a gun and get some deputies," ended the lumber-king.
"Say, Jim," drawled back Buck, who called everybody by their first names, "if Dawson 's after them kids we 've got no time to hunt up deputies. I carry a Luger automatic that once stopped a bear and I guess that 'll be gun enough for me. If you want to find 'em alive, you 'd better get a move on that tin Lizzie of yours."
Big Jim slammed the telephone shut, grabbed his pet rifle and a clip of cartridges from his gun-room, took the stairs in two jumps and reached the door just as the racer reached the steps.
"Stop at Buck Masters'," he ordered shortly, "and then see what time you can make between here and the cabin. You 're all the time kickin' because I don't let you run fast enough, now let 's see what you can snap out of your old boat. Wait, though, perhaps I 'd better get you a gun," and Donegan started to jump out of the car."
Donald only grinned and showed the butt
of an old-fashioned Navy revolver sticking out of his hip-pocket.
"She be all the gun I want," he observed, "and has been for twenty years."
They whirled down the long twisting driveway at breakneck speed. As they flashed through the gates they met Mr. Sanford running toward them carrying a double-barreled shotgun. In his wake panted a small boy with a muzzle-loading carbine of the vintage of 1840.
"Well, well, well!" rumbled Mr. Donegan as Donald brought the quivering car to a full stop. "Look who 's here. Looks as if the Home Guards had broke loose again. The Schoolteacher 's got a nice pop-gun and little Willie has his great-grandfather's flint-lo[c]k."
Mr. Sanford climbed into the back seat without a word but the leader of the Wolf Patrol had to defend the fair fame of his weapon.
"She ain't much to look at," Freddie explained, "but I killed a deer with her once and she 'll make any old moonshiner who gets within range pretty sick all right."
"Get out," said Donald, trying to push the boy off the running-board, "this be no place for kids."
"I've gotta go," cried Freddie, "Will belongs to my patrol. If them moonshiners are hurtin' him and Joe there ain't nobody goin' to keep me away."
"Oh, let him in, let him in," said Big Jim shortly, "he 'll be as much use as the schoolmaster with that scatter-gun of his"
At the edge of the village they picked up Buck Masters.
"I see you got some deputies after all," he remarked as he sat down on the back-seat along with the other two. "They look all right to me," he said, patting Freddie's moist back, "and I'm glad to set with 'em for I feel safer than up in front of them savage-looking guns."
"Well," said Mr. Sanford, "we don't pretend to have the very latest things in guns but we 're going to stay right with you and do the best we can, are n't we, Freddie?"
"You bet you," said the latter, dropping his
carbine so that it nearly bored into the small of Mr. Donegan's back.
"That 's good talk," said Buck heartily, "you both look to me like real game sports. I 'd suggest, however, that General Perkins here keep his artillery pointin' straight up. I 'd hate to have it blow a hole in Mr. Donegan when he is givin' us such a nice ride in his new car."
Freddie blushingly accepted the suggestion and was careful to keep the carbine aimed skywards during the rest of the trip.
In a minute they were beyond the village and the high-powered car whizzed along the road in a way that left the passengers little breath for any further conversation. In spite of stretches of bad going, Donald ticked off some of the miles under the minute and lived up to his reputation that day of being a daredevil as well as a skilful driver. Occasionally, however, they would strike ruts and humps which shot the four passengers, accompanied by their guns up into the air together.
"I'd rather fight a million moonshiners,"
gasped Buck earnestly as the car skidded on two wheels around a sharp turn after one of these flights, "than ride in a devil-wagon behind an escaped lunatic."
The last ten miles were along narrow wood-roads. Donald nursed his car through deep ruts and over half-sunken logs with all the skill he could command. Yet the speed slackened as the going became worse. Rounding a bend where the road ran through a clearing, over the tops of the trees showed a cloud of hazy blue smoke. Donegan's face went white at the sight.
"Run her as fast as she 'll go," he muttered to Donald. "If you wreck her, we 're near enough so that some of us can run the distance."
Fred had not seen the smoke at first but as he caught a glimpse of the eddying coils the tears ran down his cheeks.
"Hit 'er up, Donald," he sobbed, pounding on the bowed back of the driver ahead of him with his fists, "they 're burning Will and Joe alive."
Mr. Sanford groaned aloud and gripped
his shotgun until his knuckles showed white. Without a word the chauffeur stepped on the gas and the car shot ahead like a wild thing. Donald in his time had raced against the pick of the world on the fatal Hippodrome, but ill his hardest fought century-run he never took more chances than he did that day. Around turns they whirled and skidded, grazing tree-trunks and shattering lamps and windshield while dashing at headlong speed through low boughs and against over-hanging branches. Everyone in the car gripped the seat and sides desperately in order to keep from being sent hurtling through the air. By some miracle the car kept the road and nothing important broke under the terrific strain. As they approached the cabin they saw through the trees a fierce red glow above which flickered long tongues of yellow flame. Old Jim Donegan's face was gray and set.
"If they 've killed those kids," he said in a low, even voice, "I 'll spend every cent I 've got in the world to run down Dawson's gang and hang every murdering dog of 'em."
"I 'll help in the huntin'," said Buck just
behind him, "and there won't be any hangin' if I can get 'em within range."
Within a scant quarter-mile of the cabin Freddie suddenly threw back his head and three times gave the wailing hunting-cry of the gray timber-wolf.
"If they 're alive," he explained as the last note shuddered through the trees, "they 'll know that help 's coming."
Others beside the besieged heard the sound. Dawson knew that there were no wolves in that part of the country and recognized the call to be a signal. From where he lay ambushed in some underbrush he gave a shrill whistle twice repeated, the warning for an immediate retreat. The Indian stole over to him.
"We got to get out of here," directed Dawson. "Somebody 's comin'. Those boys will never tell any tales now anyway. We 'll get back to Wizard Pond, clean up things there and then hike due north and hide in Hellhole until things blow over."
He whistled again impatiently and without waiting for the half-breed dived into a tiny
hidden trail followed by the Indian and disappeared. The half-breed heard the signal but maddened by the sting of the arrow-wound rankling in his thigh stayed to taunt the death-agonies of his victims.
"I hope you burn slow," he screeched. "The weasels and skunks and bears will bury what's left of you in their bellies," and with a final yell he turned to follow the trail of his companions. He had over-stayed his time. Around a bend into the open clearing bounded the great racing-car like some huge charging beast. As the half-breed darted for the underbrush there rang out together the crack of Donegan's Winchester and the crash of Buck's automatic, followed a second later by the bang of Donald's forty-four Colt which he jerked out of his pocket as he jammed on the brakes. The half-breed kept on with never a falter and was only a few yards from cover when there came a tremendous report. The schoolmaster had fired both barrels of his shotgun at the fugitive. The man staggered and half-stopped when there came another roar from the car and he fell forward as if
struck by lightning. Freddie had finally succeeded in pulling the stiff trigger of his trusty carbine and a hammered lead slug and two perfectly good marbles had done the work behind four fingers of black powder. Old Donegan could not help grinning as he sprang from the seat.
"It was the schoolmaster's scatter-gun and the kid's cannon which did the business, after all," he said as they rushed toward the blazing cabin.
Part of the roof and the front door had both fallen and there was nothing to be seen but whirling flames within. The men grasped a great rain-water barrel which stood half-full near the house and dashed the water in with all their force through the blazing doorway. Again and again they filled the barrel and two old buckets which they found beside it from the brook. Slowly the fire died down until they were able to enter, dreading what they might find among the hissing, smoldering ruins. They poked and peered fearfully through the charred corners and among the wreckage of the dismantled cabin, but there
were no traces of the missing boys. Above them the loft-flooring had fallen, and they could see all through the place, but nowhere was there any sign of the blackened figures which they had feared to find.
"They must have slipped away somehow," said Buck to the lumber-king.
"Will! Joe!" shouted Fred brokenly through the smoking doorway. Suddenly there sounded a thump and a black form staggered out from the depths of the fire-place and stood upright on the hearth. Through the smoke and steam the rescuers saw that it was some one wearing a singed and smoking bearskin and holding in his arms a smaller motionless form. As the apparition tottered toward them, there went up a great shout from the rescuers and in a minute strong arms were around Will and the unconscious Joe and they were carried out and laid down on the cool grass outside. A bucket of cold water brought them around and in a minute they were both on their feet and though scorched and blistered and blackened, not seriously injured.
Will grinned feebly into the harsh face of old Jim Donegan.
"Do we get that cabin?" he questioned huskily.
"You sure do," exclaimed the lumber-king patting his scorched back tenderly.
In the meantime Donald had been over to where the half-breed lay. He found him not only alive, but not very badly wounded. One of the schoolmaster's buck-shot had caught him in the forehead stunning him for a moment, while Freddie's variegated charge had broken the bone of his right leg.
"He 'll live to be hung yet," remarked Donald, as he disarmed him and carried him over to the car.
Will was still answering questions as they reached the town. There it seemed as if everyone was in the streets and shouts and cheers greeted the boys as the battered car rolled along.
"You 'II never be as famous again if you live to be centipedes," remarked Buck kindly. "Centurions I mean," he corrected himself as he saw the schoolteacher smile.
The half-breed's leg was set, the arrow-wound bandaged, and he was lodged safely in jail. Thereafter Mr. Donegan announced that there would be a special meeting of the Boy Scouts held at the Town Hall the next evening to which the whole village was invited at which time he himself would have something to say.
CHAPTER XVI THE PAYING OF THE PRICE
Never in the history of Cornwall had such a crowd gathered together as met the next evening in the little town hall. From all parts of the twenty-seven named hills which lay within the township the people came thronging in from mountain-farms and lonely far-away houses. Nathan Hart, who carried the mail over what he claimed was the rockiest rural delivery route in the known world, spread the news over the thirty-six square miles that Cornwall covered. From West Cornwall, Cornwall Plains, Cream Hill and Cornwall Hollow the people flocked. The four lonely houses on Dibble's Hill sent their representatives. From the very top of the Barrack old Rashe Howe stalked stiffly in, wheeling his rheumatic wife in his unicycle, as he called his
wheelbarrow. Myra Prindle and his wife drove down from Prindle Hill over a road that was mostly made of bare, washed ledges of smooth rock. From Ballyhack and Rattle-snake Mountain they came. From the crest of the Cobble appeared Uncle Riley Rexford who used to plow with three yoke of oxen and who could be heard in three towns when conversing with them. Old Jeb Bunker was there from Bunker Hill and Silas Ford and eleven children, one a babe in arms, had climbed down five-mile Ford Hill. The little hall was packed to the doors and the gallery, usually deserted, so crowded that it creaked ominously. On the platform where the selectmen usually sat, all the scouts from the three patrols, the Owl, the Wolf and the Fox were grouped, with their patrol-leaders. Just back of the little table on which the water-pitcher and glass always stood, on the red-plush sofa where the Chief Selectman and the Town Clerk usually sat, were Mr. Donegan, looking very red and cross, and Mr. Sanford in his scout-suit as Scoutmaster of the Cornwall Boy Scouts. In the front row was the
Band of the Cornwall Horse Guards. Never had they played with such magnificent abandon and spirit as they showed tonight. They banged and tooted and fifed and drummed and squealed and squeaked and shrilled until it was a wonder that there was a sound eardrum left in the hall. When every seat had been taken and every square inch in the aisle filled, contrary to all fire regulations, and the gallery crowded and even the window-ledges covered with small boys, Mr. Sanford came to the front and with some difficulty stopped the band right in the middle of the fourth and last tune which they knew and which they had already played over three times for good measure.
"Fellow citizens," he began, quite like the Chief Selectman himself, "we have met tonight to welcome back two Boy Scouts who have done what no two other boys have ever done before. A month ago in the cold and the rain and the gathering darkness they went out into the heart of the forest without fire, food or even clothing. Relying only on their own strength and courage and wit, they have
managed to wrest a living out of the wilderness and have proved that the training of our Boy Scouts means something. They have shown us what we sometimes forget that we can all overcome and conquer anything if only we are brave and strong and enduring.
"They have done more than this," he went on earnestly. "They have kept the faith of their forefathers. They have resisted wrong and fought against evil. Single-handed they have succeeded where the men of this county have failed. Armed only with rude weapons made by themselves they have broken up a desperate band which has been a menace to all of us for years. I say to you, my friends and neighbors," went on the Scoutmaster, his voice thrilling through the tense silence, "the heroism of these two boys when they stood facing death, is going to be something that this old town will never forget. I take pleasure in introducing to you Scout Bright of the Wolf Patrol and Scout Couteau of the Owl Patrol."
As he spoke the door at the back of the platform opened and in marched Will and Joe dressed in their full wilderness-costume. Di-
rected by them some of Mr. Donegan's men had found their way to the shack and brought back all of their clothes and equipment which Dawson's gang had left for the most part untouched. On their feet the boys wore moccasins made of tanned bear-paws with the claws turned back and worked artistically into the upper part of the moccasin. Their legs up to their knees were wound with puttees made of woven strips of cedar-bark dyed all colors of the rainbow. Each one wore an alleged pair of short trousers constructed with enormous difficulty from buckskin and wolverene hide and sewed with a sharp thorn and deer-sinew for thread. The mothers in the audience seemed more wrought up over the fit of these trousers than any other part of the programme. Above said trousers were the really decorative part of the costume, to wit: buckskin shirts ornamented with colored porcupine-quills. Joe wore a belt with dangling rattles made of the tanned skin of that rattlesnake which had so nearly been his undoing, while Will had to content himself with one made of the skin of a huge blacksnake which
he had killed in the blueberry patch. Over the shoulder of each boy was draped a bearskin blanket. Joe's broken bow had disappeared in the flames, but he carried his war-club while Will's trusty battle-axe and pouch of throwing-stones made a great sensation. Both boys wore pouches made of the wolverene paws with the enormous claws showing. As they took their stand beside Mr. Sanford, the whole audience rose together with a cheer which nearly took the roof off the old building. Simultaneously the Horse Guard Band broke out into convulsive melody. Unfortunately in the excitement they had not agreed as to which of their four tunes they would play and the consequence was that there were at least three separate melodies shattering the atmosphere at the same time. It made no special difference for every man, woman and child was cheering too loudly to hear anything else. For fully fifteen minutes the tumult kept up while Will and Joe looked as embarrassed and sheepish as if they had been caught stealing apples. Finally after many efforts the lumber-king managed to
make himself heard, while Will and Joe huddled down on the sofa on either side of their scoutmaster.
"I want to say," bellowed Jim Donegan, "that I've made a mistake. I don't often do it. Probably never before. Having made it, however, I want to own up and do what I can to make up for it. I told the Schoolmaster here and some of the boys that I did n't think anything of the Boy Scout movement, that it taught the boys a lot of silly nonsense and that there was n't one of 'em could make good. I was wrong. These boys have made good. I have here in my hand a deed for ten acres of good woodland just outside the village and a check for a thousand dollars to build 'em a cabin as per my agreement."
The tumult and the shouting broke out again and lasted until it seemed as if old Jim would break a blood-vessel trying to be heard.
"This is n't all," he shouted at last, looking. madder and crosser than ever. "I told these young chaps that I 'd give them double the value of anything they brought back from the woods. There has been a standing reward of
five hundred dollars for the capture of any of the Dawson gang. They brought back with 'em one of the gang whose value to them is that five hundred dollars. Accordingly I have another check in my hand for one thousand dollars drawn to their order."
Another shout went up. This time it was stopped much quicker than before. Will was seen to lean over and whisper rapidly to Joe and to his Scoutmaster, both of whom nodded their heads vigorously and pushed him forward on the platform. Stepping out to Mr. Donegan and feeling far more scared before this big audience than he had been in the burning cabin, Will pulled the lumber-king's coat-sleeve.
"Mr. Donegan," he said in a trembling voice while there was a perfect silence over the whole crowd. "Joe and I don't want that money. It would seem to us like taking blood-money."
A murmur ran around the hall. Jim Donegan got redder than ever if that were possible.
"You fellows have got to take it," he thundered.
"No," said Will positively, "we won't touch it. We have something else though that may come under the agreement," he added as Big Jim started another shout.
Everybody except Joe looked puzzled as Will slipped from his neck a little leather bag and offered it to the lumber-king. The latter opened it carefully and nearly dropped it when he saw the pink pearl gleaming out from a wrapping of shredded cedar-bark. Mr. Donegan like most men of great wealth had a hobby. He was a collector of precious stones and it was rumored that his collection was one of the best in the United States. Seizing the pearl he held it to the light and examined it carefully and then pulling out a little pocket gem-glass, which he always carried, went over it in every detail while the audience waited breathlessly for his decision. Finally he straightened out and said quietly:
"That 's the best pink, fresh-water pearl I ever saw. One of the big jewelers would probably give you a couple of thousand for it. I 'll write you out a check for four thousand if that 's satisfactory to you."
It was. As the bit of paper that meant so much to the future of both boys passed into Will's perspiring hand, the audience for the third time broke all long distance noise records for Cornwall and adjacent towns.
So ended the great adventure which after all was but the beginning of a greater--but that 's another story.