Project Gutenberg's The Outdoor Chums in the Big Woods, by Quincy Allen

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Outdoor Chums in the Big Woods
       Rival Hunters of Lumber Run

Author: Quincy Allen

Release Date: May 2, 2013 [EBook #42630]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Roger Frank and Sue Clark



The Rival Hunters of Lumber Run



Author of “The Outdoor Chums,”
“The Outdoor Chums on a Houseboat,” etc.


The Goldsmith Publishing Company
New York, N. Y.
Made in USA

Copyright, 1915, by


I—The Snowball Battle
II—A Broken Window, and Glorious News
III—Getting Ready
IV—Headed for the Big Woods
V—Among the Lumberjacks
VI—The Lone Cabin
VII—Out for Game
VIII—Fur and Feathers
IX—The Wonderland of Maine
X—The Flashlight Picture
XI—Facing Trouble
XII—Bluff Takes a Hand
XIII—Another Hunt for Venison
XIV—The Victim of the Bear Trap
XV—A Cook Stampede
XVI—Did Teddy Know?
XVII—The Big Moose
XVIII—On the Trail
XIX—The Hour of Triumph
XX—Robbed of the Spoils
XXI—A Camp in the Snow
XXII—The Gray-Coated Pirate from Canada
XXIII—When Morning Came
XXIV—The Triumphant Return
XXV—Bluff Remembers—Conclusion



“That looks like a challenge, Frank.”

“It was well fired, at any rate, Bluff!”

“I should say yes, because it knocked my hat clear off my head. Do we stand for that sort of thing, or shall we accept the dare?”

“There are half a dozen and more of the enemy against four Outdoor Chums, but what of that? This is the first snow of the fall, with a real tang in the air. Say yes, Frank, and let’s get busy!”

“Here are Bluff and Jerry ready to eat up that crowd in a snowball fight. What do you say, Will?”

“Oh, count me in, because I can see they’re just spoiling for it!” exclaimed the fourth boy in the party, who did not look quite so hardy as his comrades, although no weakling.

“Well, I should think it’d be a shame to miss it, when the snow is just soft enough to handle easily,” and Jerry Wellington held up a big round ball he had quickly manipulated in his practiced hands.

“That settles it. Everybody get busy making a supply of ammunition. Then we’ll charge their line, and give them as good as they send!”

The last speaker was Frank Langdon. His three comrades had always been proud to look up to Frank as their leader. They had been through a great many lively adventures together, and up to the present no one had ever found cause to regret the fact that when it came to deciding on their plans Frank’s word carried the greatest weight.

While they are feverishly stocking up with a supply of such ammunition as is required to win snowball battles, it might be well for the new reader to learn a few important facts concerning Frank and his chums, as narrated in previous volumes of this series.

They lived in the thriving town of Centerville, which was situated in one of the Middle States. Coming together in order to encourage the spirit of outdoor life, to their mutual profit, the four lively lads had called their little association the Rod, Gun, and Camera Club. In the initial story, under the name of “The Outdoor Chums; or, The First Tour of the Rod, Gun, and Camera Club,” were given numerous strange happenings that befell them on the occasion of their first camping trip together.

Later on they ran upon a mystery connected with an island that had a bad name in the neighborhood, and of course could not rest satisfied until they solved this puzzle to their satisfaction. In order to understand just what they did you must read the second volume, issued under the title of “The Outdoor Chums on the Lake; or, Lively Adventures on Wildcat Island.”

With the coming of Easter, and another chance to get abroad, the boys formed a plan to visit a section of country some miles from the home town. Here they found an opportunity to clear up a ghost scare that had been giving the country people of the neighborhood the time of their lives. It is all told in the pages of “The Outdoor Chums in the Forest; or, Laying the Ghost of Oak Ridge.”

Fortune was certainly kind to Frank and his chums. At Christmas time they were given a chance to pay a visit to the Sunny South, and had some wonderful adventures on a Florida river that ran to the Gulf. Aboard a motorboat that belonged to a cousin of Frank’s, and which was fully stocked with supplies, with the owner ordered to Europe for his health, they had the time of their lives, as told of in “The Outdoor Chums on the Gulf; or, Rescuing the Lost Balloonists.”

After this came another opportunity for a trip, this time to the Far West, where among the mountains and valleys of that wonderful country they found occasion to call themselves the luckiest of boys. Every one of them had a share in the exciting adventures that came their way, and it would be hard to tell which deserved the greatest credit for true manliness. You will be better able to decide that point for yourself after you have read “The Outdoor Chums after Big Game; or, Perilous Adventures in the Wilderness.”

Again it was summer, and the boys home from college planned a voyage down the great Mississippi on a houseboat belonging to Will’s Uncle Felix, at the time in New Orleans. There was something very queer about the conditions under which he proposed that they make this trip at his expense. The boys could not understand it at all when they started out, though anxious to accept the offer. Of course, during the progress of their cruise, the mystery began to clear up. That Frank and his friends carried their plans through to a climax can be proved by reading the sixth volume, just preceding this, called “The Outdoor Chums on a Houseboat; or, The Rivals of the Mississippi.”

And now we can return once more to the present conditions surrounding Frank and his three chums, Will Milton, Jerry Wallingford and Bluff Masters.

As they had been graduated a year and more previous to this time from private school, and had had one season at college, their presence at home with the advent of early winter needs explanation.

A fire had occurred, and part of the college buildings were in ruins. As the dormitory in which the four chums lodged had been burned to the ground, they lost a good part of their clothing, besides other things. Fortunately no lives were sacrificed in the blaze.

There being no suitable place at hand where their studies could be carried on until such time as hasty repairs were made, a portion of the pupils had to be sent to their homes for a month or two. It was arranged that they keep in touch with their studies and later on extra speed might push them up to their proper standing.

So it came about that they were home and wondering what they should do to pass away the weeks that must elapse before the summons back might be expected. Various projects had been suggested, although they only arrived in Centerville on the previous night; but up to the present nothing had been decided definitely.

There was an old trapper they knew, and with whom they had spent some happy days and nights on a previous occasion, and Frank was favoring a return visit. At any rate, they could settle this later on.

“All ready?” demanded Frank, when he had all the hard snowballs he could conveniently carry. The jeering cries of the six or seven boys anticipating the attack grew more and more strenuous.

“Wait till I make two more, and I’m with you!” begged Bluff, who had even filled his pockets with the hardest balls he could squeeze in his powerful hands.

“There’s our old enemy, Andy Lasher, in that bunch over yonder,” announced Jerry, who from previous fights with the one-time town bully had occasion to know the contour of Andy’s knuckles, since they had been printed on his face more than a few times.

“I wonder when he came back to town?” ventured Frank. “The last we heard of him he had to skip out because of some trouble he got into about taking things that didn’t belong to him.”

“Well, we’ve still an old score to settle with him,” observed Bluff, “so every chance you get, give him your hardest ball. Ready now, Frank!”

Frank led his forces to the attack.

“Hold your fire till we get close up!” he advised.

The consequence of this plan was that while they were greeted with a shower of missiles, some of which hit the mark, when the time came to commence a fusillade on their own account they had a full supply of ammunition, while the other side had more than half exhausted their stock.

It looked lively enough just then, with almost a dozen lads hurling the snowballs with might and main. All sorts of shouts accompanied the encounter, for of course they were pretty well aroused by the excitement of the battle.

The big fellow whom Jerry had called Andy Lasher seemed to be the real leader of the opposing band. Perhaps he had even organized the ambuscade so as to get even with Frank and his chums, because there was a long-standing account between them.

At any rate, it kept him busy dodging the cleverly aimed missiles that flew from the hands of Bluff and Jerry. They had singled him out for their especial attention, and at close quarters their aim was so good that pretty soon Andy failed to move fast enough, so that he found himself struck in the cheek, and as he started to dodge it was only to get another whack fairly in the eye.

Some people who had been passing stopped to watch the fight. Men remembered that they had once been boys themselves, and no doubt their blood tingled with rekindled memories of days long since gone, as they saw the hostile forces fiercely contending on the town street.

For a short time the entrenched battalion held its own, though Frank knew from the way some of Andy’s followers began to look over their shoulders that they were getting ready to retreat.

“Keep it going, boys!” he shouted to his three chums, as he scooped up more of the soft snow and started making fresh balls; “hit hard all along the line! We’ve got ’em wavering! Another rush, and the game is ours! Send in your best licks, and make every shot count!”

All of them were attacking Andy now. They realized that if he could be put to flight there must follow a complete collapse of his line; because these fellows were only held there by the fact that they feared Andy’s anger if they deserted him.

Andy had managed to make one last hard ball. He had even in desperation, as was afterward proven, snatched up a stone and hid it in the middle of the snowball he pressed between his half-frozen hands. This is reckoned a mean trick among most boys and frowned upon as much as hitting below the belt would be in a prize fight.

Frank saw that he had been selected as the victim of the bully. He managed to dodge in the nick of time, and the weighted missile, sailing across the street, smashed through the window of a house.

With the jingling of broken glass Andy Lasher gave a shout, and then with jeers of derision he and his followers vanished from sight, leaving the four outdoor chums to bear the brunt of the householder’s anger.


“Gee whiz! Look who’s coming out of the house on the rampage, will you!” cried Bluff Masters, as the front door was flung open and an excited man hurried down the steps toward the spot where the four chums stood breathing hard after their recent exertions.

“It’s old Isaac Chase, the meanest man in Centerville!” exclaimed Jerry, in dismay.

“But we didn’t break his old window, you know,” expostulated Will Milton. “Here are lots of witnesses to prove it came from the other side.”

“Little he’ll care about that,” Bluff told him. “He must have seen us in the fight, and that settles it. Frank, you talk with him. I’d be apt to get sassy if he scolded too hard.”

So it usually came about. Upon Frank’s shoulders was laid the burden of extricating them from numerous mishaps. But Frank rather liked being made the scapegoat; he certainly faced the angry old miser of Centerville without showing a sign of alarm.

“Now you’ve gone and done it, you young rapscallions!” cried Isaac Chase, so excited that he could hardly control his trembling voice. “I don’t know what this town is coming to, when a pack of boys are allowed to fight battles right on the public streets, and with stones in their snowballs at that!”

He held up something he had in his hand, so that every one could see. It was a stone, there could be no doubt about that, with some of the snow still adhering to its sides.

Bluff rubbed the side of his head at seeing this, as though wondering whether the missile that had struck him there had also been loaded in that way.

“We’re sorry, Mr. Chase, that your window was broken,” said Frank steadily; “it was an accident, I give you my word about that. I happened to dodge a ball fired from the other side, and it went through the glass.”

“What! You here in this rowdy business, Frank Langdon!” exclaimed the other, as though more than surprised. “I shall have to see your father and make complaint, if the Chief of Police declines to back me up and arrest a few of you.”

“As to that, Mr. Chase, I will tell my father all about it as soon as he comes home from the bank. I know what he will say, though, and it doesn’t frighten me one bit. My father was a boy himself once, not like some people who forget that they once used to play themselves.”

“Don’t be impudent to me, boy!” snapped the old miser angrily.

“I don’t mean to be so, Mr. Chase,” Frank continued; “and as for your window, we will send a glazier around right away to put in a fresh pane, and pay for it, too. I’m sure that is all you could expect from us.”

“That’s a measly shame, Frank!” objected Bluff impetuously.

“When it was Andy Lasher who broke the window,” added Jerry, filled with righteous indignation. “You only ducked, Frank, when you saw it headed your way. Perhaps Mr. Chase thinks you should have stood up and got that snowball with the stone in its heart smashed in your eye. It isn’t fair for you to pay the bill. Let him go after Andy.”

“No, I prefer settling the account myself, and not having any trouble about it,” Frank told his objecting chums. “Besides, we’ve had enough fun out of the business to stand a little expense like that. The innocent often have to suffer for the guilty.”

Some of the bystanders at this point tried to convince Mr. Chase that Frank was entirely innocent of the whole transaction; but the miser, acting on the principle that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” declined to let the generous offer Frank had made slip from his grasp.

“Someone’s got to pay for my broken window,” he insisted stubbornly, “and these boys admit they were connected with the rowdy crew that made themselves a disgrace to the town in front of my door. I shall expect him to fulfill his offer, which you heard him make, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Mole. The sooner that window pane is replaced the better I shall be pleased. That’s enough.”

With that he turned his back upon the group and hurried to reenter his house, as though fearful lest some of the spectators might endeavor to shame him out of accepting pay from an innocent party.

Frank and his three comrades stood talking with some of those who had gathered when the crash of broken glass, followed by angry words in the high-pitched voice of the miser, drew attention to the scene of action.

“Come, let’s be moving along, fellows,” Bluff finally remarked. It galled him to think they had been made the scapegoats by Andy Lasher and his set, though he knew only too well that once Frank’s mind was made up to pay for the broken window nothing could change him.

True to his promise, Frank first of all visited the hardware store, and engaged the owner to send a man around at once to the home of the miser, so as to replace a twelve-by-twenty pane of glass.

“I expect to have a good many orders like that, Frank, before the day is over,” remarked the dealer, laughingly. “They always come with the first snow, for you boys must have your fling. A ball went wide of the mark, did it, and picked out the window of Miser Chase’s house to smash?”

“But the trouble is, none of us threw it!” burst out Jerry, determined that the true facts should be known at any rate, even if they did have to foot the bill. “Andy Lasher hid a stone in his last ball, and expected to do Frank damage, for he shied it straight at his head; but Frank dodged, and bang went the glass!”

“Andy and his cowardly bunch pulled out like fun,” Bluff hastened to add; “and so we had to stand for it. But then Frank says we were in the crowd that was fighting, and it wasn’t fair that Mr. Chase, who was an innocent party, should suffer from our fun. So I reckon we’ll have to put our hands in our pockets and pay your bill, Mr. Benchley.”

The hardware man nodded his head. There was a twinkle in his eye as he observed Frank Langdon. He knew the sort of reputation Frank had in Centerville, although the latter had not been a resident there much more than three years, having come from away off in Maine at the time his father took the local bank over.

“Believe me, I’ll let you boys off as lightly as I can, and not lose by it,” was what he told them. “I like the manly way you stand up and take hard knocks. If I had a boy, I’d want him to be just your style, Frank.”

As the four chums went away, Jerry chuckled.

“That was as neat a compliment as you ever had paid you, Frank, do you know it?” he asked the other.

Frank smiled, but he did not look displeased.

“I’m glad Mr. Benchley has such a good opinion of the outdoor chums,” he remarked, “for he meant every one of you, as well as me, when he said that. We try to do the right thing most times; and yet there never were four boys more fond of having a jolly time than this bunch.”

“That’s so,” Bluff declared sturdily, “and we’ve had lots of dandy vacations in the past, too. What’s bothering me is where we ought to go to spend this unexpected time that’s been given to us through the fire at the college.”

“We’ll figure all that out in a day or so, never fear,” Will observed.

“Yes,” added Jerry, “leave it to Frank, and he’ll arrange the details. Chances are we’ll be dropping in to see how old Jesse Wilcox is getting on with his muskrat trapping. I think I’d enjoy another turn up there in the woods.”

“One thing sure,” said Frank, “we must arrange to go away somewhere, and do a little hunting again. Just the thought of it gives me a warm feeling around my heart.”

“Same here,” Bluff told him cheerfully; “I never feel happier than when I smell the woods and get on the trail of game. That glorious spell we had out on Mr. Mabie’s ranch among the Rockies has haunted me ever since.”

They talked it over as they sauntered in the direction of their homes. It happened that Will Milton’s house was the first they came to.

“I saw the postman come out of our gate,” Will commented. “I wonder if he brought Uncle Felix the letter he’s been expecting for some days. You see, he’s got a bad attack of rheumatism; yet he says he must try to get away Down East on some very important business. Between you and me, he never will be able to do it for days or weeks, he’s that doubled up.”

“Run in, if you feel like it, Will,” Frank told him. “We’ll wait out here for you.”

“Yes,” added Jerry, as if it might be an afterthought, “and while you’re about it, Will, just mention to Uncle Felix that there are four husky boys around, with considerable time to burn just now, and if he wants anybody to take that trip for him we might be coaxed into doing it, if he’d stand for expenses.”

At that all of them laughed, as though they considered it a joke. Will left them shying a few snowballs at a tin can Bluff had set on a fence-post.

“If we’re going to get in many affairs like the one we just had with Andy Lasher and his crowd,” the latter remarked, “it stands to reason we want to tune up some in our heaving. My baseball arm is out of practice, and I’m ashamed to say that three out of four balls I fired missed their mark.”

“Oh, well, I noticed a lot of dodging being done,” commented Frank; “and only for that all of us might have made more bull’s-eyes.”

“Chances are that Andy will have a circle around his left eye after that smash he got,” observed Jerry. “A hard snowball can sting like fun when it catches you there.”

“Yes, look at my right cheek, if you want to prove that,” Bluff advised them. “I got caught there, and it keeps on burning like a hot iron. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a piece of coal or a stone in that ball. They must have fixed up a lot of ammunition that way before they tackled us.”

“Seems to me Will’s a long time coming out again,” complained Jerry. “He’s always so much taken up with that photography of his that any old time he’s liable to remember something and go to work at it, forgetting all about his chums, who may be kicking their heels in the back yard waiting for him.”

“Oh, I don’t think he’s quite that forgetful!” laughed Frank. “You know he said Uncle Felix, who loaned us his houseboat to make that trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans, was expecting some important mail to-day. Perhaps he’s held Will up to tell him about something. You know Uncle Felix thinks heaps of our chum; yes, and of all the rest of us in the bargain.”

“There he comes!” exclaimed Bluff.

“And, say, he seems to be in a terrible hurry,” added Jerry, beginning to show a touch of excitement himself. “Look at him waving his hat over his head? And do you see how he’s grinning from ear to ear? Now what d’ye reckon can have happened?”

“Oh, Uncle Felix, don’t I love you!” muttered Bluff, as if a sudden brilliant idea had come into his mind.

“What’s Uncle Felix got to do with it?” demanded Jerry.

“Hold your horses a minute, and listen to what Will’s going to give us,” was all the other would say; for, to tell the truth, he himself had not been able to more than dimly suspect what was coming.

Will came hurrying up, and when he spoke his words gave them a thrill.

“What d’ye think, fellows,” he exclaimed joyously; “we’re on the highroad to another glorious trip like some of the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past!”

“Is it Uncle Felix?” gasped Jerry.

“Yes,” came the quick response; “he wants all four of us to go up to a logging camp in Maine and do that important business for him!”


“Somebody hold me up!” exclaimed Bluff Masters, weakly. “I’m afraid I’m going to faint!”

“Wait till you hear the particulars before you drop off,” Will advised him.

“Then for goodness’ sake hurry up and get started,” said Jerry. “Look at Frank’s face, would you? Just remember that Maine’s his native State, and you can understand what good news you’ve brought him, Will. Start in now, and explain.”

“Oh, there isn’t so very much to tell,” the other began. “Uncle has had his letter, and it necessitates his getting a paper signed by a certain well-to-do lumberman up in the heart of the loneliest region in Maine. Unless this is done inside of two weeks Uncle Felix says he stands to lose a big sum of money. And there he is, laid up with the rheumatism so he can’t straighten up, much less take such a long journey.”

“So he wants the outdoor chums to go in his stead; is that it, Will?” cried Jerry, as well as he was able; for Bluff had thrown his arms around his neck and was hugging him as savagely as any black bear could.

“That’s all arranged,” Will announced proudly. “Kept me longer than I meant to stay; but then I thought you’d like to have things settled.”

“And how about the expense?” asked Bluff cautiously.

“Uncle stands every cent of it!” came the reply.

“Three cheers for Uncle Felix!” exclaimed Frank; and they were given with a vim that must have quite tickled the old traveler inside the Milton house, who could not fail to hear the chorus and must know what it signified.

“When do we start?” demanded Jerry.

“How long would it take us to get ready?” asked Will.

“Let’s see, it’s just ten-forty-nine now by the town clock,” Jerry hastily observed; “I reckon eleven o’clock would fill the bill with me. Eleven long minutes, and you can do lots in that time, when you hustle.”

Frank laughed.

“Well, you do like to rush things, Jerry,” he remarked. “We couldn’t go off like that on such a long journey. There are heaps and heaps of things to be looked after; clothes to be gathered and examined, for it’ll be pretty cold up there at this time of year; shells to be loaded, other stuff to be bought, and packed, and all that sort of thing. To-morrow we’ll make a start, and it’ll keep us all on the jump even at that to get properly stocked.”

Jerry looked disgusted, and muttered to himself; but his later judgment was likely to be to the effect that Frank knew best.

“Uncle wants you to come in and have a talk with him, first of all,” Will went on. “He’ll give Frank the paper that has to be signed in the presence of three witnesses—ourselves, if there are no others handy. Then he means to put the thing in our hands to do as we please. He was a little anxious about our having to get the consent of our parents; but I told him that if my mother was willing I should go, the rest of you would have no trouble at all.”

“I should say not!” declared Bluff.

“Oh, it’s hard to believe such a chance has come to us just when we have all this time hanging heavy on our hands!” Jerry cried.

Their interview with Will’s bachelor uncle turned out very satisfactorily. Uncle Felix was only too willing to leave everything in the way of details in charge of Frank, whom he knew to be the leader of the chums.

“Never mind the expense, lads,” he told them; “only get that signature for me, and I’ll not count the cost. Besides, you can hardly know the pleasure it gives me to offer you such a fine trip into the Big Woods of Maine. You’ll find them well worth going all that distance to see. It will be a great deal finer than if you were simply heading up into the pine woods of Michigan.”

“That’s what Frank’s been telling us, sir,” declared Jerry. “Perhaps you don’t know Frank’s home used to be in Maine; and that’s where he learned most of what he knows about the big outdoors. He’s often said he only wished we might have a chance to run up there and visit some of the old stamping grounds with him.”

“Well, that’s better than I thought,” Uncle Felix told them; “and when you come back I hope you’ll have some great stories to tell of your adventures in the woods. I only regret that I can’t be one of the party, because all my life I’ve been an advocate of outdoor life.”

“I expect to take a good stock of films along,” Will said, “and that new-fangled flashlight apparatus, too, so I can try to get pictures of game taken at night time by themselves. That’s a stunt I’ve been reading up lately, and I’m as anxious as can be to see what I can do.”

“Well, if we want to get off by morning,” Frank warned them, “we ought to be at work. Let’s sit down for a few minutes and figure out just what we want to take along.”

“How about the grub?” asked Bluff; for it would be strange indeed for him not to consider that important subject the first thing.

“We’ll make sure to get some things here, because we know what the quality is,” Frank commented, “such as tea and coffee and a few others; but the heavier stuff we ought to pick up after we get to the jumping-off place. That’ll save us lots of carrying, you see.”

“Why, yes,” Jerry agreed, “we wouldn’t want to have our trunk so heavy it couldn’t be lifted without a derrick. That was the trouble with the first boat old Robinson Crusoe built, remember? I’ve heard of other cases just as bad. A fellow was telling me about a time he went off on a trip with another chap and they kept adding this and adding that to the things that they thought they must have on their outing, till at last they had to take two tents along and hire a team to draw the stuff up and back.”

With that Jerry ran off, and both Frank and Bluff were not long in following his example. Each of them had made out a long list of things he must personally attend to in the time that remained before night.

Frank’s positive declaration that everything necessary must be completed before they went to bed had been accepted by his chums without a single murmur.

“Don’t try to load any shells until the last thing,” Frank had told them all. “If there’s no time for that, we can buy what we want. As a rule, though, all of us much prefer to get our own powder and shot, for then we know what’s coming; and sometimes we’ve been fooled when we used machine-made shells.”

Frank was a little anxious until he had received calls over the telephone from both Bluff and Jerry. After they assured him that full permission had been given by their parents, so that the last possible doubt was removed, Frank’s spirits grew lighter.

Nothing remained to be done but get in readiness, and on the coming morning start upon the long railroad trip to Maine.

When supper-time came four tired boys sat down to what they expected would be their last meal with the home folks for some time. Of course nothing was talked of around those family tables but the possibilities that awaited them in that wonderland of game and summer tourists.

If the anxious eyes of mothers occasionally filled with unbidden tears because of the separation to come, they bravely kept from displaying their emotions before the others, not wishing that any regrets should interfere with the happiness of those who were bound on such an enjoyable journey.

Of course every boy solemnly assured his mother that he meant to be very careful every minute of the time, knowing she would be worried; but that there was not the slightest danger of any harm befalling them.

Frank went the rounds, looking over the accumulation of traps, and lightening the collections in many ways.

“Just remember,” he told them when they murmured against his decree, “we have to tote every pound of this, and a heap of grub besides, over each foot of the way, up and down hill, and over snow fields besides. So leave it to me.”

In the end he had reduced every pack to its proper proportions; and finally returned home with the understanding that they would all meet on the station platform for the eastbound train.

Little sleep visited four pairs of eager eyes that last night under the home roofs in the little town of Centerville.


On the second day after leaving home, the four chums found themselves upon what Bluff called the “last leg” of their railroad trip.

They were already in the State of Maine and heading north, bound for the station where they expected to get off, and somehow find their way to the place where Mr. Samuel Darrel, the well-known lumberman, was to be found, according to his letter to Uncle Felix.

This was a logging camp known as Lumber Run. It lay in the depths of the Big Woods, and was surrounded by a virgin growth of fine timber that would consume some years in the cutting.

No doubt the crews were already starting in to work, and the boys anticipated considerable enjoyment in seeing how the loggers dropped their trees. Of course, the most picturesque part of the business came in the spring when, after the customary freshets, the logs were rafted down the rivers to the accompaniment of thrilling exploits by the lumber jacks.

The train was filled with people, every seat having been taken in the day coaches at the time the four boys got aboard. As a consequence, although they did not much fancy it, they were compelled to sit in the smoking car. At times they opened the windows a bit, so as to get some fresh air.

Of course there was a motley assortment of rough-looking men aboard. Some of them may have been honest tillers of the soil returning home after a visit down in Boston or Portland. Others were undoubtedly lumbermen, heading for regions farther north, where they anticipated doing a season’s chopping, for as a rule they carried their axes with them.

There were sportsmen on the train, too, and naturally these claimed more than a share of attention from Frank and the other boys. Anything that had to do with hunting interested them. They listened whenever they heard some of these men discussing the chances for making a record bag that season.

“Sounds from the way they talk,” remarked Bluff at one time, “as though there never was so much game in the woods as this year.”

“I only hope it turns out that way,” Jerry went on, “because we’d be nearly tickled to death if we bagged a big moose, after all our past hunts. That’s one thing I’ve dreamed of doing many a time.”

“As for me,” ventured Will, with a long sigh, “I’d rather be able to get a picture of the moose than plant a bullet back of his shoulder. I think I’ll let the rest of you supply the game for the pot, while I spend all my time trying for something that will give us pleasure later on, whenever we look at it.”

“Every one to his taste,” said Bluff. “I admit that I wouldn’t give a snap of my finger for crawling around in the night, trying to take pictures of silly little ’coons and foxes that have been baited to come up and pull a string. When I hunt, I want to see something worth while drop.”

“Like that grizzly bear we ran across when we were out West?” suggested Jerry, his eyes kindling with vivid recollections.

“I was thinking,” remarked Frank, “how some of these city sportsmen aboard here, togged out in the latest clothes, and seeming as though they’d stepped out of bandboxes, keep looking over at us every once in a while, just as if they wondered how a pack of boys had been able to break away from the apron strings of their mothers.”

“If we up and told ’em one-half of what we’ve been through,” suggested Bluff, “I reckon they’d either think us descended from old Baron Munchausen, who could tell the biggest whoppers ever heard; or else they’d believe we’d broken loose from some lunatic asylum.”

“Watch that hard-looking fellow the other two call Bill Nackerson,” remarked Will, in a low tone. “He’s forever taking a nip out of a flask he carries, and then offering it to each one of the bunch. Both his mates accept, but that big boy I’ve seen shake his head. He doesn’t seem to like the stuff.”

“Well,” Frank observed, “can you blame him, when he sees such a horrible example in his uncle, for that seems to be the relation he bears to the big hunter. There, look the other way, he’s scowling at us as if he might have guessed we were talking about him. Pretend we’re admiring the scenery in this patch of woods where the snow hangs on the pines and hemlocks and firs. It’s pretty enough to admire, you’ll all admit.”

“Think of the nerve of that Nackerson, fetching his old partridge dog in here, when all the other dogs are chained in the baggage car,” observed Jerry.

“Well, the brakeman wanted to throw the dog out, but when he saw that would be sure to start a row, he gave it up, and went off growling,” said Will.

“Yes, but I saw one of the other hunters slip something into his hand that looked like a bank-bill,” Frank told them. “They’ve all got plenty of money, that’s sure; and such men always believe they can buy whatever they want. He’s still looking over this way from time to time.”

“I hope he doesn’t take a notion to make trouble for us,” mentioned Will, who was the most peace-loving of the chums. “He’s been taking more than he ought to, and is hardly responsible for his actions. I’d hate to get into a quarrel with such a fellow.”

“All the same,” muttered Bluff, “a dozen like him couldn’t make me knuckle down, if I knew I was in the right.”

“Sh! not another word; he’s coming over here!” hissed Frank.

All of them felt their hearts beating faster than usual, as the big sportsman advanced along the aisle, his eyes fastened on them.

“Does that heavy bag that fell on my dog belong to any one of you kids?” he asked thickly, in a threatening tone.

Some time before a little accident had happened. The dog, in prowling around as far as his tether would admit, had managed to knock over a pack, and that it caused him a certain amount of pain his yelps had testified. At the time the owner had been in another car, but, seeing the dog licking his hurts, he must have forced one of his companions to tell him what had happened.

Frank hastened to explain, not in an apologetic way, but simply telling the facts, that it was really the animal’s fault he had upset the pack on himself.

“It was the only place the thing could be set, and the brakeman himself put it there,” he declared. “The dog was nosing around, and got his rope caught in the bag, so that he pulled it over on his back. I’ve fixed it so the accident can’t possibly happen again, sir.”

The man was in a very ugly mood. He looked Frank over with a dangerous scowl, but so far as could be seen the boy did not quail.

Then Nackerson began to berate them for having such an unwieldy pack, and leaving it at an end of the car he wanted for the use of his prize dog.

“What d’ye mean, setting a trap like that?” he demanded. “I believe you did it just to see how you could catch my dog. That sort of thing belongs in the baggage car—and it’s time you took it there, d’ye hear me?”

“I hear you all right, sir,” replied Frank, pale, perhaps, and yet meeting the ugly look of the other steadily. “But you must understand that we have a perfect right to carry any hand-baggage in the car with us. If your dog had been where he belonged, in that same baggage car, possibly he wouldn’t have been hurt. And it doesn’t amount to much, I figure, sir.”

His bold words infuriated the hunter. But for his two friends, who seized hold of his arms, he might have attacked Frank, and then, as Bluff said afterward, “there would have been the dickens to pay.”

The other hunters must have realized that their companion was in the wrong. They saw that others in the car would have jumped to the assistance of the boys had a struggle been precipitated. Accordingly, they soothed him as best they could, and in one way or another managed to coax the big brute back to his seat.

There he sat, every once in a while twisting his head around to scowl toward Frank and his chums, while muttering dire threats under his breath.

Twice he even started to get to his feet, whereupon Bluff Masters doubled up his fists aggressively, and clenched his teeth hard, as though ready for the battle that seemed imminent. On both occasions, however, the other men succeeded in pulling Nackerson back into his seat before he could break loose. So all the rest of the journey was pursued with what might be called an “armed truce” prevailing.

“I’m feeling sorry for that big boy they call Teddy,” remarked Frank later on, when they had reason to believe that another half hour would take them to the station where they expected to get out.

“Me, too,” added Bluff. “He seems made of different stuff from his ugly relative.”

“He certainly looks disgusted with the way his uncle acts,” Will declared. “How do you suppose he came to be with them up here, Frank?”

“Oh, I suppose they asked him to come along, and help out with the cooking,” replied the other, “and he caught at the chance to get an outing without any expense. Some men come up here just to drink and lie around camp. They are ashamed to carry on that way at home, and too lazy to even bother cooking, so they either have guides to do all the work, or else fetch some half-grown boy along. I’m sorry for Teddy, because I imagine he’s in for a bad time all around, and with mighty little pleasure.”

“Already the boy is more than half afraid of his uncle,” Will gave as his opinion. “Like as not he never dreamed he would turn out to be such a brute, once he got started for the woods.”

“I hope they keep the man quiet until we can leave the train,” said Frank. “It would be unpleasant to have a row to begin with.”

“Didn’t you say ours was the next one to this stop?” asked Bluff eagerly, as he pressed his nose against the glass and looked out, when the train came to a stop at a small country station.

“Yes, it’s the next,” Frank observed, “though if we chose we could go on to Clayton, and even then be about as close to Lumber Run. I was told we might find the trail a little better from Burnt Pine, and that’s why I picked it out.”

“Looks pretty lonely, doesn’t it?” asked Will.

“Just what I expected to find,” Frank replied. “I’ve always known that in all Maine this section had gone free the longest from the operation of the loggers. That’s why it’s called the Big Woods. For many years it’s been a favorite place for guides to bring parties of sportsmen, because they were pretty sure to find deer, moose, perhaps a bear, and always an abundance of partridge.”

“But,” remarked Bluff, “now that Samuel Darrel and his company, in which Uncle Felix has a big interest, have bought up all this section, with the idea of getting out the timber, it’ll only be a few years before the game is thinned out. Logging always hurts hunting.”


“How’s your back, Bluff?” asked Jerry, something like four hours after the conversation in the smoking-car related in the preceding chapter.

“Don’t believe I’ve got any,” replied the other, with a grunt, “because there’s only a numb feeling where it ought to be.”

“If you find your pack heavy now, Bluff,” Frank remarked, over his shoulder, “I’d like to know what would have happened if I’d let you fetch all that junk along you laid out to bring.”

“Please don’t mention it, Frank, but give us some good news. Tell us we’re close to Lumber Run Camp, won’t you?”

“If you listen you’ll not need any answer from me!” replied Frank.

“What’s that I hear?” exclaimed Bluff, in evident delight. “Sounds like the whack of axes away off there to the left!”

“And there goes a tree down!” added Will, who was staggering along under his weighty pack, though with compressed lips, and a determination not to show any weakness.

“Well, it’s high time we struck somewhere,” grumbled Jerry. “We’ve been on the hike all of three hours and perhaps nearer four. Must have covered a heap of territory in that time.”

“Oh! not many miles,” Frank told him, “because we made up our minds we’d take it easy. But I can see smoke rising above the trees ahead and pretty soon we’ll be at the lumber camp.”

“Anyhow, I’m glad we had a chance to say good-by to that pigpen of a smoking-car, and have been getting fresh air ever since,” Will added.

“Huh! the car wasn’t the worst part of it,” Bluff remarked bitterly. “That Bill Nackerson got on my nerves. I’d just like to see somebody give him the punching he needs.”

“Small good anything like that would do,” Frank told him. “A licking only makes such a man more bitter than before. He is sure to take it out on some person or object that can’t resist.”

“Either poor Teddy, you mean, or the hunting dog,” Jerry suggested. Frank nodded his head to show that this was what he had in mind.

A short time later they found themselves approaching a number of long, low frame buildings that were evidently used by the lumbermen for sleeping and eating quarters. A couple of men were hammering as though engaged in making the new additions more secure against the cold.

Standing in the doorway of what seemed to be the kitchen was a black man. He appeared to be genial, and so Frank led his comrades in that direction.

“We’re looking for Mr. Darrel; can you tell us where he is to be found?” Frank asked, as the others dropped their packs to the ground, and sought any kind of seats nearby.

“I done ’spects him in et enny minnit, now, sah; he allers shows up afore de time foh distributin’ de grub, tuh see dat eberything is correct,” was the reply. “An’ dar he kirns right now, trudgin’ through de woods. Speakin’ ob an angel an’ yuh suah am gwine tuh heah dey wings.”

A heavy-set man was approaching. He was evidently no ordinary person, for his strongly-marked face told of considerable character.

“Hello! what have we got here; and where under the sun did you boys drop from?” was the way he saluted them.

Apparently visitors were next to unknown in Lumber Run Camp. Later on an occasional sportsman, with his Indian or native guide, might bob up; but the sight of four boys must have surprised the lumberman very much.

He was even more taken aback when Frank explained.

“We have come up here to see you, Mr. Darrel. We’re carrying an important paper from a gentleman you have had business dealings with, and who was so crippled with lumbago that he couldn’t make the journey himself.”

“Do you mean Felix Milton?” demanded the other quickly.

“Yes, sir, and this is his nephew, Will. My name is Frank Langdon; this is Jerry Wallington, and the other boy is Bluff Masters. We are fond of living in the woods, and in our section out toward the Mississippi they call us the Outdoor Chums.”

The bluff lumberman seemed pleased to meet such self-reliant boys. He shook hands all around with considerable enthusiasm.

“Glad to know you,” he said, “and I can easily believe that you are pretty well able to take care of yourselves. And so you’ve come all the way up into Maine to find me? Well, that’s a pretty big journey.”

“Mr. Milton was ready to send us three times as far, so that he might keep his word, and have that document signed,” Frank continued. “There are only a couple of weeks left, and he had neglected it longer than he intended. The journey meant little to us, for we are used to traveling long distances. Twice we’ve been away down South, and once hunting in the Rockies.”

“That sounds fine,” remarked Mr. Darrel, his eyes showing appreciation, “and I hope that now you’ve come to Maine you’ll not think of hurrying back home without a little sport. They tell me that game is unusually plentiful this year.”

“Oh! we made sure to get our licenses to hunt, sir; Mr. Milton insisted that we do that part in the beginning,” Jerry spoke up.

“That’s right,” returned the lumberman, evidently relieved on hearing this, “and as soon as you are rested we’ll get the signing of that paper through with. By that time the men will be coming in, and supper will be ready. I hope you are used to rough woods fare.”

“Just what we are, sir,” Frank assured him. “We like nothing better.”

“Of course we haven’t had time as yet to get venison, or any kind of game,” he was told by the genial lumberman, “but Cuba, here, is a master hand at slinging appetizing dishes together, and if you’re hungry you’ll give him a vote of thanks when the meal is over.”

Cuba grinned from ear to ear at this compliment and nodded his woolly head in appreciation.

“I suppose we’ll have to ask you to put us up somewhere for to-night, Mr. Darrel; to-morrow we’ll get a tip from you, and start into the woods, so as to get some miles away from the wood cutting.”

“Plenty of room here for a dozen, because we haven’t got our full force up in the woods yet,” the owner of Lumber Run Camp answered. “And after supper I’ve got something to say to you about a certain little shack that belongs to me, and which I’d like you to occupy while you’re up here.”

“Do you mean in the woods, sir?” asked Bluff eagerly, for the thought of having to go to all the trouble of building some sort of shelter had been worrying him.

“Just what I do, son,” the lumberman told him. “I spent one winter in it, and that gave me a chance to travel over this whole section, so finally I organized the company that purchased this tract.”

The boys exchanged pleased looks. Really, things were coming out better than any of them had dreamed.

Mr. Darrel showed them where they could leave their packs. There was a bunk for each in the building where he had his own sleeping accommodations. This suited Frank much better than if they had had to stay with the loggers, some of whom were a rough lot, as he saw when they came trooping in.

It was an experience the boys enjoyed to the full. At the supper table they heard considerable talk about lumbering, and picked up some valuable information by using their ears.

Afterward they sat with Mr. Darrel before the fire in his smaller building, and listened to what he had to tell them. The paper had been duly signed in the presence of witnesses. One of the lumberjacks, really the foreman of the crowd, being a duly appointed notary public, was in a position to handle the affair according to law.

The paper was now safely fastened in Frank’s inner pocket, where it could hardly be lost, no matter what happened.

After the lumberman had spoken of many things of which the boys manifested an eager curiosity to hear, he in turn began to ask questions. This resulted in their telling him some of the queer happenings that had accompanied their numerous past outings; in all of which he evinced great interest.

“I must say you are boys after my own heart,” he said, as the evening grew late, and Bluff had even yawned openly as many as three times. “If my little fellow had lived I would have wished him to be built on just the same pattern. I meant that he should love the Great Outdoors, and yet never be cruel in his pursuit of what we call sport. But he was taken away from me. What I am piling up now will some of these days go to a poor little crippled nephew in a New England town.”

As Bluff again yawned at a fearful rate their kind host realized that the boys were more or less played out after their long journey, and the task of “toting” their heavy packs into the Big Woods.

So he told them it was about time they all turned in, an invitation that was joyfully accepted by every one, not even excepting Frank.

It is doubtful whether they knew anything from the time they rested their heads on the pillows, made of hemlock needles stuffed into cotton-sacks, until there was a tremendous din that made them think of the fire signal at home.

“That’s the getting-up gong!” they heard Mr. Darrel call. “Breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes, so perhaps you’d better hurry. My men have big appetites these brisk days, and might clear off the table before you had a show.”

Of course the lumberman was only joking, for Cuba had gone to extra pains to have an abundance of food prepared. He had made fresh biscuits, and there was also oatmeal and coffee, with some fried ham and potatoes, as well as an egg apiece for the favored young guests of the “boss.”

Pretty soon the big lumberjacks started off to their daily work of chopping down trees. These would be trimmed into logs, and eventually be drawn by teams of horses to the river, where their voyage down to the sawmills or the pulp factories would begin.

The boys had never been in a lumbering region before, and numerous things interested them. Each brawny axman shouted good-by to the boys ere departing, for they were a jovial as well as a brawny lot. Frank could see how a life like this must develop any one physically.

Having received full directions from their host how to find his lonely lodge in the heart of the Big Woods, the four chums set out. Mr. Darrel would have accompanied them but for the fact that he had his hands full just then, and was expecting a new lot of employees to arrive that day.

“But a little later on you can expect a visit from me, lads,” he told them, as he squeezed each boy’s hand in a way that made them wince. “I’ll be looking forward to seeing you again with considerable pleasure.”

So the chums started off. Being fresh after a good night’s sleep, they did not mind the weight of their packs so much now. Later on in the day, if the tramp proved protracted, they might murmur again, particularly Bluff. He was addicted to that habit, though he really did not mean anything by it, as Frank knew from experience.

They tramped for more than an hour. Frank was always on the watch. He had been given explicit directions, which he was following closely. For a mile they had kept along the little creek, now beginning to freeze. Arriving at a spot where a spruce tree hung half-way across the bed of the stream, they had turned sharply to the left, and commenced making their way through a dense wilderness of firs.

In this way the second mile had been covered, while a third had taken them to what seemed to be quite a little hill.

“Sure we’re on the right track, are you, Frank?” asked Will, when they had left this elevation behind them nearly half an hour.

“Yes, we’re going as straight as a die,” Bluff hastened to say, before the leader could utter a word. “I know it because right ahead of us I can see that other little stream Mr. Darrel was saying we’d strike. Down that two miles and we’ll come to his cabin.”

“I only hope we find it unoccupied, that’s all,” ventured Will.

“No danger of anybody breaking in,” Frank declared. “Up here in the Maine woods there’s a queer sort of law among the natives. They are honest as the day in that way. Nobody ever thinks of locking his door at night.”

“Small game seems to be plenty enough,” Bluff went on to say. “But where are all the deer they’ve been telling us about? I’d like to run across something worth taking a crack at with my pump-gun.”

“Then there’s your chance, Bluff!” suddenly remarked Will. “Why, it looks for all the world like a gray wolf to me!”

“It must be a wolf, because Mr. Darrel said they sometimes come down here from over the Canadian border!” exclaimed Jerry.

“I’ll wolf him with that buckshot charge I’ve got ready for a deer!” muttered Bluff fiercely, as he dropped his pack and started to bring his repeating shotgun up to his shoulder.

“Hold on!” cried Frank, pulling the weapon hastily down. “Look again, Bluff, and you’ll see that’s no wolf, but a dingy dog. Yes, and we’ve seen that dog before, too!”


“Here’s trouble ahead!” declared Jerry, in evident disgust; “because sure enough that’s certainly the ugly beast we saw on the train.”

“Bill Nackerson’s dog!” exclaimed Will.

Bluff was still staring. He seemed half-inclined to doubt his eyesight. Just then the dingy-looking animal gave a series of snappy barks; after which expression of defiance to the boys he turned and scampered away at a rapid pace.

“For three cents I’d knock him over,” muttered Bluff angrily.

“It would be silly for you to try it, Bluff,” Frank told him, “and only give the dog’s owner a good reason for taking the law in his own hands.”

“But, just think of it, that crowd must have got off at the next station, Frank!” declared Bluff.

“Well, they had a right to, if they felt like it, I suppose,” he was told. “Since when did the railroad company give us charge over the trains up here in Maine, that we could object to anybody leaving the cars? We did that when we felt like it.”

“Yes, but we’re going to have that bunch around here, and they’ll be our rivals in the hunting,” Bluff continued vigorously.

“If half they tell us is true,” laughed Frank, determined not to cross rivers before he came to them, “there’ll be plenty of game here for us all.”

“But when that Nackerson knows we’re here he’ll just as like as not try to make things uncomfortable for us,” Jerry broke in, showing that he felt the same way Bluff did.

“Oh! let’s hope not,” murmured Will, whose motto was peace.

“If they bother us too much we can let Mr. Darrel know about it,” Frank went on calmly.

“That’s so,” Will burst out, “and I tell you if a bunch of those husky lumberjacks got busy, they’d chase Nackerson and his cronies out of the Big Woods in a hurry, believe me!”

At the same time, while Frank tried to make light of the impending trouble, deep down in his heart he feared they were to find the Nackerson set of sporting men unpleasant neighbors.

“The only bother it can make us that I can see,” Frank told the others, “is that we’ll have to do all our roaming around in couples. There must be no solitary jaunts. With two to handle they would hesitate to attempt anything serious. Remember that always, will you, boys?”

“It’s just as well,” remarked Will, “and whoever stays in camp with me can help with my photograph work. I’m in earnest about succeeding in my particular branch on this trip; and p’raps you’d like to know the reason why.”

“We certainly would,” Frank told him; “I’ve had an idea that you were keeping something back all this while; so out with it.”

Will chuckled, and took some papers from his pocket.

“That’s a folder issued by one of the big Maine railroads,” he explained. “You see, I happened to read in a paper that they had offered some pretty nice cash prizes for the best photographs taken this season that would show what woods life up here stood for. The offer holds good up to New Year’s Day.”

“And you mean to enter—to try for the money?” demanded Bluff.

“That’s what I expect to,” was the reply. “I’ve complied with all the conditions they impose, and if I’m lucky enough to get some first-class views while in the Big Woods, I mean to submit them in competition. It may be keen, and I’ll stand little show, but nothing venture nothing win.”

Bluff knew what splendid work Will had been doing in the line of sport he had taken as his especial hobby.

“Now, excuse me for differing with you there,” he said, “but I’d like to say right here that if you go in for those prizes they’re sure to drop into your hand like ripe plums. You know how to get results better’n any amateur photographer I ever ran across.”

They were once more pushing forward while discussing this latest matter. For the time being every one seemed to have quite forgotten the unpleasant feeling conjured up by the sudden appearance of the dog.

It was near the middle of the day when, after following the stream in its meanderings for quite two miles, Frank pointed out to them the object of their search.

“There’s the little cabin, sure enough,” said Bluff, his voice full of pleasure, “and let me tell you it looks all that Mr. Darrel cracked it up to be.”

“For my part I think we ought to be as comfortable as four bugs in a rug in such a cozy hut,” Will told them, happy in the thought that he could now drop that heavy pack, and before long start to taking some of the beautiful scenes of the snowy woods.

There was only an inch or so of the white covering on the ground, but it gave the landscape a wintry appearance. They had really had more of a fall in their far distant home town, Frank remembered, thinking of the snowball battle, and the broken window.

A few minutes later they were inside the cabin. Every boy expressed himself as delighted with the prospects. There was a huge fireplace, and just four bunks ranged around the interior, with a rude table, and a number of home-made rustic chairs.

It did not take them long to begin to make things seem homelike, once they had their packs open. The cheery sound of the ax at work told that a fire would soon add to the charm of that interior. Then would follow the delightful odors of cooking, with each boy taking his turn.

By the time the afternoon was well along they had managed to stow everything in the place where it was intended to be found. Their well-beloved blankets, that had accompanied them on numerous outings, were settled each in the particular bunk its owner had chosen.

“Now that I’ve hung our cooking things up on these nails alongside the fireplace there’s a cheery look about the place I like,” Will announced, with considerable pride in his voice.

“And that pile of firewood outside the door, cut by all of us in turn, stands for solid comfort in my eyes,” Jerry remarked, as he ruefully surveyed the first row of blisters on palms unused to such hard work.

“With plenty of game to be had,” announced Bluff, patting his favorite gun, “we ought to be as happy as the day is long—only for that tough crowd being somewhere close by.”

“Frank,” remarked Will, “have you any idea how far away they are camping?”

“Well, that would be a hard question to answer,” replied the other, smiling, “only for the fact that our friend, Mr. Darrel, happened to mention a little thing I expect might have a bearing on what you want to know.”

“But he couldn’t know anything about that Nackerson crowd?” objected Jerry.

“I don’t suppose he did,” Frank informed him, “but in telling me how to get over to his little lodge he mentioned another log cabin that lay in the woods on the way here. He said it was an old one that some trappers had used long ago. The roof was bad, but might be repaired. Sometimes hunters stopped there a night or two when passing through.”

“Then that must be where those men are putting up,” said Will. “Let’s hope two nights will be their limit, and that none of us run across them when off in the big timber.”

“Forget about such an unpleasant subject,” advised Frank. “Everything looks bright and promising around us, so what’s the use bothering with trouble that may never happen?”

He changed the subject, and soon the others had apparently forgotten all about the near presence of Bill Nackerson and his evil companions.

Supper that evening was a meal not soon to be forgotten. The boys all had a hand in its preparation. Soon they meant to adopt a system that would give each one his regular turn at this important duty.

And then afterward, how jolly it was to make themselves comfortable before a roaring fire, and talk of home, or the many interesting things that had happened to them on past outings.

Later on all were snuggled down under their blankets in their bunks. The fire burned low, and would perhaps go out entirely before dawn came.

The last thing Bluff remembered hearing was the far-off hooting of some owl that braved the winter’s cold. It seemed to soothe him, for, listening, and occasionally hearing the cheery cackle of the fire, Bluff lost himself in sleep.


They had a peaceful night, with one exception. Along in the small hours Bluff was heard to give a sudden wild whoop:

“Get out, you cowardly beast!” he cried at the top of his voice. Of course there was considerable excitement.

Frank had been wise enough to bring a little vest-pocket type of electric torch with him, knowing how valuable such a contrivance may be at times. He instantly switched on the light; and, as he picked up his gun with one hand, he managed to turn the white glow upon the bunk occupied by Bluff.

The latter had apparently subsided, for no more shouts rang out. Frank discovered him lying there rubbing his eyes. He looked as though hardly knowing whether to burst out laughing or appear ashamed of having startled the others so.

“What’s all this row mean, Bluff?” demanded Frank sternly.

“Shucks! I guess I must have been dreaming, that’s all,” he was told.

“What nipped you? Because you acted as if it hurt,” Jerry asked.

“Why, you see,” explained Bluff, “I had come across that big Bill Nackerson, while roamin’ through the woods, and he managed to sneak my gun away when I wasn’t looking. Then what did he do but sic that mangy cur of his on me. I was kickin’ like everything at him. See how I sent my blanket out on the floor. All I wanted was one sound smack at his ugly jaws. I’m sorry I woke up so soon, because next time I’d have fetched him.”

“Well, go to sleep again, and let’s hope you dream of other things besides scrapping,” advised Jerry, as he proceeded to once more deposit his gun in a corner, and crawl under his blanket.

Bluff must have taken the advice to heart; at any rate his voice was not heard again until Frank pounded on the frying-pan to let the sleepers know it was time to creep out. Then each one in turn wanted to learn whether breakfast was ready.

As they ate they began to lay out plans for the day.

“Of course Bluff and Frank must try to get us some venison,” Will said; “and that’ll leave Jerry to assist me in camp. Besides, I want to find places to fix up my flashlight for the next night. If I can get a picture of some animal, taken by himself, it’ll please me a heap. What you know about the habits of these little creatures will help me out lots, Jerry.”

“I may be able to give a little advice, too, Will,” the latter remarked, as he helped himself to another flapjack; “because, you know, I went out with that gentleman who was stopping at our house late this fall. He had the flashlight habit about as bad as any one I’ve ever met.”

“Oh! you did mention it to me once, I remember,” said the other, evidently much pleased. “Then you may have picked up a few little wrinkles that will help me out in my game.”

“Leave that to me,” replied Jerry, swelling with importance. “I can put you wise to heaps of things. You see, I like to ask questions, and Mr. Mallon always gave me the straight answer.”

Breakfast was now about over, and the proposed hunt came next in order.

Frank never went off without making sure of a number of small but very important things. First of all he carried a compass. Next he made certain that he had an abundance of matches. After that ammunition was taken care of, and last of all enough food for a “snack.”

Frank was also a great hand for arranging a code of signals with his chums. This was an easy thing to do, because they had gone together so long now that they had a regular system that could be used as a means of conferring with one another, even when a considerable distance apart.

“Will’s mentioning that he wished we’d thought to fetch some syrup or honey along to go with the flapjacks,” Frank was saying, just before they broke away from camp, “makes me think that there are plenty of wild bees up here in Maine. Men hunt for their tree hives every season, and often find stacks of good honey, too.”

“Then, for goodness’ sake, fellows,” exclaimed Will, “please keep an eye out for any sign of a hive. Nothing would please me better than to have a pail of honey on hand. I’d just like to fill myself up with it, for once.”

“It’s a poor time of year to find a bee tree,” said Frank. “They usually look for a hive in summer, when the bees are flying and can be traced. Often the storehouse is away up at the top of a high tree. The weather is so cold now there wouldn’t be any young bees airing themselves in the sun.”

“Well, you never know,” ventured Jerry; “and, as you saunter along, just watch out for the signs. I understand bears often raid a hive. You might find empty combs lying on the ground under some tree.”

“Make up your mind we’ll not forget to keep an eye out,” Frank assured the camp guardians. “That reminds me, I promised to tell you a lot of interesting things about this country up here. I’ll do it to-night, if you mention it to me after supper.”

“I’ll remind you, sure thing,” returned Bluff eagerly, “because I understand that a whole army of people make some sort of a living out of the Maine woods, and I’ve always wanted to know how they could do it. Take my gun away, and I’d like as not starve to death here inside of a week.”

“All because you haven’t been brought up in Maine,” Frank told him, “and are as good as blind to the wonderful opportunities all around you. But, if you’re ready, Bluff, let’s be starting off.”

“Good luck to you!” cried Will, who was already engaged with his camera.

Bluff was soon tagging along at the heels of Frank, though occasionally he took a notion to push to the front. This was when he fancied that a particular patch of undergrowth looked promising.

Being in a humor to gather in a few of the numerous plump partridges that they knew were to be found in the timber, Bluff had his pump-gun loaded with shells containing moderate loads of powder and small shot. He thought that, with Frank at his side carrying a repeating rifle, there was no need of both being on the lookout for big game.

They walked on, apparently in an aimless fashion, but Frank knew just where he was going. One of his objects had been to avoid heading in the quarter where he had reason to believe that deserted trapper’s cabin was located, near the edge of the muskrat marsh. If, as they feared, it was now occupied by Bill Nackerson and his crew, Frank wanted to keep as far away from the place as he could.

Suddenly there came a humming sound, that caused Bluff to throw up his gun. With a quick discharge a flutter of feathers announced that he had made a hit.

“That’s a good start, Bluff,” Frank told him; “you got your bird, all right; but, hold on—don’t think of rushing over there. There were two others, and perhaps you don’t know a queer way partridges have of lighting on the lower limbs of trees after being flushed.”

“Say, that’s a fact, you did tell me that once, but I’d forgotten it,” Bluff candidly admitted. “And they use a dog to scare the birds up. That was what Nackerson had trained his cur to do, wasn’t it?”

“They bark and run about under the tree after the birds have taken to the limbs,” Frank continued; “and so the hunter can walk up close to pick his shot. It’s easy work, and when the partridges are thick up here no one need go hungry.”

“Well, all I’ve ever shot went off like a hurricane; and often I’ve had to let fly with my gun part way up to my shoulder. Do you see either of the others, Frank?”

“Yes, and, as luck will have it, they’ve lighted in such a way that they’re both in range. I believe you could drop two birds with one shot, Bluff.”

“I see ’em now,” muttered Bluff. “Watch my smoke.”

When he fired again both birds fell. Bluff looked as though half-ashamed of such easy work.

“Three already, eh? Nearly a chicken apiece, all around. Well, I might limit myself to just one more, and then call my part of the business off for to-day.”

He loaded himself down with the partridges, though Frank offered to carry one or more for him.

“You’ll need both hands for quick work, if we should happen to start a deer a little later on,” Bluff replied, giving Frank a cheery smile.

“Listen, there goes a gun!” said Frank, soon afterward.

“There’s another—yes, and a whole raft of them!” cried Bluff. “Of course it’s that crowd of Nackerson’s. I’m glad they’re pretty far away from here.”

“Yes, and we’ll make a detour, so as not to get any closer to them,” Frank said, as he changed their course.

“I hope this new ground will give us better luck,” Bluff went on.

They continued to push on until half a mile had been traversed.

It happened that Bluff was a little in advance of his chum, when, without the least warning, there was a sudden crash in the thicket. Then he saw something dun-colored spring away.

“Oh! Frank! look, there he goes skipping out; and it’s a three-pronged buck, at that!” he shouted.

Then, realizing that he might be interfering with the other’s aim, being in line with the fleeing deer, Bluff dropped flat to the ground.



That was Frank’s rifle, as Bluff well knew.

“Hurrah; he’s down, Frank; you got him that time! No, there he’s on his feet again, as sure as anything. Oh, why didn’t I have buckshot shells in my gun? There! That time you did drop him for keeps! Bully! bully! bully!”

Bluff immediately got upon his feet, and, as well as his burden would admit, started to run toward the spot were he had last seen the buck go down.

Frank was following close at his heels, calling to him to go slow, because it sometimes happened that a wounded buck proved himself a dangerous antagonist.

It turned out, however, that there was nothing to fear. The deer was dead when they arrived beside him.

“See, here’s where your first bullet struck him, Frank—just back of the shoulder. He must have been swerving when you fired that shot Would that have killed him, even if you didn’t fire again?”

“In time it would,” the other assured him, “though I’ve known deer to run miles before dropping, after being hit in the body. That was a poor shot for me.”

“But, when a buck is humping himself to get away, it strikes me a fellow is doing pretty well to be able to hit him at all,” Bluff remarked.

“I’m not proud of it, I can tell you. I had a fair chance, too,” Frank continued. “The second shot was better, and finished him at once. Well, here’s your venison, Bluff. What are you going to do with it now?”

“He’s a whole lot bigger than any of the little deer we shot down in Florida, that’s sure,” Bluff observed, “and, as we must be some miles away from camp, excuse me from helping to lug him there. Suppose we cut up the carcass, Frank? You’re a clever hand at that sort of work. We could make up a pack of the best parts; and hang up some more so it’d be out of the reach of foxes and skunks, and the like.”

“Yes, and pick it up to-morrow, or another day, when perhaps luck fails us,” ventured the leader, as though the idea appealed to him. “I think that is the best plan, Bluff, so here goes.”

Accordingly he set aside his gun, after replacing the two spent cartridges so as to always have the full set of six in magazine and chamber. After that he got busy with his hunting knife.

Bluff hovered around, ready to assist when asked. Frank knew considerable about such things, for he proved very deft with his sharp blade.

The buck’s head was hung from a tree, high enough to keep any animal from reaching it.

“Of course,” Frank explained, after they had managed to do this, “if a hungry bobcat came along we couldn’t hope to prevent it from getting there; and a Canada lynx would think nothing of making a spring twice that high. But what we want most of all are the antlers; and this will save them for us.”

He also made one package of meat to take home, and another that they hung from a limb the same way the buck’s head had been.

“Now, are we ready to start for home?” asked Bluff, when all these things had been looked after.

“Yes, because we’ve gone far enough for one thing,” replied Frank; “and then, besides, we have all the game we need for the present.”

“Three birds is a poor number for our crowd,” the other protested. “Either somebody has to go without, or else they must be divided up.”

“Well, keep on the watch, and perhaps you may get a crack at another on the way back to camp,” Frank advised him.

“Guess I will, and thank you for telling me, Frank. It was hardly fair, though, for you to make all that venison up in just one pack. Why didn’t you fix it so I could tote some on my back?”

“I figured that three fat partridges would be about as much as any fellow cared to carry; and, if you should bag another, that’d make it complete. So forget it, and be on the watch.”

That was Frank’s way, and Bluff knew it was no use trying to make him change his plans. There was not a selfish bone in Frank Langdon’s body—even his worst enemy would admit that much.

Before ten minutes had passed the chance came whereby Bluff was enabled to fill out his assortment of partridges, so that every camper could have one.

“That was a fine shot, Bluff!” Frank told him, when he had seen how the spinning bird dropped like a stone the instant the gun was discharged.

“That’s nice of you to say, Frank; sometimes I do manage to get where I aim.”

They had to rest several times while on the way home. Finally the cabin near the bank of the partly frozen creek was reached. Jerry spied them coming, and at once set up a yell.

“Come out here, Will; hurry up!”

Immediately the other came flying into view. He carried his camera in his hand, and there was a startled expression on his face.

“It isn’t fair to give a fellow a scare like that, Jerry,” he said reproachfully. “I certainly thought a bear had you up a tree, and I hoped to get the picture. It would have been the prize of my collection, too. Now it turns out that it’s only Frank and Bluff coming home from their hunt.”

“Well, that ought to make a good scene for a picture, oughtn’t it?” Jerry demanded. “See what they’ve got with them, will you? A big pack that contains venison, I know, because that’s a deer-skin it’s wrapped in. And see Bluff fairly staggering under his load of game. Boys, we’re proud of you.”

“Now we can begin to live like real hunters,” Will remarked, after he had clicked his camera deftly, getting the proper light on the returned chums. “With partridge and venison hung up we’ll be in clover. All I’d like to see now would be a haunch of bear meat alongside.”

Of course they must have plenty of the fruits of the hunt for supper that night. The birds were immediately prepared and baked in an oven that Frank showed them how to make, using a hole dug in the ground.

“This way of baking game is an old hunter’s trick,” said Frank, while he was excavating the oven, “and has been known among Indians and others for nobody can tell how long. You see, it might be called the origin of the up-to-date ‘fireless cookers.’ It is made very hot, and then the food sealed in it so that the heat gradually does the business.”

The others knew something about the method, although they had possibly never been in a position to see the thing in operation. Frank burned a special kind of hard wood in his oven until he had a bed of glowing ashes. These he took out, and then the four partridges, plucked and ready for eating, were wrapped in some clean muslin Frank produced from his pack, and which had been previously dampened.

After that the oven was sealed up the best way they could. As the frost had not as yet penetrated more than an inch below the surface of the ground, digging had not been found unduly difficult, using a camp hatchet to hew the crust.

Hours later, when the oven was opened, it still retained an astonishing amount of the heat that had been sealed up in it. The birds they found cooked through and through.

“The very best way of preparing partridges that can be found, I think,” was the comment of Will, who had read several cook-books at home and had a jumble of their contents in his mind.

“It certainly has made these birds mighty tender and sweet,” confessed Jerry, as he pulled his prize apart with hardly any effort.

“Things cooked in this way are always made tender,” Frank told them. “A tough steak made ready for the table in a fireless cooker will be as nice as the most costly porterhouse is when broiled or fried. The only thing I object to is that it never seems to have that nice brown look, and the taste that I like most of all. It’s more after the style of a stew to me.”

As the four partridges were only skimpy “racks” when the boys tossed them aside, it can be readily inferred that all the campers enjoyed the feast abundantly. Indeed, they even had some of the venison as a side dish; this was cooked in the frying-pan after the usual manner.

“Might as well have enough game while about it,” Bluff remarked. “And let me say right here and now that this sort of thing tastes a heap finer when you’ve had the privilege of knocking over the game yourself; or it’s been done by the party you’re with.”

When finally they had eaten until no one could contain another bite, the boys, as was their habit, drew around the crackling fire, and started discussing their affairs, as well as other matters that came up.

Frank had warned Bluff that it might be just as well if they kept still about the series of shots they had heard, accompanied by faint shouts that might have stood for either triumph or excitement.

To his chagrin Jerry himself introduced the topic.

“While you were gone, fellows,” he went on to remark, “Will and I were prowling around near here to find a good place to set his flashlight trap camera to-night, when we heard a regular row some distance over there. Must have been as many as five or six shots in rapid succession, and some hollering, too.”

As the cat was now out of the bag, Frank felt there was no need of keeping secret the fact that they, too, had heard the series of shots.

“Yes, we caught it just after we’d got our partridges, and before we raised the buck,” he confessed; “I didn’t mean to say anything about it, because there seemed no need; but since you’re wise to the fact we can talk about it.”

“It must have been that Nackerson crowd, don’t you think?” asked Will.

“There can be no question about that,” Frank replied.

“They started a deer, and were peppering away at him in great shape, of course?” suggested Jerry.

“That sounds like the explanation,” he was told; “but then the same shooting would have followed the discovery of a lynx, or perhaps a black bear in a tree. All we can be sure about is that we want to fight shy of that country over there. We can hunt a different field; and I’m in hopes that by doing so we’ll miss running across those men all the time we’re up here.”

“Now, Frank, you remember you told us to remind you of something?” Jerry remarked when the conversation flagged.

“You mean about this wonderful woods country up in the State of Maine,” Frank went on, smiling as though the task he had been called on to shoulder pleased him, since he was a native of the State, and loved it dearly.

“Yes; something about the strange ways you said there were for men to make a living in the woods,” Bluff added.


“I’ve already spoken about the professional honey hunter,” began Frank, “who puts in a lot of his time summers roaming the woods in certain sections, always on the lookout for bees working in the blossoms or flowers.”

“Yes,” Will broke in, “and we know how they find the hives in dead limbs of trees, by trailing working bees. They catch a bee that’s loaded with honey, or sugar water supplied by the bee hunter, and attach a little white stuff to him. This they can see for a long distance as he makes a beeline for his home.”

“That’s right, because I watched a chap doing it once,” Bluff asserted. “He kept edging closer and closer with every bee he marked, till in the end he found the hive. I saw him take a heap of good honey out of that tree, and I got beautifully stung in the bargain.”

“Then there’s the man who gathers the crooked wood that ship carpenters use for making boats’ knees,” Frank continued, marking with his fingers as he spoke. “Nearly every small boat has to have just so many. They’re mighty hard to get, even after you’ve run across the right juniper or hackmatack, because it’s necessary that they should be of a certain shape.”

“That’s sure a queer occupation,” remarked Jerry.

“Of course, there are lots of trappers up here who work all winter,” Frank observed, “just as we know our old friend, Jesse Wilcox, does out where we live. But the furs they get here are pretty valuable, though not bringing quite as high a price as others taken up in Canada and the Northwest.”

“How’s that?” demanded Bluff.

“Stop and think a minute,” he was told, “and you’ll understand why it should be so. The colder the climate the more need of a heavy coat of fur. Now, take the common raccoon that is found all over the eastern section of our country. The animal down in the Gulf region grows a poor thin coat beside the one that has to stand a spell of winter weather up here.”

“Oh, I see now, plain enough!” Bluff exclaimed.

“Trust Nature to look out for her children,” remarked sentimental Will.

“She always does,” Frank told him seriously. “That’s why certain animals in the far North change their coats with the coming of winter. From gray or brown they take on a snow-white fur. That’s intended either to help them escape from their enemies in the midst of the snow, or else to assist them in creeping up on their food supply.”

“Yes,” broke in Jerry, “and when we were down at New Orleans and caught some saltwater fish for a change, didn’t they tell us that certain ground fish like the flounder is white underneath, where it doesn’t count, but mud-colored on top? That looks as though Nature wanted to protect him as he lay on the bottom of the shallow bayous and flooded places.”

“Then,” continued Frank, “there are the Indians, who act as guides to parties of sportsmen in the summer fishing and in the fall hunting. Their women make baskets, and lots of other pretty things, using colored grasses and porcupine quills, and sell them to the guests at the hotels in the State.”

“How about the spruce gum hunters, Frank?” Bluff asked.

“I’m coming to them right now,” replied the other. “That’s one of the most interesting employments in the Maine woods—gathering the gum of the spruce trees. Of course you know it’s used in making some kinds of chewing gum for the girls.”

“Yes, and some boys are just as bad about using the stuff,” Bluff went on, in a scornful tone. It happened that he himself had recently graduated from the ranks of chewers.

“These fellows keep on the move pretty much all the year,” Frank told them. “A gum hunter has to cover his field about once in so often. He must have pretty good eyes, or he couldn’t discover where the sticky mass hangs on the side of tall trees. Some of them use field-glasses in their work, and I don’t blame them much.”

“I should think that would help out considerably,” Will commented, doubtless remembering how difficult it often was for the unaccustomed eye to tell whether a certain protuberance far up on a tree trunk was a boll or a woodpecker flattened out at his hammering work.

“It’s a paying business, if only they can pick up enough gum,” Frank explained. “They get as high as a dollar and a half a pound for the stuff. As a rule they go in couples, because there is often need of help. And they work far away from civilization, so it must be lonely at times.”

“But that isn’t all, Frank, I take it?” queried Bluff.

“Why,” replied the other, “I’ve hardly begun to tell you about the scores of things that are going on up here in these wonderful woods, pretty much the year round. Perhaps you’ve never bothered your heads about finding out where all the hoop poles come from. They use millions of them every year, and the supply is inexhaustible, even if it does take time and trouble to gather it.”

“Then that’s one of the Maine woods’ industries, is it?” questioned Will.

“A big one,” Frank answered promptly. “You know that after certain trees like birch and ash are cut down, the roots throw up sprouts a-plenty.”

“Yes; I’ve seen regular little forests of them, many a time,” Bluff replied.

“Well, that’s where the harvest of the hoop pole man comes in,” Frank continued. “He follows the path where the loggers have gone a year or two before. Of course, his work makes it necessary for him to have a horse, so as to carry his day’s gathering to a central point, where it can be shipped.”

“Do they fetch the stuff out just as it’s cut?” asked Jerry.

“Not as a rule,” Frank answered. “At night the men sit by the fire, and spend the time in talking, while they use their shavers to take the bark off the poles. Later on these poles are split at the factories and used for barrels, kegs, and orange boxes.”

“The men who gather them don’t get rich at the job, I reckon,” Bluff commented, at a hazard, seeking still more information concerning this wonderful country which he had never dreamed could produce so many strange livelihoods.

“Oh, they get a few cents apiece for the poles,” said Frank, “but as they work steadily, and there are no labor agitators to call them out on strike, I guess they make it pay. Another strange business up here is getting ax-handles.”

“Gee whiz! doesn’t it beat the Dutch about that?” chuckled Bluff. “Like every other fellow, I’ve often wondered where they got all those fine ax-handles that come to our town. So here’s where they come from? I’m glad to know it.”

“A fair part of the supply comes from up around Maine,” Frank told him. “The woods roamer needs the best quality of ash for his business. He hunts over a large territory to find just what he wants. In the fall of the year the trees are dropped, and in a rough way each handle is shaped by a tool they call a ‘froe.’ After that they keep them underground for a time.”

“What’s that—bury the handles?” remarked Will wonderingly.

“Just to season the wood so it will not crack,” Frank explained. “Of course, after all this the finer work of finishing the ax helves has to be done at the factory. Another man who makes his living from the woods is the fellow who gathers the hemlock bark used by nearly all tanneries. Besides, all sorts of roots that bring in good money are being dug every year throughout Maine.”

“You mean wild ginseng roots, and golden seal, don’t you, Frank?” Will asked.

“Yes, and many others in the bargain. In lots of places boys make quite a little money finding these roots, and drying them. Then—let’s see, did you know that pearl hunting had become a regular business in some parts of Maine?”

“Now you must be joshing us, Frank,” Bluff remonstrated, “because pearls are found in oysters; and I’ve read that there are only a few places in the wide world where these pearl oysters grow plentifully enough to pay for working the banks.”

“You’re mistaken about that,” Will broke in. “I know fine pearls have been picked out of mussels in Missouri and Indiana. Is that what you mean, Frank?”

“Yes,” the other explained, “there’s been considerable hunting in the streams up here for mussels, or fresh water clams, that happened to have a pearl in the shell. While every hunter isn’t lucky enough to make a big find, still a man found one last summer near Moosehead Lake that sold for several hundred dollars.”

“And then there’s the shells; they say they’re worth something,” added Will, who apparently was posted on that subject at least.

“They sell those to factories where buttons and such things are made,” continued Frank. “If you’ve ever noticed the shell of a mussel, you’ve seen that the inside is mother-of-pearl and mighty fine.”

“Does that finish the list?” Jerry wanted to know.

“There are plenty of other things that bring in money to those who follow them up,” Frank told him; “but in every case it takes more or less hard work. Thousands of men are employed in logging during the winter. Then, ice is gathered in great quantities, to be shipped to Boston, and even to New York, when it’s warm weather. Protecting the game in the close season gives work to a good many men as wardens.”

“I never would have dreamed a single State could have so many ways of making a living in its woods,” murmured Will.

“Think of the hotel men,” Frank continued, “who live on the swarms of tourists and sportsmen. And the guides who get big pay for their work in season. There are the canoe-makers in Oldtown and other places; they seldom try to build the older style of birch-bark boats nowadays, even the Penobscot Indians preferring the smooth-sided canvas canoe, painted green, so the fish can hardly notice it above them in the water. There must be thousands of these boats built every year, and they find a ready market from Florida to the far West, and all over the country.”

“Well, you have certainly interested us by telling about these things,” declared Bluff. “Nobody but a fellow who had lived in Maine pretty much all his life would be apt to know so much about how people made their living up in these Big Woods.”

“I’ll have a heap more respect for the Maine pine woods after this,” admitted Jerry. “Up to now I kind of looked down on ’em, because there didn’t seem to be a great many whopping big trees, such as we see out our way in the forests. But, shucks! the more you travel the bigger your knowledge box grows.”

“That’s right,” added Bluff frankly.

“There are plenty of other things I could tell you,” continued Frank, “but they wouldn’t seem quite as interesting after what you’ve heard. And I’ve talked myself pretty hoarse by now, so I’d better close shop and quit.”

“I hope my flashlight trap works all right,” mused Will.

The fire felt so delightful that no one seemed in any hurry to crawl into his bunk. This was the life these boys enjoyed more than anything they could imagine. Will was perhaps the only one of the quartet who cared little for hunting; but it pleased him to be in the company of his chums, and, besides, his new hobby was causing him to look forward to a season of profitable employment.

He was fully determined not to let any opportunity pass whereby he might secure some remarkable pictures of outdoor life to enter in that competition which the railroad companies had inaugurated.

While they sat there, looking into the fire, each one engaged with his own thoughts, Frank was noticed to suddenly raise his head and listen.

“What was that sound, Frank?” demanded Bluff. “Ever since we spent that time out in the Rockies on that ranch I’ve believed I’d be able to know the howl of a wolf if ever I heard one again, and seems to me that was what came down on the wind just then.”


“But didn’t they tell us that wolves had been pretty much cleaned out of Maine in the last twenty years?” ventured Will, looking uneasy.

“Yes, that’s a fact,” Frank admitted; “but once in a while there seems to be a raid from Quebec Province, or New Brunswick, and from different sections reports come in of packs being seen. There’s a bounty on wolf scalps up here; but not much money is paid out for them—that is, for animals killed in a wild state.”

“In what other way could they be killed, Frank?” demanded Bluff, thinking that perhaps he had one on the other just then.

Frank, however, smiled at him, as he explained:

“It happened that they once discovered a wolf ranch in a secluded part of the State. A smart chap was actually breeding the animals for the sake of the skins and the bounty that the State allowed him. Of course, they put a stop to his business. But that reminds me I didn’t think to tell you about the fur farms we have up here.”

“That sounds interesting!” Jerry declared.

“Of course you mean where they raise all sorts of fur-bearing animals for the sake of their pelts?” Bluff suggested.

“Yes; and they say that good money is made at the business, too,” he was told. “One man I knew had a fox farm. He had managed to get hold of a few black foxes, and told me that if they bred true his everlasting fortune was made; because, as we know, the skin of a good black fox is worth all the way from five hundred to two thousand dollars.”

“How about skunks—I understand there are farms where they raise them by the thousand?” Bluff ventured, with an upturning of the nose.

“I’m told they pay good dividends,” Frank explained, “but can’t say from my own observation, because I’ve never dared to visit one. But you must remember that a polecat is only dangerous when frightened. They say that if you treat them gently they get to know you and are not to be feared any more than so many puppies.”

“Excuse me from trying to follow that occupation,” chuckled Jerry; “but I wonder if that really was a genuine wolf, or a snow owl hooting?”

“Let’s go outside and listen, because I want to know,” suggested Will, into whose eyes an eager glow had crept, as he remembered he had a camera trap baited with some fresh venison and that if there were hungry wolves around he stood a chance of obtaining a remarkable picture.

They clapped on caps and sweaters, and all went outside. The night was fairly dark, and still. Overhead a million stars shone and the soft breeze sighed itself to sleep among the pines.

“There it goes again!” exclaimed Bluff suddenly.

“And it sure is a wolf—eh, Frank?” Jerry cried.

“Oh, I hope so!” Will was heard to say, at which the others were surprised until Frank guessed the reason.

“You’re thinking of that flashlight trap, are you, Will, and hoping to catch bigger game than you set it for? Well, if any of those hungry chaps come smelling around in this direction I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. They can find a piece of fresh meat that’s half a mile away.”

“Just like those buzzards down in Florida could discover where there was any dead animal, and would come flying from every direction,” Bluff remarked.

They soon grew tired of staying out in the cold, and listening to the occasional mournful sound that all had decided came from the throat of a gray pilgrim from Canada.

Now and then it seemed closer; and Bluff even declared that he could distinguish several different grades of howls.

“Must be a pack of the rascals!” he ventured to say. “Who knows but some of us may run up against the bunch while we’re around here? I’d like nothing better, take it from me, than to knock over a few of the measly things. They’re a mean lot and without a single redeeming quality, like a fox.”

Once more returning to the warm cabin, they sat around until finally Frank drove them all to their bunks.

“I’ll never be able to get you out at a decent hour in the morning,” he told them, “if you keep on sitting here, blinking at the fire, and yawning every little while.”

If the wolves came closer to the cabin during the night, no one seemed to be aware of the fact. At least, their howling certainly did not keep a single boy from enjoying his customary sleep.

Will hurried out as soon as he was dressed. Frank knew what he meant to do, and stopped him long enough to advise him to carry his gun along.

“You never know what you may meet when you least expect it,” was the burden of his warning. “And when there’s an ugly bobcat ready to jump on your back or fight for the game that’s in your trap, you’ll wish you’d been wise enough to come prepared.”

“I guess you’re right about that,” Will admitted, as he returned for his weapon. He knew what wolves were like, and the possibility of meeting one in the big timber gave him a panicky feeling.

Shortly afterward he came hurrying in, breathless and excited. Although none of the others had heard so much as a shot, the first thing they thought was that Will must have run up against a thrilling adventure of some kind.

“Did anything tackle you?” demanded Jerry, showing immediate interest.

“Was it a wolf or a wildcat; and did you shoot him?” asked Bluff.

Frank said nothing. He saw how the other was carrying his camera under his arm, and could give a good guess as to the cause of his excitement.

“Nothing tackled me!” exclaimed the picture taker indignantly. “I was only going to tell you that the trap was sprung and my flashlight must have worked.”

“But of course you don’t know whether it was a muskrat, a fox, a mink, or perhaps a prowling ’coon that grabbed your bait,” Bluff commented.

“I’ll know after I’ve had a chance to develop the film,” he was told. “You know I have single ones that fit in frames, so they act like glass plates; only there’s no weight, and no danger of breaking them when you tumble.”

“Was the bait gone?” pursued Bluff.

“Yes, the string was broken across the middle; and it was a good strong cord,” Will informed him.

Frank saw Bluff nod his head as though pleased. He said nothing more, however, but as soon as breakfast had been disposed of they missed Bluff. He came in presently with a grin on his face.

“Guess you’re in luck to-day, Will,” he remarked carelessly.

“What makes you say that, Bluff?”

“Your visitor wasn’t a mink, nor yet a fisher, a fox, or a ’coon,” Bluff went on.

At that, Will began to show signs of excitement.

“Do you mean it was a wolf?” he demanded eagerly.

“Either that or a dog,” replied Bluff; and then seeing that it was only fair to explain further, he continued: “I found his trail as easy as falling off a log. Of course, I don’t pretend to be an authority on wolf tracks, because they look pretty much like a dog’s; but there were plenty around, so I figured there must have been a fair pack.”

“They were wolves, then, take it from me,” Frank asserted. “We only know of one dog in the woods besides a couple at Lumber Run Camp, and they keep them tied up most of the time.”

Will could not wait a minute longer. He had carried a little tank into the wilderness with him, by means of which it was possible to develop films in the daytime as well as by ruby light in a dark room.

When he reappeared later on there was a look on his face that announced his complete satisfaction with the results. The others did not bother asking him to show them, knowing that in good time, when his film had had a chance to dry, Will would surprise them with a blueprint.

Everybody found plenty to do, it seemed, that morning. The cold weather had kept on, and as there was a small pond not far away from the cabin they found that the ice would bear them.

Bluff and Jerry had managed to fetch their skates along, although Frank had attempted to dissuade them, on account of the extra weight and the fact that they could have all the skating they wanted at home on the river.

The two boys wanted to say they had tried Maine ice, so they fastened their skates and whirled around innumerable times, making the circuit of the little pond.

Frank had partly arranged with Jerry to go on another hunt after the midday meal. Will did not care to go, and Bluff had a sore heel from his shoe chafing on the previous occasion, so he concluded to rest a little.

After the skaters had returned to camp, they amused themselves with the ax for a spell, Frank and Will having done their part earlier in the day. It was good healthy labor; and, besides, they needed the wood in their business of keeping the fire burning on the hearth inside the cabin.

Will could be seen watching a printing frame which he had set in the sun. Every little while he would snatch it up to look, and then place it once more.

Finally he approached the others.

“Anything doing?” questioned Frank, smiling as he saw the other trying as hard as he could to look unconcerned.

“Oh, I just thought I’d like to get somebody’s opinion about what this beast is, that’s all,” remarked Will, suddenly flashing the blueprint.

“Whew! Doesn’t he look sassy, though!” exclaimed Jerry.

“It’s a wolf, all right, and as fine a picture as you could dream of getting!” Frank said.

“The flash has startled him, and he’s showing his teeth like anything!” was the verdict of Bluff. “Will, take my word for it, your wolf picture will win you the first prize they offered of a flashlight animal taken by himself!”

“Oh, do you think so, Bluff? It’s nice to hear you say that. So you like it, do you, Frank? Everything seemed to work like magic. Why, that trap is perfect, that’s what it is! A greenhorn photographer could get good results with that arrangement.”

“Now, don’t you believe it,” Jerry told him; “I’d make a mess of it, for one. You know every little wrinkle of the business, and this is what comes of it. That’s sure a dandy picture.”

They were all feeling unusually happy as they sat down to eat the midday meal. As a rule, this might be called a lunch; but with such ferocious appetites as all of them seemed to have developed since arriving in camp, it was necessary to do considerable cooking.


After all, no hunting party started out that afternoon. Jerry probably ate too heartily of the midday meal, for he complained of pains in his stomach and “guessed he had better lie around the rest of the day.”

He wanted Bluff and Frank to go, but the former was busy doctoring his heel, while Frank would not break the rule he had set and go alone.

“Besides,” Frank remarked, as he once more put his rifle away inside the cabin, and “hefted” the ax, as though meaning to have another spell with the firewood, “we’ve still plenty of that venison on hand. To-morrow will do just as well.”

So it was settled.

Of course, that did not mean they expected to be idle the remainder of the day, for none of them liked to do nothing. Jerry and Will were gone a little while after the former had recovered from his indisposition.

“We found a place where I think a fox passes along a trail,” Jerry announced, on their return, “and to-night Will means to try and take his picture. I should think a fox would make a good one, if only you get him as well as you did the wolf.”

“And I’m much obliged to you for helping me, Jerry,” said Will earnestly.

“Oh, that’s all right!” was the reply. “It’s beginning to get interesting; and I can see how a fellow could easily develop a hobby like this.”

“It means matching your wits against the shyness and cunning of these little animals,” said Will proudly; “and when you’ve succeeded in getting their pictures, in spite of everything, you feel that you’ve done something more than just aiming a gun and pulling a trigger.”

Bluff shrugged his shoulders. He had his own opinion about that; but of course Will could never understand the thrill that comes to the sportsman when he is tracking his quarry, and has to meet the cunning or ferocity that is the common heritage of all wild animals.

But Frank knew all about it, and met Bluff’s look with a smile and a nod.

“Every one to his taste, Bluff,” Frank said. “We can’t all of us expect to be crazy over taking pictures. And at the same time it would be queer if every man wanted to be out in the woods all the time with a gun on his shoulder, as we do. But I can understand how Will feels, and in a small way share his pleasure.”

“What was it you were telling us, Frank, about the mink that live along the bank of the creek just below the cabin?” asked Jerry.

“Only that you can find some interesting tracks there, and see how the little rascals travel about from one hole to another. If you care to step down now with me, we’ll look things over.”

“And perhaps I might get a good chance to take some of the tracks, so as to remember what sort of a print a mink makes,” observed Will, tucking his camera under his arm.

“Shall I step in and get my gun, Frank?” asked Bluff.

“If you want to, though we’re not going to be out of sight of the cabin at any time, I should think.”

Thus it came about that none of them carried any weapon. It could hardly be conceived that one would be required under any circumstances when within a stone’s throw of the home camp, and with all present.

Frank had such an interesting way of showing anything. He seemed to know all about the habits of the mink.

“They live along the banks of streams,” Frank said, as they prowled about, examining the various tracks, “and can swim and dive almost like an otter. They are not as destructive to game fish as the otter, though, I’ve been told. All those animals—badger, fisher, mink, and otter—are hunted for far and wide by trappers, and even weasels and muskrats have pelts that bring fair prices.”

“Why,” said Bluff, “I’ve read that even the common rat skin is being used now, because there’s a scarcity of furs. Moles have always been fine for gloves, I know.”

“That bunch of tracks seems plain enough to make a fine picture, with the sunlight shining on the place. Let me get it.” And Will proceeded to carry out his idea.

He had just “clicked” his shutter when Jerry said, in a low tone:

“Great governor! Frank, is that one of the wolves over yonder?”

Of course they all looked in the direction Jerry pointed, and it goes without saying that more than one of the boys felt nervous upon remembering that no one had brought a gun along.

Then Frank spoke up, and his voice, as well as his words, went a long way toward stilling their alarm.

“That’s no wolf, boys; I’d rather say it might be a dog. He seems to have come upon a hole in the ground, and has got some sort of animal cornered. Listen to him bark as he digs with his forepaws!”

“And see the dirt fly, will you, as well as the snow!” observed Bluff. “But say, Frank, seems to me we know that cur.”

“Yes, we’ve met him before,” Frank admitted.

“It’s Nackerson’s beast, then,” suggested Jerry.

“No doubt about it,” he was informed by Frank, who still watched the excited dog, digging and thrusting his nose as far down in the burrow as he could. “Better take care, Carlo, or you may get a nip from the claws or the teeth of your game!”

It seemed as though Frank must have been a prophet, for hardly had these words left his lips than the dog gave utterance to a howl, and started to run away as fast as his legs could carry him.

“Whee! That must have taken him square on the nose!” ejaculated Jerry.

“And didn’t he put his tail between his legs in a hurry, though?” Bluff asked. “That’s always a sign a dog is whipped. How about it. Frank? What’re you looking so serious about?”

“Only this,” came the reply: “where that dog is, there’s a chance of the men being, too.”

That caused them to exchange glances.

“And, sure enough,” Jerry hastily remarked, “there they come, breaking through the brush, all three loaded down with birds as though they’d been having sport somewhere, though none of us heard any firing this morning.”

“No use trying to make the cabin, is there, Frank? They happen to be between it and us,” Will observed, with a catch to his voice, although he would possibly have indignantly denied being frightened, had any one shown the temerity to accuse him.

It seemed as though Nackerson and his companions must have discovered the four outdoor chums almost as soon as they themselves were seen. At any rate, they were even then starting toward the boys.

“He looks pretty huffy, doesn’t he, Frank?” Will asked, in a troubled tone.

“Like as not he thinks we kicked his dog and sent him off howling,” ventured Bluff; which it turned out was exactly what the other did believe.

Frank did not like the situation. He would have felt relieved had some of them been in possession of weapons with which to stand up for their rights. Some men of ungovernable temper act first and do their thinking afterward.

The dog was trotting at the heels of his master, every now and then stopping to paw at his muzzle, which Frank could see at a glance was bleeding freely.

As the big man came up to the boys, possibly noting that none of them carried a gun, he was scowling.

“Which one of you cubs kicked my dog?” he growled. “I’ve got a good notion not to wait to find out, but start in and give you a licking all around, so as to be sure to strike the right one.”

Frank looked him straight in the eye. If his heart was thumping faster than usual, one never would have known it from the deliberate way in which he spoke. At the same time there was calm dignity in his manner, and he tried not to make his words seem like a defiance.

“I wouldn’t try anything like that, if I were you, Mr. Nackerson. We have had nothing to do with your dog getting hurt, and none of us either kicked him or threw a stone at him.”

“That’s one of your lies, youngster!” snarled the hunter.

“It is the simple truth!”

“But didn’t we hear him yelping like a crazy thing; and didn’t he come running to me straight from here? Tell me I haven’t got eyes to see? You’re going to pay dearly for that kick, understand me!”

“Let me tell you what happened,” continued Frank steadily, at the same time watching the man closely, for he feared the other might strike him.

“I wouldn’t believe anything you might tell me,” answered the other, with a sneer in his voice that caused Bluff to grit his teeth and wonder whether the stick he held in his hand would be heavy enough to use as a club, in case of necessity.

“Go on, boys,” urged one of the companions of Nackerson, who perhaps had a grain of common sense in his make-up, and realized that it was only fair they should allow the boys a hearing.

“We were down here looking after some mink that use this bank,” Frank continued. “You can see their tracks here and there all around. Our chum who has a camera was taking some pictures, when we discovered an animal close by which at first sight looked something like a wolf, for we heard wolves howling last night.”

Nackerson moved a trifle uneasily at the mention of wolves; it afterward turned out that once he had been treed by a pack of those animals, and came very near freezing to death during a long night’s vigil.

“Then we saw that it was a dog,” continued Frank. “He seemed to be trying to dig out some animal whose scent he had been following. All of a sudden the dog set up a screech, and went away on the jump, with his tail between his legs. A fierce old buck mink in that burrow had given him a nasty dig along his nose with his teeth or his claws.”

Nackerson sneered again, while his ugly face looked more scowling than ever.

“A likely yarn,” he said angrily.

“Take a look at your dog’s nose, and perhaps you’ll see the scratches there, because he’s bleeding now!” Bluff broke in, unable longer to refrain from having a hand in the game.

Nackerson showed no sign of bothering himself; but one of his cronies bent over the dog, which whined when he touched its lacerated muzzle.

“He’s been badly scratched, all right, Bill,” was the report.

“If you want any more proof,” Frank went on coolly, “take a look over by that bush yonder. That’s where we saw him digging first. You’ll likely find there’s a burrow, with the snow and dirt thrown out.”

“Yes,” added Bluff, “and if you look sharp, perhaps now you’ll discover a few specks of blood on the snow along the trail the dog made when he skipped out.”

No one took the trouble to find out. The two men with Nackerson must have been already convinced that the boys were not guilty. As for the big hunter, he did not wish to put himself in a place where he might have to admit that he had wronged them.

“Don’t believe a word of it, I tell you,” he persisted, as though bent on making trouble. “You’ve got a pretty slick tongue, youngster; but you can’t fool me. I cut my eye-teeth long ago.”

“I suppose you are a gentleman of considerable experience in the woods,” Frank observed, still hoping to conciliate the man, who he saw had been making a liberal use of his pocket flask, as usual. “But we have told you only the truth, and say again that your dog was not harmed by us.”

“Then there was that nasty business aboard the train,” continued Nackerson, “when you purposely upset that heavy pack on his back. Seems like you’ve taken a spite against my dog, and he never harmed you that I know of. I wanted to teach you cubs a lesson right then, but my friends held me back. Now you’ve gone and done another mean trick.”

Frank did not answer. He saw it would be useless, for the man was only working himself up to a pitch where in his rage he might attempt an attack. The boy, on the contrary, was wondering just what he and his chums might do, should they be actually set upon.

“Hold my gun, Whalen!” said the giant hunter, turning to one of the others. “Now don’t you dare say a word to me again about not laying a hand on these troublesome kids. I’ll teach ’em a lesson they won’t soon forget.”

Frank shut his jaws hard. Bluff edged up alongside, as though it was his earnest desire to be on the firing line if there was going to be trouble.

At that critical moment a voice was heard, saying:

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you, Bill Nackerson!”

Looking in the direction whence these words came, Frank saw with the liveliest satisfaction that the speaker was no other than Mr. Darrel, the lumberman.


A great load seemed lifted from Frank’s mind. With the coming of the lumberman, he had good reason to believe things would brighten up. For one thing, he was pleased to see that Mr. Darrel carried a rifle, which he was holding in a half-threatening manner as he advanced.

“Oh, here’s where we get busy right away!” Bluff was heard to mutter.

“Now things are going to look different,” Jerry added, with considerable satisfaction.

Frank looked deeper than the surface. He saw that the lumberman was alone.

“There are three of the sportsmen,” Frank told himself, “and each carries a gun. Mr. Darrel wouldn’t be able to manage the bunch if they started to get ugly. We ought to be able to lend a hand.”

He did not think it advisable to go toward the cabin himself, but that was no reason some one else might not make the attempt.

“Bluff!” he whispered, for it happened that the other was close by his elbow.

“What is it?”

“Try and make your way to the cabin without attracting their attention.”

“To get my gun?”

“Yes; and fetch mine along, too. Careful, now; and if you see them watching you stand still and appear innocent.”

Hardly had Frank spoken the last word before Bluff was in motion.

Other things chained Frank’s attention just then. Mr. Darrel had walked forward until he was now not more than thirty feet from the boys and Bill Nackerson’s crowd. It might be said that they formed a triangle, of which the lumberman was the apex, and the boys formed one of the base corners.

Frank knew that Mr. Darrel was acquainted with Nackerson. When they had told him about the trouble on the train, the lumberman related some differences he had once had with the sportsman, who had been coming to the Maine woods for a good many years.

The sight of Mr. Darrel had been anything but agreeable to the bully. When he saw, however, that the lumberman seemed to be unattended, the old look of anger came back to his face.

“Just keep your hands out of my business, Darrel,” he said threateningly. “This is no affair of yours, and I don’t want to have any trouble with you.”

“Well, that’s what you will have, Bill Nackerson,” replied the lumberman calmly, “if you go to bothering these boys, who are good friends of mine.”

“Oh, you don’t say!” sneered the other. Frank was of the opinion that it was Nackerson’s intention to egg the lumberman on until finally they might come to blows, when his superior weight and muscle would give him an easy victory, he thought.

“What’s all this I hear about your accusing them of hurting your dog?” demanded the newcomer, who may have heard only fragments of the talk as he was coming up.

“Look at the poor brute and see how his nose has been treated!” roared the bully, trying to work himself up into another passion.

“Well, it is hurt some, I can see,” replied Mr. Darrel, “but didn’t I hear Frank Langdon here explain that it was done by some animal the dog had tried to dig out of its burrow?”

“Yes, sir,” spoke up Jerry, eager to get in a word of explanation, “and over there’s where the dog was digging when first we noticed him. Then all at once he gave out a lot of yelps, and took to his heels. Frank said he had been nipped on the nose by the animal, which he thought must be a savage old mink. And that’s all any of us know about it.”

“You didn’t touch a hair of his dog, then?” asked the lumberman.

“Why, none of us was within thirty or forty feet of him at any time!” replied the indignant Jerry.

“How about throwing a stone at him?” continued Mr. Darrel, as though meaning to have a thorough understanding of the whole matter, once and for all.

“I give you my word, sir, not one of us even picked up a stone,” answered Jerry. “Of course, when we saw how funny the dog looked, running with his tail between his legs as he let out those queer yelps, we may have laughed. Anybody would have done that, Mr. Darrel.”

“And shouted in the bargain, too!” added Will.

“You hear what these lads say again, Nackerson?” resumed the owner of Lumber Run Camp, as he once more wheeled and faced the three sportsmen, with the dog cowering at their feet rubbing at his injured muzzle and whimpering.

“Oh, they gave us that song before; but we knew they were lying!” declared the other. “Boys never tell the truth. They’ll beat around the bush every time. I know just as sure as I’m standing here that they did something to my dog. On the train they tried to break his back by upsetting a heavy pack on him. And I’ve about made up my mind to show them they’re barking up the wrong tree if they think they can play their monkey-shines on Bill Nackerson.”

“I heard all about that incident of the smoker, Nackerson,” Mr. Darrel told him sternly, “and they assured me they had no hand in your dog’s hurt. He upset the pack on himself by squirming around and getting his rope caught in it.”

“Bah! Tell that to the marines!” snarled the other, now looking dangerously ugly, so that Frank felt a great relief when he discovered out of the tail of his eye that Bluff was slipping from the cabin door, and that he carried both guns.

Given half a minute more, and they would not feel they were an inferior force.

Fortunately neither of the men with the bully had noticed what Bluff was doing.

“Well,” said Mr. Darrel, “you don’t think that I’ll stand here and see you lay a finger on any one of these boys without protesting, do you?”

“I’d advise you to keep out of this mess, Mr. Darrel,” continued the other. “I’m not the man to be interfered with, once they get me riled up. And both of my friends here are going to stand back of me. So don’t you try to raise that gun of yours, or somebody will get hurt.”

“That’s so, Mr. Nackerson,” chimed in another voice just then, “and the first one to feel it will be you!”

Frank knew it was Bluff who made this assertion. He could see that the other had leaned one gun against a tree, and was leveling his own weapon straight at the intruder.

Neither of the other men made the slightest movement. They seemed to think that as Nackerson had brought all this trouble on them he should stand for it.

Frank started toward Bluff, for he wanted to get his hands on his own rifle.

“Hold on there, you young fool; that gun might go off!” exclaimed the sportsman, showing extreme nervousness; for he did not know what a reckless boy might be tempted to do.

“I expect it to, unless you clear out of this!” retorted Bluff, true to his name; for such a thing as actually firing was far from his thoughts, though as a last resort he would have been capable of it.

This seemed like adding insult to injury, in the eyes of the bully. It was bad enough to be baffled when bent upon carrying out his plan through brute strength, but to be ordered away by a mere boy galled him.

By now Frank had slipped behind Bluff, so as not to distract his attention, and snatched up his own rifle. Nackerson must have realized that the tide had changed and was now setting heavily against him.

“You’ll all be sorry for this, see if you ain’t!” he growled, for somehow that is always the threat of a defeated man.

“Well, I advise you to clear out while you have the chance, Nackerson,” the lumberman told him, perhaps more than a little pleased to see how ably the boys could look out for themselves.

“Are you going to stand back of me or not, Whalen?” snarled the big sportsman, not daring to make a hostile move himself while Bluff was holding that gun leveled at him.

The man he addressed gave a nervous little laugh.

“Well, we would, Bill,” he went on to say, “if we thought you had a clean bill; but it strikes us both that in this affair you’re away off your trolley. These boys didn’t have anything to do with the hurts of the dog, they say, and we can’t prove they did. So we’d best clear out.”

“Good for you, Whalen!” remarked Darrel. “And let me say right now, that if there’s any suspicious business attempted while you’re up here in this section of the Big Woods, you’re apt to get a pack of my lumberjacks hot on your trail. You’d better go slow about what you do. They’d as soon give you a coat of tar and feathers as not.”

Whalen did not make any answer. Apparently he and his companion felt ashamed of being caught in association with the bully.

Seeing that he was deserted by his friends, Nackerson realized that there was now nothing left for him to do but to give up. He was a hard loser, Frank saw, as he noted the muscles of the man’s face working.

“Oh, I’m going to clear out, Mr. Darrel,” he said, trying to speak contemptuously; “there are times when it’s policy to knuckle down. This is one of them, I reckon. But Bill Nackerson doesn’t throw up the sponge as easy as all that. Just wait. You or these young cubs here may be sorry for this.”

“Be careful how you make threats, Nackerson,” warned the lumberman. “They may be brought home to you later on, if anything does happen to these boys here.”

“Oh, I’m not threatening!” the other hastened to say. “That’s something I always try to keep from doing, and I want you to know it. But all the same, you may think of this time, and be sorry you rubbed it in so hard; that’s all.”

“Come along, Bill,” urged the man called Whalen, as though fearing that unless they got their boisterous companion moving he might bring matters to an open rupture yet.

“Sure, I’ll go with you, Cass Whalen, even if you have deserted a pal when he was up against it. I won’t forget that, either. I’ve got a long memory for such things, I have. And mark me, Mr. Darrel, I’ll often see this hour again as I think of how you insulted me. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

He wheeled in his tracks, gave a kick at his dog that started the poor beast to yelping again, and the party moved off, leaving the chums and Mr. Darrel exchanging looks of unbounded relief.


“A good riddance to bad rubbish!” remarked Bluff, with a grin, as they saw the party disappear in the woods, with Bill Nackerson still snarling at his friends.

“I hope none of us will ever see that man again,” said Mr. Darrel, as he shook hands with each of his young friends.

“And, Bluff,” Frank observed, turning on the other, “I want to say that you did that business in fine shape. He seemed to have one eye on me, and I was afraid that if I started off to the cabin he would break loose.”

“That was a happy thought, your sending me,” replied Bluff, “and I’ll always feel that you did me a big favor. We’re sure glad to see you, Mr. Darrel. Hope you mean to spend some little time with us.”

“Only one night, boys,” replied the lumberman. “I have so much going on at Lumber Run Camp, with new men arriving daily, that it’s necessary for me to be on the job constantly. How are you all, anyway?”

“Feeling fine and dandy, sir,” Jerry told him.

“And getting some rattling good pictures in the bargain,” added Will. “I’ll show you what we’ve done, later on, sir.”

“How about you, Bluff?” demanded the lumberman, noticing that the other had not made any reply to his question. “I hope you’ve kept your appetite, and can come up smiling three times a day when the meal hour arrives?”

“Oh, I’m all right, Mr. Darrel!” replied Bluff. “Nothing the matter with my eating apparatus.”

During the rest of that day they had much to show their guest—and to tell him, as well. It seemed as though the lumberman was having the time of his life in the society of these bright young fellows. At least, he told them he was renewing his own youth.

They got up a supper later on that could be called sumptuous. Bluff and Frank exerted themselves to make a spread that would convince their guest they were well acquainted with camp cookery.

“I haven’t enjoyed a meal as much as that for years,” Mr. Darrel told them afterward, as they sat around the fire.

Bluff immediately commenced patting himself, as though he felt happy over having his work praised in this fashion. Will expected to start out presently, with one of the others for company, in order to place his camera trap again. He believed he could get a fox to take the tempting bait and thus photograph his own features.

The tongues clattered for several hours that evening. Mr. Darrel insisted on hearing scores of things connected with their past experiences. They had lots to tell, and every one took a hand in relating the story. It was almost like living those happy days over again, as they pictured the numerous thrilling episodes one after another.

Nothing would do but Bluff should arrange a couch on the floor, while their guest occupied his bunk. Mr. Darrel would have insisted on declining, only he saw how set the boy was upon carrying out his plan and what a deal of pleasure it seemed to afford him.

Indeed, Will and Jerry envied him that new bed when they saw what a cozy nest Frank and Bluff had made of it. A lot of hemlock browse, of which there was no lack in the vicinity of the woods cabin, had been piled up and covered with part of the blanket, the other fold being intended for a covering. As the fire was to be kept up through the night, since it was getting very cold outdoors, Bluff was not likely to suffer.

Mr. Darrel had been thoughtful enough to fetch his own blanket on his back. He knew each of the boys had one apiece, and realized that unless he provided for himself he must deprive one of them.

The owner of Lumber Run Camp stayed until the following noon. When finally he started back, two of the boys went part of the way with him.

“I hope to see you all again before many days, boys,” had been his parting words, “and if I don’t get over here, remember you must drop in at our camp on your way out. I want to keep in touch with such a fine lot of young chaps. And, Will, tell Uncle Felix for me that I’m a thousand times obliged to him for sending you up here. I feel ten years younger.”

Will was feeling very chipper that day. He had found his trap sprung, and upon developing the exposed film found that he had obtained a remarkably fine picture of a fox.

All the others told him he was making great headway toward winning that prize offered by the Maine railroad. The success that had rewarded his perseverance thus far did much to inspire Will with further ambition.

“If I could only get a view of a bull moose before we leave here, I think I’d be the happiest fellow in seven counties,” he said that evening, when again the four chums gathered before their crackling fire.

“Did you ever see a finer spell of brisk, bracing weather than we’ve been having?” Jerry wanted to know. “And, Frank, to-morrow we must be sure to get started on that hunt we’ve put off so long. The last bit of venison was cooked for supper to-night, you know; and what’s a camp in the woods without game hanging up?”

“That suits me all right,” Frank replied, “unless Will here, or Bluff, would rather keep you company.”

“Please don’t count on my doing any hunting with a murderous gun on this trip,” Will hastened to say. “I’m too much taken up with this new hobby of mine. Not that I would refuse to help eat any nice partridge, venison, or even bear meat, if you insist on bringing it into camp.”

At that the rest laughed.

“I’ve heard others talk that way before,” Frank remarked. “One old fellow who was said to be a natural woodsman, and who used to write splendid things for the sporting magazines, always boasted about going into the woods light, carrying little besides a blanket, a coffeepot, frying pan, cup, tin plate, and a few necessities in the way of coffee, tea, sugar, and the like.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of him, too,” broke in Bluff; “and while he used to make all manner of fun of the poor sillies who nearly broke their backs toting all sorts of good things like canned meats into camp, he confessed that he was always willing to help them get rid of the grub later on.”

In this lively fashion did they pass the evening, and then came the time for turning in. Another peaceful night followed. The boys were gradually forgetting Bill Nackerson and his threats. If they thought of him at all, it was with the hope that he had come to his senses, and concluded it would hardly pay to bother the inmates of the cabin, since they had such a stanch friend in the big lumberman.

On the following morning Jerry and Frank started off. The former was counting on making a respectable addition to the larder before they returned. Frank expected to take a new course, covering ground that none of them had as yet hunted over.

“At the same time,” he explained to Jerry, as they moved along, “I’m trying to keep a good distance away from the place where that other crowd is. We don’t hanker about having any trouble with Nackerson, and the best way to avoid it is to give him a wide berth.”

Presently it was thought advisable to keep still. In that frosty atmosphere even ordinary sounds could be heard at some distance, and deer have the sharpest of ears.

Of course, the hunters had headed up into what light wind was stirring, so that their coming might not be heralded by the scent upon which a wild animal depends to give him warning of the approach of danger.

A number of times they were flurried by flushing a covey of partridges. Jerry almost wished they had come prepared to load down with the birds; but until the last flickering chance of getting a deer had died out, Frank advised that they confine their attention to the one thing they had in mind.

“On the way home,” he told Jerry, when the other sighed at seeing three plump birds sitting on a limb within easy range, “we can get all we want, if the venison is missing.”

So Jerry had to be content. They had gone several miles from camp, and so far had not started a deer. Tracks in the snow had been seen several times. Indeed, Frank was really following a trail that he seemed to think rather fresh. It could do no harm, and might turn out a wise move on their part, Jerry realized, as he trotted along at the side of his chum.

“Did you hear anything like a shout then?” Frank suddenly asked.

Before Jerry could reply, it came again. This time the sound was seemingly close by, certainly not over a quarter of a mile away.

“Somebody’s in trouble, Frank!” exclaimed Jerry, immediately aroused. “That was a cry for help!”

“It certainly was,” agreed Frank. “We’ll push on in that direction; but let’s keep our eyes about us, and look sharp against anything like treachery.”

“You’re thinking of Nackerson?”

“Just who I am. He wouldn’t hesitate a minute if he could lure us into a trap. But that sound’s genuine enough, I must say.”

They hurried their footsteps. Indeed, the piteous nature of the cries thrilled the boys.

“He can’t be very far away now,” ventured Jerry, panting a little from his exertions.

“Just back of that scrub yonder,” replied Frank. “Let’s move out a little, and in that way we can see him before we get too close.”

Three minutes later Jerry broke out again.

“I can see him now, Frank! He’s sitting down and holding on to his foot. There he gets up again, and oh! my stars, Frank, what’s he got fastened to his leg? I declare to goodness if it doesn’t look like one of Jesse Wilcox’s bear traps!”

“Just what it is, Jerry, though it’s hard to believe!” added Frank, also excited. “Don’t you see who the poor chap is?”

“Why, as sure as anything it’s that Teddy we saw with Bill Nackerson on the train coming here! The poor fellow, to get himself in such a pickle as that!”


By this time the other boy had discovered their presence. He waved his hand, and begged them not to desert him, as he would soon freeze to death.

Frank had made up his mind no trap had been set for them, but that the agony of the poor fellow was genuine. Accordingly, he started on a run, with Jerry close at his heels.

Without waiting to ask questions, Frank set to work to release the imprisoned boy. While Teddy had been unable to get around to press down heavily enough on the double springs of the bear trap, it was not a difficult job for Frank to do, assisted by Jerry.

At first they almost dreaded to look closely at the leg of the released boy as he sat there in a heap, tenderly caressing it. When Frank did come to examine it, he was pleased to see that, after all, the damage was not so alarming.

“Luckily those springs have weakened with age; and then again the thick leather leggings you’re wearing have helped to save you some,” he told Teddy.

The leg had been lacerated more or less, and must have been exceedingly painful. Teddy was miles away from camp. He did not have a gun, and Frank began to wonder what could have brought him there. Apparently he must have been in the old bear trap for an hour or two.

“How did it happen, Teddy?” he asked, for information.

“I dunno just how I came to tread in that old trap,” the other replied, stopping his whimpering for a minute. “I was just walking along, and thinkin’ I’d soon get to Old Joe’s, when all at once it grabbed me. I thought at first I was killed. Then when I tried to get at the springs, and it seemed like my leg was beginnin’ to freeze, it scared me right bad. That’s why I hollered. I thought Joe might hear me.”

“Who’s Old Joe?” continued Frank.

“Why, you see, he’s a man that’s runnin’ a fur farm over this way,” Teddy explained. “He raises skunks for their skins. He was taken with me when he dropped in at our camp, and told me he wisht I’d come over and stay the winter out with him.”

“And were you on your way to his place when this happened?” asked Jerry.

The injured boy nodded his head in the affirmative. Frank was now down on his knees and starting to remove the legging. He meant to take a look at the wound, both to ascertain how serious it was, and perhaps do what he could to alleviate the suffering of the other.

“Did your uncle send you over to Old Joe’s?” he asked Teddy.

“Bill Nackerson isn’t really my uncle, you know, only a relation of some kind; and I’m right sorry now I ever asked him to take me on a hunting trip. I’ve led a dog’s life of it. After he knocked me down after supper last night I just couldn’t stand it any longer.”

“Then you ran away; is that what you mean?” inquired Jerry, deeply interested by this time and noting a bruise under Teddy’s eye.

“Just what I did,” muttered the boy. “After what I heard Bill Nackerson saying, I got the notion in my head that I wanted to cut out of there. Even a skunk farm couldn’t be quite so bad as he made it for me; anyhow, I was willin’ to take the chances. But that trap nearly finished me. What if you hadn’t heard me yelling?”

“You’d have had a hard spell of it, that’s sure,” Frank admitted. As it was below the freezing point at the time, he fancied poor Teddy might not have lived to see another day.

After he had examined the wound and managed to bind it up, he began to figure on what could be done. Plainly the deer hunt must be given up for that day. It seemed to be ill-fated, seeing that so many postponements were necessary.

Still, there was always a chance that on the way home they would pick up some partridges, which would have to do.

“Do you have any notion how far away this Old Joe’s place might be?” Frank asked Teddy, thinking that their best plan would be to get the boy there if it could be managed.

“I got an idea it was close by here,” replied Teddy. “He told me after I struck the little ravine on the trail it wasn’t more’n a quarter of a mile off.”

“If you think you can walk a little, with us helping you,” Frank continued, “we might go on and see if we can find the place.”

Jerry was sniffing the air at a lively rate.

“Yes, she’s close by, I give you my word for that,” he announced, as though he believed he was on the right scent.

Teddy seemed anxious to do all he could to help. He was desperately afraid the other boys might conclude to leave him, and as he was next to helpless the prospect alarmed him.

So they moved slowly along. Now and then the boy groaned a little. This was at such times as he happened to give his leg a wrench.

“I hope you’ll stand by me in case he ain’t home,” he ventured. “Joe, he told me he might shut up shop here and go to town for a month, so’s to be treated by a doctor for a trouble he’s got. I’m takin’ big chances in comin’ over without letting him know anything about it.”

“Well, we’re nearly there now,” observed Frank.

“There’s a wire fence!” exclaimed the injured boy. “See how tight it’s made, to keep the skunks from gettin’ away.”

“And I can see some sort of cabin farther on,” Frank announced.

As they drew nearer it struck them that everything looked deserted. Teddy was the first to voice his dismay.

“I don’t see a whiff of smoke comin’ from the chimbly,” he remarked. “I’m afraid he’s cleared out to town. Whatever will I do now? I just can’t stay here; and, as to gettin’ back to Bill’s place, I’d die on the way.”

They soon saw that the cabin was deserted. No doubt the raiser of skunks had made such arrangements as were possible, so that his pets might exist while he was away.

Frank knew there was only one thing that could be done: the wounded boy must be taken to their camp and looked after, for a short time at least. Later on, if he found he could walk fairly well, he might go back to the other cabin in which the rival hunters were quartered.

“Let’s see if we can find an old ax around,” Frank said.

“What are you meaning to do—break in the locked door?” Jerry inquired.

Teddy looked anxious, and full of curiosity besides.

“There’d be no use in doing that, because Teddy couldn’t stop here all by himself,” Frank explained.

“What do we want an ax for, then?” continued Jerry.

“It’s this way,” he was told: “we’ll have to get him back with us, because he can’t be left here. And as he can’t walk all the way, the thing for us to do is to knock some kind of a litter together and carry him between us.”

Jerry was immediately interested.

“Guess we can do that, all right, Frank,” he exclaimed; “and there’s your ax over by the chopping block. It’s a tough-looking thing, but might answer in an emergency like this.”

“You must never look a gift-horse in the mouth; it isn’t right,” Frank told him, as he laid hold of the nicked ax and looked around for some poles of the proper type.

“There’s where a tree was cut down some years ago,” Jerry told Frank. “See what a nest of young growth has started up around the stump! They’d make great hop poles, wouldn’t they? And I don’t see why we shouldn’t get all we want for our stretcher right here.”

“We certainly can,” replied Frank, beginning to swing the apology for an ax.

He soon began to fell the straight saplings by twos and threes. There would be no trouble about obtaining as many as they needed, it soon became apparent.

When a stack had been trimmed off, the two boys started to work making a rude litter. All they had to fasten the poles together with consisted of their stout bandannas and some cord Jerry chanced to find in his coat pocket.

As both lads were of an ingenious turn of mind, they managed to rig up a litter that looked pretty comfortable. Over the bars they spread a thick coat of hemlock, tearing off small branches so that the fragrant foliage might not be lost.

“And let me tell you,” remarked Jerry, when their work was finished, “I wouldn’t mind being carried on such an elegant litter, myself. Talk to me about Oriental palanquins and Jap jinrickshas; this has got the whole bunch beat, if I do say it as oughtn’t. Teddy, climb on, and let’s see how she goes.”

Teddy was only too willing to do so. He gave each of the boys a grateful look that spoke louder than the words he used to express his thanks.

“Shucks, don’t mention it!” said Jerry, with a shrug of his shoulders. “Why, we wouldn’t deserve to be called hunters if we did anything less. When people go to the woods they ought to be willing to hold out a helping hand to anybody that’s in trouble, even if it’s their worst enemy. If we ran on Bill, fixed the same way, we’d stand by him; wouldn’t we, Frank?”

“We’d feel that we had to,” was the reply.

It was with a feeling of chagrin that Jerry found himself heading for home and walking at one end of the litter. He managed to keep his gun handy, and the first time Frank spoke of seeing partridges close by the burden was hastily deposited on the ground, and, rifles in hand, the young hunters crept toward the spot.

In this foray they succeeded in dropping two birds, and that comforted Jerry a little. Later on the operation was repeated; and as several more partridges, instead of taking themselves off, insisted on perching in another tree, a third brace fell to the aim of the marksmen.

“My mind is easy now!” declared Jerry, when they had deposited this assortment of game upon the stretcher alongside the wounded boy. “No starvation staring us in the face yet awhile. I am chuckling to think how the other fellows will stare when they see what we’re bringing in with us.”

“You’re mighty good to me,” muttered Teddy, “and I’m a lucky feller to have run on you like I did. I got a good mind to tell something—mebbe I will yet.”

Whatever he had on his mind, Frank could guess that it was weighing heavily. He supposed, of course, that it had to do with Bill Nackerson. Perhaps Teddy had heard something while in the rival camp that concerned some evil work the ugly sportsman had been concerned in.

After taking a number of rests on the way, as the afternoon wore on they drew near their home camp. Jerry sent out a shout to warn Will and Bluff that they were coming. He wanted to make sure that both were outdoors on the watch; so that they might be mystified by seeing the hunters coming back in such a queer fashion.

Just as Jerry had anticipated, there was a loud shout of wonder.

“Why, whatever have you got?” Will exclaimed, rubbing his eyes.

“Is that the way you fellows fetch a deer home?” demanded Bluff; and then gaped anew when he discovered a head raised above the side of the litter.


“Why, it isn’t a deer at all!” cried Will.

“Looks like that boy on the train, what’s his name—Teddy!” exclaimed the sharp-eyed Bluff. A minute later he saw that his guess was a good one, as the bearers of the litter set it down before the cabin door.

“Whatever has happened to him; Jerry, I hope you didn’t mistake him for a deer, and shoot him in the leg?” Bluff burst out, for he had already discovered that the boy’s left limb was bound up in some rude fashion.

At that Jerry hardly knew whether to look indignant, or laugh.

“Well, I hope I can tell a deer better than to take a boy for one,” he remarked, “though I know lots of people are shot every year in the woods all over the country, just because hunters will dress in brown khaki or corduroy. But it happens that poor Teddy got his leg into a bear trap, you see.”

Of course that aroused the curiosity of the two stay-at-homes more than ever.

“Tell us about it, won’t you?” they pleaded.

“Hold on a bit, till we get Teddy settled in that rustic chair by the fire. He’s nearly frozen, I want you to know,” Jerry announced. Between them they carried the injured boy indoors.

“I hope I’ll be able to stand on both my feet in a day or two,” Teddy said, as though he hated to put them to such trouble. “But it’s mighty nice the way you’re treating me; and after Bill showed himself so nasty mean.”

It was Frank’s intention to go at the wound again with warm water, and then use some lotion he always carried for just such purposes. A cut made by the jaws of that rusty old trap might bring on blood poisoning, unless it were taken in hand properly, and thoroughly cleansed.

Jerry was capable of doing all the talking necessary, while Frank set to work at his task.

“We ran on Teddy by accident,” the former explained. “First thing we knew we were listening to somebody calling for help. We followed it up, and came on him. The old trap was set by a fur farmer that’s got a place four miles from here—and for one I’m real glad it is that far, because it’s skunks he raises.”

“Huh! that’s interesting!” commented Bluff.

“You’d think it was highly interesting, if ever you meandered that way,” Jerry assured him. “Well, we took Teddy to the farm, where he was heading at the time, having cleared out from his uncle’s camp, you see.”

Jerry touched his cheek just under the right eye, and in that way called the attention of Will and Bluff to the discolored mark the other boy was carrying. They both nodded their heads, as though understanding what he meant.

“How did it come that you thought best not to leave him there?” asked Will.

“Nobody home,” Jerry chirped; “house shut up, and old man skipped to town. Teddy said he hinted about going down to have some sort of an operation performed. Don’t blame him for seizing the first chance he got to clear out. You would too, if you ever visited there.”

“And does Frank mean to keep Teddy here with us?” asked Bluff, in a low tone, so the wounded boy might not catch what he was saying.

“Don’t just know what we’ll have to do about it,” Jerry replied, looking as though he felt of considerable importance, since he had shared in the adventure. “A whole lot depends on how he feels to-morrow. You see, he’s lit out from Nackerson’s camp, and don’t want to go back; but he may have to yet, and stand the racket the best way possible.”

All of them felt sorry for Teddy. At the same time that did not mean to take him in with them, and have what Bluff said would be a “fifth wheel to the wagon, when just four were needed to make it complete.”

If it came down to a necessity doubtless every one of the outdoor chums would have voted to make room for the boy. That mark under his eye told what a brute Nackerson must be. If once Teddy could get safely back home, he would never be tempted to start out into the woods to serve as a cook for a party of sportsmen.

There was plenty of time to get the partridges ready and a fire made in the hole dug in the ground, as on that former occasion. The memory of that delightful treat seemed to haunt all the boys, so that they yearned for a second.

Of course during the afternoon the boys were in and out a great deal. Teddy always seized the chance to have a few friendly words with whoever came near him. He evinced the liveliest interest in all they were doing, and pleased Will by asking many questions concerning his method of taking night pictures with his flashlight.

“If I only get better soon, and you don’t chase me back to that camp again,” Teddy said, with a sigh, “I’d like nothing better than to do your cooking right along. And then maybe some night you’d let me go with you into the woods where you set your picture trap. I’d be only too glad to help you any way I might.”

That set Will to thinking. He tried to picture the discomforts which the poor fellow must have been up against, forced to obey the slightest whim of such a bad-tempered man as Bill Nackerson. If the latter would sink so low as to strike the boy he might do even worse.

“I guess it’s up to us to house Teddy the rest of the time we’re here,” Will said to Bluff, as they worked at getting more firewood close to the cabin so as to always have a fair supply handy, in case a snowstorm settled in.

Bluff frowned, and shook his head dubiously. Evidently he too had been thinking about that same subject; and somehow it failed to appeal as strongly to him as to the more tender-hearted Will.

It was past the middle of the afternoon when this talk occurred. Frank and Jerry were busy elsewhere.

“I don’t know about that,” Bluff remarked. “In the first place we’ve got just four bunks, which is one apiece. While I was willing to give mine up to Mr. Darrel, I’d seriously object to being turned out by a boy, and Nackerson’s boy at that.”

“No need of that,” Will rejoined; “if he stayed he’d be only too glad to sleep on that floor cot you had. Besides, he says he’s a good cook, and would take that job on his shoulders. You know some of us sometimes hate to have to work at getting the grub ready.”

“Y-yes, I guess we do, Will,” admitted Bluff, who could remember lots of occasions when he served only through a sense of duty, and not because he was fond of getting meals.

“Then besides,” continued Will, seeing that his argument was beginning to tell, as Bluff showed signs of cooling down, “what if we made him go back to Nackerson, and anything happened to him, we wouldn’t ever be able to forgive ourselves.”

“He certainly is in a bad box,” muttered Bluff.

“Put yourself in his place, if you can, Bluff; and see how you’d feel about it, that’s all,” continued Will. “But then, I ought to know you too well to think you’d send a chap adrift, when we could give him a shelter and three square meals a day just as easy as say so.”

“Let Frank decide it,” Bluff said at last in desperation. “Whatever he settles on the rest of us’ll agree to stand for. Frank knows best what to do and there will be no kick coming, whatever he says.”

Will went away satisfied that Teddy would stay. Bluff was generally the obstreperous one, and if he could be induced to shift all responsibility on to Frank’s shoulders, there was little more to say.

It may have been half an hour after this talk that the boys heard a shout off in the woods in the direction of Lumber Run Camp.

“Wonder what’s going to strike us now?” remarked Jerry, who had been cleaning his gun and had just reloaded its magazine. At the time he was sitting by the fire, but so warm did it feel inside the cabin that they had left the door part way open.

Bluff was already reaching for his gun. There was a look on his face that could hardly be called one of alarm; at the same time it seemed to speak of excitement.

“Perhaps that crowd is coming over again to bulldoze us,” he suggested.

“Oh! I hope not,” said Will, at the same time thinking it his duty to look for his gun, which he had not fired since arriving in the Big Woods.

“Come outdoors, fellows!” they heard Frank say; for at the time it happened he was busying himself at something in the open, and had his gun handy.

All of them came together not far from the door. This time there was no lack of firearms in evidence. They had taken warning from that other occasion when caught in an almost helpless condition by the Nackerson crowd.

“Two men coming this way,” announced Frank presently.

“That must mean Bill, and one of his pals,” muttered Bluff, as he began to fumble with his pump-gun, so as to make sure it was in working order. “How had we better string out to receive ’em, Frank? It won’t do to keep in a bunch here. Hadn’t I better slip along, and be ready to come up on their right flank?”

“Better hold your horses a while, Bluff,” advised Frank, with a laugh, “because after all it isn’t the Nackerson crowd.”

“But who else can they be?” the other demanded.

“Of course I don’t know for sure,” Frank informed him; “but it strikes me one of the men looks like the cook they had at Lumber Run Camp.”

“Gee, whiz! but there seems to be an awful lot of cooks broken loose lately,” Bluff complained, having in mind what Will had suggested with reference to Teddy. “It must be catching, like the measles, this running away from the stew-pans and flapjack fixings. But let ’em come on; we can stand for nearly anything.”

The two men came up and Frank saw there was nothing to be feared from that source. The idea had already flashed through his mind that possibly Mr. Darrel may have sent a message by them; he hoped the lumberman was not ill, or anything like that.

“I’m on my way out with the cook,” one of the men explained. “You see his wife has sent word to him to come home right away. I expect to fetch another mess cook along back with me, to stay the winter out. And seein’ as we expected to come by not far from your place here, the boss he says, says he: ‘Just drop in, and hand the boys this communication from me.’ Reckon it ’splains itself, boys. So we’ll be goin’, because the cook is fair wild to get home. Twins is an event in his fambly that ain’t never happened before.”

The two men hurried away even while Frank was opening the paper that had been placed in his hand.

“Read it out loud, please, Frank, so the whole of us can get a grip on what he’s written to you,” suggested Jerry.

“Listen, then,” said Frank, who had shown signs of some little excitement. “‘This is to inform you, dear boys, that last night a sneaking incendiary tried to burn us out at Lumber Run Camp. The damage didn’t amount to much; but I’m offering a hundred dollars reward for information that will convict the miserable wretch who started that fire. A word to the wise is sufficient. Samuel Darrel.’”


“Well, wouldn’t that jar you?” remarked Bluff, as he heard what was contained in the brief communication from the lumberman.

“Tried to burn down the camp at Lumber Run, did they?” burst out Jerry. “Well, if you asked me my opinion, I’d have to admit that I didn’t like the looks of a few of those lumberjacks.”

“But nobody has accused any of the loggers of the crime,” remarked Frank, and at that the head projecting from the opening at the door came a little further into view; which was pretty good evidence, Frank thought, that the wounded boy must take considerable interest in the discussion.

“Why, who else would try to turn on Mr. Darrel that way, and burn his shanties down just when winter is setting in?” asked Bluff.

“We can only give a guess at that,” Frank told him.

“Whew!” exclaimed Bluff, as he grasped the meaning back of those few words. “After all, I wouldn’t put it past him, Frank.”

“Who—what—where—how?” demanded Will, apparently confused, and not able to understand what all these strange hints portended.

“We had a specimen of his nasty temper, you know,” continued Bluff. “Yes, twice now we’ve heard him tear around like a bull in a china shop.”

“Oh! now I tumble to what you mean,” cried Will, who did not often use any sort of slang, and must therefore have been unusually excited to fall into the habit. “It’s Bill—Bill Nackerson!”

Frank nodded his head.

“He’s the only party around that we know of who would be mean enough to try to set buildings on fire, just to get even with a man he disliked,” he observed.

“Yes, and didn’t we hear him threaten to do something before long, so as to hit back at Mr. Darrel?” Jerry wanted to know, as if he had all along been suspicious of the big sportsman.

“That’s what we did,” asserted Will. “To think of him trying to burn Lumber Run Camp; and as like as not it was when all the men were sound asleep! Why, he might have been the death of some of them!”

“Whoever started the fire didn’t care a hoot whether it hurt or not, I think,” Bluff gave as his opinion.

Frank noticed that the head had disappeared from alongside the open door. Evidently Teddy had heard enough. He must have limped from his chair to the doorway upon hearing strange voices outside. Perhaps he had suspected that the others brought news of some startling character.

Frank did not tell all of his chums about what he had seen. At the same time it gave him food for much serious thought.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Teddy knew something about that fire business,” he mentioned to Bluff, a short time later, when they walked together down to the spot where the mink tracks had been seen, as the latter had shown more or less interest in the habits of these little animals.

“Do you really think so?” said the other, with a frown.

“He heard strangers talking outside when those two loggers came up,” Frank continued, “and even dragged himself to the door to listen. I saw his head, though after a bit, when we had talked matters over, he went back to the fire again.”

“See here, Frank, you don’t think Teddy could have set that fire, I hope?” demanded Bluff, uneasily.

“Oh! no, it isn’t so bad as that,” he was assured. “Teddy is telling us the truth when he says he ran away from the camp last night, after Nackerson had knocked him down.”

“The big coward!” muttered Bluff, clenching his fists and shaking his head, as though he would like nothing better than to get in a blow at the bully.

“My opinion, as far as I have any, is about like this,” Frank continued. “After Nackerson struck Teddy the boy happened to overhear him boasting about what he meant to do to the camp at Lumber Run.”

“Oh! I see now what you mean, Frank; when he found that Bill was getting in deeper and deeper, Teddy just made up his mind that was no place for a decent fellow to stay, and so he skipped out.”

“You’ve got it about straight, Bluff,” Frank admitted. “Of course, I’m only guessing all this, remember. Don’t say one word of it to Teddy. Let him worry over it, and perhaps after a bit he’ll understand that there’s no reason why he should keep a still tongue in his head, to shield a rascal who didn’t hesitate to strike him a cowardly blow.”

Bluff was not slow of comprehension. He saw what Frank’s plan was, and while he may not have entirely agreed with such a course, there was no disposition to interfere.

“You know best how to work it, Frank,” he said simply. “I’ll keep as mum as an oyster till you give me the tip that it’s time to speak. Just as you say, Teddy couldn’t have been the one to put the match to the camp over at Lumber Run. When Nackerson had gone away, perhaps with one of his pals who agreed to stand back of him, that’s the time Teddy lit out.”

“He struck it pretty hard at first, getting caught in that trap,” Frank mused; “but when you come right down to facts I guess it was just as well that it happened to him.”

“Huh! that’s a queer thing to say,” remonstrated Bluff. “Getting hung up in an old bear trap a blessing in disguise, was it? I’d like to know how you figure that out, Frank.”

“This way,” explained the other. “If he had missed connections with that trap Teddy would have reached the skunk farm only to meet with disappointment.”

“Sure he would, because Old Joe, as he called the fur farmer, had pulled up stakes and gone to town for some weeks,” Bluff admitted.

“As Teddy didn’t know where we hung out, and couldn’t find his way to Lumber Run Camp, you can see that he would have had to choose between going back to Nackerson, or losing himself in the Big Woods.”

“Whew! it does take you to see through things,” Bluff declared, with a laugh. “I can understand now that it was a big streak of luck for Ted when he met with that bear trap. We never know when we’re well off, do we? But show me what you were telling about this mink, Frank; and how the old chap visits around in and out of these holes in the bank during the winter and early spring.”

Frank was always accommodating, especially when anything connected with his knowledge of nature was concerned. He loved to watch the small woods folk when they did not suspect his presence, and learn more and more of their interesting habits.

So that day passed. Another, and yet a third found the boys enjoying themselves to the limit. Teddy was showing decided signs of improvement. He could get around fairly well by now, Jerry having cut him a walking-stick, with a crook at the end. He was beginning to get over the nervousness that had shown itself for a whole day following his advent in the new camp.

Perhaps the boy had feared that Nackerson might come storming along, and insist on his returning to his duties as cook. He feared the brutal sportsman more than ever, now that he had found such a fine harbor of refuge with the outdoor chums. To go back to that other drudgery would have been torture.

As soon as he was able to get around he insisted on taking charge of the cooking. And the boys soon learned that Teddy could manage splendidly. He had to be shown very little so as to suit their tastes; and none of them regretted in the least that they had extended a helping hand toward one in distress.

A new life was opening up to Teddy. He had never before come in contact with such an agreeable lot of companions and every hour of the day he tried to prove himself grateful.

Still, he did not mention a word about what he might possibly know of the dastardly deed, when some one attempted to fire the logging camp. Frank often saw a worried expression come over the boy’s face, and at such times he suspected that Teddy was puzzling his brain as to just what his duty might be. He did not like to betray his kinsman, and yet felt that it was not right to refrain from taking someone into his confidence.

“He may speak sooner or later,” Frank told himself; “and if he does, it will not be the reward of a hundred dollars for information that will make him tell.”

On the second day, about noon, some of the boys were busy near the cabin, laying in an extra supply of firewood. Frank had an idea they would be visited by a big snowfall before twenty-four hours had passed.

“Of course that’s only a hazard, fellows,” he told Bluff and Jerry, who were helping him add to the handy heap close to the door of the cabin, “but there does seem to be a feeling of dampness in the air, for all it’s so cold; and the sun, you notice, shines through a sort of hazy curtain.”

“I think just the same way you do, Frank,” Jerry remarked; “and if you asked me to say when, I’d guess it was going to strike us before night.”

“We’ve got off pretty fortunately so far about storms,” Bluff went on, as he threw another armful of fuel on the already huge pile.

“If it does come down on us,” Frank continued, “we’ll not lack for fresh meat, anyway. That was a lucky shot you made yesterday, Bluff. The buckshot shell did the business, too, for after you fired both barrels the buck went down with a crash.”

“And to think it happened so near our camp that we managed to tote the whole carcass to the cabin,” and Bluff looked with pride in his eyes toward a deer that was hanging, in real sportsman style, from a limb, head downward.

“If we don’t get another while we’re up here in the Big Woods,” said Jerry, suppressing the natural twinge of jealousy he felt, “we ought to be satisfied with our bag. And Will is just wild over the bully pictures he’s accumulating every day and night.”

“It does seem as though he had met with nothing but success, so far,” Frank admitted. “I hope he gets that prize the railroads are offering. So far as I can tell he has a dandy collection already, and we’ve got some time ahead of us still.”

“By the way, where is Will now?” asked Bluff,

“About half an hour ago he told me he was going off to the place where we discovered that comical colony of squirrels that amused us yesterday,” Frank explained. “He hoped by keeping as still as a mouse to get a snap at them when they were carrying on that way. I think myself it would be a fine woods picture, and add to his collection.”

“Speaking of angels, and you’re most sure to hear their wings,” chuckled Jerry; “for there’s Will coming this way now.”

“And on the run, too!” added Frank. “He looks excited, fellows. I wonder what he’s run across now?”

Will was almost out of breath. They could see that his face was red from his exertions, but filled with excitement as well; while his eyes were, as Bluff expressed it, “sticking out of his head!”

“Oh! what a whopper!” he gasped, as he drew near the spot where they stood.

“What’s that?” demanded Frank, wondering what was coming now.

“And such tre-mendous horns, too!” continued Will, involuntarily stretching out both hands until he had them wide apart.

“Horns, Will?” Bluff fired at him; “cows have horns, deer carry antlers!”

“I said horns, didn’t I?” asserted the other with determination. “That’s what they were, sticking away up over his head that was like a mule’s. But I snapped him before he turned and trotted off!”

“What trotted off?” shrilled Bluff.

“The biggest old bull moose that ever lived in the State of Maine,” Will replied.


“A bull moose, you say, Will?” echoed Bluff, his face lighting up with sudden energy.

“That’s what I mean,” replied the other. “I know what you’re thinking, Bluff, and that I wouldn’t know a bull moose if I saw one. But you’re away off in your guess. I’ve so longed to meet up with one when I had my camera with me that I’ve been picturing how he’d look. And, Frank, believe me, it was a beaut—a regular monster!”

“How did it happen, Will?” asked Frank.

“I was sitting as still as anything,” the other related, “after I’d got two dandy snaps at that funny squirrel family playing around the tree where they have their home, and was hoping for another whack at them to complete the set, when all at once I heard a whiffing sound.”

“Gee! what wouldn’t I give to have been alongside, with my gun!” sighed Bluff; “but go on, Will; what happened next?”

“Oh, I looked up to see what had made that queer sound, and there he was, just standing and looking straight at me! I was nearly scared to death at first, for he looked nearly as big as a barn. Then I knew it must be a bull moose; and the next thing I found myself taking his picture.”

“Did he run away then?” asked Frank.

“Turned and trotted off, as if he didn’t care whether school kept or not,” Will continued. “I even had the nerve to shoot him again as he was going. And don’t I hope that first picture turns out good! It was a remarkable pose, if only the focus was right.”

He started toward the cabin door as though anxious to develop his roll of film and discover what success his labor had resulted in. Bluff caught him by the arm.

“Wait just a minute or two, Will,” he pleaded. “Tell us some more. Where did all this happen?”

“Frank knows where that squirrel colony have their nest in the tree that’s got a hole in the trunk about thirty feet up,” the other replied.

“But you’re dead sure, are you, it wasn’t just a big buck deer you saw?” continued Bluff, who apparently could not bring himself to believe a mighty moose had wandered that near the camp.

“If only you’ll hold your horses until I can develop this film, you shall see for yourself whether I know a stag from a bull moose,” he was told by the indignant photographer, as the latter broke away and vanished inside the cabin.

Bluff turned to Frank.

“Let’s all take a look,” he suggested.

“I was just going to say the same myself,” Jerry added, being evidently quite as much interested as Bluff.

Frank was more than willing. He did not feel that they could entirely depend on the evidence of Will, who may have been so startled by the sudden coming of some animal that his imagination worked overtime.

“I hope it wasn’t just a mule that strayed away from some lumber camp,” he told the others, as they hurried off; but not before Bluff and Jerry had darted inside the cabin and reappeared, carrying their guns.

“They do say a moose has the same sort of a head as a mule,” Bluff admitted; “but then Will vows it had horns—terribly big horns—which no mule I ever saw could boast of owning.”

“Well, chances are it was a bull moose,” Frank admitted; “but we’ll soon know.”

“That light snow falling last night was in our favor, for the tracks will show up well,” suggested Jerry.

“Here’s the place,” Frank told them, a short time afterward. “You can see the tree with the hole in it over there, and I think I even saw a squirrel frisk out of sight as we came up.”

“Yes, and here’s where Will made himself a seat,” added Bluff. “He fixed it so he could sit comfortably, and not have to frighten the family of bushy-tails by moving. Now, he didn’t say he turned his head; just looked up when first he heard that queer noise.”

“Yes,” said Jerry, “which would make it over there that the thing showed up. Let’s take a look at the ground, and see if Will was dreaming or not.”

Before half a minute had passed, Frank was pointing to certain marks plainly seen in the inch and more of snow that had fallen on the previous night, perhaps as a sort of forerunner of the coming storm.

“There you are, fellows!” he announced.

All stared hard at the monstrous tracks. Bluff even got down on hands and knees in order to see better.

“It was a moose, all right, Frank!” said Jerry.

“From the prints made by its big split hoofs, I’m pretty sure of that,” Frank asserted; “I’m beginning to believe Will was not so far out of the way, after all, when he said it might be the giant of all Maine moose!”

Bluff got up again, shaking his head.

“Oh, the meanest luck that ever was!” he lamented. “Why couldn’t I have taken a notion to step out here with Will, to watch the way he took the pictures of that squirrel family? I’d have had my gun across my knees, with buckshot in every shell, of course. Think how easy I could have dropped him, with such a short distance between. It’s cruel, that’s what it is!”

Jerry clapped him on the shoulder.

“Tell me what’s to hinder a couple of us going after the old chap, Bluff?” he asked, in an eager voice.

“You’ll have to count me out of that deal,” Frank told them. “You remember that I sprained my ankle yesterday, and a long walk would lay me up. If anybody goes, it will have to be you two.”

Jerry looked at Bluff.

“I dare you!” he said.

“No need of that,” came the reply, “because I’d be willing to start after that moose alone, and follow him for a week, if I thought I could get a fair crack at him in the end.”

“Then it’s a go, Bluff?” cried Jerry, greatly pleased, for up to now he had not been given much of a chance to bring down any big game on this trip, and was secretly chafing.

They shook hands on the bargain, and so it was ratified.

“When ought we make the start?” asked Jerry impetuously.

“The sooner the better, so as to keep his lead cut down as much as we can,” he was told by Bluff, after which they both turned toward Frank, for, after all, it would be from this quarter that the signal to start must eventually come.

“No need of rushing off as though you were crazy,” Frank told them. “Will says the moose didn’t act as though it was badly frightened by seeing him, so it isn’t likely it will cover a great many miles before stopping again. Lunch must be nearly ready. You must stop long enough to eat a lot, because there’s no telling when you may get another square meal.”

Bluff glanced quickly at Frank.

“Oh, we won’t get lost!” he said loftily. “Both of us have been around some in the woods; and, besides, I always carry a compass.”

“I wasn’t thinking so much of that as the chance of a blizzard coming down on you,” Frank continued. “Be sure to take along an extra supply of matches. I’ll see to it that each of you has something to help make out a meal or so. It won’t weigh heavy; but if you do need it you’ll thank me for it.”

Bluff and Jerry may have considered Frank a bit too old-womanish, making all that fuss over just going off on a little chase after a wandering moose.

Frank, however, understood what a blizzard meant up there in Maine. He had been in one or two himself, and would not care to repeat certain experiences that had come his way, unless well provided against hunger and bitter cold.

The three soon reached the cabin. It chanced that just then the call to the midday meal came. Will was too busy working at his developing tank to sit down with the rest.

“Plenty of time when I get through with this,” he told them. “Give me five minutes more to get this film in fresh water and then I’ll come.”

Bluff and Jerry were hurrying as fast as they could. Frank had redeemed his promise to see that there was something put up in small shape that would help out for supper, in case they were delayed. He also thrust several small boxes of safety matches into each of their coats, and made sure Bluff had his compass.

“Well,” said Will, stepping forward and holding up a dripping film, “take a peep at this, will you, and tell me if I know what I’m talking about or not!”

As soon as the boys saw the splendid negative, in clear-cut lights and shadows, they burst into a chorus of cries.

“It’s a moose, all right, Will!” Frank told the proud photographer.

“And sure a whopper, just as you said!” added Bluff.

“We take it all back,” Jerry vowed. “After this, we’ll own up that you know a bull moose from a mule or a buck deer every time.”

“That’s going to be a prize picture, all right!”

Those last words from Frank made Will very proud.

“I believe myself that I never got such splendid effects!” he exclaimed. “Why, I warrant you can see every hair on his head. Just look how I got him square in the middle of my plate! It’s better to be born lucky than rich, any day.”

“I’m done eating,” announced Bluff.

“Couldn’t cram another bite down, after seeing that picture!” Jerry proclaimed, as he darted over to the corner where his rifle stood, and began to buckle on the webbed belt filled with cartridges.

“Wear your sweaters, and be sure your woolen gloves are in your pockets,” cautioned weather-wise Frank.

He hovered about the pair, and constantly warned them against carelessness.

“I hope you get that big moose,” he told them, as they all pushed outdoors, “but don’t take too big chances. We would feel pretty sorry if anything happened to mar our holiday up here.”

“Frank, you can depend on us to be careful,” Bluff told him earnestly. “But for goodness’ sake don’t worry about us. We’re not the ‘Babes in the Woods,’ you know. If I do say it myself, we’ve had our eyeteeth cut for some time. There never was such a bully chance to get a big moose, and we want to do our level best. Look for us when we come. If we don’t show up by night, why, chances are we found ourselves so far away that we concluded to make camp.”

Bluff and Jerry shook hands gravely all around, even with Teddy.

“Good luck, and I hope you get him!” said that individual, meaning every word, for he had already come to care a great deal for these jolly boys who had been the means of helping him over a very rough place in the road.

“Got everything now?” asked Bluff.

“I should hope so,” grunted Jerry. “We’d be pack horses if we tried to carry any more truck along.”

“Of course,” Frank told them, laughingly; “but if you should have to stay over to-night you’ll miss your blankets the worst way. Well, so-long, boys, and we all wish you success.”

Turning, Bluff and his chum started for the spot where the trail of the big moose was to be taken up.


“This is easy enough work, Bluff!”

Jerry said this as the two plodded along, following the trail left by the clumsy animal that had looked in on Will so unexpectedly.

“So far, we haven’t had any particular trouble,” Bluff replied. “The snowfall is what is called good tracking snow—that is, it’s just heavy enough without holding you up and making it hard traveling.”

“I wonder how much farther the old fellow means to go?” Jerry whispered, for he had been already warned by his chum that loud talking was unwise when on the trail of any animal with such keen hearing as a moose.

“Give it up,” Bluff replied. “I was just thinking how lucky it is for us he keeps heading straight into the wind. But I know how that is. A deer nearly always goes that way, because he can tell by means of his nose whether there’s any danger waiting for him ahead.”

“It makes it easier for the trackers, doesn’t it, Bluff?”

Bluff only grunted. He wanted to discourage his companion from trying to carry on a conversation. It was pretty hard to squelch Jerry under ordinary conditions, but his own good sense as a hunter must surely tell him how necessary it was they keep quiet.

They had been going along for more than two hours, and in such a direct line that they figured they must be some miles from camp. Neither of them recognized their surroundings, which would seem to indicate that they were in a section of the Big Woods they had never visited before.

Bluff was considerable of a woodsman. He consulted his compass frequently, and took various notes of his surroundings. Jerry saw all this, and had the utmost confidence in their ability to return to camp at any time the notion struck them.

If they were bothering their heads about anything just then, it must have been in connection with the chances they had of overtaking the big moose. Every little while Jerry would beseech his comrade to tell him how close he thought they had come to the quarry. On such occasions Bluff would prove true to his name. Although he actually did not know for certain, he would look wise, take another keen observation, wrinkle his nose, and then hazard some opinion.

“We’re gaining, all right,” he was pretty sure to tell Jerry, though declining to commit himself to any particular figures.

Both were by now beginning to feel the effect of the tramp. While the snow was hardly deep enough to interfere to any marked degree with their progress, in the long run it added to the labor of lifting their feet countless times. Its weight, whenever it clung to their heavy shoes, made an additional burden to be reckoned with.

“Bluff, it’s beginning!” whispered Jerry, after another spell of silence had reigned between them and they had covered still more ground.

“What is?” demanded Bluff, turning around to look at his chum uneasily, for he had detected a ring of uncertainty in Jerry’s utterance.

“I saw a snowflake drifting down just then; and—yes, there’s another; you can tell for yourself, Bluff!”

“Huh! Hang the luck, if it begins to come down on us now and blots out our trail, we’ll be in the soup!”

The flakes came down pretty heavily for a few minutes, while the boys continued to press on with mingled emotions.

It proved to be a false alarm, however. In five minutes Jerry remarked, again in an excited whisper:

“She’s letting up, Bluff; sure she is! I don’t believe we’re due for any big storm yet. The sky’s brightening a lot.”

Bluff saw that things were commencing to look better; but he fancied this was only a temporary relief. It might hold back for an hour, and even be delayed longer; but Bluff was almost as certain as Frank had been that a storm was impending.

“If the blooming old thing’d only keep away till we’d bagged our game, I wouldn’t say a single thing,” he muttered, and then fell silent while following the trail.

Fortunately there had not been enough snow to hinder them from seeing the plain tracks of the moose. So heavy an animal was bound to sink in and leave a trail that even a greenhorn could follow fairly well.

“What time is it, Bluff?” asked Jerry, upon seeing the other snatch a look at the little gun-metal watch he carried.

“Close on three,” he was informed.

“And we’ve been walking since noon, nearly,” Jerry continued. “We must have gone miles and miles.”

Bluff did not answer. He hoped in that way to convince his talkative chum that while there was a time for everything, a tracking expedition, with a wary old bull moose ahead, was not the occasion for carrying on a general conversation.

Occasionally flakes of snow would drift down. Jerry always observed their coming with fresh apprehension, and was correspondingly relieved when they stopped. It was as if the weather were holding off, though when the storm did break it was apt to prove all the more fierce on account of the delay.

Bluff had ceased examining his compass now. In fact, he was caring precious little whether they found themselves lost or not. Looking ahead, a night in the Big Woods did not appall him; being fond of adventure, Bluff might even welcome the experience for a change.

Being thrown on their own resources would bring out their ability to take care of themselves. Bluff was vain enough to want to show Frank he could be trusted when off in the timber, and get out of any tangle that might envelop them.

Perhaps when Jerry happened to feel the little package of food thrust into one of his pockets by thoughtful Frank, he no longer had that inclination to laugh. Knowledge that they carried their supper along with them was growing more and more inspiring the farther they walked.

“Even if we did come up on the moose soon,” Jerry observed, keeping his voice low, “I don’t believe I’d be equal to the job of going all the way back to our cabin again this afternoon.”

“Huh! Camp, then!” grunted Bluff.

“If we have to do that, I’ll surely forgive Frank for making me tote my little camp hatchet along, because it will come in handy for chopping firewood, don’t you think so, Bluff?”

“Sure,” was all the other could be induced to say, and he snapped that out as though he had a special grievance against the poor little word.

Jerry looked at him with gloomy brow.

“You’re not very sociable, it strikes me,” he ventured.

“And you’re too much that way,” he was told bluntly. “When you want to hear yourself talk so much, why don’t you hire a hall? But when you’re going to all this trouble to overtake an old bull moose, please, please shut up!”

“I won’t say another word for ten minutes!” declared Jerry, in a huff.

“Make it fifteen and I’ll thank you double,” whispered Bluff.

After that they walked on and on, neither as much as whispering. Bluff, in the lead, was bending part way over, so that his tired eyes could the better see the trail. All that whiteness was beginning to dazzle him considerably. Bluff felt a little alarmed, and hoped that he might not go snow-blind just when they were drawing near the quarry.

The wind was increasing, and it felt colder than at any time since they had arrived in the Big Woods. Should the snow start to descend, and the gale grow in volume, they must unite to form what Frank had called a blizzard.

Bluff knew something about such a storm. He had even been through an experience of the sort, though at the time he happened to be close to home, and on a well-traveled road, so there had been no such thing as getting lost.

It would be vastly different here, where the trees looked pretty much alike and all sense of direction must depend on a compass.

Jerry was, to tell the truth, pretty near the point where he would be willing to call a halt. A big moose was all very well, if only you could overtake him; but this thing of pushing on and on everlastingly, without seeming to get a yard nearer your intended game, seemed foolish.

That was what Jerry had begun to tell himself. He wondered how much farther his chum meant to go. Jerry would have asked the question, but really he was afraid Bluff would turn on him and snap him up in that quick way he had. Besides, he had said he did not mean to speak for at least ten minutes.

While he cast frequent looks ahead, it was more in the hope of seeing signs of the westering sun peeping out from the gray clouds that covered the heavens everywhere than that he dreamed of making any other agreeable discovery.

Once they had actually seen a deer jumping off through the timber. Bluff had half raised his gun to his shoulder, perhaps through instinct, and then lowered it again instantly, with a negative shake of his head.

Having started out for big game, he did not mean to be diverted from his course. A deer they could secure almost any time, but never again would such a glorious chance arise for getting a shot at a moose—and such a moose, in the bargain!

Frank had advised Bluff to leave his pump-gun behind this time, and carry the repeating rifle which Frank owned, a very serviceable and reliable weapon.

“A shotgun is all very well,” he had argued, “and some of them will shoot charges of twelve buckshot in a satisfactory way; but when it’s a tough old bull moose you’re after, or like that grizzly out West, you need something better. These soft-nosed bullets will mushroom when they strike, and fetch even a lion. They’re the kind they call dum-dum bullets, and are not allowed in warfare any more, but can be used for big-game hunting.”

And so it came that Bluff was carrying another firearm than his favorite pump-gun. Frank knew how tough these old moose may prove to be, and what sort of missiles it took to bring them down to their knees. That was why he had insisted on Bluff’s making the change in weapons at the last moment.

Jerry was soon wondering if that ten minutes must not be up, and whether Bluff would scold if he ventured to make just one little remark. He was getting tired, and he certainly did not mean to keep up this merry chase indefinitely. If he had a good chance, he wanted to tell Bluff that.

Then he observed that Bluff was showing signs of fresh interest. Yes, he even displayed more or less excitement, and bent lower than ever while examining the tracks before him.

Jerry, being held up momentarily by this action on the part of his comrade, assumed the easiest position he could, so as to rest his tired muscles, and then patiently waited for the other to start on again.

It was while standing in this attitude and looking carelessly beyond that some slight movement attracted the attention of Jerry. He started, and looked again. Then he felt an icy chill run over his frame, to be followed instantly by a burning sensation.

Yes, it moved again, he could be positive! His startled eyes traveled over the immensity of the brownish figure that was outlined there against the snowy background. Not daring, and really unable, to say a single word, Jerry simply reached out a quivering hand and, jerking at his chum’s coat, pointed directly forward.

And Bluff, looking, saw the moose before them, looking, as Will had said, “as big as a barn.”


Bluff looked, and then winked his eyes several times, as though he feared they might be deceiving him. Still that great reddish brown bulk was there. He could now even see the massive horns that reared upward above the animal’s head.

No wonder Will had admitted he was staggered by the size of the bull moose! There never could have been such a big animal, Bluff was ready to believe, in all the history of game shot in Maine.

He did not say a single word, though Jerry could hear a sharp hiss escape from Bluff’s lips.

That strong wind blowing directly in their faces, and from the moose, was greatly in their favor. So far as Bluff could understand, the animal either had not detected their presence, or was disdainful of the fact. He seemed to be doing something, for they could see his head uplifted, as though some low-hanging branch may have been the object of his attention, and he was engaged in stripping it of its still clinging leaves.

Now it happened that in the earlier stages of the woods chase Bluff and Jerry deliberately laid their plans looking to some such happy ending as had now come to pass.

Bluff was to take aim first, but not to fire until he knew his side partner was prepared to shoot also. In order that equal shares of the great honor that would attach to the killing of the giant moose should fall upon their heads, it was agreed to fire at the same second.

Jerry saw his chum slowly lifting his gun. He knew that Bluff wished to avoid making any quick movement, as that was likely to catch the attention of the beast, and cause him to start a speedy flight.

So Jerry copied the example. He, too, intended getting the stock of his rifle firmly planted against his shoulder, so that he could take a quick but accurate aim. Then when Bluff gave the signal—which was to be a low whistle—it was up to both boys to press their triggers.

They would never forget the sensations they experienced during that few seconds while bringing their guns to a level. It seemed ages to Jerry. He even began to believe he must be seized with some species of nightmare, and that a stupor prevented him from moving.

He was sure that the moose had glimpsed them. Indeed, it seemed to Jerry that the massive muzzle of the animal was pointed directly toward them, as though he might be waiting to observe another slight move before springing away.

Why did not Bluff give that little whistle? Everything was set, and ready for the finishing stroke. Jerry began to wonder whether it might not be that Bluff was trembling so much with excitement that he had actually lost the power to pucker up his lips.

Then it came.

The crash that followed sounded like the discharge of one gun, both reports blending into a single roar.

Enthusiasm seized both young sportsmen when they saw their victim floundering on the snow-covered ground.

“Hurrah!” fairly shrieked Jerry, throwing all his enthusiasm into that single word.

Bluff was meanwhile making his gun ready for further business. If this moose was as tough as people said, and rivaled the silver-tip bear of the Rockies in clinging to life after receiving a multitude of wounds, he meant to be ready to give him another shot.

“Throw out the old shell—quick, he’s getting up again!” Bluff hissed.

This time he sank on one knee, and secured a rest for his left elbow on the leg that was extended. He believed that he could give a better account of himself when in that position. Now if the old bull moose insisted on struggling to his feet again, he must be reached in a vital part.

There was no need of wasting any more ammunition, although the boys, not being experienced in this line of hunting, did not know it positively.

“Oh, Bluff, he’s gone crashing down again!” gasped Jerry.

“Yes, and this time, I guess, it’s for keeps,” added the other, though hardly able to realize that, after all, they had accomplished the great feat, visions of which had tempted them to follow the snow trail all these weary miles.

Together they started on a mad run toward the spot, eager to feast their eyes on the sight of that magnificent specimen lying there.

“Careful, Jerry; he may be playing ’possum with us!” warned Bluff, who had been fed of late on so many remarkable stories concerning a moose’s tenacity in holding on to life that he was ready to believe almost anything of this king of the Big Woods.

“Aw, he’s as dead as a doornail!” Jerry told him; and in proof of his assertion he strode up to the bulky carcass to push it with the toe of his shoe.

There was no movement, and after that no one could believe that an atom of life remained in the body of the bull moose.

“Shake on that, Jerry,” said Bluff, as they stood over the body of their victim; “I want to congratulate you on the nervy way you did your part. Both bullets found their mark, you can see. I reckon either one would have wound him up; so it’s a fair divide.”

“Yes,” the other ventured, “either one of us can say we killed him. Isn’t he a monster, though! Look at the horns, Bluff; would you ever dream a moose could grow such busters in a single season?”

“I hope they haven’t been injured by the fall,” remarked Bluff, bending down the better to examine the dead animal’s head adornments.

The horns of a full-grown moose differ radically from the antlers of a buck deer, being thick and massive rather than delicate and pronged. The cow moose does not sport any adornments on her head, and looks very much like a mule. But there is no species of deer in the American forests that can come anywhere near the moose in size and power, the elk possibly approaching closer than any other animal.

Neither of the boys gave the slightest heed to the fact that it was commencing to snow again and for about the sixth time since they started out.

“This is what they always say is the proudest moment in our lives, Bluff!” Jerry was remarking, seemingly content to stand there leaning on his gun and staring down at the biggest wild animal either of them had ever taken a hand in bringing down, if the grizzly bear, of which they were recently talking, might be excepted.

“I wish Will and his camera were here to get a picture of our first moose, the biggest one that will be brought down in the whole State of Maine this season, like as not.” And Bluff looked sad to think they might not have something to show as evidence when they wanted to back up the story they would tell about their moose hunt.

“What are we going to do with him, now we’ve got him?” asked Jerry, scratching his head.

“All anybody cares for in an old moose like this,” Bluff told him, “is the horns. You couldn’t get your teeth into his flesh, no matter if you filed ’em to a point. Of course, the Indians keep the skin to make moccasins and shoes out of.”

“Yes, I knew that, because I’ve had a pair of moccasins made of elkskin. When it’s tanned right, it makes a tough article for footwear. But suppose we did take the hide and horns, how in the dickens would we ever get them to camp?”

“If we could make some sort of sledge now,” Bluff went on to say reflectively, “with our hatchet, no matter how clumsy it was, we could manage to draw home what we wanted.”

“If we left anything behind that was worthwhile, we’d have to hang it up high, I should think, Bluff. You remember that we heard a wolf howling one night, even if we haven’t come across any of them since.”

Bluff was trying to figure out what their program should be. While they had made all possible arrangements as to how to track the beast and the method of firing by volley so as to better encompass his fall, the boys had not dared go beyond that point.

Jerry was afraid it would be too much like counting their chickens before they were hatched, and on his part Bluff felt perfectly willing to let that part of the future take care of itself.

“I think that would be a good plan to follow, Jerry, and you deserve great credit for thinking of it,” he remarked presently, which of course caused the other chum to feel more or less satisfaction.

“Who’ll do the cutting up; and who wants to make the sledge?” asked Bluff, after a little time had elapsed and they felt that something should be gotten under way looking to a move; for faster now was the snow falling, and it might be that the storm was about to break over their heads.

“I think you’re more experienced about carving and taking pelts off than I am,” Jerry expostulated. “To tell you the honest truth, I never removed a hide in all my life, though I’ve had sections of my own knocked off by a rattan at school many a time.”

Possibly Bluff had more than half expected that the decision would result that way. To tell the truth, he was not much bothered, for he rather liked the task of taking the moose’s tough hide off and severing his head so that it might be transported the easier to their far-distant lodge.

“Then that means, Jerry, you’ll start in making a sledge; not a fancy one, but just serviceable enough to carry what we want over the snow, no matter how deep it gets.”

The last part of what Bluff said was no doubt inspired by the fact that the snow was now falling heavily. There could hardly be any question but that the long-anticipated storm had now arrived, and seemed anxious to make up for lost time.

“I think I can manage, if only there happens to be some decent wood handy to make the runners out of,” Jerry told his comrade, with conviction in his manner.

“How would these young second-growth ash slips do?” asked the other. “You can split one down, and then bend it better. But I’m going to leave all that to you, Jerry. Do your best with your little hatchet. Remember, George Washington came by a lot of fame through his.”

Jerry turned to hurry over to the thicket of ash sprouts that had started up a year or so before, where a large tree had been cut down. He did not make three steps in that direction before he came to a sudden halt.

Bluff, who had drawn his hunting knife and with grim resolution was stooping over the moose, heard him give a low cry.

“Bluff! Look what’s bearing down on us!” Jerry said weakly, as though some fresh disaster were looming above the horizon.

It did not take Bluff long to discover what kind of trouble it was by which they were about to be faced. Moving figures could be seen. They were heading directly toward where the dead moose lay, as though the sound of their double shot had carried through the woods and drawn these others to the spot.

Although indistinctly seen, on account of the gathering gloom and the curtain of falling snow-flakes that swept past on the fierce wind, there was no mistaking the tall figure of Bill Nackerson and the more sturdy ones of his two companion sportsmen.

A sense of coming trouble immediately weighed on the minds of Bluff and Jerry, as they awaited the coming of the men.


“Had we better move along out of here?” asked Jerry, as he looked doubtfully toward the quarter whence the three sportsmen were hastily advancing.

“What for?” demanded Bluff truculently.

“You know what Bill Nackerson threatened to do if ever the chance came his way,” Jerry replied. “We’re outnumbered three to two.”

His words implied that had there been an even showing he might not have thought of leaving.

Bluff knew that their best policy under the circumstances would be to walk away and avoid any trouble with the men. He also remembered promising Frank not to take any unnecessary chances, no matter what came up.

At the same time, Bluff was a poor loser. By that it must not be understood that when fairly beaten he would try to find fault and call his defeat an accident, for Bluff was always the first to congratulate a victor, even though he might be one of the victims. But he hated to give anything up.

So he looked first at the three men, who were now drawing very near; then he allowed his gaze to rest upon the form of the dead moose. It was, as Bluff himself afterward expressed it, “like drawing his eyeteeth to let that bully moose slip out of his possession.”

“Don’t let’s hurry too much,” he told Jerry, as a sort of compromise decision. “Perhaps, after all, they’ll just give us a hauling over the coals, and move on, leaving the game to us.”

“I hope so,” muttered Jerry rather disconsolately.

Then his face suddenly lighted up, as with the coming of an idea. Jerry was always a great hand for conceiving plans on the spur of the moment. Sometimes they had a germ of good in them, and again they only aroused the laughter of his comrades.

“Oh, Bluff, I’ve just thought of something!” he exclaimed, lowering his voice a little, because he was afraid that one of the advancing sportsmen might overhear.

“Shucks! Is that so, Jerry,” remarked the other, who as a rule did not have a great deal of faith in anything Jerry conceived. “Then hurry up and let’s hear what it is.”

“They’re three, and we only count two, all told,” Jerry began.

“Tell me something new!” muttered the other impatiently.

“And maybe if Frank and Will were along they wouldn’t feel so bossy, because the tables would be turned then, four against three.”

“But our chums are a good many miles from here,” interposed Bluff, with fine scorn.

“Yes; but you see the men don’t know that!” said Jerry.

“Hey! Do you mean we might pull the wool over their eyes and make out we had backing near by? Is that what you’re aiming at?”

“No harm done in trying it, is there? It might work. Even if that fire-eating Bill didn’t show cold feet, his two friends would advise him not to go too far. How about it, Bluff; don’t you think it’s a good scheme?”

Bluff grinned.

“Well,” he hastened to say, “I don’t think it will cut much of a figure. Chances are we’re going to be cheated out of our prize; and that’ll make me sore, I tell you.”

“But, Bluff, please remember what we promised Frank,” urged Jerry, who had a streak of caution in his make-up, though no one had ever thought to term him timid.

“Oh, I don’t mean to stir him up so he’ll tackle us,” returned Bluff; “but there’s one thing I never will stand for.”

“Tell me what that is, won’t you, Bluff?”

“We mustn’t let him lay a hand on us,” said the other grimly; “and under no consideration, Jerry, allow them to take our guns away. Why, what would become of us if we found ourselves adrift in the Big Woods after a storm and without any way of defending ourselves or getting game?”

“You’re right, Bluff; but what if they make a move to do it?”

“Cover ’em right away, and threaten to let fly; when they see we mean business, I reckon they’ll hold Bill back. Now stop talking, because here they come!”

Jerry drew a long breath, and waited for further developments. They would not be long in coming, for the three sportsmen had by this time almost reached the spot where the boys stood, close to the fallen moose.

Already the men could be heard expressing in loud tones their astonishment at seeing what noble game had fallen to the guns of the outdoor chums. This in itself was positive proof that they had not up to then been aware that the big moose was anywhere in the vicinity. It proved to the boys the absurdity of the high-handed claim which later on Bill Nackerson chose to make.

“Hey, look there, Bill, what they’ve downed!” the man who went by the name of Whalen was heard to exclaim. “I’ll be hanged if it ain’t that giant moose you cut loose at both years we were up here before!”

Nackerson’s face was a study. He stared as though hardly able to believe his eyes. Besides the look of wonder, there crept across his evil face one of growing chagrin and anger. Bluff could understand how this might be, after hearing how Bill had on several occasions tried to down the wonderful moose, only to meet with dismal failure.

And no doubt while he continued to advance, staring, and breathing fast, the bold scheme was hatched in Bill Nackerson’s brain which he proceeded to put into execution.

It was not a new idea. The same claim has often led to conflicts over fallen game, where rival hunters disputed its possession.

“So, it’s just as we thought, fellows, and the old bull moose didn’t run many miles after I gave him that last shot! I told you if we kept on following his trail we’d run onto him sooner or later. But what do you kids want here, hanging over my game? Tell me that!”

Jerry had to put out a hand to steady himself against a neighboring pine, he was so staggered by the audacity of this remark. Why, the man was actually claiming that he had shot the big moose, after their following the animal so many miles through the snow forest! No wonder it took Jerry’s breath away. He could not have uttered a single word had his life depended on it.

Bluff, however, was not quite so taken aback. Possibly he may even have suspected that something like this would be attempted; because on no other grounds could the rival hunters claim the spoils of the hunt as their property. So Bluff allowed himself a little sneering laugh.

“Oh, it was you who shot this moose, was it, Mr. Nackerson?” he remarked.

The man did not like the way these words were spoken, but he was playing a bold game, of which any honest hunter would have been ashamed, and felt that he must carry it through to the end.

“That’s what it was, boy,” he declared, with a black scowl. “If you look, you can see where my bullet struck him in the body, just back of where I aimed. A deer or moose will always run a long distance after being hit between the ribs that way; ain’t that so, Whalen?”

Whalen made no reply. Perhaps he was so astonished by the audacity of Bill’s claim that he could not catch his breath.

“Well, now, that’s queer,” Bluff went on, determined to have some say in the matter, even if finally cheated out of his just rights; “here my chum and I have been thinking we were following that moose’s trail all the way from our camp, a matter of as much as eight miles, more or less. And, say, we even believed we fired a double shot just now at him, while he was standing here browsing on that branch. Jerry, we sure must have been dreaming all that!”

“I guess you were, kid,” the man continued, without allowing a flicker of a smile to cross his face, although both of his companions wore wide grins. “You may have got up just in time to set eyes on my moose before he keeled over; but don’t let me catch you trying to claim a hand in landing him; hear that?”

“If, as you say, Mr. Nackerson,” Bluff went on doggedly, “you shot him a long ways back and he’s just dropped here through exhaustion, why, of course you can show us marks of blood all along his trail.”

“What’s that you say, you young cub?” demanded the other angrily.

“When a deer’s badly wounded, he leaves a trail of red on the snow that even a half-blind man could see,” Bluff told him boldly. “If you can show us even one mark twenty feet away from here we’ll never put in any claim for the killing.”

It was a fair challenge; but of course, as Bill Nackerson’s claim was founded on sand, he would never dream of accepting it. Bluff knew as much when he said what he did, for he had sized the other up long ago for just what he was—a bully and an unfair sportsman, who did not care how he secured his game so long as he got it.

“What do you take me for, to be forced to prove my word against a couple of impudent kids?” he roared; for when men realize that they are in the wrong they often like to whip themselves into a passion.

“But if you look, you’ll find there are two bullets in that moose; and they’ll turn out to be of the same pattern we use in our guns,” Bluff continued, meaning to rub it in as hard as he could before being compelled to retreat, as he fully expected would be the ultimate outcome of the encounter.

“That’ll do for you, youngster,” said the man, with a snarl. “I tell you this moose belongs to me. I shot it, and we’ve been on the trail of the wounded animal for a long time. That goes, mind you! Not another word, now, or I may take a notion to kick you out of here, minus your precious guns!”

He even advanced a step in a threatening manner. Instantly Bluff half-raised his gun, and the way he looked at Nackerson caused the other to hesitate. At the same instant the two men who were with him laid hands on his arms.

“Hold on, Bill, leave the kids alone!” Whalen said soothingly, as though startled at the possibility of a tragedy following this piratical act on the part of their companion.

“Let ’em clear out, then, and in a big hurry!” growled Nackerson, making what seemed a violent effort to wrest his arms free, but which did not deceive Bluff, who knew that the other was not so anxious to shake off the grip of his companions as he pretended.

For one moment Bluff was even tempted to carry things to the point of demanding the departure of the three sportsmen, and thus leaving the moose to its lawful owners.

Before his mental vision came a glimpse of Frank’s face, and he remembered the promise he had made not to be rash. The chances were the three men would positively refuse to relinquish the moose, and it might even come to a free-for-all fight, in which the boys were apt to get the worst of it.

So Bluff, though much against his will, made up his mind he would have to bow to conditions, however unwelcome they might seem. It was a shame to have to yield those splendid horns to their rivals when the latter had no right, other than that of might, to carry them off.

“Don’t go to any bother about us, Mr. Nackerson,” Bluff went on to say, with as much sarcasm in his tones as he could summon. “We might feel like disputing your silly claim, only that would mean all sorts of trouble. But please change your mind about thinking of taking our guns away, because no matter what we had to do we never would stand for that, you know.”

The man twisted in the grip of his friends again. He acted as though wild to break away and fling himself on the boys, no matter if both guns were half raised and covering him. But somehow he did not succeed in freeing himself; Bluff considered that it was simply wonderful how those two wise friends managed to hold on to him.

“You’d better go, youngsters,” said Whalen; “we mightn’t be able to hold him back much longer, you see, he’s getting that crazy. And the sight of you aggravates him considerable.”

“Oh, is that so?” said Bluff jeeringly, though at the same time he took one backward step. “Well, I hope for his sake you can hold on a little while longer. I’d sure dislike to cripple any man, away up here so far away from a doctor; but if he jumps at us he’ll get his medicine right fast. And that’s straight goods, I’m telling you.”

“Come on, Bluff,” Jerry was saying, anxious to avoid trouble, yet not afraid; “perhaps we’d better be going, though I’ll always say that was our moose, and tell everybody what a thief did to us in the Big Woods.”

“Get away with you,” shouted Nackerson, “before I do you harm! I’d hate to lay a hand on a boy in anger; but you don’t want to rile me too much!”

“You didn’t hold back when you struck that poor relation of yours, Teddy, in the face, did you, Mr. Nackerson?” said Bluff boldly. “But we’re not afraid that you’ll bother trying the same on us. It makes considerable difference when a boy’s got a gun. If you ever laid a hand on me like you did Teddy, you’d live to be sorry for it.”

“Go—go!” snapped the man, now furiously angry, so that the others had to cling to him more tenaciously than ever for fear that he might break away, regardless of consequences.

“And as a last word,” added Bluff, “I want to tell you I’ve a hunch we’ll get that pair of moose horns yet, in spite of you,” with which he backed away from the scene of their triumph and defeat.


“I never hated to do anything so much in my life as break away from there and give up our moose!” Bluff told his comrade.

They had gone far enough back to lose sight of the three men in the swiftly driven snow that was now falling heavily.

“Me, too,” returned Jerry; “but that’s the way it happens sometimes. I only hope they find out they haven’t got a single match among ’em. Perhaps, then, if it keeps on getting colder, and the storm blows heavier and heavier, they’ll wish they hadn’t made us clear out.”

“Why, what are you talking about, Jerry?”

“Didn’t you hear what they started to say while we were backing away?” demanded the other. “Whalen asked the other man for a match, so they could start up a fire and get warm. Then I heard the second fellow say he didn’t know where he’d dropped the box, but it didn’t seem to be in his pockets. They turned to Nackerson, and I reckon asked him for a light, because I heard him growl that he’d used his last match when he smoked a cigar.”

“Oh, well, they’ll find some stray ones stowed away in a pocket, like as not!” Bluff remarked, and in that fashion allowed the incident to pass from his mind.

“But tell me what you’re aiming to do next, Bluff?” asked Jerry. “I’d also like to know which way you mean to play the game so’s to get back the horns of our big moose?”

Bluff chuckled on hearing that.

“Oh, I only said that to impress Bill, that’s all!” he observed carelessly. “I had to be true to my name, you know. I only wish I could see some way to beat that crowd out in the end. I’d sure go to a heap of trouble to get there.”

“Are we heading right to get back home?” asked Jerry, a few minutes later.

“My stars! I hope you don’t think I’m silly enough to want to try and cover all the miles between here and the cabin, and with this storm starting in, too.”

“Well, I’ll do whatever you say, Bluff, because I always did own up you knew more about the woods in a day than I could in a week; but all the same I’d be right glad to hear you mean to make a camp, and spend the night resting up.”

“I’m afraid it isn’t going to be much of a camp, though; you don’t want to expect too much.”

“Some sort of brush shelter ought to help out, I should think,” the other returned, as he bent his head lower in order to fight against the driving wind.

Night was coming on unusually early, on account of the clouds above and the falling snow. Any one who knew what these signs foretold could understand that there was a wild time ahead for those caught away from shelter and exposed to the fury of a growing blizzard.

“We might be able to do some better than that,” Bluff went on to say, as he kept turning his head from side to side, as though constantly on the lookout for something he had in mind.

Five, ten minutes passed, until they must have gone nearly half a mile away from the scene of their meeting with Nackerson and his cronies.

“Whew! Let me tell you this is going to be a screecher!” Jerry declared, while he rubbed his ears to make them burn, for the cold wind nipped them.

“You’re wondering why I don’t call a halt, Jerry, so I’ll explain,” Bluff told him. “I remembered seeing a place when we were moving along the trail of the moose where some trees had been uprooted in a storm years ago.”

“Yes, I noticed it, Bluff!” cried the other eagerly. “Is it on account of the firewood you want to get to those fallen trees?”

“Partly that,” admitted the other; “but p’raps you didn’t notice that one of the trees had been a regular whopper, for when it went down in the cyclone it yanked up a heap of earth nearly as big as a cabin.”

“Oh, now I see what you mean, Bluff: the hole in the ground where the roots came out of might make us a first-rate camp!”

“For a good many reasons,” pursued Bluff, who managed to speak after a fashion in spite of the wind whistling into his teeth and at times almost taking his breath away. “First of all, the roots stand up in the right way to protect us from the worst of this northwest storm.”

“Couldn’t be better, for a fact,” said Jerry, feeling his courage returning as the plan unfolded.

“Then, as you say, we’d have plenty of firewood handy for that little camp hatchet to get busy on. And unless I miss my guess we ought to be able to cover the gap more or less with stuff, so as to form a rough roof.”

“Then all I hope is,” Jerry told him rather plaintively, “that we don’t get off our base, and miss connections with that windrow of fallen trees.”

“I’ve kept my bearings right along,” Bluff returned, “and if you look sharp over there on the left I reckon you’ll see the open place where the trees are down.”

“Bluff, you did take us straight there, for a fact. I don’t think Frank or anybody else could have done better!” was Jerry’s exultant outbreak, after he discovered that they had arrived at their goal.

A minute afterward the two chums were looking down into the hole that had once contained the roots of the big tree, now lying where the violence of the hurricane had thrown it.

“Just the thing for us!” Jerry exclaimed, as he jumped into the cavity and mentally pictured it roofed over so that the snow might be almost wholly kept out.

“Then the first thing we want to do is to get a fire started,” Bluff advised him. “Before we know where we’re at, we’ll be in the dark; so let’s drag a bunch of this wood where we’ll need it before we do anything else.”

They laid their guns aside, leaning them against a tree that had weathered the gale so fatal to the giant of the woods. For some little time both boys labored steadily, until a heaping pile of fairly good wood had been brought close to the hole.

“Where’d we better start the fire?” asked Jerry, for he knew that a number of things must be considered when settling this question.

There was the direction of the wind to be remembered, for it would be very disagreeable to have the pungent wood smoke blown constantly in their faces, making their eyes smart. As the upturned roots stood between them and the storm, this compelled them to start the blaze on the opposite side of the excavation.

Once Jerry had the site pointed out to him, he busied himself in getting a blaze going. Things began to take on a more cheerful air as soon as the fire started crackling and throwing out both light and heat.

This was only a beginning. The boys knew that in order to shelter themselves from the blizzard they must get some sort of roof above their heads. This would keep off the falling snow that might otherwise almost fill the hole before morning came.

The hatchet proved to be worth its weight in silver, as Jerry declared.

“What would we have done without it?” he remarked several times, as he continued to hack away, handing the brush over to Bluff, who was engaged in trying to weave it after a certain fashion, securing it to the poles they had laid across the top of the hole.

“Don’t ask me,” Bluff told him; “thank Frank for telling us to bring it along, when like as not neither of us would have thought it worth while.”

“No,” continued Jerry, “because a fellow as a rule doesn’t expect to use a hatchet when he’s tracking a moose or a deer. All the same, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to have such a tool along whenever you even take a walk up here in these Maine woods. You never know when you may need it.”

“The roof’s half done,” announced Bluff. “Take a look, and tell me how you like it.”

“Seems like a good job, so far as I know,” the other commented. “I should say you’ve made a brush shelter that way more’n a few times before now.”

“Maybe I have,” was the reply, as Bluff once more set to work to finish the roof, leaving untouched the end through which they could pass in and out and receive the benefit of their fire.

“And when we’ve got all through building our house,” remarked Jerry, “it’ll be time to think of having a bite.”

“Huh! That’s another thing we’ve got to thank Frank for,” was the rejoinder. “It looks as though he might have seen what trouble we had in store for us, and fixed things to meet the need.”

“That’s Frank’s way,” commented Jerry, feeling very grateful to know that even though compelled to spend the night in such a crude camp he and Bluff need not lie and shiver for want of warmth or go hungry because of lack of food.

“It strikes me the storm keeps getting worse right along,” Bluff announced, as he was forced to push up to the fire in order to warm his stiff fingers.

“It’s a corker, all right,” admitted the other, whose exertions with the hatchet helped to keep his blood circulating, so that he did not feel the freezing temperature quite so much as Bluff seemed to.

In due time the roof was finished, as far as the builder intended it should be laid. No matter what depth of snow fell, very little of it was likely to find its way inside the shelter back of the upturned tree.

“Now, don’t we deserve a little refreshment?” asked Jerry.

“We might as well, for a change,” Bluff told him. “After that, we must fetch more wood. The wind makes the fire burn savagely, you notice, and it’s sure a caution how it eats up the stuff. Besides, remember it’s going to be something like twelve hours before morning comes.”

“Wow! Will we manage to get any sleep, do you think?”

“Give it up; but let’s hope so.”

“And when we intended to start out light, I can remember Frank saying we might wish we had lugged our blankets along with us. ’Course we, couldn’t do that, and chase after the moose; but I’d like to feel that same blanket up around my shoulders.”

“Oh, we’re doing pretty well, as it is,” Bluff returned, determined to make the best of a bad bargain, which was a pretty wise thing for him to do under the circumstances.

Sitting there, with the fire crackling close by, and its heat feeling very comfortable, the two chums opened the packages of food which Frank had rammed into the pockets of their coats before they started.

Their supper consisted of only crackers and cheese, with some strips of left-over venison to munch on. Still, since their appetites were good and there was an abundance of the fare, it tasted as fine as anything they could remember.

“Had enough?” asked Bluff, when he saw that his comrade had cleaned up every scrap of his portion.

“Plenty,” replied Jerry, with a sigh of satisfaction; “couldn’t eat another bite if I tried. And don’t let’s bother thinking where our breakfast’s going’ to come from. We’ll run across some game, or else be able to find the cabin again before we’ve quite starved to death.”

“That’s right. I was just thinking if those men should turn out to be without a single match among them, wouldn’t they have a rough time of it all night out in this storm?”

“Yes; and I’m sorry now I didn’t offer to hand them over some of our supply of matches,” Jerry said softly, which remark spoke well for his forgiving nature. “They treated us mean, of course, but then it doesn’t pay to hold a grudge when you’re in the woods.”

“Oh, I reckon they found the match, all right,” Bluff remarked carelessly, “and as they’re old sportsmen they must know all the tricks woodsmen make use of to keep warm and cozy in a blow like this.”

“I hope so, Bluff.”

Later on they decided to get busy with the wood supply, for the snow continued to come down as furiously as ever. It was a fine kind of powdery snow, which, blown on the gale, caused their cheeks to smart when it struck.

Every little while they would get close to the fire to warm themselves. Jerry shuddered as he contemplated the long vigil of that never-to-be-forgotten night following their moose hunt. He did not anticipate that sleep would visit either of them, so uncomfortable would be their position. The wind managed to find cracks and crannies through which to whistle, and with the storm raging through the forest all sorts of strange noises came to their ears.

At times it even seemed to Jerry as though people in distress were calling for help. Twice he went outside the shelter to listen, though Bluff told him it was all imagination.

“It wouldn’t surprise me, though,” the other remarked, when Jerry came back the second time, “if we heard that wolf pack whooping things up through the timber before morning comes. A wild night like this is what starts them on the rampage, I reckon.”

“Do you think they would attack us here?” asked Jerry, drawing his gun a little closer to his hand.

“Well, hardly, with this jolly blaze going,” Bluff continued reflectively. “You know, they are afraid of fire. But they may make a meal from that big moose we shot, if the men don’t stay there to keep them away.”

“So long as they left us the horns I wouldn’t care, Bluff. But if the men didn’t find a single match among them, and the wolves came along, like as not they’d have to pass the night perched in a tree, and freezing. Oh, I’m glad we’ve got our fire!”


“Well,” observed Bluff contentedly, “believe me, a fire is a bully thing to hug up to on a night like this. I always did have a sneaking fancy for a crackling blaze, and now I’m more in love with this one of ours than I could tell you.”

“Hark to that, would you!” exclaimed Jerry, suddenly sitting up straight and turning his head to one side, as though straining his hearing to catch a repetition of the sound.

“Now, what do you think you heard?” asked Bluff, more or less interested, but still showing no signs of alarm.

“That’s what I’d like to know. Seemed like a howl of some kind.”

“I thought that wolf business would get on your nerves before long,” chuckled the other boy.

“But you said yourself that on a stormy night like this beasts of prey are apt to be unusually fierce,” protested Jerry.

“That’s right,” he was told; “but even then it doesn’t mean every whoop of the wind through the trees is a wolf giving tongue. Of course, I don’t say you didn’t hear one, but chances are ten to one against it.”

“Well, it hasn’t come again, so far, and I hope it won’t, that’s all,” said the still unconvinced Jerry.

Every once in a while he would go to the opening in front and look out. Of course, the fire needed more or less attention, as Bluff well knew; nevertheless, he felt pretty certain that Jerry was influenced by his fears of an invasion rather than any desire to throw on the additional fuel.

The time dragged along. So far as they could tell, there did not appear to be any let-up to the fury of the storm. There were many open chinks in their barricade, as might be expected, since it was composed of branches and such stuff as lay around at the time they made their roof and the sides to the cover.

Driven by the fierce wind, the fine powdery snow managed to penetrate more or less, so that they could feel it against their faces. Unpleasant as this might appear, it was not to be complained of when they realized the discomfort and danger that would have been their lot if compelled to remain out in the open.

After a long time they found their eyes getting heavy. While it was next to impossible to get any sound sleep, they might take what Bluff called “cat-naps,” rousing themselves every little while so as to change their cramped position and perhaps cast more wood on the fire.

Jerry remembered that it was immediately after he had taken the longest doze of any that he heard something that thrilled him.

He raised his head to listen, and then kicked his companion in the calf of the leg. Bluff only grunted, possibly believing, if he thought anything at all, it might be only an accident.

“Bluff—oh, Bluff!”

Now he caught the sound of Jerry’s voice close to his ear, and it was accompanied by yet another prod with his toe, this time of a more vigorous nature than before.

“Hey! What ails you, Jerry? If you can’t sleep, what’s the need of punching me that way?” grumbled Bluff.

“But I tell you there is something trying to get in here!!” argued the other.

At that, Bluff condescended to slightly raise his head. He was more awake by now, for he realized that Jerry was in earnest.

“I don’t see anything but that our fire is going down some. Now I’m roused up, I guess I’d better put on more stuff,” he remarked sleepily, as he started to sit up.

“Watch back there and you’ll see, I tell you!” And Jerry pointed toward the side of their weak barricade, where it joined the upturned roots and frozen soil.

Having his attention pivoted upon the one particular spot, Bluff was not long in making a surprising discovery.

“By Jinks, it does seem to be moving!” he admitted. “Wonder now if that could be only the wind?”

“But, don’t you see, the wind has died out. And, say, that noise sounds for all the world like a dog trying to dig his way through. I tell you, Bluff, they’re coming in after us—the wolves, I mean!”

This time Bluff did not laugh. Instead, he put out a hand and commenced to fumble around him. Jerry knew he was searching for his rifle, and he hastened to take a firmer grip on his own weapon, which he was holding at the time.

The scratching noise continued, with but slight intermissions. They could also see even in that uncertain light that the animal was by degrees demolishing the flimsy shelter at the place where he had attacked it.

Then something that glowed like two coals of yellow fire appeared. Jerry caught his breath, and stared as though fascinated. He knew that those strange objects were the flaming eyes of the bold wolf that thought to steal this march upon them.

The animal had been afraid to enter the shelter on the side where the fire smoldered. Urged on by hunger, he had thought to tear a hole in the wall and attack those within.

Had either of the boys been better versed in the nature and habits of wolves, they must have known that only when half famished would these skulkers of the Canadian forests make bold enough to attack human beings.

Neither of the boys bothered about anything just then save the fact that they were threatened by a savage enemy and had better take immediate measures looking to self-protection.

Jerry felt rather than saw his companion start to raise his gun.

“Oh, Bluff, please don’t!” he cried hurriedly.

“Why, what’s the matter?” replied the other. “The sooner we let Mr. Wolf know we’re at home and ready to give him and his kind a warm reception, the better for us. Let go my arm, can’t you? I want to send a bullet between those two eyes.”

“But, Bluff, it isn’t fair!” protested the other boy, while the wolf, if it was one, had fallen to scratching again, apparently not intimidated by the muttering of voices within.

“Hey, tell me what you mean, can’t you?” Bluff demanded indignantly, wondering at the same time whether his chum could have gone out of his mind because of the sudden awakening and the threatening peril.

“It’s my wolf, Bluff; didn’t I discover him first?” Jerry continued, still holding tenaciously on to the arm of the other, as though to add force to his argument.

At that Bluff laughed softly.

“Oh, that’s what’s ailing you, is it?” he ventured to say. “Like as not you feel as if you ought to be the one to knock him over, eh? Well, get your gun!”

“I have, already. Tell me when it’s time for me to let go!” And, having received the commission to act, Jerry no longer kept an eager grip on the sleeve of his comrade’s coat.

“I might give a whoop, which is apt to make the beast look in on us again,” was Bluff’s reply. “Keep your gun leveled, so as to let drive as soon as you glimpse his eyes. Right between them, remember.”

“I will, and thank you for giving me first chance. But hark to what’s going on out there now. Whew! Sounds as if there might be more’n one wolf waiting to jump in here on us.”

“It’s snarling and scrapping, as sure as you’re born,” admitted the second boy, as he managed to hold his gun in readiness. “Tell you what I’ll do, Jerry.”

“Yes, go on then,” said the other eagerly.

“Just as soon as you blaze away, I’ll be ready to jump outside, gun in hand.”

“What for?”

“So as to try to get another crack at some of the other critters. They’ll turn tail, and run a little way off after the crash of the gun inside here and seeing their mate keel over. But it may be light enough for me to see to bowl over one on my own account.”

“I understand now. Do whatever you think best. And just as soon as I’ve pulled the trigger I think I’ll climb out after you.”

“Not a bad idea,” admitted the other; “but now get ready, for I’m going to let out a yell to see what happens.”

Bluff had managed to scramble into a position that gave him a better opportunity to gain his feet in a hurry. He knew there would be considerable need of haste in making his exit, if he hoped to glimpse any of the vanishing wolves after they had been alarmed by the gunshot within the pit.

“Go on!” urged the nervous Jerry, with raised gun, and his eyes fixed on the particular spot where the intruder was again busily at work.

The shout Bluff gave was indeed enough to attract attention. They could hear a movement outside the shelter, as though the invaders had started to retreat, only to come back again, as determined as ever.

Jerry was waiting. All he wanted was just a glimpse of the twin balls of fire not six feet away, when he stood ready to do the duty he had begged Bluff to give into his hands.

It speedily came to him. First he saw a movement about the small gap that had already been made in the wall of branches. Then a nose was rudely thrust into the aperture, as the daring wolf feasted his eyes on the figures of the two lads.

Bang! went Jerry’s rifle, fired point-blank. Instantly the other boy was in motion, and scrambling to get up out of the hole on the side of the opening and the dwindling fire.

As he passed this bed of red embers, he gave a kick that sent some small bits of fuel into the mass. The object of this, of course, was to try and coax a slight uplift in the way of a blaze that might be of assistance to him in sighting the fleeing wolves.

Jerry, almost stunned by the violence of the report in such confined quarters, did his best to follow at the heels of his chum. His heart was beating three times as fast as ordinary. Perhaps he anticipated finding his bold comrade battling for his life with a horde of hungry gray-coated animals and in need of such help as he might render.

Jerry heard a gun sound even as he was climbing up the little incline that marked the border of their depressed camp. Bluff gave a series of shouts at the same time; somehow these did not impress Jerry as cries for aid, but rather given in derision, and to add to the speed of the wolves’ retreat.

Yes, there was Bluff standing staring into the white bank of falling snow, while holding his gun in readiness to repeat his shot, if necessary.

“Did you get one?” cried Jerry eagerly.

“I hardly think so,” the other replied dejectedly. “You see, they were a little too fast for me. When I got on my feet out here I could just see something darker than the snow on the point of disappearing. I pulled on it as quick as I could; but the chances are I didn’t more than wound him, even if I managed that.”

“But they’re gone away, Bluff!”

“Seems like it,” returned Bluff.

“I only hope they’ve had enough of it, and will fight shy of our camp the rest of the night,” ventured Jerry.

“Guess you got your fellow, all right,” observed the other boy.

That caused Jerry to turn toward the snow-covered shelter. The fire was now burning briskly for the time being, and it was possible to see without much difficulty.

“Oh, do you think I did?” exclaimed the marksman. “Let’s find out. And, say, if I turned him over, I’d like first rate to save his hide for a mat. A wolfskin makes the finest kind of a footmat, you know; and it’d be great to know every time you stood on it that you had won it fair and square.”

They were by this time standing over the fallen animal. It lay stretched out on the snow, and was apparently dead.

“Looks like a pretty big wolf to me,” ventured Jerry, feeling the thrill of satisfaction that comes to every hunter when he has by good luck or superior marksmanship managed to bring down his quarry.

“He is a buster, sure enough,” said Bluff; “in fact, I never saw a bigger one, either in captivity or running wild. I’d hate to tackle such a beast hand to hand. See his white teeth, will you! Don’t they look ferocious, though? Here, give me your gun, if so be you mean to lug him into the shelter with us.”

“I only want to do that to save the skin, you see,” explained Jerry, as he started to comply.

“Well, I reckon you’re wise,” Bluff remarked, “because if his mates are as hungry as he seemed to be, chances are they’ll sneak back and carry the body away, so’s to make a meal off it.”

While it was not as pleasant as it might be, having that four-footed wood pirate inside with them, Bluff made no remonstrance. He saw that it pleased Jerry to anticipate getting the skin of the wolf to keep as a memento of the strange adventure; and Bluff could be one of the most accommodating fellows ever known when he felt so disposed.

So once more the boys made themselves fairly comfortable, after the fire had been renewed, and between listening and dozing the long hours passed away.


Neither of the boys would be likely to forget that night of the storm, when they passed so many wretched hours in their rude shelter. It was pretty cold, being without a blanket and unable to move around so as to keep their blood in circulation, though, after all, they realized that it hardly deserved the name of a blizzard.

“Oh, thank goodness, it’s really getting daylight, Bluff!” Jerry called out, at last, arousing the other from a nap.

“And the snow seems to have stopped pretty much, likewise that awful wind,” remarked his companion, as he, too, took an observation.

“Let’s get outside and stretch a bit,” proposed Jerry. “I feel as though I were seventy years old, and every bone and muscle in my body creaks or pains like everything.”

“A good idea, Jerry, and I’m with you,” Bluff conceded. “After we’ve jumped around a while, we’ll get limbered up. Here you go, now!”

They proceeded to carry on as if they had just escaped from an asylum, waltzing this way and that, clasped in each other’s arms, or attempting some sort of darky hoedown—anything to get their muscles in shape.

“There, that makes me feel young again!” declared Jerry, panting as he threw himself down beside the fire.

“The next burning question of the day is: What will you have for breakfast?” demanded Bluff; and with that he commenced to rattle off a great variety of dishes, beginning with ham and eggs, coffee, wheat cakes with maple syrup, and so on down the list.

Jerry presently threw up his hands, and as the other continued to tantalize him by keeping up a running fire of breakfast hints, he even went so far as to thrust his fingertips in his ears.

“That’s adding insult to injury, Bluff,” he told his chum, when he found a chance to speak. “Because I don’t believe we could scare up a scrap of grub this morning, no matter how hard we searched our pockets. We cleaned it all out at suppertime, you remember.”

“Well, there’s one last resort, if we have to come to it!” remarked Bluff, with an assumed dejected air, as he rubbed his chin between his thumb and forefinger.

Something about his manner caused Jerry to look at him in horror.

“Now, I can guess what you’re hinting at, and I tell you right straight from the shoulder I never could be hired to eat wolf, not if I was actually starving.”

“Oh, well, I can’t say I’m really hankering after the dish myself,” Bluff admitted; “but you never can tell what you may have to come to. Some people don’t like to eat crow, but it’s been found they’re not so very bad, after all. It might turn out the same way with wolf.”

“Are you going to help me get that jacket off the rascal?” demanded Jerry.

“Sure I will!” he was told. “You’d make a sorry mess of the job, I reckon; and if the thing’s worth saving at all it ought to be taken the right way. I don’t say I could do it as well as Frank, who’s had a heap more experience; but you’ll get the pelt, Jerry, never fear.”

“Then the sooner we finish the job the better,” said the other boy; “because it strikes me we had better be leaving here and heading for home as soon as we can make it. I only hope we don’t get lost, and that we strike camp in time for the middle-of-the-day feed.”

Both were speedily engaged in the task of taking off the skin of the slain wolf. Bluff did the main part of the work, but the other was handy at times in various ways.

“I don’t remember hearing another howl the whole night through; did you, Bluff?” Jerry presently asked, when the skin had been rolled up in as compact a bundle as possible.

“Can’t say that I did,” was the reply.

“And now, do we make a start for home?” demanded Jerry anxiously. “I hope you’ve got your bearings all correct.”

“Leave that for me,” the other boy replied; “but before we quit this region for good I’d like to take a turn over yonder.” And he pointed in a quarter which his chum knew took in the region where they had had the meeting with Bill Nackerson and his two friends, after bringing down the big moose.

“Yes, we ought to see what became of our moose, hadn’t we?” Jerry admitted.

“That’s right, for I’d like to get hold of those splendid horns. But there’s another thing I want to find out.”

“Yes, I can give a pretty good guess what it is,” the other told him. “I’ve been worried some, myself, about it. Lots of times in the night, when I was lying listening to the wind moan and howl, I found myself wondering how those three men were making out, if, as we had an idea, they couldn’t scare up a match among ’em.”

“Come along, let’s hike out that way,” said Bluff, frowning, as though he did not feel any too happy at the thought. “After all, it isn’t going to be so very much out of our way.”

They took one last look at the rude shelter that had served them so well in warding off considerable of the storm’s violence. Often in memory they would again see that bough barricade; and even take note of the hole which the bold wolf had torn in it.

Bluff walked along with a confident tread. Jerry was pleased to note this, for it assured him his chum really knew where he was heading and the chances of their becoming lost in the Big Woods were not serious.

“I tell you I’m glad I’ve got as fine a woodsman along as you are,” he remarked, after a little while; “because, if I had been alone, while I might be able to locate north by means of the compass, I declare I could not tell whether home lay to the north, east, west, or south. So what good would a compass be to such a greenhorn, I’d like to know?”

Bluff liked to hear such talk; any boy would when he set up to be an authority on woodcraft.

“We’re going to hit the place right soon now,” he assured his companion soberly and with a manner that showed that Bluff did not think he was doing anything so very wonderful in leading the way back to the scene of the previous afternoon’s double adventure.

Three minutes later he spoke again.

“There, you can see the leaning pine right now. That was only twenty feet or so away from where we dropped our moose.”

“I don’t see anything that looks like a camp,” hinted Jerry.

“No; seems as though they must have cleared out,” he was told; “but they couldn’t take the moose along with ’em, of course.”

“What became of it, then?”

“We’ll find that out soon enough. Just follow me, will you? Looks as though there had been a banquet around here, seems to me. Hi! see the bones, would you? And the snow’s all trampled down, with patches of red showing through it here and there.”

“Bluff, the wolves struck this place after we chased ’em away; or else this may have been another lot of them. They cleaned up our moose, hide and all. But, tell me, isn’t that the skull and the horns over there?”

“Just what it is!” Bluff exclaimed, as he started on a run for the spot, to bend anxiously over the object that was half concealed in a drift, and then joyfully burst out: “Jerry, they haven’t been hurt a single bit. Why, we ought to thank those wolves for gnawing all the flesh off! It’ll be easy enough now to hack the horns out with our hatchet. And as we’ve got so little to tote back home with us, mebbe we’d better try and get our prize there.”

“I wouldn’t like to risk leaving such wonderful horns here,” Jerry replied seriously. “Any sportsman happening on them would be tempted to make out that he had killed the big moose himself. What do you really think could have become of those men, Bluff?” he presently asked, uneasily; which question proved how the thought was worrying him.

“Oh, like as not they made up their minds to start back home right away,” the other boy asserted, as though he wished to think so himself.

“But I thought I heard something like a faint shout just then, Bluff; let’s listen a bit; for with that hatchet banging away it’s hard to catch anything.”

Hardly had Bluff ceased hacking at the moose skull when they caught a wailing cry, plainly a human voice, calling:

“Help, oh, help!”


“Somebody’s in trouble!” exclaimed Jerry.

“Makes me think of the time we found Teddy with his foot caught in the bear trap,” said Bluff. “But come on, let’s make for over there, and find out what’s going on.”

With that they started to run. The shouts had ceased. Both boys used their eyes as they hurried along, and pretty soon Bluff cried:

“Hey, what’s that jumping up and down over yonder? Strikes me they look like a pack of dogs or wolves!”

“Oh, Bluff, they’ve got those men up a tree, don’t you see? Perhaps they’ve been there all night. I pity them, if that’s so.”

“Yes; but first let’s see if we can pepper the wolves some, so’s to make ’em tired of hanging around. Be ready to blaze away.”

The half dozen or more animals had discovered their presence by this time. They immediately began to display signs of meaning to clear out, for several ran short distances, to turn and snarl, as though uncertain whether to show fight or not.

Bluff fired, and one of the gray-coated pirates from the Canadian border went limping away. The rest decided they would be wise to put considerable distance between themselves and the owners of those sticks that coughed and sent forth unseen missiles that stung.

Jerry managed to get in a couple of parting shots, and always declared that he hit one of the running beasts, though if so it could not have been a fatal wound since none dropped.

Hurrying forward, the boys discovered a bulky object in the crotch of a tree.

“Why, it’s Bill Nackerson!” cried Jerry.

“Yes, that’s who it is, sonny, or what’s left of him; because I’m mighty much afraid both my feet are frozen. I’ve been cooped up here for hours, while that hungry gang kept watching and jumping and growling all the while. I’m glad you came up. It’ll cheat ’em out of their breakfast, no matter what happens to me.”

“Can you drop down?” asked Bluff, touched by the evident suffering in the man’s face.

“I’ll do the best I can,” the other replied, “but I don’t seem to have any feeling in my feet. If they were a couple of clubs they couldn’t be more useless to me.”

The boys helped him to some extent. Presently Nackerson was sitting in the snow, with Bluff and Jerry trying to get his leggings and foot coverings off so that they might rub the frozen feet with snow to draw out the frost.

“Where are your two friends?” suddenly asked Bluff, remembering that there were three hunters when he and his chum last saw them.

Bill Nackerson groaned.

“I was a fool, and deserve what I got,” he declared. “They wanted to make camp through the storm, and we quarreled. I said I’d stick it out here by the moose, and if the worst came, I’d have something to fall back on. So in the end they went away, and I started to make a shelter the best way I could.”

“Yes; I noticed that somebody had done that,” Bluff told him. “Then the wolves came, did they?”

“When I heard their howls getting closer all the time,” continued the man, “I knew what was going to happen. My rifle had stuck, so I couldn’t work the pump action. It was no better than a club. I started off to see if I could find you boys camping, or come across a bigger tree than the ones around where the moose was lying.”

He groaned again, as though the recollection gave him pain.

“We’re not hurting you, I hope?” asked Jerry; for at the time both were rubbing his feet with snow.

“Oh, no; I wish it did hurt,” replied Nackerson, “because then I’d know there was some life left in my feet. I climbed this tree when I knew the critters were not far away. And here I’ve had to stay ever since. I tried to move around and slap my arms, but my feet began to get numb in spite of me.”

“Don’t you begin to feel a little burning sensation?” asked Bluff anxiously.

“Well, now that you mention it, I believe I do, son. Keep rubbing harder than ever, please. Oh, if ever I get out of this scrape alive it’s going to be a lesson to me. I’ll sure turn over a new leaf, I promise you, and try to do the right thing from now on.”

“Glad to hear it, Mr. Nackerson,” said Jerry, impressed by what he believed to be the man’s sincerity.

Bluff did not feel so sanguine. Perhaps he remembered an old rhyme that he had heard long ago about the Evil One, and which ran to the effect that when Satan was sick he would be a saint; but that the desire faded out of his mind as soon as he was well again.

By degrees the man told them his feet were beginning to hurt him. They persisted in their labors until Bluff decided that the rubbing had gone on long enough.

“And now, what’s the next question?” asked Jerry.

“If you are meaning to try for your home camp,” Nackerson told them, as a pleading expression came into his face, “I hope you’ll let me go along. Don’t desert me here. You might as soon have left me to the wolves as abandon me now.”

“Do you think you could manage to hobble along with us?” asked Bluff.

“Sure I can; watch and see how well I’m able to walk,” the sportsman hastened to say.

He did the best he could, and if his gait was uncertain, the outdoor chums knew that he would walk better after he had become limbered up.

Accordingly, they started, heading back along their trail, so as to come upon the spot where the horns of the big moose lay. Their intention to carry these all the way to the cabin had not changed.

It did not take long to separate the horns from the skull. They felt pretty heavy, once Jerry started to hoist the burden on his back.

“We’ll tote them as far as we can, anyhow,” Bluff declared, “and then if they get too heavy we will find some hiding place, where they will be safe till we come back after ’em.”

With this understanding, they pushed on. Nackerson was gritting his teeth and summoning all his grit to the fore, in order to keep his lower limbs moving. As Bluff had anticipated, he began to improve as he went along.

When an hour or two had passed and they knew they were far on the road toward home, the boys became more determined than ever to save the trophy. They wanted to see the look of astonishment on the faces of those in the camp when they came marching in.

That would be much more satisfactory than simply telling the story of the successful hunt, that had been followed by such stirring events.

First one boy assumed the load and after a certain time, when he found it was telling upon him, he would fix it upon the other’s back.

“We’re going to earn this thing twice over, you know,” grunted Bluff, after he had in turn disposed of it and Jerry was staggering along under the burden.

“Well, everything tastes all the better when you’ve had to go to a lot of trouble to get it,” the other chum replied, as he buckled to his task.

These spells were growing shorter, which told plainly enough that the boys were drawing closer to the point of exhaustion. Still they kept encouraging each other by remarking that it was only another mile or so now, because of a certain landmark they recognized, or something of that kind.

“Just think what the boys will say when they see us lugging these horns into camp!” Jerry observed, as well as he could, considering the fact that he was panting with the exertion his burden compelled him to put forth.

“And at seeing who we’ve got towing along behind us, too,” muttered Bluff; for to him the gathering in of Bill Nackerson in the way they had was more remarkable than any other happening that had befallen them.

“Every step counts,” added Jerry hopefully.

“Whenever you’re feeling tuckered out, don’t hesitate to say so,” Bluff told his chum, “and shove her right along this way. By making these changes frequently we’ll keep things going.”

“I don’t believe Bill can stagger along much farther,” whispered Jerry. “Perhaps you’d better offer to lend him a hand.”

All feeling of animosity toward the big sportsman had died out of their hearts by this time. He looked so forlorn as he limped along, trying to repress the groans welling to his lips, that they could only feel pity where once had been disgust and distrust. Bitterly had Bill Nackerson paid for his evil deeds. Both boys only hoped the lesson would be remembered.

Bluff insisted on giving the man a shoulder, and after that Bill seemed to get along better. He even brightened up some, and wondered if his feet could be saved to him, after all.

“Half a mile, about, and we’ll be there,” said Bluff, to bolster up their spirits.

Presently both boys began to recognize landmarks that had been noticed on previous occasions. Bluff brought these features of the landscape to the attention of his comrade.

“I want you to take the horns just when we come in sight of the cabin, Jerry,” he declared, with self-denial that the other appreciated.

“That’s mighty good of you,” Jerry said feelingly, “’specially since they belong just as much to you as to me. I’m not going to be greedy. I insist that from this place on we carry them between us.”

That pleased Bluff very much, for he liked to know he had a chum who could match his own generosity. So it happened that from that point forward they carried the horns of the giant moose between them, spread out in the most conspicuous way possible.

“There, I can see smoke coming up out of the chimney, which means there’s somebody home!” remarked Bluff suddenly.

“Yes, and, oh, Bluff, seems to me I can get a whiff of cooking away off here!” Jerry gasped. “I don’t think I was ever so hungry in my life. I hope they’ve cooked an extra supply, because here come three mighty savage fellows to dinner.”

“Ready now, to give a shout!” cried Bluff.

A minute later, at a signal from Bluff, the boys raised their lusty voices in a series of whoops that created no end of bustle within the cabin. The door was flung wide open to give egress to three excited boys. How they stared at those massive moose horns carried so proudly between the pair of successful Nimrods; but most of all were their wondering eyes fixed on the shuffling figure of Bill Nackerson, as he came limping dolefully in the rear!


“Wait, oh, wait up a minute, till I get my camera, and take a picture of you coming home like that!” called Will, as he darted back into the cabin.

He was out in a jiffy, and succeeded in getting them, to his complete satisfaction. As Will seemed a master hand at developing and printing all his pictures, it could be taken for granted that his work would do justice to the coming back to camp of the expedition in search of the giant moose of the Big Woods.

“Where did you run across Bill Nackerson, boys?” asked Frank, almost the first thing. “And what makes him limp and groan that way? Has he been shot?”

Of course it was up to Bluff and Jerry to explain.

“Before we try to give you the whole yarn, Frank,” said the former, “I want you to take a look at his feet. He got both of them badly frozen while sitting up in a tree most of last night with a pack of wolves jumping at him.”

“What’s that—wolves?” demanded Will, getting interested.

“Like this one that tried to break in through the back of our bough shelter, and that I nailed with a single shot.” And, saying this, Jerry spread out the skin before their admiring eyes.

“Well, I should say you fellows have been busy,” Frank remarked, smiling with pleasure; “but keep the story until I can be with you, please.”

With that he went over to where Bill Nackerson had dropped to the ground, and offered to assist the man into the cabin.

“One of my chums tells me you’ve been unlucky with your feet, and got them frosted a bit,” Frank said, in his pleasant way.

“Yes, that’s so, and I reckon I’m in a bad way,” Bill replied, with lines across his forehead. “They were mighty kind to me, and I’m sure ashamed of the way I’ve carried on while up here. It’s a lesson to me, I tell you.”

“Well, let me help you inside,” said Frank. “I’m something of an amateur doctor, and as I was born and raised here in Maine I know something about frostbites and what to do for them. It may be I can help you temporarily; though if it’s a bad case we must see Mr. Darrel, and have him get you down to a hospital.”

Frank saw the man cringe at mention of the lumberman’s name, and he knew the reason why.

Some time later Frank came out to where all the others were waiting, the dinner having been postponed. It could keep, but that wonderful story must be partly heard, at least.

“How about Bill?” asked Bluff. “Feet in pretty bad shape—eh, Frank?”

“That’s what they are, and I’m a little afraid he’s going to have lots of trouble with them yet,” the other responded. “I’ll take a run over to the lumber camp this afternoon. I want to see Mr. Darrel about several things, and will try to make arrangements to get Bill to town, some way or other. He ought to go to a hospital.”

“Will was just telling us that Teddy had owned up to you about hearing Nackerson threaten to set fire to Lumber Run Camp,” remarked Jerry.

“Yes,” Frank admitted, with a smile in the direction of the confused Teddy. “He had been bothered to know just what his duty was. You see, although Nackerson has treated him badly, still he is a relative, and blood is always thicker than water. Finally Teddy couldn’t keep in any longer, and he told us all about it. That was the main reason he ran away; he was getting afraid of Nackerson while the man drank so heavily.”

“And now, please tell us a little of all that happened to you fellows, before we go in to dinner,” pleaded Will.

“Make it as short as you can, Bluff,” said Jerry; “because, you see, none of us have had a bite since last night, and Bill’s gone even longer than that. I’m nearly as ravenous as those wolves were. Hit only the high places, Bluff.”

Bluff made short work of it, for he, too, was hungrier than he had been for many a day. After a rapid sketch of their numerous adventures had been given, Bluff declared he would say no more just then.

“The rest will keep until some time when we’re sitting around the fire and want something to help keep us awake,” he told them.

“Now let’s adjourn to the refreshment hall, where Teddy here has got a fine dinner all hot and ready waiting,” suggested Jerry.

Luckily there had been a double portion made ready, because Frank expected that when the two boys got in they would be almost famished.

“If you hadn’t shown up in another hour or so, Will and I intended to start out and try to find some trace of you,” he told the returned hunters.

“Yes,” added Will, “and I told Frank I wanted to be sure to carry my camera along, because the chances were we’d find that the old bull moose had treed you both, and it would make a cracking good picture!”

Later on Frank started for Lumber Run Camp. He took Will along, for the latter had been so wrapped up in taking pictures that he had not had much exercise of late.

They had no difficulty in reaching the lumber camp, and found Mr. Darrel there. He was deeply interested in all they had to tell him.

“Well, I’m glad to learn who it was tried to burn us out here,” he said. “And while he may not want to take the reward I’ll see that Teddy has it before spring. He’s a big husky boy, and I think if he’d like to stay up here with me, I could make a pretty fair lumberjack out of him.”

“How about Bill Nackerson, sir?” asked Frank. “He is in a bad way, and ought to be taken to a hospital at once or he may lose one or both feet. I’ve done all I could, but he needs special care and treatment.”

The lumberman frowned, and then his face cleared.

“After all, it isn’t best to hold resentment long,” he told Frank, who was more than pleased to hear him speak in that way. “That man is a rascal, I surely believe; but he’s down and out just now, and I can’t bear malice to a wretch whose feet are in such a bad way. Yes, I’ll see that he’s taken to town in a wagon that’s going to start early in the morning. It’ll be past your place an hour after sun-up. Have him ready to go. And I’ll forget all about his evil work. But he owes a heap to the outdoor chums.”

Frank and Will got back just as the shadows of night were gathering. When Bill Nackerson heard how forgiving the lumberman had proven, especially since he understood how the truth about the fire at Lumber Run Camp was known to Mr. Darrel, he shed tears. Frank hoped they were genuine, and not of the crocodile kind.

In the morning they saw the last of Bill Nackerson. The man asked Teddy to forgive his harshness, which the boy eagerly consented to do. Later on they learned that after great efforts Bill’s feet were saved, though he would very likely suffer with them every winter for years to come.

That afternoon two men came over to the cabin in which the boys were camped. They turned out to be Whalen and the other companion of Nackerson. It seemed that they had reached their cabin after a hard battle with the storm; and as Bill failed to show up, they were getting so worried they had come to ask the boys’ assistance in locating him.

When they heard what had happened, they were apparently relieved in mind, though professing to have had quite enough of their Maine outing. They parted from the boys, declaring it to be their intention to leave for civilization the first thing in the morning. This they probably did, for the chums saw nothing of them again.

The days came and went, until the time arrived for Frank and his friends to once more turn westward and head for Centerville, with school duties awaiting them.

They were all sitting at the breakfast table with their belongings packed waiting for the wagon to come which their good friend Mr. Darrel had insisted on sending over to carry them out of the woods, when Bluff started to say something.

Without paying any particular attention to what he was saying, he commenced:

“I sure reckon this outing is going to take the cake. It beats anything the outdoor chums have ever run up against before. Wait till I get a chance to tell it to that friend of mine, who was boasting so much what he had done the time he went into the woods with a fellow named Clarence Masterson.”

“I’m glad you have had a good time,” laughed Frank. “You and Jerry got your big moose horns; and now if only Will carries off the cash prize offered by the railroad companies for the best wild-animal life pictures taken by an amateur in the Maine wilderness, we’ll think our trip has been successful all around.”

It seemed as though success had set in their direction with a vengeance, for later on Will received notification that the pictures he had submitted in competition for the big prize had been unanimously selected. And really they were a fine lot; possibly ere this some of you have admired them as displayed in the recent folders of the enterprising railroads of the State of Maine.

Teddy said good-by to his new friends, and went back on the wagon, meaning to learn the ways of a lumberjack. He had good muscles, and promised to accomplish something in that line. The outdoor chums knew that in Mr. Darrel the boy would always find a sincere friend.

Once again at home, they could exhibit the trophies of their visit to the Big Woods with more or less pride and the wonderful pictures shown by Will to back up the story of their trials and triumphs added amazingly to the reality. We hope it may be our pleasing task later on to recount still further adventures that befell Frank Langdon and his three chums. Until that time, we must say good-by.




On Smuggler’s Island
The Treasure Cave
Mysterious Old House
In the Island Camp
And the Racing Motor
And Simon’s Mine

These stories will appeal to any boy who is imbued with “The Go Ahead” spirit. Whether on Smuggler’s Island, at Simon’s Mine or in The Treasure Cave, the boys have adventures that are as thrilling as they are unusual. The scene of each volume is laid in some beautiful and historic part of our country. This adds to the interest and value of the stories and makes them doubly attractive.

The Goldsmith Publishing Co.




The Musket Boys of Old Boston
The Musket Boys Under Washington
The Musket Boys on the Delaware

Stirring times were these—and stirring deeds made boys into men before their time.

Against the picturesque background of the revolutionary war, George A. Warren tells a tale of heroism and patriotism of the boys of long ago who heard the call of their country and rallied to the colors.

What trials of valor and responsibilities beyond their years comes to “The Musket Boys” is told in an enthralling manner.

The Goldsmith Publishing Co.


End of Project Gutenberg's The Outdoor Chums in the Big Woods, by Quincy Allen


***** This file should be named 42630-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Roger Frank and Sue Clark

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at

Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.

Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at

Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.
To donate, please visit:

Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.