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Title: The Golden Boys With the Lumber Jacks

Author: Levi Parker Wyman

Release Date: December 18, 2018 [EBook #58491]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Stephen Hutcheson and the Online Distributed
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The Golden Boys With the Lumber Jacks

It seemed as though the wind increased with every minute as they hurried through the thick woods. Page 69


By L. P. WYMAN, Ph.D.
Dean of Pennsylvania Military College

Author of
The Golden Boys and Their New Electric Cell,” “The Golden Boys at the Fortress,” “The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods,” “The Golden Boys on the River Drive.”

Series Logo, boys in motorboat

Publishers New York


A Series of Stories for Boys 12 to 16 Years of Age
By L. P. WYMAN, Ph.D.
Dean of the Pennsylvania Military College

The Golden Boys and Their New Electric Cell
The Golden Boys at the Fortress
The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods
The Golden Boys with the Lumber Jacks
The Golden Boys on the River Drive
The Golden Boys Rescued by Radio
The Golden Boys Along the River Allagash

Copyright, 1923
Made in “U. S. A.”


I. Snowbound 3
II. The Lost Deed 14
III. The Ghost 30
IV. The Ghost Has Its Picture Taken 42
V. Tom Lays the Ghost 57
VI. Coals of Fire 76
VII. Big Ben Makes a Call 92
VIII. On the Trail 109
IX. Jack Goes Fishing 130
X. Jacques Lamont 154
XI. Big Ben Falls Down Again 174
XII. Big Ben Decides That He Had Better Not 196
XIII. Jack Takes a Forced Walk 213
XIV. Jacques’ Secret. What is it? 231



The car, after hesitating several times as though undecided what to do next, finally came to an unmistakable stop. The rear wheels, although equipped with heavy chains, spun around for a moment and then they also stopped.

“Looks as though we’re stuck, Mike.”

The words came from a boy in the front seat, but they were lost to the driver in the roar of the wind as it drove the blinding snow against the windows of the sedan.

The speaker tried again.

“Looks as though we’re stuck, Mike.”

This time he shouted at the top of his voice and the driver turned his head.


“Stuck is right, begorra,” he shouted back. “Sure and it’s meself that’s been expecting it fer the last half hour, an’ how could ye expect inything on wheels to git through sich drifts, I dunno.”

“How about a shovel, Mike?”

The question came from a second boy in the back seat and it also was shouted with all the strength of a sound pair of lungs.

“Sure and I’ve got a shovel, do yez expect to dig all the way to Skowhegan?”

The two boys, Bob and Jack Golden, were on their way home from college for the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately they had missed the train which they should have taken at Boston, and the only other one for the day would take them as far as Waterville, nineteen miles from their home in Skowhegan. Rather than wait over a day, they had telegraphed to their father and he had sent his man, Mike, to meet them.

The snow had begun to fall soon after they left Portland and the storm had increased rapidly in violence until, when they reached Waterville, at ten o’clock, two hours late, it had reached the proportions of a blizzard. Mike had been dubious about starting, declaring that they would never make it, but the boys had laughed at his fears and, against his better judgment, he had yielded to them.


During the first hour they made seven miles, plowing through snow up to wheel hubs. And this brings us to the point where our story opens.

“I hope it won’t be so bad as that,” Bob said with a laugh, as he opened the door and stepped out into the storm. “Where’s the shovel, Mike?”

“Sure and it’s under the back sate,” Mike shouted, as he too got out of the car.

“Let’s have it quick, Jack,” Bob called, as he stuck his head in at the rear door. “It’s colder than Greenland out here.”

Jack quickly pulled the shovel from beneath the seat and handed it to his brother, who at once started making the snow fly.

“There,” he shouted to Mike, who had gotten back in the car, “Back up and hit her hard and I guess she’ll go through. Don’t think I ever saw the snow come down so fast,” he added, as he threw the shovel back in and climbed in beside Mike.

“I told you so,” he shouted joyfully, a moment later, as the big car plowed its way through the drift. “All it needs is a little elbow grease.”

But his joy was short lived for in less than a hundred rods they struck another drift and again the car came to a standstill.

“My turn this time,” Jack shouted, and was out almost as soon as the car stopped.


This drift was deeper than the first one and it took the boy all of fifteen minutes before he felt that there was a chance for the car to win through.

“We’ll strike Skowhegan some time next summer at this rate,” he laughed, as he stamped his feet on the running board.

As before, the car went through, but in less than a hundred feet they came to a halt for a third time.

“It’s no use,” Bob shouted, as the car came to a stop. “We’ll never get through to-night, that’s sure. Suppose you turn around, Mike?”

“What’s the use of trying?” Jack asked, before Mike had time to reply.

“We’d probably get stuck just as quick if we tried to go back. I move we stay here.”

“How about it, Mike? Got plenty of gas?” Bob asked.

“Filled her up in Waterville.”

“Then I think Jack’s suggestion is a good one. By running the engine once in a while we can keep plenty warm and they’ll probably break out the road early in the morning. What do you say Mike?”

“Sure an I gess yer right. If we can’t go ayther forninst nor behind I guess we’d better stand still.”

“That’s good logic anyhow,” Bob laughed, as he climbed over the back of the seat and joined his brother. “We’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug and there’s no danger of getting run into,” he added, as he curled up on the roomy seat and pulled a heavy robe over himself.


“Not much need of traffic cops on this road tonight,” Jack shouted from the other corner of the car.

Bob was just drifting off to sleep when, above the shriek of the wind he heard a cry which brought him sitting upright in an instant.

“Did you hear that, Jack?” he shouted. “Listen: there it is again.”


Again came the cry in piercing tones now plainly audible.

“Sounds like a girl,” Bob cried, as he pushed open the door and leaped out, closely followed by his brother.

Breathlessly they listened for the call to be repeated, but no sound save the howling of the wind came to them.

“Which way was it?” Jack asked, straining his ears.

“Haven’t the least idea,” Bob replied, as he waded around to the front of the car.

By this time Mike had joined them and, after listening a moment longer, Bob said:

“She must have given out. Mike, you hunt around to the right, and Jack you go back a bit and I’ll see what I can find up ahead here. It isn’t likely that she’s down by the river. If you find her yell,” he shouted as they started off.


The wind was still blowing a gale and the sharp particles of snow stung like so many needles as Bob faced into the storm. It was so dark that he could hardly see his hand before his face and the headlights were of little use as the car had stopped at an angle to the road. The snow came nearly to his waist as he plowed his way through.

“She can’t be very far off,” he thought, as he bent his head to the force of the wind. “I don’t believe you could hear a steam whistle a hundred feet away in this gale.”

He had not gone more than thirty feet from the car when his knee struck something and the next second he was bending over a form, which was nearly buried in the snow. Quickly he straightened up and, putting his hands to his mouth trumpet fashion, he gave a yell that would have done credit to a Comanche Indian.

As he again stooped and lifted the girl in his arms she gave a low moan which he barely caught.

“She’s not dead at any rate,” he muttered, as he endeavored to start toward the car. But, although the wind was now at his back, the snow was too deep and he was unable to take a step. But help was close at hand, as both Jack and Mike had heard his cry.


“Give her to me,” ordered the big Irishman, as he reached Bob’s side. “Now break trail an’ it’s meself that’ll take her back,” and he took the girl in his strong arms as though she were but a feather.

The boys kicked their way back, making a fairly decent path through the snow, and in a few minutes they had her in the car. Mike at once started the engine, as it was far from warm, while Bob wrapped her in a heavy robe and began to chafe her hands. The girl was not unconscious, as he could tell by the appearance of her eyes, but she seemed numbed with the cold.

Quickly the heat from the exhaust made itself felt and soon the rich color of health began to steal back into the pale cheeks. The chattering of her teeth gradually grew less and finally a faint smile lighted up her face.

“I hope—I won’t—shake—the car—to pieces,” she said, evidently trying hard to make her voice heard above the howling of the wind.

“I guess she’ll hold together: she’s had a lots bigger shaking up than this and came through all right,” Bob assured her with a laugh.

“My, but this—robe—feels good,” she declared. “It was so—cold out there—in the—snow, and—and I thought I was—a goner.”


In a short time she was recovered sufficiently to tell them her story. It seemed that she had spent the evening at a neighbor’s only a few rods from her home. She had started for home soon after eleven o’clock, never for a moment doubting her ability to find her way. But she had entirely underestimated the fury of the storm and bewildered by the blinding snow had lost the path. For nearly two hours she had stumbled about in the deep snow before Bob had found her.

She told them that her name was Mary Scott and that she was sure that she had not gone far from her home. She also informed them that she was twenty years old and was a school teacher. The boys in turn introduced themselves and Bob asked:

“Won’t your folks be out looking for you?”

“Not likely. You see,” she explained, “my father is a farmer and he goes to bed early and no doubt they were all fast asleep before ten o’clock, so you see they won’t miss me till morning.”

It was now nearly two o’clock and after some further talk they, one by one, capitulated to the sand man, all except Mike, who forced himself to keep awake in order to “kape up steam,” as he afterward told them.

Day had come when Bob, the first of the three to awake, opened his eyes. The storm had passed, although a high wind was still blowing, sending the light snow swirling in clouds about the car. But it had lost much of its savage force and no longer howled as it had during the night. His watch told him that it was just past seven o’clock.


“Some storm,” he said in a low voice to Mike who just then started the engine.

“I’ll say that same, begorra,” Mike declared. “Sure an’ it’s meself that niver seed a worser one except a few that were bigger.”

“That’s playing it safe all right,” Bob laughed, as he climbed over to the front seat. “Here comes some one,” he announced an instant later, as he saw the form of a man plowing his way through the snow toward the car.

He threw open the door as the man came up.

“Ain’t seed nothin’ of a gal, have ye?” he asked, and it was evident that he was much worried.

“Sure have,” Bob replied quickly. “Dug her out of the snow last night,” he added, and just then the girl spoke for herself.

“I’m all right Daddy, thanks to these folks.”

“Thank God for that,” the man breathed as he stepped into the car and hugged the girl to his breast. “You see when I got up this mornin’ an’ seed that you aren’t home I sposed that you had stayed all night at Lucy’s but ter make sartain, I ’phoned over an when Lucy said as how you had set out fer home last night I jest thought as how you’d be frizzed fer sartain. Yer mother’s nigh crazy, an’ I must hustle back an’ let her know that yer’re all right.”


He thanked them for what they had done, but the boys cut him short telling him how glad they were they had found her in time.

“My place’s the second one on the left, and you won’t have ter wait morn a few minutes afore Jeb Taylor comes along with the snow plow. He was jest gittin hitched up as I come by,” Mr. Scott explained, as he stood with one foot on the running board. “Gess ye’ll have ter move your car though so’es he can git by. Yer see Jeb he breaks out’s fur as the Waterville line an’ Josh Howland he goes up tother way’s fur as Hinkley. Josh he allays gits started afore Jeb an’ I low as how he’s half way up that by now. But I must hump back an’ let the missus know as how Mary’s all right. If ye’ll jest drop her off as yer go by it’ll save her gettin’ all over snow again.”

The boys assured him that they would be glad to do as he asked and after thanking them again he started back.

By great good luck the car had stopped at a place where, after a half hour’s work with the shovel, they were able to back the car out of the road.

“Here they come,” Jack shouted a moment later, and looking up the road they saw the snow plow, characteristic of Maine.


It was made of two huge logs fastened together in the shape of a V and drawn by eight yoke of oxen. A half dozen men and twice as many boys accompanied it, and the boys at least evidently considered it a great lark as their shouts of laughter attested.

After the plow had passed came the task of shoveling through the huge pile of snow heaped up by the roadside. But finally this was accomplished and they were off.

Mr. Scott was waiting for them as they reached the farm house, and insisted that they stop for breakfast, although to tell the truth, they did not need a great deal of urging.

“Mother’s got a big batch o’ buckwheat cakes and sassage all ready an I reckon as how ye’ll have an appetite as’ll about fit ’em,” he declared, as he led the way to the house.

They found Mrs. Scott a motherly woman who showered them with thanks, and the breakfast was all and more than the farmer had promised.

“I guess we’ll get home in time for Santa Claus at any rate,” said Bob.

It was several hours after they had said goodbye to their new friends, and they were still several miles from home. Three or four miles an hour was about the best they had been able to make, for they had been obliged to follow behind the slowly moving plow nearly all the way.


“We ought to make it by three o’clock,” Bob replied to Jack’s guess. But it was nearer four when finally they drove into the yard.

“We were about to send out a relief expedition for you,” Mr. Golden laughed, as he welcomed them home.


“Yes, it is a serious matter.”

It was two days after Christmas and Mr. Golden was talking to his two boys in the library.

“You see,” he continued, “there’s over four hundred acres of the finest timber in the state in that tract. I bought it of Amos Town just ten years ago, and he died about a year after. I had made all arrangements to cut on it this winter and you can imagine my surprise when, about a week ago, Ben Donahue came into my office and told me that he owned the tract. Said he had bought it of Town about a month before he died.”

“But how about your deed?” Bob interrupted.


“That’s the strange part of it,” Mr. Golden said. “Of course I went at once to the bank to get my deed from my deposit box but to my great surprise it was not there. Ben was with me when I opened the box, and from the expression on his face when I failed to find it, I was certain that he knew all the time that it was not there, but of course I couldn’t prove anything.”

“How about the records in the Register of Deeds’ office?” Bob asked.

“That’s another mystery. Of course that was my next move, but when we looked it up, no record of it could be found.”

“But you know that it was recorded don’t you?”

“Certainly; but unfortunately that doesn’t prove it. You see, while the pages in the deed books are numbered, they are of the loose leaf type; and my theory is that someone has substituted a leaf for the one on which that deed was recorded. Of course Ben’s deed is a forgery, but to prove it is another matter. I’ve gotten out an injunction to prevent his cutting on the tract this winter and he has done the same thing.”

“But how do you suppose the deed got out of your deposit box?” Jack asked.

“Haven’t the faintest idea,” Mr. Golden replied, pacing slowly up and down the room. “Well,” he added a moment later, “there’s no use worrying about it. Al is taking up a load of supplies tomorrow and I suppose you’re planning to go with him.”

“Sure thing,” both boys replied.


Ben Donahue, or Big Ben as he was known through the state, had for many years been one of the big lumber men of Somerset County. But, although he had operated on a large scale, it was a well known fact that he had never made much money, and several times he had narrowly escaped financial ruin. Physically a giant and a terrific driver of men, his lack of education, together with an inherent carelessness in the handling of his accounts, was undoubtedly the cause of his financial condition. Unscrupulous and hated by those who worked for him, nevertheless his tremendous vitality and dominant personality made him a powerful factor in the lumber interests of the county.

The stars were still shining when, the following morning, the two boys climbed aboard the big sled drawn by four horses and driven by Al Higgins. Al was a teamster of the old school. Seventy-five years old, he looked and acted as though not a day more than fifty. It was his proud boast that he had never been sick a day in his life and had never had a doctor.

“I reckon it be the Maine air,” was his uniform reply when asked for his secret of youthfulness.

It was a long two days’ trip to the lumber camp on Moosehead Lake, hence the early start. The mercury in the thermometer on the porch of the Golden home registered twenty-two degrees below zero as Al cracked his long whip over the ears of the leaders.


“Hurrah! We’re off at last,” Jack shouted, waving his hand to his father who stood on the porch. “I believe that thermometer’s got dropsy,” he laughed a few minutes later, as they drove across the bridge which spans the Kennebec in the center of the town. “Why, it was colder than this in Pennsylvania before we left and it never got below ten above.”

“It’s because the air is so dry here and so damp there,” Bob explained, as he pulled his cap down over his ears. “But you want to look out for your nose. Remember it hasn’t got any antifreeze in it.”

“Pooh, who’s afraid,” Jack jeered. “But this air sure is wonderful, isn’t it Al?”

“You sure said a mouthful: it’s the greatest air in the world,” the old driver said, as he turned off onto the lake road.

They had covered about three miles when the first streaks of the coming dawn tinged the east. Al had stopped the horses for a brief rest after a hard pull up a steep hill when Jack, who, leaning comfortably back against a bag of flour had fallen into a doze, was rudely awakened by a handful of snow dashed in his face followed by a vigorous rubbing of his nose.


“Hey there, what’s the idea?” he sputtered, as he tried to push the offending hand away.

“Sorry to disturb you old man, but your radiator was congealed,” Bob laughed as he continued the rubbing.

“I deny the allegation and can lick the alligator,” Jack gasped as he finally succeeded in freeing himself, but after he had carefully felt of the tip of his nose, he agreed that ‘the alligator’ had acted well within his rights.

Night was close at hand when they reached Kingsbury, the half way station where they were to stop at the little wayside hotel. It had been a long day and soon after supper was over the boys were in bed.

“Don’t believe I’ll have to be rocked to sleep tonight,” Jack declared, as he pulled the blankets up close under his chin.

Some time later Bob, who was a light sleeper, was awakened by the sound of voices in the next room. Two men were talking in low tones, but as only a thin partition separated the two rooms and the head of his bed as well as that in the other room was close up against it, he could hear them sufficiently well to be able to catch a word now and then. At first he paid but slight attention beyond wishing that they would keep still and let him go to sleep. But suddenly he became keenly alert as he heard one of them say in a tone louder than he had used before:


“I tell ye it’s risky.” And the other replied impatiently:

“Risky nothing. There ain’t a man round here that’d dare serve that injunction on me.”

“That’s Big Ben,” thought Bob, as he strained his ears, but now the two men were talking only in whispers and he was unable to catch any more of the conversation. “Guess Big Ben intends to cut on that tract, injunction or no injunction,” he thought as he drifted off to sleep again.

At four o’clock Al called the boys and they were soon on their journey again.

Daylight found them several miles nearer the lake and just as the town clock was striking twelve they pulled into Greenville, a small town at the foot of the lake. The camp was twenty miles up the lake, a little to the north of Lilly Bay.

Bob had told Jack what he had heard in the night and they both agreed that their father should know of it. So they went at once into the general store and soon had him on the long distance wire.

“Tell Tom to keep his eyes open and let me know if they start to cut,” Mr. Golden said, after Bob had told him what he had heard.


Tom Bean was the foreman of the camp and a great favorite with the boys, as indeed he was with nearly all who knew him. An Irishman, quick of temper but generous to a fault, and with a heart, as Jack often said, “as big as an ox,” he possessed the rare knack of getting the maximum amount of work from his men with the minimum amount of trouble. As one man put it, “one worked for Tom because he liked him!”

Dinner over, they started up the lake on the ice. A good road had been broken up the lake and they made excellent time, reaching their destination fully an hour before dark.

The camp comprised five buildings, all built of unpeeled logs. In the center of the clearing was the bunk house, a long low structure where the men slept. It was heated by two immense wood-burning stoves, while along both sides were the beds or bunks built up in tiers three high. Back of the bunk house was the cook and mess house, another structure of about the same size but divided into two sections. Two rough tables ran the entire length of the larger section, while the smaller was a kitchen or cook house as it was called. A little to the right of the bunk house was a small building which served as the office and sleeping quarters for the boss or any other visitors. Six men could be accommodated here very comfortably. The fourth building, just behind the office, was the tool house, and back of that a large shed for the horses. About sixty men were at work at the camp.


“Sure an’ yer a sight fer sore eyes so ye be,” was Tom Bean’s greeting as they jumped from the sled.

“And it’s mighty glad we are to see you again Tom,” and his words were echoed by Jack as they nearly shook his arms off. “And how’s things going?” Bob asked as they began to pull their dunnage from the sled.

“Sure an’ ’twas niver better. We’re bound ter make a record cut this winter if the luck holds out,” Tom declared. “But where do you want ter slape?” he asked, picking up one of their bags.

“In the bunk house of course,” both replied in the same breath.

“It’s meself that thought so.” The foreman grinned as he led the way.

As soon as Tom had assigned their bunks to them, the boys started out on a tour of inspection of the camp as they laughingly told Tom. Dusk was falling and the men by twos and threes were coming in from the forest. They were mostly French Canadians, or Kanucks, as they were commonly called. Big men, most of them, they looked as Jack declared “as hard as nails.”


The boys knew only two or three of the crew, as they were mostly new men that winter. They were dressed in much the same garb as were the workmen—a rough mackinaw coat, heavy khaki breeches, thick woolen stockings rolled just below the knees, and moccasins. It was characteristic of them that, “when in Rome they lived as did the Romans.”

They were back of the cook house and were about to return to the front of the camp, when two men came toward them from the deep woods. The men were talking earnestly together and paid no attention to the boys as they passed them. At that moment a small hunch-backed man came hurriedly out of the back door of the cook house carrying in his hands a pan of hot ashes. Accidentally he bumped into one of the men, spilling some of the ashes on his legs. With an oath the man gave him a cuff on the side of the head which sent him sprawling in the snow, the hot ashes flying over him.

“The big brute,” Bob cried loudly enough for the man to hear, as he sprang to the hunchback’s aid and pulled him to his feet.

“What that you say?” the man who had struck the blow demanded, as he came close to Bob who was brushing the ashes from the hunchback.

“I said you were a brute,” Bob replied, looking the man full in the eyes.


“You dare call me name, I mak’ you eet them word ver’ queek,” and before Bob had time to defend himself the Canadian swung an open handed blow which caught him on the side of the face and he too was sent reeling into a snowdrift.

Both of the men were laughing uproariously as he picked himself up.

“Suppose you try that again,” he said, as he stood once more in front of the man.

Surprise showed in the Canadian’s face. “You want more is et?” he asked, as he drew back his hand, this time closed into a knotty fist. “All right, I give you plenty dis time,” and he struck with his entire one hundred and eighty pounds behind the blow.

But this time Bob was on his guard and as the fist whizzed past his face he hit the man a stinging blow just beneath the ear, which jerked his head sideways but did not upset him. But it made him mad and he came for Bob, as Jack afterward declared, “like a bull for a red rag.”

“I keel you for dat,” he shouted, and from the look on his face Bob did not doubt but that he would do it if he was able.


“You’ll have to spell able first,” he said as he dodged a vicious swing and succeeded in landing again this time on the Canadian’s nose. The blow started the blood to flowing and as Bob had hoped, rendered him insane with fury. If he knew anything of the science of boxing, he threw his knowledge to the winds as he again rushed, his fists beating the air like flails.

The Canadian was several inches taller than Bob and at least thirty pounds heavier and the boy well knew that he was no match for him so far as mere strength went, and that a blow from one of those fists, delivered in the right place, would put an end to the struggle in short order. But through long practice he was a splendid boxer and he did not intend to allow that blow to land. By this time a number of the men, attracted by the cries of the Canadian, had come up and were watching the seemingly unequal contest with great interest.

As his antagonist rushed forward, Bob slowly gave way, protecting himself from the hammering blows as well as he was able. To be sure some of them hit him, but they were only glancing blows, thanks to his agility, and did no great amount of damage. He knew that at the rate he was going the man would soon wear himself out and he was watching for the first indication of weakening. But swinging an axe day after day, makes muscles which do not easily tire and there seemed no limit to the man’s endurance.

“You no stan’ up and fight like man,” he panted as he missed a particularly vicious swing.


“This suits me all right,” Bob grinned. “You started this you know.”

At this moment Tom Bean came running up.

“Cut it out there, you Jean,” he shouted, as soon as he was near enough to see who it was with whom he was fighting. As he spoke he sprang forward but Jack caught hold of his arm and dragged him back.

“Let them alone,” he begged.

“But that’s Jean Larue,” Tom gasped. “He’s the bully of the camp and as strong as an ox. He’ll kill the bye.”

“Don’t you believe it,” Jack returned. “Look there!”

Tom looked and could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the bully of the camp, as he had named him, stretched out at full length in the snow.

Bob had at last gotten his chance and had landed full on his opponent’s chin. But the blow, although delivered with all his strength, lacked something of the force which he was able to put behind his right hand punch, owing to the insecure footing offered by the snow, and the bully, although down, was far from being out. He sprang quickly to his feet but to Bob’s disappointment did not rush at him again. He had learned the futility of that kind of fighting in the present instance and now he circled warily around Bob seeking an opening.


It was growing dark rapidly now and becoming more and more difficult to follow each other’s movements. Suddenly the Canadian sprang forward and aimed a blow at Bob’s head which he barely dodged. But the force of the blow carried the man slightly off his balance and before he had time to recover Bob had again landed on the point of the chin. Again the bully went down and all the men shouted encouragement to Bob. It was evident that the Canadian was not popular among his fellows.


This time he did not get to his feet so quickly as before and when he did it was evident that he was somewhat dazed. And now Bob decided that the time had come for him to force the fighting. So, as the man got to his feet, he sprang forward and aimed another blow for the chin. But he slipped just as he struck and before he could recover himself the Canadian had him around the waist. Bob realized that there could be but one outcome to this kind of fighting unless he finished it in short order. To his joy he quickly discovered that the man knew nothing of scientific wrestling, and in a moment he had a half nelson about his neck and exerting all his strength he threw him completely over his head. The man gave vent to a heavy grunt as he struck the snow and undoubtedly he was at that moment the most surprised man in seven counties. Once more anger got the best of him and, springing to his feet, he came at Bob with much the same tactics with which he had started the fight. This was what Bob had hoped for and after defending himself for a moment the right chance came. This time he happened to have an excellent foothold and the blow was not lacking in full power. Square on the man’s chin it landed and he dropped like a log, and this time he did not get up.

“Sure an’ yer’er one broth of a bye,” Tom Bean shouted, as he rushed forward and grabbed the panting boy in his arms. “Are yez sure ye’re not hurt?” he asked anxiously.

“I guess I’ll need a piece of beef steak on this eye, but I think that’s about all the damage. But he’s sure got an ugly punch when it lands. The only thing that saved me is that it didn’t land often,” and Bob grinned as he took Tom’s arm.

As the bully went down for the last time a loud cheer went up from the crowd, which now included practically the entire camp. No one went to his assistance until Tom said:

“Hey you, Jim and Pete, rub some snow on his face and git him into the bunk house. Sure an’ he’ll be all right in a jiffy.”


“Sure an’ he had it coming to him all right,” Tom declared, after Jack had told him how the fight started. “It’s hisself as is a mean one an’ he’s bullied the hull camp, but begorra, his bullying days are over, for onest a bully is licked an’ he’s done. But don’t fergit lad, ye’ve made an inemy and ye want ter kape yer eyes peeled mighty sharp so ye does.”

But if he had made an enemy of Jean Larue he had also made a friend of Jakie Semper, the hunchback. Jakie was what is known as “cook’s helper.” He washed dishes, kept the cook house clean, waited on the table, and did a thousand and one other things about the place. His unfailing good nature and readiness to grant favors made him a general favorite about the camp. After the fight he regarded Bob almost with reverence and would have become his willing slave had he permitted it. Although his body was deformed, the boys soon learned that his mind was, as Jack put it, “as bright as a new dollar.”

As the two boys entered the mess house a half hour later, they were greeted with a ringing cheer, and many hearty slaps on the back proved to Bob that his victory was most popular with the crew. The boys had asked Tom not to tell anyone that their father owned the camp, as they wished to associate with the men on as nearly an equal footing as possible. To be sure two or three of the crew knew them, as they had been in their father’s employ for some years, but at the boys’ request Tom had “put them wise.”


After supper the boys accompanied Tom to the office where they told him about the disputed tract and what Bob had heard in the hotel the night before.

“Just where is that tract, Tom?” Bob asked when he had finished.

“’Tis jest below us, an’ ’tis sure the crame of the pickings up here.”

“And where is Big Ben’s camp?”

“Jest forninst the big tract, aboot three miles down the lake.”

“How big a camp is it?” was Bob’s next question.

“About the same as this,” Tom replied, as he filled his pipe.

“You said everything was going fine, didn’t you?” Bob asked, after a short pause during which Tom got his pipe drawing to his satisfaction.

“Sure I said thot same, an’ so it is up to the presint, but I dunno,” and the foreman had a worried look about his eyes which Bob was quick to notice.

“What do you mean, Tom?” he asked anxiously, for he knew that Tom did not worry about trifles.

Tom Bean did not reply for some time and then, as Bob repeated his question, he told them a strange tale.



“’Tis this way,” the foreman began, as he shifted his pipe to the other side of his mouth. “Yer father has a contract to deliver four million fate of spruce to The Great Northern Star Company in Waterville, on or before the twentieth of nixt May. We got a good crew here an’ kin do the job all right if things go well; but ’tis a man’s size job let me tell ye and if the logs ain’t thar on the dot the contract’s busted.”

“But that’s not what’s worrying you,” Bob declared as Tom paused. “Come out with it. Where’s the fly in the ointment?”

“Sure an’ it’s no fly at all at all: it’s a ghost, that’s what it is,” and Bob’s laugh died on his lips as he noted the serious look on the foreman’s face.

“What do you mean, ghost?” Jack broke in as Tom paused. “There ain’t no such animal,” he laughed.

“Mebbe not: I dunno, but I saw it meself.”

“When was it you saw it?” Bob asked.


“Jest last night right on the edge of the woods out thar.”

“Did anyone else see it?”

“Only old Ike, and I bribed him to kape it to hisself. Of course I spect it’s a trick of Big Ben to scare our men away. He knows how super—super, hang it all, what’s thot word?”

“You mean superstitious,” Bob supplied.

“Thot’s it, and if the men git a notion this camp’s haunted, it’s likely they’ll all up and git.”

“But why should Big Ben want to scare off our men?” Jack asked. “Hasn’t he got enough of his own?”

“’Tis not thot at all at all, but he bid against yer father on thot contract an’ lost out so I spect he wants him ter lose it. Sure an’ ’tis jest like him.”

“What time was it when this ghost made its appearance?” Bob asked.

“Sure an’ ’twas jest after supper, but, thank goodness, only me and Ike had come out of the mess house. I made a dash fer it, but the blamed thing jest up and vanished afore I got half way to it.”

“What did it look like?”

“Sure an’ it looked ter be about eight fate tall an’ was all white an’ fire streaming from its two eyes. It sure was a sight all right all right, so it was.”


“But it didn’t come tonight did it?” Jack asked.

“Not yet, an’ I been kaping me eyes on the winder thar. Yer can see the place where it was from here. We’ll kape an eye open an’ watch fer a bit and mebby we’ll see it.”

But, although they watched until after nine o’clock, the ghost did not put in an appearance.

“Sure an’ it’s of no use to watch iny longer,” Tom said, as he knocked the ashes from his pipe. “Unless it’s a rale ghost he knows as how all the byes are in bed by this time.”

Neither of the boys slept much that night. It was not worry that kept them awake, however. It was a far more tangible cause. In short it was snoring on the part of many of the crew. The snoring varied in tone, as Jack declared the next morning, “all the way from low A to high C.” But as they had had the same experience a number of times before, they knew that they would soon get used to it.

Jean Larue had not been at supper the night of the fight, but he was on hand for breakfast the next morning, apparently none the worse for his beating. He had, however, a decidedly downcast look, as though he realized, as no doubt he did, that the day of his authority over his mates was past.


“If looks could kill, you’d be a dead man,” Jack whispered to Bob as they took their seats at the long table. “That Larue is certainly looking daggers at you.”

“Just so he doesn’t do anything except look I should worry,” Bob grinned, as he helped himself to a couple of shredded wheat biscuits.

The camp was situated about a hundred rods from the lake and, at the time, they were felling the spruce some two hundred rods north of the camp. It was a sight which they never tired of, watching to see the mighty monarchs of the woods yield little by little at first to the axe and saw, and then, with a terrific crash, fall to earth. Then would come the trimming off of the branches and sawing into the proper length, after which the logs would be rolled onto the low but exceedingly strong sleds and drawn by a span of horses to the lake. There they were piled on the shore as closely as possible to the water and were ready to be towed across the lake by steamers to the Kennebec River as soon as the ice broke up in the spring. Formerly axes were used exclusively in felling the trees, but lately large cross cut saws have to a large extent superseded them. At the Golden camp the men were allowed to use either as they desired.

As Jean Larue was passing the office that morning on his way to the cuttings, Tom Bean called him in, and after he had closed the door, said not unkindly:


“Jean, that boy licked you last night in a fair fight as ye well know, and mind now, I don’t want to be after hearing of him gettin’ hurted by accident, so to speak, cause if I do it’s meself thot’ll make ye prove yer innocence. Mind now.”

Jean stood in sulky silence while the boss was speaking, and as he finished turned on his heel and left the room.

“Sure an’ it’s him thot’s the ugly brute,” the foreman muttered, shaking his head.

The boys spent the day with the men getting acquainted, and by night they were calling a good part of them by their first names and they were Bob and Jack to them all. It had not been an idle day for them by any means, as they had worked nearly as hard as any of the men, although they had not exerted themselves for fear of lamed muscles.

“We’ve just got to lay that ghost if he shows up again,” Bob declared, as they were trudging back in the rapidly falling dusk. “He’s apt to stampede the whole works if the men once get a look at him. Of course it’s a put up job of Big Ben’s but we’ve got to catch him with the goods in order to prove anything.”

That night Tom Bean and the two boys again watched the window of the office but when nine o’clock came no ghost had appeared.


“I guess either he’s a periodic ghost and we haven’t got on to his periods or else he got discouraged after his first appearance,” Bob declared as he stifled a yawn.

“I don’t think a ten-inch gun would keep me awake tonight let alone a few snores,” Jack declared as they were walking slowly back to the bunk house.

Jack’s guess went for both of them, for they fell asleep almost as soon as they struck their beds and neither woke until the cook blew the rising horn at six o’clock.

After breakfast was over and most of the men had left the mess room, Tom motioned to the boys to follow him to the office.

“I’m goin’ ter take a look through thot tract and I thought mebby ye’d keer to go along,” he said, as soon as he had closed the door.

“We sure would,” both boys eagerly accepted the invitation.

“All right thin: we’ll wait a bit till the men have gone to their work. I don’t want them to know thot there’s inything in the air. Nothin’ hinders the work so much as to have them fellers git an idea into their heads thot something’s goin’ ter happen.”


It was nearly eight o’clock before Tom announced that it was time to start. It was a bitter cold morning. “Twenty-eight below,” Jack declared as he looked at the thermometer hanging just outside the office door.

“Jest wait till it gits down to forty an thin ye kin say as how it’s cold round the edges,” and the boys laughed as Tom stood before them fanning himself vigorously with his cap.

“It’s a wonder you don’t take off your mackinaw and go in your shirt sleeves, Tom,” Jack laughed as he stooped to fasten the thongs of his snow-shoes.

The dry snow creaked as they started off. The snow in the woods was about two feet deep and as it was light their snow-shoes sank several inches making what Tom called, “heavy goin’.”

“It was right here thot I saw thot critter the ither night,” he announced as he paused on the edge of the clearing.

“Did you look for tracks?” Bob asked.

“Sure an’ thot would have bin of no use. Yer see there’s a spring about a hundred fate in the woods an the byes go thar fer water so the snow was all tracked up here,” Tom explained as they started on again.

Two or three inches of light snow had fallen during the early part of the night so that no tracks were visible as they pushed their way through the dense forest.


“Thot tract starts right here,” Tom announced a few minutes later as he stepped and pointed to a big spruce, in the trunk of which a deep gash had been cut. “Thot cut marks the northwest boundry. ‘Ain’t it a crame of a patch?’”

The boys readily agreed with him as they gazed in rapt admiration at the mighty spruces which, growing closely together, reached up, straight as an arrow, to a lofty height.

“It’s the finest bit of spruce I iver saw an thot’s sayin’ sumpin’. An’ there’s four hundred acres of it jest like thot,” he added as he again led the way.

“How far from the tract is Ben’s camp?” Bob asked as they trudged along.

“Not morn fifty rods, but he’s cuttin’ on the ither side of his camp. He’s got some mighty good timber thar too, but it’s not like this,” Tom replied.

They made nearly a complete circuit of the four hundred acre tract but found no evidence of any cutting nor did they meet anyone. They got back to camp just in time for dinner, with, as Jack declared, “some appetite.” The afternoon was spent with the crew and when quitting time came they both were, as Bob declared, “dead tired.”

They had nearly finished supper, when, suddenly the door of the mess house burst open and a Frenchman by the name of Devaux, stumbled into the room. His face was bloodless and he was shaking so that he could hardly stand.


“Der devil, I see him!” he gasped hoarsely, as he leaned for support against one of the bunks.

Several of the men sprang to their feet and crowded around him, all of them asking him questions at the same time. Bob threw a quick glance at Tom and he answered with a slow shake of the head.

“Out der by der woods,” they heard the frightened man reply to the questions which were being hurled at him, and the men made a rush for the door.

Tom and the boys followed as quickly as possible, and as soon as they were outside, looked eagerly toward the place which Tom had pointed out to them that morning. But nothing unusual greeted their eyes. There was no ghost visible.

“That Devaux, he drink too much der hooch,” Bob heard one of the men say as they trooped back into the building.

They found Devaux somewhat recovered but the man was still trembling.

Tom went up to him and took hold of his arm. “Looky here, son, you been boozing.” It was an accusation and not a question, and the Frenchman immediately straightened up.

“That one beeg lie,” he said firmly.


That settled the matter in Tom’s mind in so far as the drinking was concerned. No man in the outfit would dare to call Tom Bean a liar unless he had a mighty good reason for it, and Tom was well aware of the fact.

“You smell breath, you no believe,” the man insisted.

“No, Devaux, yer word’s all I want. If ye say as how ye ain’t touched any hooch, sure an’ thot settles it, but,” and he drew him to one side so that no one should hear, “take me advice an’ kape it ter yerself about what yer thought yer sawed,” and as Devaux nodded his head in silent assent, he left the room, motioning for the boys to follow him.

“He saw it all right,” Tom declared, as soon as they were by themselves in the office. “But the byes won’t take much stock in it I gess, seeing as how Devaux is a kind of a joke with ’em, but, byes, we got ter git busy an’ put a stop ter thot thing or there’ll be the dickins ter pay.”

“Let’s go see if we can find any tracks,” Jack proposed.

“Sure an’ we’ll do thot same, but we’d best wait till after the men are aslape. ’Twon’t do ter let ’em know thot we’re taking iny stock in what the lad said.”

The boys were quick to see the wisdom of his statement and so they waited until ten o’clock, Jack deeply immersed in a book and the other two playing checkers, a game of which they were both very fond.


“I gess ’tis safe enough now,” Tom declared, as the clock on the wall struck the hour.

There was no moon, but the night was clear and the stars, aided by the whiteness of the snow, gave enough light for them to see some distance ahead as they made their way to the place where Tom had seen the “ghost” three nights before. Somewhat to their surprise they found the snow unbroken save for the tracks which they themselves had made that morning.

“’Tis mighty strange, so it is.” Tom Bean rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he stood facing the two boys. “Do yer spose there might be sich a thing after all?” he asked slowly.

“Tom, you surprise me,” Bob replied. “Of course there isn’t.”

“Well, I dunno, but will yez tell me how inything made of flesh an’ blood could git here an’ lave no tracks at all at all?”

“That’s what we’ve got to find out, and I have an idea. Come back to the office and I’ll tell you what it is.” And Bob started to lead the way back.

“It’s like this,” he began, as soon as they were once more seated in front of the hot stove. “I’m going to try and get a picture of that thing, whatever it is. You can’t photograph a ghost you know,” turning with a smile to Tom, “and if I can do it it’ll settle that part of it anyway.”


“I get you,” Jack spoke up. “And right now’s the time to fix it up. You see, the show’s over for the night and there’ll be no one hanging around, so let’s get busy.”

Among the other things which they had brought with them was a good camera and a supply of flashlight cartridges. The latter for taking pictures of animals at night. Tom seemed rather skeptical but offered no objection as they set about putting their plan into execution. It took them until nearly half past eleven o’clock before they had things arranged to their liking, but when that time came the camera was hidden in a nearby tree in such a way that, although not likely to be discovered, the lens had a good view of the space where the “ghost” was scheduled to appear. Wires hidden beneath the snow ran to the office and were so arranged that, when connection was made, the current from six dry cells would set off the flash powder and at the same time open the lens.

“There now, I’m going to watch here every night till something happens,” Bob declared, as he finished connecting up the cells.


It was nearly twelve o’clock when they turned in but in spite of the lateness of the hour it was long before Bob slept. He well knew how much depended on the success of his plan. If anything should happen to cause a stampede among the men it would mean the loss of the contract as it would be practically impossible to get others to take their places this late in the season. As he lay thinking the matter over, he suddenly raised himself on one elbow and listened.


Through the stillness of the night came a cry. At first Bob thought it was a wildcat, but, as it was repeated a moment later, he knew that he was mistaken. No animal with which he was acquainted ever made a sound like that. Beginning in a low note, which sounded like the rumble of distant thunder, it rose in pitch as it increased in volume until its shrillness seemed to reach almost to the breaking point, then it slowly died away in a wail indescribable in its weirdness.


“What in the name of goodness can it be,” he thought as he listened. Soon it came again and now it sounded nearer. A slight sound of the movement of bodies in the bunks told Bob that he was not the only one who was listening, and a shudder of fear permeated him. Not fear caused by the cry itself, but fear of the effect it would have on the men. None knew better than he the fickle nature of those men, brought up as they had been, on the lore of ghostly legends of the north country.

Six times the cry was repeated and each time it seemed nearer, and now he knew that a good part of the men were awake, although none of them had gotten out of his bunk, fearing probably that he would be called a coward by someone. There is nothing which these hardy woodsmen so hate as a taint of cowardice, and many a one has gone to his death rather than refuse a dare.

For a long time Bob lay in his bunk and listened, but after the sixth time the cry was not repeated, and finally the cessation of the sound of movements in the various bunks told him that most if not all of the men had fallen asleep again.

“Did you hear it?” Jack whispered to Bob, as they were dressing the next morning.

“Sure, but don’t say a word to anyone,” Bob cautioned. “We’ll talk it over with Tom later when we’re alone.”


No mention of the matter was made at breakfast table, but both boys were quick to sense an air of uneasiness among the men, and later, as he caught the eye of the foreman, the latter shook his head as much as to say that he feared the outcome. All that day Bob and Jack worked with the men, felling the great spruces, but although they tried hard to joke and laugh as usual with them, the Frenchmen, almost to a man, lacked that joyous spontaneity of spirit so characteristic of them when everything was to their liking.

They had had no opportunity for more than a word with Tom Bean, as he had left, immediately after breakfast, for Greenville. He was back, however, when they returned to camp, as dusk was beginning to fall; and, standing in the doorway of the office, he motioned for them to join him.

“Byes,” he began, as soon as he had closed the door, “how did the men act the day?”

“As though they were much worried,” Bob replied. “They didn’t talk about it even among themselves as far as I could see, but I know that some of them at least are scared, although they are trying hard not to show it. I reckon that howling last night on top of Devaux’s yarn has got their goat.”

“Sure an’ it’s meself thot’s afraid so,” and Tom rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Sumpin’s got ter be done and mighty sudd’n too or we’ll lose men thot’s sartin sure.”

At that moment a loud knock sounded on the door.

“Come in,” the foreman shouted.


The door opened and a giant by the name of Baptist Goulet, followed by two others, entered the office. It was at once apparent that the men were ill at ease as they stood just inside the doorway holding their caps in nervous fingers and keeping their eyes on the floor.

“Well, what is it, Baptist?” Tom asked, after he had waited for the man to speak.

Even then the spokesman, Baptist, hesitated. “We—we lak our time,” he stammered.

Tom Bean showed no surprise. It was what he had expected, though not quite so soon.

“Ye mane yer want to quit?” he asked.

“Oui, we queet,” the man said, and the others nodded assent.

“What’s wrong?” the foreman demanded. “Grub no good?”

“Grub, she ver’ bon.”

“Work too hard? Wages too small?”

Again the man shook his head.

“Work no hard, pay, she ver’ bon, but camp, she got haunt. Devaux, him see it. We hear eet las’ night. Stay here mebby all die ver’ queek.”

As the man finished speaking Tom burst out in violent laughter, though it was evident to the boys that he was forcing it.


“Sure an’ it’s three old wimin ye are, to be scared away from a good job by a bit of noise. Thar’s no haunt here at all an’ we’re goin’ ter prove it. Now listen ter me. I’m a goin’ ter make a spache tonight at suppertime, an’ if yer want yer time after thot come ter me an’ ye’ll git it.”

“It’s mighty plain thot idjet of a Devaux’s bin talking,” he said as soon as the men had left the office. “Sure an’ it’s a wonder ter me thot more of ’em didn’t come. I’ve got ter make the spache of me life tonight or thar’ll be doin’s afore morning, I’m thinkin’.”

The most of the men had finished their supper when Tom Bean rose from his seat at the head of the table and pounded on his plate with his knife. Instantly the talking stopped and he began:

“Men, thar’s bein’ some doin’s round the camp thot I know well is gettin’ under some o’ yer hides. I know that Devaux saw sumpin last night cause I saw it a few night ago, but it wasn’t no ghost. It’s jest somebody tryin’ ter scare ye away,” and he told them all about the contract which Mr. Golden had and how Big Ben Donahue was trying to prevent him from completing it.

“How you know dat no ghost, by gar?” Baptist asked from his seat near the farther end of the table.

The foreman laughed. “Did yez iver hear of inyone takin’ a picture of a ghost?” he asked, looking about the table.

Evidently no one had, and after a moment’s pause he continued:


“Well, thin, thot’s jest what these boys are a goin’ ter do. They’ve rigged up a picture machine an’ the nixt time thot ghost comes round it’ll git its picture took, an’ thot’ll prove thot it ain’t no ghost at all. Fer why? Because first thar ain’t no sech animal, an’ second because if there was he’d not show in a picture, cause he rally ain’t thar at all at all.”

As he finished it was evident that, although the men were not entirely convinced, they were at least somewhat easier in their minds.

“But we hear cry of haunt las’ nicht, by gar,” declared a little Frenchman who sat at Tom’s right. “What you tink of heem, heh?” and without waiting for an answer to the question, he went on. “I hear day cry many years ago way up north an’ een less’n week ten men die, oui, by gar, they all die, they didn’t go ver’ queek.”

“We’ll find out who’s makin’ thot noise all right,” he answered somewhat evasively; then as he saw that they did not seem to respond to his words, he added, “Jest ye lave thot to me an’ the byes here an’ if we don’t put a end to it the nixt time it starts, sure an’ ye kin all have yer time an’ welcome.”

“Begorra, an’ I had ter make it strong,” Tom told the boys as soon as they were back in the office. “An’ now it’s up ter us ter make good, but it’s meself thot dunno how it’s ter be did.”


“We’ll have to find some way, but just now I’m hoping that his ghostship will show up to night.” Bob had hardly spoken when Jack grabbed him by the arm.

“There it is! Look quick!” he whispered, pointing out of the window. “It’s no wonder that Devaux was scared to death.”

In the dim light of the stars a most grewsome apparition appeared to be executing some kind of a dance in the spot where Tom had first seen it. Not less than seven feet tall the body, which was but dimly visible, was surmounted by an immense head which stood out more distinctly than the rest of the object. It closely resembled a human skull, and the large cavities which served as eyes glowed with a bright phosphorescent light. Not for an instant was it still, and its long arms waved up and down as it danced, while every now and then it would leap several feet into the air.

“It’s a peach all right,” Bob declared, as he touched together two pieces of wire.

Instantly there was a blinding flash just back of the “ghost.”

“Come on now, make it snappy!” Bob shouted, as he sprang for the door.

Tom and Jack followed on his heels but, quick as they were, every vestige of the “ghost” had vanished by the time they were outside.


“Sure an’ what do yez know about thot?” Tom asked a moment later, as they searched in vain for tracks all about the place where the apparition had appeared.

“Well, I’ll bet we’ve got a good picture anyhow,” Bob said as he took the camera from its hiding place. “I’ll warrant his ghostship wasn’t quick enough to fool the lens.”

By this time most of the men were out in the clearing, having seen the flash. They were standing in groups talking excitedly but in low tones. Baptist met Bob as he carried the camera back to the office, where he had all arrangements made for quickly developing the plate.

“You no geet dat ghost, heh?” he asked.

“No, but you bet I’ve got his picture here,” Bob assured him. “You just wait ten minutes and I’ll show it to you,” and followed by Jack he rushed into the office while the foreman remained outside talking with some of the men.

“If we didn’t hit it it’s all over but the shouting,” Bob declared as he dipped the film into the hypo solution.

“I guess you’re right there, they’d never wait to give us another chance,” Jack agreed as he anxiously watched the film.


“Hurrah! We’ve got it all right,” he shouted a moment later, as Bob held the film up for inspection, “and it’s a dandy too.”

Without waiting for it to dry, they rushed out and in another moment were displaying the result of their effort to Tom and Baptist, who, at the moment, happened to be talking together.

“Oui, by gar, you geet heem all reichte,” the latter declared as he held up the film for others to see.

The picture went far in restoring the confidence of the crew, but Tom and the boys well knew that the remembrance of that weird cry in the night had by no means left their minds.

It was some two hours later when Tom and the boys were once more in the office discussing the situation. They had passed the interval with the men in the bunk house trying to get them in better spirits. Bob had taken out his guitar and led them in singing as he often did, but it was easy to see that the hearts of the men were not in the songs. There was still a strain and the very air of the room seemed laden with uncertainty. Earlier than usual the men began, one by one, to slip into their bunks and by eight-thirty only a half dozen were sitting about the stoves. Earlier in the evening Tom had made another short speech in which he told them that in case they heard the cry again they were not to be alarmed.


“Me an’ the byes are sure a goin’ ter find out what made it afore mornin’ and don’t yer fergit it,” he assured them.

He would have called for volunteers but he well knew that, although anyone of them would risk his life for a much less reason against any physical danger, it would be next to impossible to persuade them to go far from the bunk house that night.

“Now it’s up to us,” Bob declared, as he thrust a stick into the stove and drew up his chair.

“Ye’re right me lad,” Tom agreed, as he too sat down. “Sure an’ ye got a fine picture of the ghost but yer can’t take a picture of a yell so ye can’t, bad luck to it.”

For a few minutes there was silence, each being busy with his own thoughts. Then suddenly Bob stood up and, turning his back to Jack, said:

“Jack, will you kindly kick me good and hard where you think it will do the most good?”

“What’s the main idea?” Jack asked in a surprised tone.

“The main idea,” Bob replied, quickly turning around, “is that I’m all kinds of a doughhead. Here I’ve been racking my brains, or rather the place where they ought to be, for hours trying to figure out how the ghost got there without leaving any tracks, and it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”


“Hum—mighty complimentary to Tom and me. Suppose you elucidate, my dear Holmes,” and Jack looked at his brother as though daring him to do his worst.

“I can show you better than I can tell you,” Bob said, as he grabbed up his cap and took a flashlight from the desk. “Come on,” he called, as he threw open the door, and they lost no time in following him.

At either side of the place where the “ghost” had appeared was a large spruce tree. As they reached the spot Bob did not hesitate but, giving a leap, was quickly among the branches of the tree to the right.

“Come up here both of you,” he called a minute later, throwing the light from his flash down to them.

Quickly Tom and Jack joined him, about fifteen feet from the ground.

“Now do you see?” he asked, throwing the rays about him.

In many places twigs had been broken from the branches, evidence that someone had been there before them.

“And look at this,” Bob continued, pointing to a piece of string which had caught on a branch. “And here’s a piece of cloth which tore off when he pulled the ghost in,” he declared, picking a bit of white cheese cloth from where it had caught on a broken stub. “Do you know that fellow must have been hiding right here all the time we were hunting round down there.”


“Be jabbers, an’ yer right all right,” Tom declared, as he stared at the evidence.

“But how did he get away?” Jack asked, as though certain that he had him stuck at last.

“That wasn’t hard,” Bob replied. “He just waited here till we had all gone back and then he crept along that limb to the next tree. You can see that he could do it all right. Then he dropped into that thick clump of bushes there and made off. I’ll bet we’ll find his tracks there all right, you see if we don’t.”

Bob was right, for when they had climbed down and gone around to the other side of the bushes there were tracks a plenty.

“And to think that we never thought of looking here,” Jack groaned as he gazed at footprints.

“You see he had that thing on a string which was tied to that tree opposite and all he had to do to make it dance was to pull on the string a bit and a harder pull would make it bounce up higher in the air. Then all he had to do when he wanted it to disappear was to give a yank and break the string near the other tree and pull it in. Of course he had phosphorus smeared on the eyes,” he explained, as they made their way slowly back to the office.


“What time was it when that howling began last night,” Tom asked as he replenished the fire.

“Just eleven o’clock,” Bob replied. “I looked at my watch just before I heard it.”

“Thin it’s mor’n likely it’ll begin about the same time ternight.”

“I suppose so. What’s your plan, Tom?”

“Well now,” and Tom rubbed his chin reflectively. “’Tis not aisy ter tell the direction of a noise like that in the night, but I’m a thinkin’ it came from the south all right an’ it warn’t mor’n about a half a mile away when it started, so I don’t see iny other way but for us ter go out thar in the woods an’ jest wait an’ trust ter luck. It’s prutty cold an’ it ain’t a goin’ ter be no picnic, but I gess we’ll have ter be after doin’ it.”

“I guess you’re right,” Bob agreed as he pulled out the checker board and began to arrange the men.

They played until the clock told them that it was half-past ten and then Tom announced that it was time to start.

It was ten below and although the stars gave a faint light in the clearing, as soon as they were among the trees it was so dark that they could hardly see a dozen feet ahead. They did not of course dare to use their flashlights, for fear that the man would be scared off and they did not want to have to repeat the experience. There was no wind and no sound, save the slight creaking of the snow beneath their snow-shoes, to break the stillness of the night.


“Don’t you think we’ve gone about far enough?” Bob whispered. “It’s ten minutes to eleven.”

“I gess so, but we’ll have ter kape moving about ter kape from frazing,” Tom replied as he vigorously swung his arms about his body.

“Freezing is right,” repeated Jack, as he too began to swing his arms. “It’s cold enough to freeze the hair off a bald man’s head.”

“Sis-s-h,” Bob cautioned. “It’s so dark that fellow might be within a few feet of us without us seeing him, and if he hears us talking we’ll likely have this job to do all over again.”

For some minutes after that no one spoke. They kept moving about but did not separate more than a few feet from each other.

“It’s about time for the concert to begin,” Bob declared as he stepped close to Jack. “It’s five minutes past eleven.”

“I should think——” Jack began, but stopped suddenly as a low sighing sound as if the wind was rustling the leaves of the trees came to their ears.

“Listen, I guess it’s begun,” Bob declared as he turned his head slightly.


Rapidly the sound increased in volume and in pitch, and in spite of himself a shudder ran through his body.

“He’s a peach all right, whoever he is,” Jack whispered.

“Sure an’ he’s right over to the right of us an’ not mor’n three hundred fate away,” Tom declared as the cry ceased. “Follow me now and make it aisy,” he ordered as he swung off to the right, closely followed by the two boys.

They had gone but a few feet when the cry began again, and now it was considerable nearer.

“He’s a comin’ this way,” Tom whispered, as he stopped in his tracks. “Get behin’ thot big tree an’ we’ll wait fer him.”

“It doesn’t seem possible that a sound like that could come from human lips,” Bob whispered, as they waited. “I don’t wonder that the man thought it was the devil. There he goes again,” as for the third time the weird notes ran through the stillness of the night.

“And he’s getting pretty close too,” Jack whispered, as he tried to pierce the darkness with his eyes.


Probably five minutes elapsed before the cry came again, and they were beginning to fear that the man had given it up for the night. But suddenly it began again and now it was so near that they were certain only a few feet separated them. Bob was about to whisper to Tom, who was crouching directly in front of him, when the Irishman, without warning, let out a yell that so far as volume was concerned, at least rivaled the other’s cry. At the instant he sprang forward and before the boys could recover from their surprise he was swallowed up by the darkness.


Tom Bean’s eyes, more used to the darkness than those of the boys, had seen a dim form about ten feet away and his impetuosity had brought forth the yell and then he knew that not a moment was to be lost. The “devil” breaking off his cry like the snapping of a twig, gave one look and fled. But his nemesis was close on his heels and as the toe of one of Tom’s snow-shoes came down on his heel, he pitched forward sprawling in the deep snow. Instantly Tom was upon him, and when the boys caught up to them all that they could see was a writhing mass of arms, snow-shoes and legs as the two rolled over and over in the snow. It was so dark they were unable to tell who was who and they could do nothing except stand by and watch, but they had little doubt as to the outcome. But as the minutes passed and so far as they were able to see neither had gained any advantage over the other, they began to fear that at last Tom had met his match.


“We’ll have to get into it,” Bob declared, as he stepped close to the struggling mass.

But at that moment the thrashing about ceased and one of the men lifted his head. But which one was it who was on top? Bob held his breath as he leaned forward.

“Now kape quiet or I’ll be after chocking the life out of yez,” and both boys gave a glad shout as they recognized Tom’s voice:

“Sure an’ he’s a tough nut all right,” the latter declared, as he, panting for breath, got to his feet.

The other man evidently having lost all desire for fighting, lay still in the snow.

“Up wid yez,” Tom ordered, as he seized him by the collar and slowly dragged him to his feet.

“Now ye dirty skunk what yer got ter say fer yerself?” he demanded, as he picked up his cap and beat it against his leg to knock off the snow.

The man made no reply and Tom, rapidly losing his patience, grabbed him by the arm and pulled him around.


“Ain’t ye got no tongue?” he demanded. “Ye sure was makin’ good use of it a minute ago,” he added; and then, as the man still remained silent, he again took hold of his arm. “All right, mebby the kitty’s got yer tongue. Now ye come along wid us an’ mind yer no funny business.”

But the man hung back. “Non, me no go,” he muttered.

“Now by the saints, but ye will go and mighty quick too, or I won’t lave enough o’ ye to make a good meal fer a wolf.”

But still the man refused to move. “Me go back camp. Me ver’ seek.”

“Sick is it?” the Irishman shouted, his patience now entirely gone. “Well, here’s sumpin to make yer sicker,” and he struck the man a heavy blow on the point of the chin.

He dropped to the snow like a log and lay still.

“Bad luck ter him,” Tom said, as he looked down at the fallen man. “Sure an’ I hated ter do it, but ’tis the only language they kin understand, so it is.”

A handful of snow rubbed in his face quickly brought him to, and with a groan he opened his eyes.

“Me go,” he muttered.

“Sure an’ it’s meself as knowed thot all the time,” Tom laughed, as he dragged the man to his feet.

Fortunately none of the snow-shoes had been broken in the fight and after waiting a few minutes for the man to recover his wind they started back. No word was spoken until they reached the clearing.


“Now take off yer snow-shoes,” Tom ordered, and as soon as the order was obeyed he led the way back to the bunk house.

Most of the men were awake, some of them sitting on the edge of their bunks, while others were gathered about the stoves talking excitedly.

“Here’s yer howling spook,” Tom shouted, as he pushed open the door and pulled the frightened man inside.

For an instant all was still as the men turned their heads to see who had spoken, then as they recognized the boss, a glad shout went up. After a moment Tom held up his hand and the shouting quickly died down.

“Now tell ’em you made thot yelling,” he ordered, turning to his captive. “Spake,” he thundered, as the man remained silent, “or I’ll be after giving ye another taste o’ this,” and he shook his huge fist in the man’s face.

A sight of that fist was all that was needed to loosen that man’s tongue.

“Me mak’ der noise,” he said, in a tone trembling with fear but loud enough for all to hear.

“Come on, we feex heem,” one Frenchman shouted, and a number sprang forward but Tom waved them back.


“No, byes, sure an’ he’s had enough, an’ besides he’s only a tool,” and, taking the man by the arm he quickly pushed him out the door and closed it behind him, after Bob and Jack had followed him.

“Now ye listen ter me,” he began, as soon as they reached the edge of the clearing where they had left their snow-shoes. “Go back ter yer camp an’ tell Big Ben thot if he tries iny more of his funny business we’ll be after trying some too an’ don’t yer fergit it.”

The Frenchman said nothing, but after fastening his snow-shoes slunk off through the woods and was almost immediately lost to sight.

“I guess that’s the last of the spook business,” Bob said thoughtfully, as they made their way back to the bunk house.

“Perhaps, but he’ll try something else. Big Ben doesn’t give up so easily,” Jack declared, and subsequent events proved that he was right.

The “ghost” having been laid, as Jack put it, the boys were glad the next morning to note that the men had fully recovered their spirits. Snatches of song interspersed with frequent shouts of laughter rang through the forest, as ax and saw bit into the great trees.

“They’re sure a happy lot when there’s nothing on their minds,” Jack declared, as he buried the blade of his ax in the trunk of a particularly large spruce.


“If it’ll only last,” Bob returned, sitting down on a log for a moment’s rest.

Somewhat to their surprise Jean Larue had not left the camp after his fight with Bob. The lot of a dethroned bully in a lumber camp is not an enviable one. Once lost, his power can seldom be regained.

“Kape yer eyes on thot Larue,” Tom had cautioned Bob only that morning. “He wouldn’t be after staying on here after thot batin’ ye gave him if he wan’t up ter sumpin.”

“Oh, I guess he’s all right,” Bob had replied easily.

But now, as from his seat on the log he glanced across the space from which the trees had been cut, and saw the Frenchman staring at him, a look of fierce hatred in his eyes, the foreman’s warning returned to his mind.

“Guess I had better look out for that fellow,” he thought, as he slipped from the log and attacked a large spruce. “He certainly has it in for me if he ever gets the chance.”

When at noon time the loud blast of the dinner horn rang through the woods, Bob had nearly finished the felling of an extra large spruce. Fearing that if he left it as it was the rising wind would blow it over in the wrong direction, he decided to finish it before leaving.


“You trot along and I’ll be with you by the time you get to eating,” he said to Jack who had just finished trimming a tree.

“Well, make it snappy,” Jack replied, as he followed the last of the men leaving Bob making the forest ring with the sound of his blows.

He had almost finished and the big spruce was beginning to totter when, just as he drew back his ax for what he thought would be the final stroke, he felt rather than heard something whiz past his head. Quickly he glanced up and there, sticking in the trunk of the tree upon which he was at work was an ax minus its helve. A cold chill ran down his spine as he realized how narrowly it had missed him. A quick glance behind him revealed Jean Larue, standing about twenty feet away, and holding in his hand a helve minus an ax.

Immediately the Frenchman came forward and Bob could see that he was shaking, but whether with fear or anger, he was uncertain.

“Head fly off ax. Wedge, she work loose, come out,” and he held out the helve for Bob to examine.

“So I see,” Bob replied, as he took the helve in his hand. “But how is it that you haven’t gone to dinner with the rest of the men?”

“I feenesh trim tree first,” he replied uneasily. “I ver’ glad ax no heet boy,” he added as he pulled it from the trunk.


“Thanks, so am I,” Bob returned dryly, as he struck the final blow which sent the tree crashing to the earth.

“You no tink I do eet purpose, heh?” Jean asked as he nervously shoved the helve back into the ax.

“We’ll let it go at that,” Bob evaded the question. “But please see to it that nothing like that happens again,” he added as he started for the camp. “We don’t want it to get to be a habit, you know.”

“I drive wedge in ver’ hard thes time,” Jean promised, as he fell in behind Bob.

“You go ahead,” Bob ordered, stepping to one side.

The Frenchman hesitated a moment, seemed about to speak, then changed his mind, and without a word struck off at a rapid gait toward the camp.

“That was a little too close for comfort,” Bob thought as he followed a few feet behind. “Of course it was no accident, but I hardly think he’ll dare try it again, but it’s dead certain that I’ve got to keep a sharp lookout or he’ll try something else. If he’d hit me I imagine he had it all planned to light out, but when he missed he knew that he’d give himself away if he did, so he decided to face it out.”


By the time his thoughts had reached this point he had struck the camp and making a hasty toilet was soon at Jack’s side eating with, as he told his brother, “a regular Maine woods appetite.”

“Did you get the tree down?” Jack asked between mouthfuls.

“Sure did, and if she don’t scale 800 feet I miss my guess,” Bob replied, helping himself to a big dish of baked beans.

“Didn’t I see you coming in with Larue?” Jack asked a moment later.

“Yes, he waited to trim a tree.” Bob had made up his mind to say nothing even to Jack about the “accident,” knowing that it would only worry him.

“That’s a funny thing for Jean to do. Whence his sudden inclination to extreme industry?” and the boy glanced suspiciously at the Frenchman who was shoveling food into his mouth near the other end of the table.

Bob made no reply and after a moment Jack declared:

“If I’d known he was hanging behind you bet I’d have waited. I don’t like it a little bit.”


The next day was Sunday and the boys had planned to spend the day with an old Indian friend of theirs who lived alone in a little log cabin about eight miles farther up the lake. The Indian’s name was Kernertok, meaning, “he is black,” and, as told in a previous volume, the boys had on two occasions saved his life. Naturally he was intensely fond of them and they in turn thought that there was no one quite like Kernertok. The Indian had taught them much of woodcraft of which he was a master and the boys never tired of listening to his stories of the far north where he had spent his younger days.

It was a beautiful day, clear and cold as they set off soon after daybreak. Their way led up the lake for about seven miles, then in through the thick forest for a trifle over a mile. The snow was fairly well packed and their snow-shoes sank but slightly making easy going.

“My, but it’s great to be alive,” Jack declared, breathing in deep breaths of the spruce laden air.

“Particularly up here in the Maine woods,” Bob agreed.

“You said a mouthful,” Jack laughed, as he stopped to tighten the thong of one of his shoes. “I don’t believe there’s another place in the world that’s so fine. Just taste that air.”

They were out on the lake some distance from the shore which, at this point curved sharply inward, as the traveling was much easier than through the woods.

“There’s the old cabin,” Bob said, after they had made about three miles. “Had we better go in and see if everything is all right?”


The cabin referred to was one belonging to their father and in, or rather, about which, they spent the most of their time in summer.

“Guess we might as well,” Jack replied. “It won’t take but a few minutes and we’ve got plenty of time. You got the key?”

“I think so, but wait a minute and I’ll see. Yes, here it is,” as he pulled it from his pocket.

They headed in and in a few minutes were on the porch of the cabin where they removed their snow-shoes.

“My, but it seems colder in here than outside,” Jack declared, as he stepped inside. “We’ll have to come up some Saturday before we go back and stay over Sunday. What do you say?”

“I say yes. We can keep a good fire going in the fireplace and I guess we won’t have any trouble to keep warm.”

“Let’s make it next Saturday, then.”

“Righto, next Saturday it is,” Bob agreed.

It was just nine o’clock when they reached Kernertok’s cabin. They found the old Indian washing his breakfast dishes and they knew that he was overjoyed to see them, although his stoical nature made it impossible for him to be demonstrative.

“Injun very glad see white boys,” he said as he took both their hands.

“And you bet we’re tickled to death to see you,” Jack declared, and Bob’s greeting was no less warm.


At the sound of their voices a large collie dragged himself from beneath a bunk at one side of the room, and the way he jumped at the boys striving to lick their faces gave abundant evidence that the dog also was overjoyed.

“Good old Sicum,” Jack declared, stroking the dog’s head. “You haven’t forgotten us, have you boy?” and a sharp bark of delight said as plainly as words that he had not.

Bob had always insisted that no one could cook like Kernertok, although Jack would never agree that he could beat his brother when it came to baking biscuits. However the dinner to which they sat down a few hours later, consisting of trout caught through the ice the day before, and hot biscuits, to say nothing of the baked potatoes and apple pie, left little to be desired.

It was shortly after three o’clock when Bob, glancing out of the little window, first noticed that the sun was no longer visible.

“Guess we’d better be beating it back,” he announced, as he stepped to the door and threw it open. “Looks as though it might storm before night,” he said a moment later, as he came back into the room.

At the words Kernertok knocked the ashes from his pipe and went to the door.


“How about it, Kernertok?” Bob asked, as he came back.

“Look heap like storm. White boys better hurry unless stay all night,” the Indian replied, as he threw more wood on the fire.

“I wish we could, but Tom’ll be worried if we don’t get back so I guess we’d better go,” and they started pulling on their mackinaws.

A brisk wind was blowing as they fastened on their snow-shoes and bade their old friend goodbye, after they had made him promise them that he would meet them the following Saturday afternoon at the cabin and spend the week end.

“And don’t forget to bring Sicum,” Jack called back as they waved the old man goodbye.

“That wind’s coming from the northeast and unless I miss my guess we’re in for some snow before we get very far,” Bob prophesied as he cast an anxious glance at the sky.

“Shouldn’t wonder,” Jack agreed. “But we’ll have it at our back as soon as we get out on the lake.”

It seemed as though the wind increased with every minute as they hurried through the thick woods, and before they were half way to the lake a few stray flakes began to sift their way down through the trees.


“We’re going to get it all right. Think we’d better go back?” Bob asked, as a strong blast of wind tore its way through the forest.

“Nix on the going back stuff, as I’ve often heard you say,” Jack replied with a light laugh. “Who’s afraid of a little snow? We’ll make it all right.”

By the time they had reached the lake the storm had set in in earnest and the snowflakes, driven here and there by the gusts of wind, were coming down with ever increasing rapidity.

“It’s lucky we got the wind at our backs, I’d sure hate to have to face it very far,” Jack said as they started down the lake. “This is going to be a corker,” he added a few minutes later, as driving snow began to blot out the shore of the lake.

The walking rapidly grew harder as the freshly fallen snow increased in depth, and before they had covered a mile their shoes were sinking several inches at each step.

“My, hear that wind howl. It’s enough to blow the hair off a bald man’s head,” Jack declared as he pulled his cap down farther over his ears. “I sure pity anyone who’s coming up the lake tonight,” he added.

“They’d need it,” Bob agreed. “I don’t think I ever saw it snow so fast. I’ll bet it’s making an inch in five minutes. We don’t want to get too far from the shore, and I think we’d better turn in a bit. If we lose sight of it and the wind should change, we could get lost as easy as falling off a log.”


They were hardly twenty feet from the shore at the time, but so thick was the falling snow that it was barely visible and they at once took Bob’s advice and it was not long before they realized the wisdom of the move. Almost in a moment it seemed the wind shifted and like sharp particles of ice the snow was being driven against the side of their faces.

“You spoke just in the nick of time,” Jack shouted, as he turned his head to the storm. “Hope it don’t reverse entirely,” he added a moment later.

By this time the going was very heavy and it is doubtful if they were making much over a mile an hour. Snow-shoeing on well packed snow through the surface of which the shoe barely breaks is one thing and an expert can travel at a rapid pace. But when the snow is light and newly fallen and the shoes sink deep and at every step the wearer has to lift, not only the shoe but the snow which falls upon it, the conditions are vastly different and progress is very slow. The feet feel as though loaded with lead and each step advances the traveler but a few inches.

Darkness was coming rapidly as Jack, who at the moment was in the lead, stopped and turned around.

“How far do you think we’ve come?” he asked.


“Pretty hard to say,” Bob replied, as he glanced at his watch. “It was four o’clock when we struck the lake and it’s a quarter past five now. I’d say not over two miles or two miles and a half at the most. We’ve been creeping for the last half hour.”

“And I’m mighty tired already,” Jack said, as he turned his back to the wind. “I sure wish we’d accepted Kernertok’s invitation and waited till morning.”

“Yes, it would have been better,” Bob agreed, “but we must be pretty near half way down so I suppose we might as well keep on as turn back.”

“Who said anything about turning back?” Jack laughed. “I’m worth a dozen dead men, so come on.”

“On it is,” Bob shouted, “but it’s my turn to break trail,” and before Jack could object he had pushed ahead of him. “It seems as though the snow keeps coming down faster and faster all the time,” he declared as he started off.

“Yes, and wouldn’t I like to get hold of that fellow that wrote the poem about the beautiful snow,” Jack growled, as he fell in close behind.

For another hour they struggled on without a word being spoken. They both knew that they needed to husband all their strength, and talking so as to be heard above a Maine blizzard, takes breath. It was now so dark that although he was scarcely six feet behind, it was all Jack could do to see the form of his brother.


“We’ll never make it,” Bob declared, as he stopped and waited for Jack to come close. “But, thank goodness, we must be nearly to the cabin and we’ll stop there.”

At the words Jack let out a wild yell of joy. “And to think that I never thought of the cabin,” he said, adding: “If we can only find it.”

“All we’ve got to do is to follow down close to the shore till we bump into the wharf,” Bob said cheerfully, as he started off once more. “Here we are,” he shouted ten minutes later, and soon they were removing their snow-shoes on the porch of the cabin.

“I don’t believe I could have held out much longer,” Jack panted, as he followed Bob inside.

“I don’t feel exactly rested myself,” Bob laughed. “Now if you’ll get the fireplace going I’ll do the same by the range and we’ll soon have the molecules in here dancing about a little more lively.”

There was plenty of wood piled under cover just back of the cabin and soon the range was roaring and the fireplace, as Jack declared, was doing its best to hold up its end.

“That heat sure does feel good,” the latter remarked, as he held out his hands to the cheerful warmth.


The cabin was well stocked with provisions and it was not long before supper was on the table and never did a meal taste better.

“This sure beats plugging through that storm out there,” Bob declared, as he listened to the howling of the wind which showed no signs of abatement.

By the time they had the dishes washed and put away the living room was good and warm and, drawing their chairs up in front of the fireplace, they were soon deeply interested in the books which they had chosen from the well-filled bookcase.

Outside the wind still howled and drove the flying snow against the windows with fierce energy, but inside the cabin was warm and cozy. They had been reading for the better part of two hours, stopping only to replenish the fire as the logs burned away, leaving a thick bed of glowing embers.

“I say, Bob, who is the funniest writer you know of?” Jack asked, looking up from his book.

“James Whitcomb Riley,” Bob replied after a moment’s thought. “Why?”

“Oh, nothing, only you’re wrong. He was funny all right, but you see the man who wrote this poem Snow Bound, which I’ve been reading, was ‘Whittier.’”


Bob caught up a sofa cushion and was about to hurl it at his brother, when suddenly he paused, holding the cushion in the air.

“Listen,” he cried.

Slowly the hand holding the cushion dropped to his side and both strained their ears.

“What was it?” Jack asked, after a moment’s pause.

“I thought I heard a cry,” Bob replied, still listening. “But I guess I was mistaken,” he added, as he picked up his book from the floor where it had fallen.

But he had hardly started reading again when he sprang to his feet and, rushing to the door, flung it wide open.

“There, I knew I heard something,” he shouted, as a faint but distinct cry reached their ears above the wail of the storm.

“Help, help.”

The last time the call was barely audible and although they listened intently it was not repeated.



“There’s someone out there sure’s you’re alive,” Bob shouted as he closed the door. “Come on, we’ve got to make it snappy,” he said, as he began to pull on his moccasins.

“Who in the world can it be?” Jack asked, as he donned his mackinaw and pulled his cap well down over his ears.

In another moment they were fastening their snow-shoes on their feet on the porch.

“I believe it’s worse than when we came in if such a thing is possible,” Jack declared, shouting at the top of his voice, in order to make himself heard, as they started toward the lake.

And such seemed to be the case. It was impossible to see more than a half dozen feet ahead and the rays from their flashlights availed but little against the thick cloud of falling snow. Every few steps they paused to listen, but not a sound save the roar of the wind and the creaking of the trees as they bent their lofty tops to the strength of the blasts, came to their ears.


“He must have given out,” Bob shouted, as they paused again at the end of the wharf, “and unless we find him mighty quick he’ll be buried.”

“Well, we can only do our best,” Jack shouted back, as he plunged forward, sinking nearly to his knees in the light snow, despite his snow-shoes.

Until they were out on the lake, facing into the storm, they had not realized the full strength of the wind; but here, where it had a clear sweep, they were hardly able to stand against it. But bending low, they crept on inch by inch, the beating particles of snow stinging their faces like so many needles.

“It’s worse than looking for a needle in a hay stack,” Jack yelled as they again stopped to listen. “But,” he added, “he can’t be very far away or we’d never have heard him.”

“I believe we’re out far enough,” Bob declared a few minutes later. “He could hardly have been farther away than this. Suppose you circle round to the right and I’ll do the same to the left. Yell if you find anything,” he shouted, as he started off at right angles to the course they had been pursuing.

It was perhaps ten minutes later that he was brought to a sudden stop by the sound of his brother’s voice faintly piercing the storm.

“Oh, Bob, I’ve found him.”

“I’m a coming,” he shouted, retracing his steps as rapidly as possible.


“Keep calling,” he added, bending his head to avoid so far as possible the stinging snow.

Facing directly into the storm it seemed to the boy that he would never reach his brother, but at last he caught sight of him less than a dozen feet ahead. Jack was on his knees in the snow holding a man’s head close against his breast.

“He’s pretty far gone, I’m afraid,” he shouted, as Bob plowed his way to his side. “He was entirely covered with the snow and I’d never have found him if I hadn’t stepped on him,” he explained.

“It’s no wonder he gave out,” Bob declared a moment later, as he took hold of the man’s feet and pulled them out of the snow. “One of his snow-shoes has given out and his foot has gone clean through it. But we must get a move on and get him to the cabin, if we can,” he added doubtfully.

It was indeed a task to test the endurance of the strongest. The man was large and heavy, but with a prayer on their lips, they did not hesitate. Quickly removing the man’s snow-shoes, Bob fastened them together by their thongs and slung them on his back.


“You take his feet and I’ll lead,” he ordered, as he got his right arm under his shoulder pit. It was all he could do to straighten up under the load, but he managed it and they started. How they made it neither could tell; but, as Bob afterward declared, God must have given them the strength necessary. Foot by foot they plowed through the deep snow, sinking far down at every step, and obliged to stop to rest every few minutes.

If the task was difficult while they were still on the lake, it was doubly so when they reached the shore. The cabin sat on a sharp rise about a hundred feet from the lake, and it took them all of half an hour to make that short distance. It was literally inch by inch that they struggled on, praying that their strength would hold. Not once since they started had the man given the slightest indication of life, and the thought that he might even now be dead was discouraging. But, as Jack had declared when they had started out, they had done their best and they could leave the rest in the hands of God.


Finally, when their endurance seemed at the breaking point, they struggled onto the porch, and with what seemed his last ounce of strength, Bob pushed open the door not waiting to remove his snow-shoes. A good fire still burned in the fireplace and dragging the heavy body onto the bear skin directly in front of it, they quickly removed their snow-shoes, after which they stood for some moments leaning against the sides of the mantle exposing their half-numbed bodies to the grateful heat. But they both realized that this was a time when minutes might well mean the difference between life and death, and as soon as the first sign of returning strength began to flow back into their tired bodies, they sat to work.

“If you’ll make some strong coffee, Jack, I’ll be getting the blankets warm,” Bob said, as he started up the stairs. He returned almost immediately, his arms full of thick woolen blankets which he draped over the backs of chairs as near the fire as he dared.

“I suppose whiskey or brandy is what he ought to have,” he thought, “but we haven’t got any of either and I guess coffee is the next best thing.”

The form on the bear skin was lying face down and now Bob turned him over and, unbuttoning the heavy mackinaw, he placed his ear on his chest. For a moment he could detect no signs of life, but just as he was about to give up, he moved his head a trifle and his quick ear caught the faint sound of heart beats.

“Thank God, he’s alive,” he breathed as he lifted his head and for the time glanced at the man’s face. “Why, it’s Jean Larue,” he gasped in surprise. “If that don’t beat the Dutch,” and he hurriedly ran to the kitchen to tell Jack.


“Well of all things, to think of an old stager like that getting lost up here where he has lived all his life,” Jack declared as he poured out a cup of very black coffee.

“It was probably that broken snow-shoe,” Bob said, adding: “Anyhow he’s alive and we must get him into bed as soon as we can.”

It was the work of but a minute to strip off the man’s outer clothes and wrapping him in the blankets now thoroughly warmed, they lifted him to a large couch, which they pulled as close to the fire as they could.

“Now let’s see if we can get some of that coffee into him,” Bob said.

It was slow work but by dint of much perseverance they managed to get a few spoonsful of the liquid down his throat.

“Better see if his hands or feet are frozen,” Jack suggested, as he pulled off one of his moccasins. “I guess they’re all right,” he announced a moment later, as he dropped the other one to the floor. “How about his hands?”

“They’re all right. I think it’s more exhaustion than cold,” Bob declared. “I don’t believe you could freeze one of those Kanucks anyway,” he added as he raised the man’s head again and told Jack to see if he could get some more of the hot coffee down him. “His heart is getting stronger,” he announced a moment later, “and he seems to be breathing quite easily now. He’ll be all right before long, see if he isn’t.” And his prediction was correct, for in a few minutes the man gave vent to a long moan and slowly opened his eyes.


“Drink this,” Bob ordered, as he raised his head and held the cup to his lips.

“I go Heaven, oui?” the man whispered faintly, as Bob laid his head back after he had swallowed nearly a cupful of coffee.

“Not exactly,” Bob laughed. “You’re still on the earth but you had a pretty narrow call all right. Now you’d better not talk any just now. Just rest and we’ll get you something to eat.”

In a few minutes Bob had ready a steaming bowl of oatmeal gruel which the man ate greedily and strength seemed to almost rush back into his body as the hot food warmed his stomach.

“Now you go to sleep,” Bob ordered, when the last of the gruel had disappeared. And it was not many minutes before his deep breathing indicated that he had obeyed the order.

“He’ll be all right now if he don’t get pneumonia, and I don’t think that’s likely,” Bob said as he laid his hand on the man’s forehead. “He hasn’t a speck of fever so far.”

It was now after eleven o’clock and they decided that it would be safe to go to bed as Jean would probably sleep for a long time if undisturbed.


“I’ll hear him if he wakes up,” Bob assured his brother, as they threw themselves in the bed in the little bedroom which opened out of the living room. “It’s lucky we’ve got plenty of blankets,” he muttered sleepily, as he pulled them up around his neck.

During the night the storm blew itself out and when soon after eight o’clock Bob opened his eyes, the sun was shining in at the window. Jack still slept on and he got out of bed carefully so as not to waken him. A good bed of coals still glowed in the fireplace, and soon he had a roaring fire sending a shower of sparks up the broad chimney. The crackling of the fire woke Jean, and when Bob returned to the living room after starting a fire in the cook stove, he was sitting up.

“How you feel?” he asked.

“Feel ver’ goot, but ver’ hungry,” was the reply, as he got to his feet.

“Well, we’ll remedy that last symptom in short order,” Bob laughed as he threw some more wood on the fire.

Jack did not waken until breakfast was on the table, then he came from the bedroom with a sheepish look on his face.

“Why didn’t you let a fellow sleep all day?” he demanded.

“It’s all right, old man. You needed it and there was nothing you could do,” Bob assured him, giving him a good hug.


It was evident that Jean had nearly recovered his strength and would soon be as good as ever.

“It takes a lot to kill one of those fellows,” Bob whispered to Jack as they were washing the dishes.

With a few strips of rawhide which Bob found, Jean soon had the broken snow-shoe repaired temporarily and by eleven o’clock they were ready to start for the camp.

“But you haven’t told us how you came to get lost,” Bob said as he pulled on his mackinaw.

“I go Nor’East Carry yes’day mornin’. Come back, she ver’ hard goin’, geet ver’ tired, then shoe she bust, no can mak’ mooch go. See light in here, then yell, then no more,” Jean explained in his broken English. “You save life, me ver’ mooch tank, no ought. Me no goot, trow ax on purpose, ver’ sorry now. You no forgive, non?”

“Surest thing you know, old man. Forget it. We’ll be great friends from now on. How about it?” and Bob held out his hand, a kindly smile on his face.


The Frenchman had held his eyes steadily on the floor as he stammered out the confession, and it took some time for Bob’s eager words of forgiveness to penetrate his understanding. “An eye for an eye” has always been his creed and he was slow to grasp any other. But as he glanced up and saw the outstretched hand and the smile which accompanied it, the true meaning of forgiveness entered his mind for the first time in all his life. Tears glistened in his eyes as he grasped the proffered hand and stammered:

“Oui, we friends, you let me.”

“All right, that’s settled,” Bob declared joyfully, as Jack in turn held out his hand.

The going, though still heavy, was not so bad as they had feared, as the wind had packed the snow to some extent, and for the most of the way their snow-shoes sank only three or four inches. They reached the camp shortly after one o’clock and were received with shouts of joy by the crew.

“Sure an’ we were jest after startin’ out ter look fer yez,” Tom Bean declared as he followed them to the mess house, where, between mouthfuls, they told him of their adventure. Not until Jean had left them, declaring that he was all right and was going to work, did Bob tell the foreman about his conversation with the Frenchman.

“Do yer think he meant it?” Tom asked as he finished.

“I’m sure of it,” Bob replied. “You’ll see that Jean’s a different man or I miss my guess. But why all the gloom?” he asked, as for the first time he noted a worried look on Tom’s face.

“Sure an’ the devil’s ter pay,” and the foreman shook his head sadly.


“Well, shoot it,” Jack demanded.

“It’s hooch, so it is.”

“Hooch,” repeated both boys in the same breath. “Where are they getting it?”

“Sure an’ it’s meself thot don’t know thot same, but six or seven of them were drunk last night and it’s sick men they are this day,” and again he shook his head. “It’s nadin’ ivery man we’ve got it is ter fill thot contract.”

“I’ll bet it’s some more of Big Ben’s work,” Jack declared as he got up from the table. “Anyhow we’ve got to find out where they are getting it and put a stop to it. Do you know when they got it?” he asked, turning to Tom.

“It must a bin some time yes’day afternoon fer they were all right at dinner time,” Tom told him.

Fully three feet of snow had fallen during the night and it took the crew all of that day to get the tote road shoveled out and the snow cleared away at the chopping. That meant the loss of a day so far as getting the lumber out was concerned, and the boys could see that Tom was much worried.

Until a late hour that night Tom and the boys sat in the office discussing the situation.

“It’s evident that Ben doesn’t intend to stop at anything to keep Father from filling that contract,” Bob declared. “But why do you suppose he is so anxious to do it? Is it just a matter of spite?”


“Not at all, at all. Yer see if yer father falls down on thot contract, then Ben thinks he’ll be dead sure ter land it nixt year,” Tom explained.

“I see, and there are so many ways that he can put a spoke in our wheel that we’ve got to be mighty sharp to get the better of him,” and Bob gave Jack a glance which told him that it was up to them to do it.

The stars were still shining the next morning when the two boys crept quietly from their bunks and groped their way to the door. Once outside they quickly made their way to the office where they kept their snow-shoes.

“It’s more than likely a wild goose chase but we’ve got to do something,” Bob said as he took a 38 Winchester from the closet.

“But what makes you think some one’s coming today?” Jack asked as they were fastening their snow-shoes.


“Well, I’ll tell you. I didn’t dare tell Tom for fear he wouldn’t let us go; but last night, just before supper, I was out back of the cook house. It was dark, of course, and I heard two of the men talking only a few feet away but I couldn’t see them. I was hunting for my knife which I missed and thought I knew just where I had dropped it, right by that big spruce, the one where we were digging gum just before dark you know. Well, I didn’t pay any attention to them till I heard one of them say, ‘He say he be out by big pine this morning.’ That was all I heard, as they walked away then. Now it may be something entirely different of course, but I believe that someone is going to bring some more of that stuff this morning.”

“Why not tell Tom and try to catch him?” Jack asked.

“Because that might make some of the men mad and then they’d up and quit. You know how fickle they are. They want the stuff and we’ve got to keep them from getting it without letting them know that we’re doing it.”

By this time they were ready to start and swinging the rifle beneath his arm Bob led the way toward Big Ben’s camp. It was twenty below by the thermometer on the office porch, but there was no wind, and without wind the clear dry air of Northern Maine is not penetrating.

“I have an idea that he’ll start about daybreak so we want to find a good hiding place before it begins to get light,” Bob said as they swung along between the towering spruces.

The snow had settled enough to make good snow-shoeing and they made good time although it was still dark when Jack who was in the lead stopped.


“I guess we’re there,” he whispered, “I can see a light just a little ahead.”

“It’s in the cook house, I guess,” Bob said, moving a little to one side to get a better view. “Yes, that’s it,” he added in a low voice, “now to find a good hiding place. Let’s go over this way a bit.”

“Here’s just the place,” Jack declared a few minutes later, as he spied a thick clump of bushes in between two large pines.

It was indeed an ideal place for their purpose and just as the first hint of the coming day was showing in the east, they crouched down in their hiding place.

“Hope we don’t have to wait long,” Jack whispered, “because it’s not exactly warm here.”

His hopes were realized for they had not been there more than fifteen minutes when his sharp ears caught the creaking of snow.

“Somebody’s coming,” he whispered, and soon they could see a man coming toward them. It was now fairly light and as he came nearer they could see that he carried a jug in one hand.

“You hit it all right,” Jack whispered.

Just then the man caught sight of the tracks of their snow-shoes and stopped as though undecided what to do. But after a short pause he started off again.


Suddenly the sharp report of a rifle rang through the forest and the jug smashed in pieces.

“Honestly, if ever a man was scared it was that fellow, and I nearly died trying not to laugh,” Jack afterward told Tom.

For an instant the man stood as if petrified; then, with a wild yell, he turned and started back. In his haste he tripped and fell headlong in the deep snow. He was so scared that it took him some little time to get on his feet again, but he finally accomplished it and soon disappeared.

“Come on now we’ve got to beat it,” Bob said, as he crept out of the hiding place closely followed by Jack.

“I don’t believe they’ll try it that way again very soon,” Jack panted as they made the best time possible toward home.

“Where in the name of goodness yer been?” Tom was standing in the doorway of the office as they returned.

“Just taking a morning stroll,” Jack laughed. “Did you save any breakfast for us?”

“Sure an’ I guess cookie’ll give yer some, but I thought sure ye’d gone an’ got inter some kind o’ fix agin, so I did.”

When they had finished telling him of their trip, Tom laughed long and loudly.


“Sure an’ who but ye’d iver have thought of it? I’d give a year of me life ter have seen thot guy when his jug went smash. Sure an’ it’s meself thot’s bettin’ thot he thought the devil was after him.”

Six of the crew were nearly an hour late at work that morning. Bob saw them crossing the clearing as he was coming from the mess house after he had finished his belated breakfast. Stepping back into the room he watched them from the half-closed door.

“They seem disappointed about something,” he said to Jack, who had joined him.

“I guess the party they were looking for failed to materialize,” Jack laughed as he watched them. “I wonder if those fellows could talk at all if their hands were tied behind their backs,” he added, laughing at their vigorous gesticulations.

“It would certainly be a serious handicap to them,” Bob declared, as he stepped outside the door. Before Jack had time to follow him, however, he dodged back again.

“Now for it,” he said, closing the door. “Who do you suppose is making us a call?”

“From your excitement I should guess it’s Big Ben himself,” Jack quickly replied.

“Right the first time. Now watch for fireworks.”



Big Ben Donahue was all that his name implied. Standing a full six feet and four inches in his moccasins, his broad shoulders and perfectly proportioned body made him appear even taller. A typical politician, his face, which habitually wore a broad smile, could in a second, change to lines of fierce determination. Although of Irish descent, he was born in America and spoke without a brogue. His strength was prodigious and he delighted in such feats as tearing in two an entire pack of playing cards, straightening out, with a single jerk, a new horse shoe, and once, on a bet, he had in eight hours, felled and trimmed three thousand feet of spruce. One thousand feet is considered a good day’s work for an experienced chopper, and the feat had never, so far as any one around there knew, been duplicated. “As strong as Big Ben Donahue” was a common expression in Maine.


“It’s too bad Tom had to go to Greenville,” Jack said, as glancing through the window he saw the man making his way, with rapid strides, toward the office.

“Yes, I guess we’ll have to do the honors, but be mighty careful what you say,” Bob replied.

Big Ben, after hammering on the office door several times without result, tried the latch but finding that the door was locked he turned his steps toward the mess house.

“He’s got his company smile on anyhow,” Jack whispered, as the big man gave the door a resounding whack with his big fist.

Bob threw open the door.

“Good morning, Mr. Donahue,” he greeted the guest pleasantly.

“Good morning boys,” and he held out his hand with a broad smile.

“Come in,” Bob invited, as he shook hands.

Big Ben followed them into the room and Bob waved his hand toward a big rocking chair near the stove.

“It’s a pretty cold day even for Maine,” he said as Big Ben sat down making the chair creak with his great weight.


“It is that, but you don’t mind it much in this dry air,” Big Ben said, holding out his hands to the heat from the stove. “By the way,” he added after a moment’s pause, “where’s Tom?”

“He left for Greenville about half an hour ago,” Bob replied.

“Hum, that’s too bad.”

“I’m sorry if you wanted to see him,” Bob returned. “Anything we can do?”

The big man thought a moment as though undecided what course to take. “Well, I dunno,” he finally drawled. “You see I kinder wanted to enter a complaint like.”

“A complaint! What do you mean? Have any our men been bothering you?” Bob put into his voice all the surprise of which he was capable.

“Kinder looks that way from the road, so to speak.”

“You don’t mean it. Please tell us about it. I’m sure that Tom would never stand for anything of that sort.”

“Well, ’twas like this. Early this morning one of my Frenchmen started for the spring for a jug of water and when he was about half way there some guy shot at him and busted the jug.”

“Is it possible? Who do you suppose would have done such a thing?” and Bob succeeded in bringing to his face a well simulated expression of horror.


“I dunno, but I followed two sets of snow-shoe tracks from just this side of my camp to here. They were the only tracks I could find and it looks mighty suspicious. What do you think? Of course,” he hastened to add, “I don’t care nothin’ about the jug, but it scared the fellow so that he’s plumb afraid to stir out o’ the mess house and he’s talked so much about it that a lot of the rest of ’em have got the fidgets.”

“Just a minute, Mr. Donahue,” Bob interrupted. “You say the man was going for water? I didn’t know there was a spring this side of your camp. I thought you got your drinking water on the other side of your camp.”

Big Ben shifted a bit uneasily in his chair. He realized that he had made a slight mistake and hastened to correct it.

“So we do, but that’s what the fellow said he was after. Perhaps he had found another spring up this way somewhere, I dunno. Anyhow, that don’t make no difference, he was on my land.”

“I believe there’s some question in regard to that,” Bob declared hastily. “If I’m not mistaken Father’s line runs pretty close to your camp.”

“Not so you’d notice it it don’t,” and the big man got to his feet and the boys saw that the good-natured look on his face had changed to one of anger. “That tract belongs to me,” he roared, “an’ I’ve got the papers to prove it.”


“Just a minute, Mr. Donahue,” Bob said in a perfectly calm voice. “There is no need to get excited about it. That is a question for the court to decide. But now that you have introduced the subject, I’m going to say a few things. Please sit down.”

The big man, evidently realizing that he was not showing to very good advantage in losing his temper before a couple of boys, resumed his seat.

“All right,” he said, trying to make his voice sound calm, “I’ll hear what you have to say; shoot.”

“Thanks. Now in the first place you know as well as we do that that man had liquor in that jug and that he was coming up here to sell or give it to some of our men. And it isn’t the first time that it has been done either. Now, wait a minute please,” as he was about to interrupt, “let me finish and then you can have your say. I shot that jug to pieces and I claim that under the circumstances I had a perfect right to; and I give you fair warning right now that if it is tried again something worse may happen than the loss of a jug. First you tried to scare our men away with a fake ghost and then you tried to get them drunk. It’s of no use for you to deny it,” he added hastily, as he saw that Big Ben was on the point of speaking. “Now I’m done and will gladly listen to what you have to say.”


While Bob had been speaking the big man had been getting more and more red in the face, and it was plain to both of the boys that he was having all he could do to keep his temper under control.

“Do you know that I could have you arrested for assault?” he asked, making a mighty effort to keep his voice down to its natural key. “How do I know that you didn’t intend to shoot the man instead of the jug?”

“Possibly you could,” Bob replied calmly. “But just now it is a pretty serious thing to sell hooch.”

“Huh, you’ve got no evidence ag’in me on that score.”

“That’s as may be.” Bob was still perfectly calm. A fact which seemed to exasperate the big man almost to the limit of his will power. “If you think it best to have me arrested don’t hesitate on my account, but remember that I have a witness that that jug contained something besides water,” Bob reminded him.

For some time Big Ben made no reply, then he got slowly to his feet and leaned against the big table facing the boys, and now his face had recovered its friendly expression.


“All right, we’ll let it go at that,” he said. “And as for that ghost business, that was only a bit of fun on the part of some of the men. I didn’t know nothin’ about it till ’twas all over.”

“Suits us,” Bob declared, as he too got up from his chair. “All we want is fair play. You let us alone and we’ll do the same by you. But we’re not going to sit still and have our work interrupted and do nothing about it,” he continued, in no way deceived by Big Ben’s smooth front.

“He knew he was getting as good as he was sending all right,” Jack laughed as soon as their visitor had taken his departure.

“Maybe,” Bob returned, a worried look on his face. “But he means trouble and he’s not the one to give up when he once starts out to do a thing. You know that as well as I do. Oh, he’s a slick one all right, but believe me he didn’t pull any wool over my eyes.”

“Nor mine either,” Jack declared hastily. “It won’t be his fault if Father gets away with that contract. But what do you think he’ll try next?”

“Pretty hard to say. But come on, every tree down helps just so much, and I feel like working off some of my surplus anger with an ax,” and Bob led the way to the chopping.


As Bob had predicted, a wonderful change had taken place in the Frenchman, Jean Larue. His overbearing attitude had disappeared entirely and a spirit of genial goodfellowship had taken its place. His companions, always generous to a fault, were quick to notice the change and to throw all previous hard feelings to the winds and accept him on the new basis. Instead of being feared and hated, he soon became one of the most popular men in the crew. He eagerly sought the company of Bob and Jack, and they gladly welcomed his company.

They were about half through supper that night when Tom Bean returned from Greenville and, to their great joy, Mr. Golden was with him.

“Thought I’d run up and see how things were going,” he explained as he greeted the boys. “Tom tells me that we’re making good time so far and that you are developing into first class choppers.”

As soon as supper was over Mr. Golden, Tom and the boys went at once to the office, and as soon as they had the stove roaring in good shape, Jack gave them an account of their morning visitor.

“I’m mighty sorry to have trouble with Ben,” Mr. Golden said, when he had finished. “The man is a bad one to have as an enemy, but I hardly see how it can be helped. It’s the loss of that deed that worries me most. As it stands now he’s got the law on his side, and unless I can find it it looks as though I’d have to lose the tract. That injunction which I got out forbidding him to cut on it isn’t really worth the paper it’s written on, and I imagine he knows it, so if he starts cutting don’t do anything about it; we’d only get into trouble and probably not accomplish anything. If I ever find the deed I can make him pay for all he cuts, and if not, well, I guess the tract’s his.”


“But didn’t yer have no witness when the deed was made?” Tom asked as he put a high chunk of rock maple in the stove.

“Certainly, but it happens that they’re both dead,” Mr. Golden replied sadly. “By the way, boys, I received a letter this morning from Colonel Break stating that they have had a fire at the Fortress and college will not open for at least two weeks later.”

“Hurrah,” Jack shouted, and then suddenly stopped. “I didn’t really mean that,” he said soberly. “Of course I’m mighty sorry for the colonel and all that, but just think of having two whole weeks more up here.”

As they were about to separate for the night, Mr. Golden told the boys that he had promised Edna, their sister, that he would bring her some spruce gum.

“I’ll have to leave right after dinner in order to catch the afternoon train, so you boys had better take the forenoon and get it for me. You know what Edna will say if I come home without it.” And he smiled as though it was something not greatly to be feared but to be avoided if possible.


“All right, sir, we’ll get it,” Bob said smiling. “I know where there’s a dandy gum tree. I saw it this morning and if I’m any judge it’s good for several pounds.”

A half hour after daylight, the next morning, found the boys on their way toward Big Ben’s camp.

“That tree is about a hundred yards this side of where that Frenchman was standing when I shot his jug,” Bob said as they trudged along. “I could see big lumps of gum sticking out of the seam as far up as I could see, and it looked like dandy gum too. We’ll get a lot of it and take some back to college with us. I’ll bet half of the boys never chewed spruce gum or even heard of it for that matter.”

The going was excellent and in a short time he stopped at the foot of an immense spruce.

“Here it is,” he announced, as he stopped to take off his snow-shoes. “I’ll climb up first and you hand the shoes to me,” he proposed as he leaped for the lowest branch. “I don’t like the idea of leaving them on the ground,” he explained as Jack joined him. “I wouldn’t put it past some of those fellows to swipe ’em if they got the chance, and I feel safer with ’em up here,” and he carefully tied them to a branch about twenty feet above the ground.


Each had brought a small canvas bag and so plentiful were the almost transparent lumps that in a little over an hour both bags were nearly filled.

“Best gumming I ever saw,” Jack declared from his perch well up near the top of the tree.

“And did you ever see such clear lumps?” Bob asked, as he shifted his position on a limb a bit lower. “It’s too bad we didn’t bring a couple more bags,” he added. “But we’ll fill our pockets. You don’t often get a chance like this.”

For another hour they kept at it and had about decided to call it quits, when Jack’s quick ears caught the sound of voices from below. He nudged Bob’s leg, which, at that moment, was hanging over a limb directly over his head, and as the latter turned, he put his finger to his lips.

As they listened the sound of voices came to them more plainly. Two men were talking beneath a tree a bit to the right of the one they were in, and it was evident that they were making no effort to moderate their tones, not dreaming that there was anyone in the vicinity. They were not long in recognizing the voice of Big Ben Donahue, but the other man was a stranger to them. They were not in the habit of eavesdropping but under the circumstances they felt justified in listening. They soon learned that the stranger was urging Big Ben to begin cutting on the disputed tract and to Bob’s surprise, from what he had overheard that night in the wayside hotel, the other was reluctant to take his advice.


“I know I told ’im that no one would dare to serve that injunction on me, but that’s not the point. Suppose I go ahead and cut a lot of lumber off of that tract and then that deed turns up?”

“Thunder an’ spikes! I thought you had the deed,” they heard the other reply.

“Well, I ain’t. I found it in the booth in the bank just after Golden had been in there and I put it in my pocket, but there was a hole in it and when I came to look for it, it wasn’t there. It must a dropped out and someone picked it up, so you see how it is. I don’t know where it is and it may turn up any time and then I’d be in a pretty pickle.”

“You sure had a nerve to go ahead and get that fake deed fixed up and all the rest when you didn’t have the deed,” the stranger declared in a tone of disgust.

“Confound it, man, I didn’t miss the deed till after I’d done all that. Thought it was in my pocket all the time. Oh, I know it’s carelessness about such things that’s kept me from being a rich man, but I can’t seem to help it,” and the man’s voice took on a sad note strange to its owner.


For nearly fifteen minutes longer the two men continued to talk, but nothing more of interest to the two boys was said, and soon they went back toward the camp.

The boys waited till they were out of sight and then quickly made their descent to the ground retrieving their snow-shoes on the way down. If they had made good time coming, they nearly flew back so eager were they to impart the news to their father.

“Well, well, you certainly must have struck it thick,” Mr. Golden said, as they burst into the office, where he was talking to Tom, and threw the bags of gum on the table.

“And gum was not the only thing we struck either,” Jack declared as he threw his mittens on the table. And he told them what they had overheard.

“That is good news indeed,” Mr. Golden assured them when he had finished. “It may keep Ben from cutting on the tract, but after all it don’t help us much unless we can find the deed. Of course,” he hastened to add, as he saw a look of disappointment on Jack’s face, “we stand a good deal better chance of finding it now that we know that Ben hasn’t got it.”


“Sure we do,” Bob agreed. “As he said, someone must have picked it up, and, as it’s no good to him, he’ll probably try to sell it to you or to Ben if he learns what he’s up to. It looks to me as though the finder was just waiting to see what’s the best thing to do with it. If he was honest he’d have given it to you before this.”

“Yes, no doubt but that it has fallen into the hands of some dishonest person,” Mr. Golden agreed soberly.

A good road had been broken on the ice through from Greenville to North East Carry and it was decided that directly after dinner Bob and Jack would drive down with their father and bring the team back the next morning. They reached the village just as it was beginning to get dark and just in time for Mr. Golden to catch the train for home. The boys spent the night at the little hotel, and soon after daylight the next morning started back up the lake reaching the camp just in time for dinner.

“There’s a friend o’ yourn in the office,” Tom sang out as they drove in to the clearing.

“Who is it?” Bob asked.

“Sure an’ it’s Ezra, an’ he’s been after talking so much potry ter me thot I didn’t know whether I was agoin’ or acomin’,” and Tom laughed as he took the reins from Bob. “You go see what he wants an’ I’ll be after tindin ter the mare.”


Ezra Kimball kept the one store at North East Carry and was a character noted for miles around for his habit of talking in rhyme. It seemed to be not the slightest effort for him to find words to rhyme and at the same time express his meaning and it was seldom that he spoke in any other way.

Ezra was very fond of the two boys and they had known him as long as they could remember. He was sitting in front of the office stove as they pushed open the door.

“Well, well, so here ye are at last, beats all how slow the time has past,” was Ezra’s greeting as he got out of the chair and held out a hand to each.

“Mighty glad to see you, Ezra,” Bob replied heartily, while Jack declared that their visitor looked younger every time he saw him.

“No wonder, living in this Maine air, without a trouble and without a care,” and Ezra sat down again just as the dinner horn blew. He quickly got to his feet again sayin, “Thar she blows and it sure sounds good. Nothin’ I like better’n lots of food.”

“You’re a little bit shaky on that last rhyme I’m afraid,” Bob laughed as Ezra reached for his coon-skin cap. “Good and food may be spelled about the same, but they don’t hit it off worth a cent when it comes to the sound.”

Ezra did not deign to take any notice of the criticism. In fact he never attempted to defend any of his rhymes. “It’s good enough fer me and if the other feller don’t like it he kin lump it,” he once told some one who found fault with his language.


The boys well knew that it would be of no use to try to find out the object of Ezra’s call until after he had eaten his dinner, so they quickly led the way to the mess house. But as soon as they, together with Tom, were back in the office, Ezra lost no time in telling them.

“You boys know a little feller, with a hump back an’ face kinder yeller? Little squint eyes an’ big thick lips, an’ mighty big when it comes ter hips?”

“It’s Nip, sure as guns,” both boys declared in a single breath.

“Didn’t say his name, or from whar he came, but his tongue did wag cause he had a jag. He talked ’bout everything under the sun, till I thought at last he was almost done; when he said sumpin’ ’bout havin’ found a deed, then he bought a great big lot o’ feed; then he put on his snow-shoes an’ started off, shapin’ his corse almost due north.”

“When was it he was there?” Bob asked eagerly.

“’Twas yesterday he left the store, ’bout two o’clock or a little more.”

“Was that all he said about the deed,” Jack asked.

“Not another word did he say, though he jabbered there almost all day. Ye see I didn’t pay much ’tention ter anything he happened ter mention, but when Bill Smith came in ter feed, an’ said yer dad had lost a deed, I thought that mebby the one he’d got was perhaps the one yer dad wanted a lot.”


“Of course it was,” Jack declared, as he threw a stick of wood in the stove. “Don’t you think so, Bob and Tom?” and he looked from one to the other.

“It sure looks that way,” Bob replied, and Tom nodded assent. “But,” he continued slowly, “it seems rather funny that he didn’t try to make something out of it. It don’t seem like Nip to miss a chance like that.”

But further questioning caused Ezra to remember that the man had said something about wanting to get across the border as soon as he could and that the deed would have to wait.

“That’s it,” Jack almost shouted. “Nip had been up to some of his tricks and had to make tracks. That’s what’s the matter.”

“I believe you’re right at that, and the chances are that if he gets away with it, we’ll never see him or the deed again,” Bob said, adding after a moment’s thought: “I don’t know how much of a woodsman he is, nor how much he knows about the country up north; but, if he’s got a good supply of liquor, and he probably has, there’s no knowing what may happen to him. Jack, boy, we’ve got to go after him.”


“You said it,” Jack shouted, springing to his feet. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Don’t go off half cocked,” Bob cautioned laughing, as he too got up. “We’ve got to get things ready before we start on a trip of that kind. Don’t forget that it probably means sleeping out in the open for a number of nights. He’s got a day’s start of us and, although I don’t imagine he’ll travel very fast, it’s apt to take us several days to catch up with him.”


After some discussion it was decided that they would get everything ready and then drive back to the Carry with Ezra and spend the night there, getting an early start the next morning. Fortunately Tom had a number of sleeping bags at the camp and a toboggan about six feet long. On this they packed their food and other necessities, knowing that it would be easier to drag the load on the light toboggan than to carry it on their backs.

The stars were still shining brightly in the heavens when, the next morning, they waved goodbye to Ezra and turned their faces to the frozen North.


“Don’t get froze and don’t get lost, or all the gain’ll be less’n the cost,” was Ezra’s parting advice, and they assured him that they would be careful.

From North East Carry to the Canadian border is about fifty miles directly northwest, but at that point is the main road to Quebec and small towns are plentiful. Knowing this, the boys were not at all surprised to find that the man’s trail, which they picked up almost at once, led more to the north.

“Nip’s going to fight shy of the towns till he gets across,” Jack declared, pointing to the well-defined trail.

“Looks that way,” Bob agreed. “At any rate he won’t strike one the way he’s heading till he gets to the St. Lawrence River about a hundred miles north of here.”

The trail was plainly marked, the prints of snow-shoes showing clearly in the well packed snow.


They were hauling the toboggan tandem-wise and hardly were aware of its weight. It was splendid traveling, as there had been no snow for several days and their snow-shoes made but little impression. At eleven o’clock they had reached the upper end of the lake and decided to eat dinner before striking into the dense woods which lined the edge. They had made fast time but they well knew that from now on their progress would be much slower. Drawing a toboggan over the smooth surface of a lake is quite a different matter from pulling it through the thick forest where every foot of the way must be chosen with care. They decided to save time by eating a cold lunch, waiting until night for their cooked meal, and in less than twenty minutes they were on the trail once more.

While they were eating Bob had noticed for the first time that the sun was no longer bright, and as they entered the woods he called Jack’s attention to it.

“If I’m any good as a weather prophet we’re going to get some snow before night,” he said as he cast an anxious eye upward.

“What can’t be cured must be endured,” Jack quoted gaily, carefully picking his way between the massive trees.

Not only were the trees very close together, but the ground was uneven and it was, as Bob declared “all up hill and down dale.” But it was no new experience to them and they knew what to expect, so for two hours or more they pushed forward in good spirits.

“He’s heading a bit to the west of north,” Bob declared, as they stopped for a brief breathing spell. “I don’t understand it, as the farther he goes to the west the farther he’ll have to hike before he strikes the border.”


“I wonder if he knows enough to keep a straight course through the woods. A man’s got to know something about it to be able to do it, you know,” Jack declared, as he picked up the rope and started off again.

“That wind sounds like snow,” Bob asserted, as he fell in behind.

The wind, which for the last hour had been increasing in strength, was coming from the northeast, an almost certain forerunner of a storm at that time of year. So well protected were they by the thickness of the trees they hardly felt its force, but they were too wise to be deceived by that, as the sound, as it swept through the tops, told them that it was already blowing a fair sized gale. And now a few flakes began to sift lazily down through the thick branches.

“She’s a coming,” Bob shouted.

“Let her come. We got here first,” Jack laughed back over his shoulder.

The flakes steadily increased in number and the sighing of the treetops grew louder as they slowly pushed on toward the north, and by the time another hour had passed the trail had nearly vanished beneath the falling snow. Only here and there could they catch sight of the tracks.

“We’ll be all at sea as far as shoeprints are concerned in another half hour,” Jack declared, as he anxiously scanned the snow ahead.


He was correct in his statement, for in less than fifteen minutes the prints of the snow-shoes had disappeared entirely, and now the skill which they had acquired under the tutelage of their Indian friend Kernertok, was brought into play. A broken twig here, a bit of bark from a tree trunk there, and other signs, readable only by one trained in woodcraft, now had to serve as their only guide. Their progress, slow from the time they had left the lake, was now much slower, as they were often obliged to search for some time before finding the tell-tale clue.

“Hold on a minute, Jack,” Bob shouted a while later. “How long has it been since you saw any marks?”

Jack stopped and looked around.

“Well, it’s been quite a while,” he confessed. “But I’ve been expecting to catch sight of one any minute.”

“And I haven’t seen a thing since we saw where he had leaned up against that big pine and that must have been all of a quarter of a mile back. It’s going to begin to get dark in a mighty short time now and I think we’d better find a good place to camp before we go any farther. I think I can find the way back to that pine in the morning and we can probably pick up the trail again from there if we have any luck, but we’re going it blind now,” and Bob cast an anxious glance about him.


“All right, you’re the doctor,” Jack agreed as he threw the rope from his shoulders. “What’s the matter with right here?” he asked. “Those two saplings will be all right for the canvass and that big pine will make a pretty fair wind break.”

“As good as we’ll be apt to find, I guess, if we can only scare up some wood for the fire,” Bob agreed.

“All right then, I’ll do the digging if you’ll hustle the wood,” Jack proposed, and taking a shovel from the pack on the toboggan, he began work, while Bob started off with the ax to see what he could find in the way of fuel. Fortune favored him, for before he had taken fifty steps he came upon a dead pine which had blown over and was only partially covered by the snow. He at once set to work hacking off the brittle branches and throwing them in a pile to one side.

“Enough wood here to last a week,” he thought, as the pile grew larger with astonishing rapidity.

After a half hour’s hard work he judged that he had enough for the night and picking up as much as he could carry he started back. Meanwhile Jack had not been idle and by the time Bob returned with the wood he had nearly finished a trench directly in front of the big pine and extending between the two saplings. The trench was about four feet wide and nearly three times as long.


“Found some, did you?” Jack asked as Bob appeared.

“Sure. What did you think I went after? I see you’ve been pretty busy yourself and by the time you get the house done I’ll have plenty of wood here,” Bob declared as he started back for a second load.

He made several trips while Jack was completing his part, and when the latter finally stepped out of the trench a large pile of dead branches as well as a number of pieces of the trunk lay close by. The two small trees stood about six feet from the big pine, and to each of them they tied a corner of a large strip of canvass, about three feet from the surface of the snow. The other two corners they fastened to sticks driven well down in the snow close to the foot of the pine, so that about six feet of the trench was covered with a sloping canvass roof.

“Now let’s get the fire going and then for a good hot supper. That cold lunch didn’t even fill up the corners,” Jack declared.


In the uncovered end of the trench, which was nearly four feet deep, Bob started a small fire, while Jack undid the pack enough to get out the cooking utensils and the provisions. It was now nearly dark and the bright light from the crackling fire cast fantastic shadows as the boys moved about their work. In a surprisingly short time a meal of bacon and eggs, flapjacks and coffee was ready. Enough, as Bob laughingly declared, “to satisfy a dozen ordinary men.” But there is no better appetizer than strenuous exercise in the clear cold spruce-laden air of Northern Maine, and in spite of appearances he found that Jack had used excellent judgment in his estimation of the proper amount of food, for, as he declared, after they had finished, “not enough remained to feed a good-sized mosquito.”

After “doing the dishes” they brought in the rest of the wood which Bob had cut and then turned their attention to preparations for the night. Over the ground beneath the canvass roof they spread a thick layer of spruce boughs, covering them with a thick woolen blanket, making a bed, as Jack declared, “fit for any king.”


Then they pulled the toboggan close beneath another large pine a few feet away, where it would be protected as well as conditions would permit from the storm, and covered the pack with a second strip of canvass. Then, throwing an armful of the dead branches on the fire, they waited until the flames were shooting well above the snow walls of the trench before piling on the larger pieces of the trunk. These being of good size, would last for several hours, and if they should fail to awake in time to replenish the fire, they knew that the thick sleeping bags would be ample protection from the cold.

“She don’t seem to be letting up any,” Jack asserted as he listened to the wind now fairly howling through the tops of the trees.

“You said it,” Bob agreed, “and I’ll bet it’s snowing an inch every fifteen minutes. Must be close on to a foot already. If it keeps it up like this all night, we’ll have mighty hard going tomorrow let me tell you,” he added.

“So will Nip, and that’s one comfort,” Jack declared, as he threw another log on the fire.

By eight o’clock everything was “shipshape,” as Bob put it, and crawling into the sleeping bags they pulled a heavy army blanket over them and were soon lulled to sleep by the sighing of the wind as the lofty spruces and pines bent their tops to its strength.


It must have been well after midnight when suddenly Bob awoke. The fire was about burned out, only a glowing bed of embers remaining. For a moment he lay wondering what had disturbed him. The wind still blew with undiminished fury, but he knew that some other sound had reached his ears. He did not, however, have to wonder long, for suddenly through the dense forest, above the wailing of the wind, came a sound which sent a shudder through his frame, for once before he had heard that cry while on a hunting trip with his father in Canada.

“It’s a timber wolf,” he whispered to himself. “Never knew they came so far south as this, but it’s probably only a stray one,” he thought as he turned over and shut his eyes. But a moment later he was brought to a sitting position as an answering howl far off to the left answered the first.

“There’s two of them at any rate,” he said half aloud, as he gave Jack a shake.

“Hey, what’s the matter?” Jack grunted sleepily, as he turned over and rubbed his eyes.

“Listen a minute and you’ll find out,” Bob replied, and even as he spoke another howl, this time nearer and more to the right, came to their ears.

“What is it?” Jack asked, as he sat up, now fully awake.

“It’s wolves and they’re coming our way,” Bob replied, as he began to crawl out of his bag. “We must get that fire going again. They’re afraid of a fire, thank goodness, but that’s about the only thing they are afraid of.”


It was the work of but a minute to heap more wood on the dying coals, and they were glad to find that there was still enough fire left to catch the new fuel. Soon the flames were shooting up once more, but now the howls were coming with increasing frequency and each one seemed nearer than the one before.

“There’s a good many more than one in that pack,” Bob declared as he jumped back into the trench, and picked up the 38 Winchester, which he had taken from the pack before going to bed.

“I should say so,” Jack agreed, as howl answered to howl above the roaring of the wind.

“The deep snow up north must have driven them south,” Bob declared as he listened to the short full-throated cry of the hunting timber wolves now so plainly heard through the wall of the falling snow that he strained his eyes, expecting every minute to catch sight of the leaping forms. Just then Jack spoke and the note of alarm in his voice caused Bob to turn his head quickly.

“My gracious, Bob, do you realize that we threw on the last of the wood?”

“That’s so, and there’s not enough to keep the fire going more than a half hour at most, and it’s all of six hours to daylight.

“Think we’d better climb a tree?”

“Not yet,” Bob replied after a moment’s thought. “That big pine’s pretty handy and we can get into it if we have to, but it’d be mighty cold up there. They won’t dare to come very near so long as the fire’s going in good shape, and if I can pick off two or three of them, perhaps they’ll clear out. Just hear them howl.”


“I see one,” Jack shouted a moment later, as a gray form bounded into view not more than twenty feet away.

His words were followed by the sharp crack of the rifle and the wolf leaped high in the air with a sharp yelp of pain and fell back. Almost instantly the deep throated howls changed to sharp yelps and snarls as the pack fought over the body of the dead wolf. Bob quickly fired three more shots at the writhing mass, which he could see but dimly through the falling snow. Whether or not any of the shots took effect he was unable to tell, as the incessant yelping made it impossible to distinguish any separate cry of pain.

For perhaps ten minutes the battle raged, then, almost as suddenly as it had started, it was ended, and the gray forms slunk back among the trees.

“Didn’t take ’em long to finish him,” Jack declared, as he gave the fire a poking causing it to blaze up afresh. “Think they’ve quit?”

“I doubt it,” Bob replied. “They’re pretty wise fellows and they’ve had a lesson; but if they’re very hungry, and I guess there’s no doubt about that, they won’t give up so easy. If we only had plenty of wood we’d be all right,” he added, giving the fire another poke.


But now the wood was nearly all consumed and the poking had but slight effect. The howls had ceased entirely and had it not been for the occasional glimpse of a shadowy form dimly seen in the darkness, they might have concluded that the wolves had given it up as a bad job.

“Guess they’re waiting for the fire to go out,” Jack suggested as he again tried to coax a blaze from the dying embers.

Bang! A shaggy form, more bold than the rest, had crept forward until he offered a fair shot, but he paid for his temerity with his life, and quickly furnished material for a second cannibalistic feast.

Fortunately he had plenty of cartridges and he again fired shot after shot into the fighting crowd. Some of the shots he knew must be hitting the mark and, after a short time, the wolves again withdrew into the shelter of the trees leaving, as they could see, three or four bodies lying in the snow.

“We’ve got ’em on the run now,” Jack shouted joyfully, but Bob was not so confident.

“I hope so,” he said, “but I don’t believe they have given it up yet.”

And in a few minutes his fears were realized as they saw, by the dim light, form after form creeping forward. The wolves were spread out nearly in a semi-circle.


“There must be fifty of them,” Jack declared just as Bob fired again.

His shot went true to the mark but this time the wolves paid no attention to their fallen companion.

“We’ve got to take to the tree, Jack,” Bob shouted. “You go first and I’ll hand the rifle to you.”

Fortunately the lowest branches of the big pine, at the foot of the trench, were near the ground and Jack, crawling out on the snow, had no trouble in reaching them.

“Get a hustle,” he called, reaching for the rifle which Bob was holding up to him.

At this moment the wolves, seeing their prey about to escape, plunged forward with mighty leaps through the snow, and were almost upon Bob as he reached for the limb. The leader, an enormous brute, lank with hunger, sprang from the snow and his dripping jaws closed on the boy’s leg. Fortunately his leggings were strong and thick and before the sharp teeth had time to penetrate to the flesh a shot rang out and the wolf fell back, shot through the heart. He almost dragged Bob with him so securely were his teeth fastened in the leggings. But exerting all his strength, he clung to the branch and kicked his leg free. A moment later he was safe in the tree.


“Good shot that,” he panted. “I thought for a minute that he had me.”

The wolves, as if realizing that their prey was beyond their reach, broke into a chorus of mournful howls as they slowly circled around beneath the tree.

“I hope they don’t smell our provisions,” Bob said, as he shifted to a more comfortable position.

The hope, however, was a vain one, for hardly had he uttered it when an excited yelp told them, only too plainly, that their stores were in danger. The toboggan, with its precious load, although only a short distance away, was invisible from their position, as a small pine intervened and they could only hope and pray that something would be left. Bob fired several shots in the direction of the snarls and yelps but, as far as they could tell, without effect. It was not long before the wolves were back beneath the tree and taking careful aim at a particularly large shaggy fellow, Bob fired. The wolf, with a yelp of pain, fell kicking in the snow and was almost instantly torn in pieces and devoured by his companions.

“A man may be down but never out, but when one of those fellows is down it don’t take him long to be out, does it?” Jack said as he watched the fragments of the wolf disappear down the hungry throats.


“Out is hardly the word,” Bob replied grimly. “I should say in was more to the point.”

Again he fired and again the performance was repeated. But now the wolves drew farther away. They were evidently learning the meaning of that sharp crack and however hungry were not anxious to be served up to their equally famished companions.

For some time Bob was unable to get another shot, but a wolf’s memory is short and in the course of a half hour they came creeping warily back. Bob waited until one was nearly beneath the tree before he fired, and then as the pack closed in for the feast, he poured shot after shot into them. At close range the carnage was too much even for the ravenous beasts and leaving several of their number kicking in the snow the rest turned and fled, making the forest ring with their howls of terror.

“I don’t believe they’ll come back again this time,” Bob said, as he filled the magazine with fresh cartridges.

And he was right, for gradually the howls grew fainter and soon nothing save the noise of the storm could be heard.

“I guess they’ve gone,” Jack declared, and Bob agreed with him.


“But we better wait awhile and make sure before we get down,” he said as he pulled a pair of thick mittens from the pocket of his mackinaw and drew them on his numbed hands.

So great had been the excitement that, until now, they had not noticed the cold, but now the wind seemed to penetrate to the very marrow of their bones.

“If we don’t get down pretty soon I’ll turn into a human icicle,” Jack declared after a half hour had passed.

“I guess it’ll be safe enough to risk it,” Bob replied, his teeth chattering so that he could hardly talk. “I don’t think they’ll come back again and if they do we can climb back.”

A glance at his watch, just as he crawled once more into his sleeping bag, told Bob that it was nearly four o’clock. How good the thick warm bags felt after the cold exposure of the tree. In less than five minutes he was, as he told Jack, “as warm as toast.” He resolved that he would not go to sleep, as he still feared the return of the wolves, but he said nothing of it to Jack, knowing that the generous boy would insist in keeping awake also. So he lay there on the spruce boughs listening to the storm. It took all his will power to keep his eyes from closing, but not once did he yield to the drowsiness. About five o’clock he noticed that the wind was dying down and that the snow had all but ceased falling. It seemed as though the next hour would never pass, but at last the hands of the watch pointed to six and very carefully, so as not to disturb his brother, he crept out of his bag. It was still very dark but he knew that daylight was near at hand and realizing the importance of getting an early start he tied on his snow-shoes and, ax in hand, started for the dead pine.


No sound had been heard from the wolves since shortly after three o’clock and he felt certain that they had left the vicinity. Fully two feet of light snow had fallen during the night and he found the tree nearly buried. But by dint of much hard work he managed to secure what he judged would be enough to cook breakfast with. “Provided the wolves have left anything,” he thought as he picked up an armful of the dead branches and started back.

The first faint indication of the approaching dawn was creeping through the forest as he lit the fire. Jack was still sleeping soundly, but the crackling of the flames soon woke him.

“It’s a wonder you wouldn’t call a fellow,” he said with a yawn, as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“No need of both of us getting up so early and I happened to be awake so I thought I might as well get the wood,” Bob replied easily, as he threw more wood on the fire.


“I’ll bet you didn’t go to sleep at all, now did you?” Jack asked as he got out of his bag and came close to the fire.

Pinned down, Bob had to acknowledge that he had kept watch.

“But it’s all right, old fellow. There was no use in both of us keeping awake, and you know I can do it much easier than you can,” and he gave him a loving hug, whereupon Jack declared that he was the best brother in the world.

By this time it was light enough for them to see for some distance, and Bob suggested that they see if their visitors had left them anything for breakfast. From where they stood, at the foot of the trench, they could see the bodies of not less than a half dozen wolves.

“They came out second best anyhow,” Jack declared, as they made their way to the toboggan.

“Looks as though they had done a pretty good job here at any rate,” Bob said as he looked down at the wreck at his feet.

The canvass cover was torn to shreds and at first it looked as though everything had been devoured. But, knowing that a part of the provisions had consisted of canned goods, they began to search in the snow and soon Jack shouted.

“Here’s the can of coffee.”

“And here’s the milk,” Bob added a moment later, as he picked up a small can of condensed milk.


One by one they recovered the cans. Two of bacon, one of beef tongue, and three of soup.

“I guess that’s about all the canned stuff we had,” Bob said as he picked the last can of soup from the snow.

“How about the eggs? They were in a tin can.”

“That’s so, and we must find them.”

For fully fifteen minutes they hunted, loath to give up, and then Jack found the can nearly ten feet away from the front end of the toboggan.

“Hope they’re not all smashed,” he said as he pried off the cover. “Looks like an omelet,” he announced a moment later, as he stared at the contents of the can. “But I guess we can scramble them,” he added hopefully.

“I’ll get breakfast while you pack up,” Jack suggested as they turned back to the fire.

Filling the coffee pot with snow, he soon had it melting over the fire, while he picked the bits of broken shell out of the “omelet.”

“Not so bad at that,” Bob declared, as a few minutes later they were eating bacon and scrambled eggs, washed down with coffee.


“No, but the trouble is we haven’t got enough left to last more than a couple of days unless we go on mighty short rations, and you know how keen I am for that sort of thing. It took all the eggs I could salvage to make this mess, and there’s about enough bacon for three more meals. That and the soup and one can of tongue is all we have, but, thank goodness, there’s plenty of coffee and milk.”

“Well, the question before the house is, what shall we do? Shall we turn back or keep on and trust to luck? We might get a rabbit or two, although I doubt it,” Bob said as he drained his third dipper of coffee.

“I move we go on,” Jack said without hesitation. “We can make out for a couple of days anyhow.”

“All right, I second the motion and that makes it unanimous,” Bob declared. “I suppose we’ll have to go back till we come to that pine and see if we can get on the trail again.”

Before leaving, they knelt in the trench and thanked God for His goodness in bringing them in safety through the great danger.

The freshly fallen snow made heavy going, and it was eight o’clock when they reached the tree which had been the last mark of the trail.



“Are you sure this is the tree?” Jack asked, as he carefully scanned the trunk of the big tree.

“Sure? Of course I am. Don’t you see where the bark is rubbed there?” Bob replied, pointing to an abrasion so slight that it is no wonder that it had escaped Jack’s eyes.

“I see it now all right,” the latter admitted, adding: “Now to see if we can find another one.”

But there is nothing like a heavy snow and wind storm to erase the tell-tale marks indicating the passage of a body through the woods. For fully a half hour they searched but, so far as any sign went, that mark was the end of the trail.

“Well, it’s go it blind or turn back and give it up. Which will it be?” Bob asked, as he announced his inability to pick up the trail again.

All traces of the storm, with the exception of the freshly fallen snow, had disappeared. Not a branch stirred in the still air and the sun, filtering through, fell with almost dazzling brightness on the virgin snow.


After a short discussion it was decided that they would go on until night, trusting to luck to pick up the trail. Failing to do so, they would start back the next morning.

“We won’t starve for a couple of days, even if we don’t get a shot at any game,” Jack declared as he picked up the rope and yanked the toboggan around.

As nearly as they could estimate two miles an hour was the best they could do, but they consoled themselves with the thought that the man they were after was undoubtedly finding the traveling equally hard. They kept due north, laying their course by the sun until it was nearly over head, and then trusting to the bark and moss on the spruce trees, a bit of knowledge taught them by their Indian friend. All through the forenoon they kept sharp watch for game of any kind, but not a living thing showed itself.

At twelve o’clock they stopped long enough to build a small fire, over which they made coffee and warmed a can of vegetable soup.

“It’s all right as far as it goes,” Jack laughed, as he swallowed the last mouthful, “but the trouble is it goes such an awful little ways.”


“I say, Jack,” Bob began, as a sudden thought struck him, “it’s strange I didn’t think of it before, but do you know it’s more than likely that that pack of wolves got after Nip or whoever it is we’re trying to follow?”

“Let’s hope not,” Jack replied, after a moment’s thought. “If he had enough sense to climb a tree he’d be all right. Of course if they attacked him in the open it would be different, but it’s all woods around here. If it wasn’t, I tell you right now, I’d feel mighty shaky for fear they might come back.”

“Well, I hope you’re right, and I dare say you are,” Bob agreed as he took hold of the rope. “But we must be moving.”

The afternoon was a repetition of the forenoon: plowing steadily forward, foot by foot, their snow-shoes sinking deep in the light snow. The light toboggan fortunately did not greatly impede their progress, as it made but little impression in the snow, and they felt confident that, despite their slow advance, they were probably making as good as the man they were after, and they hoped better.

Shortly after four o’clock they came suddenly in sight of a good-sized lake.

“That must be Lake Chemouassa-Banticook,” Bob declared as he stopped. “And see, there’s a cabin a little to the right.”

“Wonder if there’s anybody at home. I don’t see any smoke,” Jack said, as they approached the little hut from the rear.


The front of the cabin faced the lake, and as they turned the corner both boys stopped short, giving vent to a cry of joy. Leading away from the door and extending out on to the lake were the tracks of snow-shoes.

“If there’s no one living here that means that Nip spent the night in this cabin,” Bob declared as he dropped the rope and, stepping up to the door, hammered on it with his fist. As there was no reply after waiting a moment, he tried the latch. The door was not locked and pushing it open he stepped inside closely followed by Jack. It was at once plain to be seen that the place had not been used as a permanent habitation at least for a long time. It consisted of a single room in which there was no furniture with the exception of a single straight backed chair and a small and very rusty stove.

“He was here all right,” Jack declared, as he untied the thongs of his snow-shoes.

“And I guess we’d better follow his example for tonight,” Bob quickly suggested. “It’ll save us quite a lot of work making a camp and if we can get a fire to going in that stove it’ll at least be warm. I believe we can do it,” he announced a moment later, after a hasty examination. “I imagine Nip left this morning and we couldn’t possibly catch up with him tonight, so we’ll stay here and get a good early start in the morning.”


In one corner of the room they were fortunate enough to find a few sticks of dry wood and some old newspapers and in almost less than no time they had the old stove roaring in good shape.

“If we only had brought along a fish line we might get a mess of fish out of the lake,” Bob remarked as he pushed another stick into the stove.

“If wishes were horses,” Jack began, and then suddenly stopped in the middle of the quotation. “Here’s your fish line,” he shouted, as he drew it from the inside pocket of his mackinaw. “Talk about luck. I remember now putting that line in my pocket just before we left home and it’s been there ever since. If you’ll cut some boughs for beds I’ll guarantee to furnish all the fish you can eat and then some.”

“It’s a go, but look out if you fall down on your bargain,” Bob laughed as he got the ax from the toboggan and started for the back of the cabin.

He had, however, taken but a few steps, when Jack shouted:

“Hey, there, come back here with that ax. Think I can scratch a hole through the ice with my finger nails?”

“I guess perhaps you might have some trouble, seeing the ice is probably two feet or more thick,” Bob laughed as he turned back. “But I’ll help you and then I can cut the boughs while you are fishing.”


The cabin was only a few feet from the shore of the lake and he quickly followed Jack who, with a shovel, was already on the ice. Fortunately the wind had swept the surface of the lake with such violence that there was but little over a foot of snow on it.

“I wonder if this old lake is froze solid all the way to the bottom,” Bob grunted, as he straightened up after some ten minutes of vigorous chopping. He had cut down all of two feet and still there was no sign of water. He would chop a minute or two and then Jack would shovel out the chunks of ice. They knew that the ice froze pretty deep on the lakes of Northern Maine, but even they were surprised when they were obliged to go still another foot before the ax cut through to the water. Once through, it was but the work of a minute to enlarge the hole sufficiently to allow a whale, as Jack laughingly declared, to be pulled through.

“What are you going to use for bait?” Bob asked as he started back toward the cabin with the ax.

“The only thing we got is that beef tongue,” Jack replied, as he pulled the small can from his pocket.

“Go as light as you can on it,” Bob called back. “I want a bite of it for supper in case you don’t get any fish.”


“Huh, not a supposable case at all,” Jack declared indignantly, as he opened the can with his knife and proceeded to bait the hook with a small bit of the meat.

“Here’s hoping they like tongue as well as I do,” he thought as he lowered the hook into the water.

For fully fifteen minutes he crouched over the hole without even a nibble, pulling the line up every few minutes to see if the meat had fallen off.

“They ought to be hungry enough to eat tongue even if they don’t care for it as a steady diet,” he thought. Then it occurred to him that perhaps the noise of the chopping had scared the fish away and that it might be some time before they would venture back to that part of the lake. So he kept his patience and resigned himself to a long wait if necessary. Another ten minutes passed and still no bite came to encourage him.

“Boughs all cut and beds made. How about your part of the bargain?” Bob shouted from the door of the cabin.

“Nothing doing yet,” Jack had to call back, much chagrined at his failure.

“Well, you’d better hurry up: it’s getting dark pretty fast and I’m getting hungry,” Bob shouted back, as he disappeared in the cabin.

“Hope he don’t think I’m enjoying this,” Jack said to himself as he, for the twentieth time, started to pull in his line.


Then, suddenly, his heart gave a jump as he felt a strong tug on the line. He gave a quick yank but, to his disgust, failed to hook the fish.

“Hope you like it well enough to try again,” he muttered, as he put a fresh piece of the tongue on the hook.

To his great joy the fish did, for he had hardly gotten the hook in the water before it was seized again and this time he pulled in a speckled trout fully twenty inches long.

“There’s one good meal ahead of the game anyhow,” he thought as he took the hook from the trout’s mouth and baited it again.

The fish had evidently returned in force, and for the next half hour the boy was kept busy pulling them in as rapidly as he could handle them. Then, knowing that he had as many as they could possibly use, he began to wind in the line.

“How about it?” Bob shouted, as he again appeared in the doorway.

“Got one,” Jack called back. “I’ll be up in a minute.” And picking up the largest trout, a splendid specimen, weighing not less than five pounds, he waded through the snow to the cabin.

“He’s a beauty and no mistake,” Bob declared as his brother held the fish up for his inspection. “Too bad you didn’t get some more like him.”


“Who said I didn’t?” Jack grinned. “If we can scare up something to put them in, I’ll show you a dozen more nearly as big as this fellow.”

“Do you mean it?” and Bob caught his brother by the arm and for a moment the two boys gave a good imitation of an Indian war dance as they leaped about the room.

After a short search Jack found an old gunny sack which he declared would fill the bill, and leaving Bob to dress the trout he hurried back for the rest of the catch.

Except for their electric flashlights, the only source of illumination they were able to find was a single bit of candle about three inches long. But so happy were they in knowing that they had plenty of food, they made the best of it without a murmur, and in another half hour supper was ready. To be sure they had no salt, their supply of that article having been lost in the havoc which the wolves had wrought with the pack. Still they had a small amount of bacon left and by using a small amount of it the fish, although a bit flat, was, as Jack declared, “not half bad and a whole lot better than nothing at all.”

As soon as supper was over and the few dishes cleaned up, they put out the candle, of which not much more than an inch remained, and for perhaps an hour they sat and talked by the light which came from the open door of the stove.


“I’m going to do a little deducing,” Bob announced after he had filled the stove as full as possible. “While you were fishing I hunted around a bit, and over there in the corner I found two pint bottles which, by the smell, have had whiskey in them not long ago. It’s fair to think that they belonged to Nip and that he drank the contents. As there were two of them he must have drank over a pint from the time he got here till he left, and if he did the chances are that he didn’t get a very early start this morning.”

“You are deducing, if I get you right, that Nip isn’t very far ahead of us, aren’t you?” Jack asked as Bob paused.

“Right the first time, and what’s more, you may or may not have noticed that those tracks were not very straight, which seems to indicate that whoever made them had been ‘looking on the wine when it was red.’ No, I feel almost certain that our friend is not very far away, and if we start around four o’clock we ought to catch up with him before night. How does that strike you?”

“Right between the eyes,” Jack replied without hesitation.

Anything which Bob said was usually right in his brother’s eyes, not only because of the love he had for him, but he knew, from many experiences, that Bob’s judgment was pretty apt to be sound.


“But if we’re going to hit the trail by four o’clock, I think it would be a good plan to hit the hay right now,” Jack proposed as he got up from his seat on the floor.

“Hit the boughs, you mean,” Bob laughed as he followed suit. “I guess we’d better, seeing that the fire is about out and there’s only about enough wood to get breakfast in the morning.”

Bob’s watch told him that it was just three o’clock when he opened his eyes, and for a moment he struggled against the almost irresistible desire to go to sleep again. But he knew that much depended on an early start. So making as little noise as possible, he got out of his sleeping bag. But before going to sleep the night before, Jack had made a resolution with himself that he would wake as soon as Bob stirred, and this time he was successful.

“Thought you’d get ahead of me again, hey?” he growled good-naturedly, as Bob was getting to his feet. “My, but it’s dark as the ace of spades and then some,” he muttered, squirming out of his bag.


They made short work of getting breakfast, and it was but a few minutes after four o’clock when they were ready to start. While eating they debated the advisability of leaving the toboggan at the cabin, and taking with them only enough for a single meal. But finally they decided that it would be best not to take such a course.

“The toboggan is so light that we can make almost as good time with it, and we’re not at all sure that we won’t have to sleep out tonight, and without the duds we’d have to roost in a tree and it would be mighty cold,” Bob declared.

The stars shone with a still cold dimness as they started off. The traveling was still heavy, although the snow had settled a trifle and their snow-shoes did not sink quite as deep as the day before. The trail led straight across the lake toward the north, and it was plainly evident to the boys that the man who had made it must have been under the influence of liquor.

“See how uneven the prints are,” Bob pointed out, throwing the light of his flash on the snow ahead. “He had hard work to keep his feet straight and you can see that he stopped every few minutes. I doubt very much if he made more than ten miles yesterday, especially if he had more whiskey with him.”

It was about five miles across the lake to the opposite shore and they reached it at half-past five.

“Pretty good time, considering,” Bob declared as he glanced at his watch. “I’ll bet it took him three hours or more to make it.”


The trail now led up the side of a hill which was little less than a mountain, and as the growth of trees was very heavy it was a hard struggle to drag the toboggan between them. It was perhaps a little over a mile from the shore of the lake to the top of the hill, but the first streaks of red were tinging the eastern sky when, panting and puffing, they reached the summit.

“My, but that was some climb, believe me,” Jack panted as he leaned against a large spruce.

“Yes, we didn’t make very good time coming up the hill that’s a fact, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Nip didn’t do it in much better time even if he didn’t have to pull a toboggan,” Bob declared stooping to fasten his snow-shoes a bit tighter.

The way now led down hill through a thick growth of pines and after a short rest they were off again.

“Look Jack, here’s where he stopped to cook a meal,” Bob said after they had gone about a half a mile farther. “See, here’s what’s left of his fire, and sure’s you’re born there’s a stick with a few live sparks still on it. That means that he was here not much more than an hour ago and perhaps less.”

He had hardly spoken the words when they were startled by a voice from a thick growth of bushes a few feet to their left. They turned quickly but no one was in sight.

“Yes, and he’s still here,” the voice had declared.


“All right, why not come out and show yourself,” Bob said, as soon as he recovered his surprise.

“I’ll come when it suits me and not before,” the voice growled. “And in the meantime you two stand right where you are. I’ve got yer covered and I’d about as soon shoot as eat.”

As the voice uttered these threatening words, its owner stepped into view. The boys at once recognized Nip the hunchback, despite the fact that his face was covered with a thick growth of hair.

“Now what are you all a followin’ me fer?” he demanded, as he stepped to within about six feet of them and stopped.

The boys saw that he had uttered no idle threat, for he held in his right an ugly looking revolver. It was also evident that, however drunk he might have been the day before, he was perfectly sober now.

“Who said we were following you,” Bob asked. “I believe this is a free country, and I guess we have as much right to be here as you have.”

“Aw, cut it out, kid, I heared yer talkin’, so what’s the use of tryin’ ter bluff?”

“All right, have it your own way,” Bob replied pleasantly, trying to appear unconcerned. “You seem to have the drop on us. May I ask what you intend to do about it?”


“That depends on you all,” the man declared after a moment’s thought. “I asked yer what fer ye’r a followin’ me.”

“Under the circumstances I guess it’s a fair question and I’ll give you a fair answer,” Bob replied. “I have reason to think that you have a deed to some timber land which belongs to my father and we have followed you to get it.”

“What makes yer think I’ve got it?” he demanded.

“That’s neither here nor there,” Bob replied in decided tones. “The question is whether or not you have got it.”

“S’pose I have, what’s it worth ter you?” the man asked with an ugly grin.

“Do you mean how much will we give you for it?”

“That’s about the size of it,” the man replied with a still broader grin.

“Not a cent,” Bob answered in stern tones. “That deed belongs to my father, and if you were an honest man you would have given it to him and he would have doubtless given you a generous reward, but now you don’t get a single cent for it.”

“Don’t yer be too sure about that part of it. I know of a man who’ll be glad ter pay me a good price fer it and don’t yer forgit it,” he declared, taking a step nearer the boys.


“Then you acknowledge that you have it?” Bob asked.

“I ain’t acknowledging nothin’,” the man growled. “If I’ve got it, it’s my business, an’ if I ain’t, that’s my business too.”

During this conversation Nip had held the revolver pointed directly at Bob, and to tell the truth the latter was far from feeling as unconcerned as he appeared. He had had dealings with the man before and he was well aware of his unprincipled character. He also knew that the man was a coward unless all the odds were on his side. But now they were far away from any human being and he did not doubt, for a minute, that he would hesitate to kill them both if he thought that it was to his advantage to do so. The situation, he felt, demanded immediate and heroic measures.

Jack was standing about four feet to the right, and, as he caught the boy’s eye, he gave a slight nod to his head, at the same time gazing intently over Nip’s left shoulder. It was an old trick, but it worked. The man saw the nod and quickly turned his head. Instantly Bob’s right foot came up with all his strength behind it, the toe of the snow-shoe catching the hunchback’s wrist. The revolver flew from his hand and was lost in the snow several feet away. With a hoarse cry of anger and pain the man sprang to recover the gun, but before he was half way to it Bob was upon him.


They came down in a heap of snow, Bob on the top. But despite his deformity, Nip was possessed of great strength, and Bob, while strong, was only a boy. To be sure he knew far more of the science of wrestling than did the man, but handicapped by the snow-shoes and the deep snow, there was little or no chance to bring his skill into play. It was a place where brute strength was at a premium. Over and over they tumbled, now one on top and then the other, each striving to get an advantageous hold.

At the same instant that Bob had jumped for Nip, Jack had leaped for the revolver. He found it quickly and thrust it into the pocket of his mackinaw and then hurried to his brother’s assistance. But so violently were they thrashing about in the snow that for some time he was unable to do more than stand close by and wait for a favorable opportunity.


Meanwhile neither seemed to be gaining any decided advantage. Once Bob had gotten a half Nelson around the man’s neck, but with a violent effort he had quickly broken the hold. Again, Nip being for the moment on top, had seized Bob by the throat, and exerting all his strength had nearly succeeded in shutting off the boy’s wind. For the moment Bob thought he was licked, but he managed to get hold of the man’s wrist, and with a violent jerk tore the fingers away. A moment later the opportunity for which Jack was watching came, and he was quick to take advantage of it.

Nip was again on top and had just drawn back his fist, evidently hoping to put an end to the fight then and there. To do this he was obliged to raise his head, and instantly Jack had him around the neck and exerting all his strength succeeded in pulling him over backward. This allowed Bob to work himself free, and before Nip could struggle to his knees, Jack had stepped back and drawn the revolver.

“Good boy Jack,” Bob shouted, as he struggled to his feet. “Keep him covered a minute till I get these shoes straightened out a bit and then we’ll tend to him.”

As for Nip, when he saw that the tables were turned against him, all his courage evaporated.

“Don’t shoot,” he whined, struggling to get to his feet.

“It’s different when the shoe’s on the other foot, isn’t it?” Jack taunted. “Now, if you want to get away with a whole skin, just hand over that deed,” he ordered.

“I ain’t got no deed,” the man declared sullenly. “I was only fooling when I asked yer how much ye’d give fer it.”


“You hold the gun on him while I take a look,” Bob ordered.

Somewhat to his surprise Nip offered no objection to being searched. On the contrary, he appeared to welcome it.

“Didn’t I tell yer I didn’t have no deed?” he grinned, after Bob had gone through all his pockets without finding the paper.

“I guess you told the truth for once in your life,” Bob said as he stepped back. “But, just the same, I’ll bet you know where it is all right.”

“Mebby I do and mebby I don’t,” the man grinned. “But if I do it’s where yer can’t never find it.”

At that moment a lucky thought struck Jack. “I say Bob,” he cried, “how about his pack? He must have one somewhere around here.”

Bob’s heart jumped as he saw the look of anger which swept the man’s face as Jack made the suggestion. He no longer doubted but that he had the deed stowed away in his pack.

“You hold him and I’ll have a look,” he said, starting toward the clump of bushes where he had been hiding.

After a short search he found a fair sized pack rolled in a heavy blanket strapped at either end. He carried it out to where Jack had the man cowering under the threat of the revolver.


“Now then, Nip, it’ll expedite matters a bit if you’ll find the deed and hand it over,” he said as he threw the pack down at the man’s feet.

“Hold on a minute there, Bob,” Jack said. “Hadn’t you better look yourself? He may have another gun in that roll.”

“Right you are, son, I never thought of that. How about it, Nip? Got another gun there?”

“No, I got no more gun,” the man grumbled.

“Well, seeing as how your word doesn’t mean anything, I’m not going to take any chances on it,” Bob declared as he picked up the roll.

“You made a mighty lucky guess, Jack,” he declared a moment later, holding up an automatic which he had found in the pack. “If he’d got hold of this little plaything he might have had the drop on us again.”

The pack contained a small supply of provisions and a mess kit such as is used in the army. There was little else, an old woolen shirt and two pairs of thick socks. Bob had about concluded that the man did not have the deed after all, when, as he picked up the shirt, he felt something in the pocket.

“Here it is, I guess,” he shouted as he drew out a long envelope which had been folded over in the middle.


With eager fingers he pulled out the paper, and the next moment gave vent to a whoop of joy as he saw that it was the missing deed.

“I guess this’ll put a crimp in Big Ben’s plans,” he cried, as he thrust it in the inside pocket of his shirt. “I told you you wouldn’t get a cent for it,” he said, turning to the infuriated man. “This is one time when it would have paid you to have been on the square. And now,” he added, turning to Jack, “we’ve got what we came for and we’ll be beating it back.”

“You will give me back one of the guns before you go?” Nip whined.

“Yes we will—not,” Bob replied. “We know how much our lives would be worth if you had one of these guns.”

“But I swar I’ll not hurt you,” Nip began, but Bob interrupted him.

“Save your breath, Nip. I wouldn’t believe you on a stack of Bibles a mile high. Some time when you’re in Skowhegan stop round and you can have them both, but now they stay with us.”

“But the wolves. I will have nothing to protect myself with.”


This was a phase of the matter which had not occurred to either of the boys. To leave even such a man as Nip defenseless in the wilderness when they knew that there was a very real danger from wolves was a serious proposition, and on the other hand, to give him one of the revolvers was, they felt, little less than suicide.

“What had we better do?” Bob asked.

“Search me,” Jack replied, with a shake of his head.

“Give me de gun and you’ll never see me again,” Nip promised in a pleading tone.

“Not for a minute,” Bob said sternly. “Whatever else we do, it won’t be that.”

Bob motioned to Jack to step back a few feet, and for several minutes they talked in low tones. Finally they made up their minds what to do, and coming back to where Nip was standing, Bob said:

“We’ve decided to give you your choice of two courses. You can go on and take your chance. It’s only about eight or ten miles to the Canadian border, and there is a small town just over the line and you can get a gun there if you intend to go farther. Or you can go back with us. Now which will it be?”

“I’ll take a chance and go on,” the man said, after a moment’s thought. “But I’ll get you sometime for this and don’t ye forgit it.”

Without wasting any more words, the boys picked up the rope of the toboggan and started back, leaving Nip rolling up his pack.

“I hope the wolves don’t get him,” Jack said, as soon as they were out of hearing.


“I guess there’s not a whole lot of danger. He ought to reach the border in a little over two hours,” Bob replied, adding: “Anyhow, I don’t see how we could have done any different. He’d have shot us quick as a wink if he’d got a chance.”

It was just noon when they reached the old cabin on the lake. They had intended to get a hasty dinner and then travel until dark; but, after talking it over, they decided to wait and get an early start in the morning, and try to make the Carry in one day.

“It’s getting better going all the time as the snow settles, and if we get off by four o’clock I believe we can make it,” Bob declared. “And I’d rather do that than camp out again. I don’t much care for another set to with that pack of wolves.”

“Well, we’ve got to have some wood if we’re going to stay here all night. We used all there was in the shack getting breakfast this morning,” Jack said, as he began to untie the pack.

“I’ll see what I can find if you’ll get a couple of those trout ready;” and, taking the ax, Bob started for the woods back of the cabin.

He was obliged to hunt for some time before he found a dead tree, and it was all of an hour before he returned with his arms full of wood.

“I’d about concluded that either Nip or the wolves had got you,” Jack laughed, as Bob threw the wood on the floor in front of the stove.


“Thought I’d never find any,” he panted. “But I’ve got quite a lot cut up and I’ll bring it in while you’re getting dinner; but, for goodness’ sake, make it snappy. I’m hungry enough to eat one of those fish raw.”

“Our bill of fare is slightly limited as to variety, although the quantity is all right,” Jack laughed a little later, as they were eating fish and drinking coffee. “If I have to eat trout much longer I’ll be growing fins and a tail.”

“They say that fish is good brain food, and if that’s so you and I ought to carry off all the prizes at The Fortress next term,” Bob said as he helped himself to another cup of coffee.

They ate again about six o’clock, and an hour later they were sound asleep in their sleeping bags, Bob’s mental alarm clock, as Jack called it, set for three o’clock. It was some three hours later when Bob was suddenly awakened by the sound of someone trying to push open the door.



For a moment he thought he must have been mistaken and it was nothing but a dream, but as he lay and listened the sound was repeated. He remembered that he had barred the door before going to bed, and now he thanked his lucky star that he had done so. As the sound was repeated, now with more force, he reached over and gave Jack a shake.

“S-s-s-h,” he whispered, as Jack stirred and was about to speak. “There’s somebody trying the door.”

“Perhaps it’s Nip,” Jack whispered as he sat up.

“Not likely,” Bob whispered back. “You have the gun ready and I’ll ask who it is;” and, getting out of his bag, he crept close to the door.

“Who’s there?” he called.

For a moment there was no answer, then a voice replied:

“Eet’s me, Jacques Lamont.”


As quickly as possible Bob withdrew the bar and threw open the door. By the light of the moon he saw a powerfully built man standing in the doorway, and the next moment the two were shaking hands as though they would never stop.

“Weel, weel, to think of seeing you way up here, and Jack too,” the Frenchman almost shouted, as Jack, having shed his bag, rushed forward, and throwing his arms around the man’s neck, gave him a bear like hug.

“Where in the world did you come from?” Bob asked, as soon as Jack let the Frenchman loose.

“I been trapping up long Glazier Lake. Geet beeg lot ver’ fine fur and take hem to Greenville.”

Jacques Lamont was an old and very much loved friend of the Golden boys. He had worked for Mr. Golden off and on for many years, and the boys had always declared that he was the best Frenchman in the world. Now well past fifty, Jacques was as young and spry as most men of thirty. Straight as an arrow, his fame as an athlete was state wide. On more than one occasion they had seen him walk beneath a bar without stooping, and then run and leap over it. A fine physical specimen of manhood, his character was on a par with his physique.

“I have eat supper, oui. One minute till I feex these dogs and I be with you,” Jacques said as he passed out into the night again.


Both the boys followed him, and at sight of the strangers the four dogs set up a loud yelping; but, at a word from Jacques, they quickly quieted down. They were large rangy beasts, resembling closely the huge timber wolves, which they had fought. They were harnessed to a long sled, which was piled high with various pelts. It took the Frenchman but a few minutes to “stable” his team for the night, as all he did was to slip the harness from them.

“No danger of them running away?” Bob asked, as they returned to the cabin.

“Not a leetle bit,” Jacques laughed as he warmed his hands at the stove into which Jack had piled several pieces of wood and which was now roaring again.

Although they had no light except their flashlights and that which came from the open door of the stove, the moon shone in at the window so that they were easily able to see each other.

Sitting on the floor in front of the stove, the boys gave their friend a full account of their trip.

“Oui, I meet heem,” Jacques interrupted, when Bob had related their encounter with Nip. “He most to the border when we meet. He look a bad one.”

“He sure is,” Jack laughed, “and here’s hoping that we’ve seen the last of him.”

“Oui, we make eet all right,” Jacques declared, when the boys told him of their intention of making the Carry the next day.


Bob’s alarm clock went off at the appointed time the next morning, but he found that Jacques was up ahead of him and had the fire going. The Frenchman had a small supply of flapjack flour, and it made a very welcome addition to their trout menu.

By four o’clock the dogs had been fed and harnessed and they were ready for the start. Jacques cracked his long whip and the dogs sprang forward, setting a pace that made the boys exert themselves to their utmost to follow. The Frenchman swung along directly behind the sled with no apparent effort. The boys knew that both man and dogs could keep up the rapid pace all day, but at the end of the first hour they were, as Jack declared in a low tone to Bob, “about all in.”

“Hey there, Jacques,” Bob shouted. “What do you think we are? I didn’t mean that we expected to get to Carry before dinner time.”

The Frenchman shouted a command to the dogs, and they at once came to a halt and sat down on their haunches.

“Pardon moi,” he laughed. “I forgeet, you not so used to go fast. We take leetle rest, oui, and then we go not so fast, hey?”

“Not so fast is right,” Jack laughed, as he leaned against a big spruce. “These long legs of yours just naturally seem to eat up space, but ours aren’t so long.”


While they were resting Bob attempted to pet the dogs, but low, deep throated growls warned him not to get too friendly.

“They no like strangers,” Jacques explained. “Take um three four days geet quainted, then they make friend all right if um like you.”

“I think I’ll take your word for it,” Bob laughed. “That big leader has sure got a dandy set of teeth and he looks as though he’d rather enjoy taking a sample out of my leg.”

In a few minutes they were off again, but now, in obedience to a command from Jacques, the dogs set a more moderate pace. Still it was, as Jack declared, plenty fast enough, and at the end of another hour Bob had to call a second halt. At ten o’clock they reached the spot where they had spent the first night of the trip, and here they stopped to cook their dinner and feed the dogs.

“We mak de carry by seex o’clock eef all goes well,” Jacques declared as he began to harness the dogs again.

As a matter of fact they did a little better than his estimate, for at half-past five the lights of the little settlement hove in sight.


“Hello, just in time to eat. Hurry up and take a seat,” was Ezra Kimball’s greeting as they pushed open the door of the store. “Did you get the deed, or had he too much lead?” he asked as soon as they were fairly inside.

“We got it all right, thanks to you,” Bob replied.

“That’s the stuff. Knew you were good enough,” Ezra chuckled as he opened a door at the back of the store and called:

“Supper ready, mother? Put on two more plates and then another.”

“Don’t say that you’ve got trout for supper, Ezra,” Jack said anxiously.

“Not a trout, that I know about,” Ezra assured him, and Jack explained his antipathy to the fish.

“We’ve eaten so many trout since we’ve been gone that I’ll be ashamed to ever look one in the face again,” he declared.

His fears were groundless and, while they were eating the excellent supper which Ezra’s wife sat before them, they told again the story of their trip. There was a ’phone in the store, and as soon as supper was over Bob called his father and told him of the recovery of the deed.

“That’s fine,” Mr. Golden declared, his voice expressing his pleasure. “That will save me a good many thousand dollars. You two boys certainly do beat the Dutch. Tom ’phoned yesterday from Greenville and said that Ben had begun to cut on the tract. Now I’ll be up in a few days, as soon as I can get away, but when you get back to camp you might go and see Ben and tell him that you have found the deed, but don’t take it with you.”


Bob gave his father a brief account of their trip but did not mention the wolves, as he knew that the thought would worry him. As soon as he told him of their meeting with Jacques and that the latter was going to Greenville the next day, Mr. Golden suggested that they give the deed to him and have him leave it at the First National Bank.

“It’ll be safe there,” he said, “and I’m afraid it won’t be at the camp, as the safe there does not amount to much.”

The boys were very tired and went to bed soon after supper, knowing that Jacques wished to get a fairly early start the next morning.

The first man they saw, as they entered the lumber camp the next day, was Tom Bean. Jacques had not stopped, as he wished to reach Greenville as soon as possible to dispose of his furs. But he had promised them that he was coming back in a day or two and would stay a few days with them. As soon as they saw Tom they knew that something was wrong. Tom never wore that look on his face unless he was deeply troubled. However, his face brightened as he caught sight of the two boys.


“Sure an’ it’s about time yez was a gitting back,” he called from the office door. “What luck?” he asked, as he came forward to meet them, holding out both hands.

“The best in the world,” Bob replied, as he shook one hand while Jack did the same to the other.

“Glory be! Sure an’ I knowed ye’d do it if it could be did. But come on in the office an’ tell us all about it.”

Tom listened without once interrupting while they told about the trip, and when they had finished he congratulated them heartily.

“But what’s the trouble here, Tom?” Bob asked. “I knew the minute I laid eyes on you that something had gone wrong, so out with it.”

“Ye said a mouthful then,” Tom replied gloomily, as he thrust a big hunk of wood into the fire. “Sure and there’s the dickens to pay, so there is. Day afore yisterday Jim broke his off hind leg and o’ course had ter be shot, and thin yisterday mornin’ when the drivers went to hitch up, they found six o’ the horses sick, and two o’ thim has died since. This mornin’ three more were sick in the same way, and thot laves us wid only three ter do the haulin’.”

“But what seems to be the matter with them?” Jack asked anxiously, as Tom paused.

“Sure and it’s meself as don’t know. I had Doc Sam up from Greenville yisterday but all he could say was thot they must a eat sumpin thot give ’em the colic.”


“Do you suppose it’s some more of Ben’s work?”

“Niver a bit o’ doubt of it,” Tom replied quickly, and there was in his voice a note of anger which the boys had seldom heard. “Somebody has put sumpin in the feed as did it and who else would be after doin’ a mane trick like thot?”

“Have you told Father?” Bob asked.

“Not yit. I’m after goin’ down ter the village right after dinner and see if I kin hire some horses, and I’ll telephone him then. But it’s meself thot’s afeared thot I can’t git a horse at all at all, and there’s the logs a pilin’ up and no horses ter haul thim.”

“I had Father on the ’phone last night and he said that Ben had started to cut on the tract,” Bob said.

“Sure and he’s been cuttin’ fer two days now, and he got all of 100,000 fate down areddy, and it’s the finest spruce yer iver laid yer eyes on.”

At that moment the dinner horn sounded its welcome blast through the forest and telling Tom to keep up his courage, the boys hurried to the mess house. Soon the men began to troop in by twos and threes, and as they caught sight of the boys all had a hearty word of greeting for them, especially Jean Larue.


“I mees you beeg plenty,” the latter declared as he took his seat beside Jack. “I tink it be one two week you been gone, oui?”

“Hardly so long as that,” Bob laughed, as he heaped his plate with potatoes and beef steak. “But we’re mighty glad to be back.”

As soon as dinner was over Tom harnessed his driving horse to the light cutter and was off for Greenville. The boys, as soon as the men had returned to their work, put on their snow-shoes and started for Big Ben’s camp.

“He’ll be mad as a bear with a sore head,” Bob declared, as they trudged along over the snow which was now so well packed that the broad shoes hardly made any impression. “Be mighty careful what you say,” he cautioned. “You know what he is when his dander is up, and it’ll be up a plenty when he learns that we’ve got that deed and all the timber he has cut on the tract will have to be turned over to Father.”

Soon they could hear the sound of axes ringing through the stillness of the forest, interspersed with the shouts and laughter of the men as they sang and joked at their work.

“They seem to be in mighty good spirits all right,” Jack declared, as they came in sight of the cutting.

For a moment they stood watching the scene to see if they could locate Big Ben.


“There he is over there by that big tree to the left,” Jack whispered.

“All right, come on and we’ll get it over as soon as possible. But remember what I said and let me do the talking.”

Big Ben was busy talking with one of his men as the boys approached, and at first failed to notice them. They waited until he looked up and saw them.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Donahue,” Bob greeted him pleasantly.

For an instant a look of anger flashed into the big man’s face, but he quickly controlled himself and forcing a smile said:

“Hello boys. Been takin’ a walk?”

“Why, yes. I guess you’d call it that,” Bob returned smiling. “We thought we’d come down and see how the new cutting was going.”

“Well, it’s goin’ fine, as you can see. Don’t think I ever saw better timber. Lots of those trees’ll scale close to a thousand feet.”

“I think you’re right there,” Bob replied slowly, letting his eyes glance at the fallen monarchs. “They’ll help us out a lot on our contract,” he added easily.

“On your contract!” the big man exploded, the look of anger returning to his face.


“Why, yes,” Bob said quietly. “Why not? They belong to Father, you know.”

“I know nothin’ of the kind,” Big Ben shouted. “Them trees belong ter me and I’ve got the papers to prove it.”

“I doubt it, Mr. Donahue,” Bob said. “But as I told you once before, that is a matter for the courts to decide. But what we really came down for was to tell you that Father’s deed to this tract has been found.”

“What!” the big man shouted, so loudly that several of the workmen nearby glanced up. “I don’t believe a word of it,” he declared in a slightly lower tone.

“And we don’t ask you to,” Bob said calmly. “Having told you the facts, we consider that we have done all that could be expected of us. It is immaterial to us whether or not you believe it and whether or not you keep on with the cutting. Of course the more you get down the less Father’ll have to cut, and if he were not an honest man as well as a generous one, he’d have let you go on cutting for the rest of the winter before letting you know about the deed.”

Bob had hoped that the explanation would serve to mollify the man but it seemed to have exactly the opposite effect. Big Ben’s face grew darker and darker as he listened to the boy, and he clinched and unclinched his hands in a nervous effort to control himself.


“If you’ve got the deed, let’s see it,” he demanded angrily, as soon as Bob had finished.

“We haven’t got it with us,” Bob replied.

“No, nor you haven’t got it anywhere else neither,” the big man sneered. “It’s all a cooked up lie to try to make me stop chopping, but it hain’t a goin’ to work; not no cock and bull yarn like that.”

“Do just as you think best, Mr. Donahue,” Bob said still pleasantly. “If you really think we are lying you would, of course, be very foolish to let it interfere with your work.”

“Where’d you find the deed?” Ben asked suddenly.

“That’s something that I can’t tell you just at present,” Bob replied.

“Of course you can’t,” the other sneered. “And there’s a mighty good reason why you can’t too.”

“As you please,” Bob said. “And now, having completed our errand, we’ll go back. Come on Jack.”

Big Ben turned away muttering something about two kids thinking they were smart, and, without further words, the boys started for their camp.

“Do you think he was bluffing?” Jack asked, as soon as they were out of hearing.


“Of course he was,” Bob replied. “Ben knows Father and us too, for that matter, too well to believe that we’d say that we had the deed when we didn’t have it.”

“I guess you’re right, but do you think he’ll keep on cutting?”

“I doubt it.”

“I thought you would say something about the horses,” Jack said a moment later.

“Well, I did intend to at first, but, after all, what’s the use. He’d have denied knowing anything about it, of course, and we haven’t any proof you know,” Bob said, a note of sadness in his voice.

“You were right, of course,” Jack replied. “But it seems to me that it is about up to us to get the proof.”

“My sentiments exactly,” Bob agreed. “It fairly makes my blood boil to think of those poor horses suffering. The ghost and the whiskey were not so bad, but when they start to torturing poor dumb beasts in order to get the best of us, it’s time something was done and don’t you forget it.”

On reaching the camp they went at once to the big shed about a hundred feet behind the cook house, where the horses were kept. There they found a halfbreed, whose only name so far as anyone knew was Sam, doctoring the sick horses. Sam knew and loved horses and was a very capable and reliable man when it came to tending them.


“Hello, Sam, how are the patients,” Bob called as they entered.

“They ver’ seek, but I tink dey geet well all but the two who dead,” Sam replied.

The boys could plainly see that the horses were indeed very sick and the hot tears sprang to their eyes as they looked at the suffering animals.

“Any idea what caused it?” Bob asked.

“Oui, I tink it in der oats. You come here. I show you,” Sam replied, leading the way to one end of the shed.

He caught up a peck measure and, lifting the cover of a bin, scooped it about two-thirds full of oats. The boys noticed that the bin was nearly empty. He then sat the measure on the top of a box and began to shake it violently back and forth. Then, with his hands, he shoveled the oats back in the bin. As soon as the measure was emptied he held it out to Bob.

“You see,” he cried excitedly.

Bob and Jack both looked into the measure and saw, on the bottom, a thin coating of a fine white powder.

“That stuff no should be in der oats,” Sam declared.


“I should say not,” Bob agreed, as he touched the powder with his finger and carefully touched his tongue to it. “You come with me,” he cried, leading the way toward the cook house.

The cook had a roaring fire in the stove, and taking a pinch of the powder he threw it on to the hot lid. Instantly a white vapor rose in the air.

“I thought so,” he declared, turning to Sam, who was standing close by with a puzzled expression on his face. “Now Sam, when I put another bit on the stove, I want you to get your nose into that smoke and tell me what it smells like. It won’t hurt you.”

“She smell ver’ lak garlic,” Sam declared a minute later, and, after a third trial, Jack corroborated his assertion.

“That settles it beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Bob said. “It’s arsenic.”

“You’re sure?” Jack asked.

“Of course I’m sure. What do you suppose I’ve studied chemistry for?”

“She ver’ pisen, dat arsenic,” Sam declared, shaking his head.

“Indeed it is,” Bob said. “It’s a wonder they didn’t all die.”

“Well, it seems that we’ve found out the how and now to find the who,” Jack said as they returned to the shed.


By repeating Sam’s sifting process Bob secured about two tablespoons full of the white powder, which he had declared to be arsenic. This he put in a small bottle which the cook had given him.

“I want you both to remember that you saw me get this stuff out of these oats,” he told Jack and Sam. “If this ever gets to court it will be a mighty important piece of evidence.”

The boys did not expect Tom back until late at night, and he had said that he might not return before the next day. So they cautioned Sam to say nothing about what they had discovered, thinking it best to keep the knowledge to themselves until they had asked Tom’s advice.

“But some one must keep watch here all the time,” Bob declared. “You see whoever did it may try it again, and we may get a chance to catch him, although I doubt it. I hardly think he’d dare try it a second time.”

Sam readily agreed to watch through the night, saying that he would have to be up a good part of the night anyway to give the horses medicine as he had the past two nights. He said that he had had a good long nap that morning and would not miss the sleep.


By this time it was beginning to get dark and they knew that within a few minutes the men would be coming in from the cutting. So the boys decided to go to the office and talk over this latest development while waiting for the supper horn.

“It ought not to be a very difficult matter to trace that arsenic,” Bob declared as he lit the kindling in the office stove. “You see white arsenic is not very common around here, and if it was bought in Skowhegan or any other small town, whoever sold it would be pretty sure to remember it. Of course if the fellow sent to Boston or to some other big city for it, it would complicate matters. But I’m counting on the idea that he did not think that it would be found out.”

“This is going to be real detective work, isn’t it?” Jack said as he filled the stove with wood.

“It’s a job that’s apt to take a long time,” Bob declared soberly. “You see it means canvassing all the drug stores within a big radius of here; that is, unless we hit on the right one early in the game.”

Just then the horn called them to supper, but as soon as the meal was over they returned to the office where they sat and discussed plans until Tom returned shortly after ten o’clock.

“What luck?” Jack asked, as the foreman pushed open the door.


“Sure and it’s jest as I expected. Nary a horse fer love nor money. But I got yer father on the ’phone and he’s a goin’ ter see what he kin do,” and Tom threw himself into a chair in front of the stove. “And what ye byes bin doin’?” he asked.

They told him, first of their visit to Big Ben, and the Irishman chuckled with delight as he learned of the man’s discomfiture.

“And we’ve found out what poisoned the horses,” Jack said.

“Who did it?” Tom shouted, jumping to his feet.

“Don’t get excited,” Jack cautioned, as he pushed him back into the chair. “I said ‘what’ not ‘who,’” and he proceeded to tell him how Bob had found and proved that it was arsenic.

“We’ve got to give Sam a lot of credit for it,” Bob interrupted. “It was really he who discovered the stuff.”

“Sam’s a mighty fine bye even if he’s a breed,” Tom declared. “And it’s meself thot’s bettin’ thot the rascle won’t git anither chance while he’s thar.”

“But what do you think we’d better do, Tom?” Bob asked.

“Sure and thot’s hard ter say,” Tom answered reflectively. “If we could find out who sold the stuff and who bought it, we’d sure have a bunch o’ cir—cir—, what the blazes is thot kind o’ ividence when yer don’t know nothin’ but think yer know it all?”

“I guess you mean circumstantial evidence,” Bob laughed.


“Sure and thot’s the woid,” and both Tom and Jack joined in the laughter at the former’s expense.

“If we could find the bottle or box, or whatever the stuff was in, it would probably help a lot,” Bob suggested. “But I don’t suppose there’s much hope of that,” he added mournfully.

“No, the mane skunk probably dumped the whole of it in and took the bottle away wid him,” Tom agreed.

“Did Father say when he would be up?” Jack asked.

“Not fer sartin sure, but as soon as he could git away, in a day or two he said,” Tom replied.

“Well, don’t you think it would be a good plan to wait till he comes and see what he thinks about it?”

“I think you’re right. A day or two probably won’t make much difference one way or the other, and if we do the wrong thing we might make a bad matter worse,” Bob replied, and Tom nodded his head in agreement.



It was pitch dark in the bunk house when Bob awoke. Unless disturbed it was an unusual thing for him to wake up before time to get up, so, expecting every minute to hear the rising horn, he lay for a few minutes in a half doze. Finally, as the call did not come, he glanced at his wrist watch, and with a start of surprise saw that it was only two o’clock. With a sigh of relief, for he was still sleepy, he turned over and closed his eyes, expecting to be asleep in another minute. But to his surprise, he continued to keep awake. He wondered how the sick horses were and if his father would be able to find others to take their places until they were able to work again. Then he fell to wondering what Big Ben would try next in his efforts to delay their work.

A half hour passed and still he could not sleep. Finally, when the luminous dial told him that he had been awake a full hour, he resolved to get up and join Sam in the horse shed.


“There’s no use lying here awake,” he thought, as he slid from his bunk to the floor, and very quietly, so as not to disturb anyone, began pulling on his clothes. This done, he groped his way to the door, and opening it carefully stepped out into the night. It was very cold, “thirty below at least,” he thought, as he pulled the door shut. The night was clear, and stars, which thickly studded the heavens, gave a faint cold light which enabled him to see dimly for some distance. For a moment he stood drinking in the beauty of the night and filling his lungs with the spruce scented air. Then he turned toward the shed, but at that moment he happened to glance at the office. With a sudden start of amazement, he noticed that the door was part way open.

“That’s mighty strange,” he thought. “But perhaps Tom couldn’t sleep either and has gone out to see how the horses are. At any rate I’ll know in a minute.”

He found Sam half asleep in a chair in front of the little stove at one end of the long shed. He sprang up as the boy pushed open the door.

“Oh, it be you, oui,” he said, relieved as the light of a lantern which hung on the wall back of him disclosed his visitor.


“Yes, it’s I all right,” Bob replied. “I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d come out and see how the patients are getting along.”

“Them get long ver’ weel. No so much seek now,” Sam assured him.

“Have you seen Tom?” Bob asked anxiously.

“Nicht, not after he come back bout ten,” Sam replied. “What mak’ you tink I see heem?”

“Why, the door of the office was open and I thought probably he was out here with you,” and a worried look sprang to Bob’s face which Sam was quick to notice.

“Dat ver’ queer, she be open dis cold night. We go see bout eet,” and Sam quickly slipped into his heavy mackinaw and grabbed his cap from a nail in the wall.

They were about half way across the clearing when two men stepped out of the office door. In the dim light they could only see their forms.

“Something’s wrong,” Bob gasped, as he caught Sam by the arm.

Sam did not stop to reply, but snatching his arm away, started for the office on the run. At that moment the men saw them, and darting around the corner they made for the river at the top of their speed.

On reaching the office, Sam stopped and waited for Bob, who was a few feet behind him.

“We go geet ’em, oui?” he asked.


“No. Let them go,” Bob replied, shaking his head. “I doubt if we could catch them and it wouldn’t be safe. They’re probably armed.”

Sam gave a grunt of disappointment, but evidently realizing that what Bob had said was true, he made no further comment but followed him into the office.

“Hello Tom,” Bob shouted, as soon as they were inside.

At first there was no reply, but as they listened a low muffled grunt came from the little bed room. By this time Sam had the light lit and they hurried into the other room. A low cry of anger burst from Bob’s lips as he saw the foreman lying tied hand and foot, on the bed, and gagged with a big red handkerchief. Quickly getting out his knife, he soon freed him and Tom sat up with a sheepish look on his face.

“Are you hurt, Tom?” Bob asked anxiously.

“Nary a hurt but to me falings,” Tom grinned, as he slowly got to his feet. “But did yer see ’em?”

“Yes, we saw them all right, but they had the start of us and I didn’t think it safe to try to catch them.”

“Sure and it’s a good thing yer didn’t. They are as strong as an ox,” Tom declared, rubbing his ankles to restore the circulation.


“Hurry up and tell us what happened,” Bob urged.

“Sure and I’ll do that same. I was slaping as swately as a babe, when all of a sudden I felt the kivers yanked off me and before I could get me bearings the villains had me hands tied fast and me fate too.”

“Well, I’m mighty glad they didn’t hurt you, but you’d better get back into bed or you’ll get your death. It’s colder than Greenland in here and then some,” Bob declared.

“Sure and I’ll be after gitting me clothes on. No more slape fer me this night,” and he began quickly to pull on his trowsers.

While he was dressing, Bob and Sam stepped out into the office. As he expected, Bob saw at once that the door of the little safe was wide open. The safe had a combination lock, but as it seldom held anything of value it was usually left unlocked. That it had been thoroughly searched was evident, as a number of papers were scattered over the floor in front of it.

“Was there any money in the safe?” Bob called to Tom.

“Nary a dollar,” the foreman replied, as he joined them.


“Then I guess they didn’t get anything of value. Of course they were after that deed. Isn’t it lucky that we sent it down to Greenville by Jacques?”

“I tink dat ver’ bon idea,” Sam declared, and Tom heartily agreed with him.

“Do you know who they were?” Bob asked.

“Nary a bit. Sure and they had handkerchiefs over their faces and not a woid did they spake thot I could hear,” Tom explained as he started to build a fire in the stove.

“It’s too bad we couldn’t have recognized them,” Bob sighed, as he held out his hands to the stove which was already radiating heat through the room. “We’ve got nothing but suspicion to go on again.”

Sam, saying that he had better get back and see to the horses, soon left the office and Bob, after picking up the papers and putting them back in the safe, got out the checker board and soon they were deeply interested in the game. So intent were they that it seemed but a few minutes before the rising horn told them that in ten minutes breakfast would be on the table.

“Sure and we’ll have ter finish this game, breakfast or no breakfast,” Tom declared as he jumped one of Bob’s kings. “It’s meself as thinks thot I got yer in a hole this time,” and a few minutes later Bob had to acknowledge that he was right and with a grin the foreman made a mark on his side of a bit of paper on which he kept a record of all the games.


“Yee’re only two ahead now,” he declared, as he put the paper carefully away in the drawer of the table.

After breakfast was over Bob told Jack what had happened, but cautioned him to keep the information to himself, for the present at least.

“The plot thickens,” Jack whispered dramatically, as Bob finished.

“Well, if it gets much thicker I’m afraid we’ll be all clogged up,” Bob smiled, but, as Jack declared, it was a serious sort of a smile.

As they had decided to take no steps until they had talked with their father, they joined the men at the cutting and were soon busy sawing down a big spruce. The logs, owing to the horses being sick, had accumulated during the past two days, and all about them were piles which were steadily growing larger. The one team which was available was doing its best to keep the big logs moving, but their efforts seemed puny when compared with what was needed.

The boys had been working but a few minutes when Tom joined them.


“Sure and we’ll soon be all clogged up here,” he declared as he surveyed the ever growing piles. “I’ve a half a mind to begin cuttin’ on the big tract. Yer know it runs down close ter the lake and we could cut thar fer two or three days wid no hauling necessary at all. It would give Jim time ter catch up wid his job here a bit. What do yez think about it?”

“I’m afraid it would mean a fight with Big Ben,” Bob said slowly, as he took off his cap to wipe his forehead.

“What of it?” Jack asked impulsively. “I’ll bet we could lick ’em.”

“What do you think about it yourself, Tom?” Bob asked, ignoring his brother’s remark, much to Jack’s disgust.

“Well, I dunno,” and the big Irishman scratched his head reflectively. “Mebby he’d foight and then again mebby he wouldn’t. Sure and it’s about a toss up I’m a thinkin’.”

“We might make a start at it, and if we see that he means to fight we could take back water I suppose,” Bob said.

“That’s the talk, all but that back water stuff,” Jack broke in joyously.

“I believe it’s worth tryin’,” Tom said, “but we won’t change till after dinner.”

During the noon meal Tom explained the plan to the men and warned them that, in case Big Ben and his crew should interfere, there was to be no fighting unless he should give the word.


As has been stated, the edge of the disputed track came nearly to the clearing, and they hoped that by cutting only on the upper end that they might get in two or three day’s work before Ben learned of it.

“He’ll never know a thing about it unless someone happens to go by and tells him,” Jack declared as he and Bob followed the crew to the new cutting.

Here the big spruces grew close to the edge of the lake, and as Tom had said no hauling would be necessary for several days.

“It’s no wonder Ben tried to get possession of this lot,” Bob declared as he looked up at the towering trees, their trunks reaching far up as straight as an arrow. “There’ll be hardly a bit of waste to these trees,” he added.

The men fell to with a will and by the time the first hint of the approaching night stole over the forest, Tom vowed that they had cut not less than twenty thousand feet.

That evening Bob and Tom had just completed a draw game when a heavy knock sounded on the door of the office.

“Come in,” Tom shouted.

The door immediately swung open and Big Ben Donahue entered.

“A fine avenin’ to yez,” Tom said, getting up and waving his visitor to a chair near the stove.

That Big Ben was mad and meant trouble was plain to be seen. He paid no attention to the greeting nor did he accept the chair.


“I want to know what you mean by cutting on my property,” he demanded.

“Sure and I’d like ter know who’s been a cuttin’ on yer property. I hain’t,” Tom replied in a pleasant tone.

“Aw, what’s the use of lying about it. You——”

But he got no farther for Tom stepped toward him and there was that in the Irishman’s eyes which caused the big man to stop.

“Hold on thar right what ye are. I’m Irish clean ter the bone and the man don’t live thot can call me thot and get away wid it.”

“All right,” Big Ben said hastily. “No offense intended, but you know that you’ve been cuttin’ on the tract just below here?”

“Sure and now yer’re talkin’ so’s I kin understand yer. I did start ter cuttin’ on the tract jest forninst here. What about it?” and Tom resumed his seat, leaving the other standing.

“This about it,” the big man snapped. “I own that piece of timber and I warn ye to keep off it.”

“As I told you yesterday, Mr. Donahue,” Bob broke in, “we’ve got a paper which says that the tract belongs to Father.”

“And as I told ye then, I tell ye now, that I don’t believe a word of it. Of course,” he hastened to add, as he noticed the red blood mounting to Tom’s face, “I don’t doubt but that you’ve got a paper which you think proves it, but just the same the property is mine.”


“Thot’s better,” Bob heard the Irishman mutter as he twisted uneasily in his chair.

“If you can prove that in court, of course all the timber which we cut on the tract will belong to you, so you will not lose anything no matter how much we get down,” Bob explained.

“That’s not the point,” Ben broke in angrily. “I tell ye the land’s mine and I forbid ye to cut another tree on it.”

“And if we do?” Bob asked in even tones.

“I’ll drive ye off,” and the big man evidently meant what he said.

“Thanks,” Bob said dryly. “I just wanted to be sure where we stand.”

“Well, I guess ye know now,” the other snapped.

For a moment no one spoke; then, as if he had come to a definite conclusion, Bob said:


“Mr. Donahue, we do not wish to have trouble with you if it can be avoided, but you have already gone too far. Now,” as the man was about to interrupt, “let me finish and then we’ll listen to what you have to say. Last summer Father beat you in a fair bid for the contract with the Great Northern Star Company, and you have been doing your best to try to delay our work. First you tried to scare our men with a ghost, then you got some of them drunk, and finally you, or someone in your employ, put arsenic in our oats and killed two of our horses.” Bob was sorry the minute he mentioned the arsenic, but it was too late now and he went on. “And only last night two men burglarized the safe here, but they didn’t get what they were after.”

“It’s all a——” the big man began, his face red with anger, but he stopped short as Tom rose from his chair. “I had nothing to do with all that,” he substituted.

“All right, we’ll let that pass for the present, as we are not in a position to prove it, that is just now,” Bob added, with strong emphasis on the last two words.

Big Ben Donahue was getting all the worst of the argument, and he had sense enough to know it, but it was not in his nature to give up so long as he had a foot on which to stand.

“It’s no use to multiply words about it,” he declared, buttoning up his mackinaw. “But I warn ye once more not to cut another stick on that property, and if ye do I’ll make ye wish that ye hadn’t,” and with a savage scowl he was gone.

“Pleasant company, isn’t he,” Bob remarked with a smile, as he began to arrange the men on the checker board.


“He was bluffing and he knew it,” Jack declared, picking up the book which he had been reading when Big Ben came in.

“Mebby,” Bob agreed. “But the big question is, does his bluff go?”

“Not any,” Jack replied quickly, but Tom shook his head slowly.

“Sure and it’s meself as knows the kind of a gang he’s got. If he brings ’em up here somebody’ll git a broken head or two, and it’s meself as doubts if the game’s worth it.”

“I’ll tell you how we can fix it,” Jack declared suddenly, throwing his book on the table.

“All right. Spring it,” Bob said.

“Well, why not do this? In the morning the men can go to work right where they left off. You and I’ll go down about a mile toward Ben’s camp and watch. If we see them coming we can give a signal and long before they can get here the men can all be at work on the other side of the clearing.”

“Sure and it’s a foin head ye got,” and the foreman cast an admiring glance at the boy.

“I believe he’s struck it,” Bob agreed, giving his brother a hearty slap on the back. “And if you agree, Tom, we’ll try it.”

“Sure and it’s jest the ticket,” Tom said as he took the checker board from the table. “It’s your foist move.”


The game was hardly started, however, when the door was pushed open without warning and Jacques Lamont stepped in to the room.

“Hello, Jacques,” shouted both the boys, springing to their feet, Bob forgetting that he had one side of the checker board on his knees.

“Hey, thar, will yez look ter what yer after doing,” Tom called, as the checker men slid to the floor.

“Sorry, Tom,” Bob apologized. “I guess we’ll have to begin that game all over again.”

“And jest when I had one illegant start on yer,” Tom grumbled as he too got to his feet and gave the Frenchman a hearty welcome.

After the exchange of greetings, Jacques told them that he was going back to Canada to finish out the season trapping, and hoped to get together another good load before spring. But, on being urged by the boys and Tom, he agreed to spend a couple of days with them.

“I tink I mak beeg lot money thees winter,” he said, as he pulled off his heavy mackinaw.

Tom and Bob had to start their game over again, and much to the former’s disgust Bob skunked him.

“Sure and I’ll niver git another start like thot one I had when you knocked all the men on the floor,” he declared as he started to place the men for a new game.


As soon as the work was well under way the next morning, the boys fastened on their snow-shoes and started off toward the other camp. Fortunately the weather had turned warm, and in the bright sun the snow began to melt. As soon as they had covered about a mile, they stopped and looked around for a good hiding place.

“We must get somewhere where we can see out on the lake as well as in the woods,” Bob declared. “They’re about as apt to come one way as the other.”

Finally Jack spied a big pine with particularly thick branches, and removing his snow-shoes he was soon two-thirds of the way to the top.

“Can you see out on the lake?” Bob called from beneath the tree.

“Sure can,” Jack called back.

“All right then, come on down and I’ll hand the shoes to you and then I’ll be with you. I can’t see a thing of you, so I guess it’ll be a good thing all right.”

“I’m mighty glad it isn’t cold,” Jack declared, as they settled themselves as comfortably as possible in the branches of the tree. “We may have to wait here a good while, and if it was thirty or forty below it wouldn’t be very pleasant, let me tell you.”


An hour passed. The boys spent the time in talking over the situation and forming tentative plans for the immediate future.

“S-S—h, someone’s coming,” Jack suddenly whispered, as his quick ears caught the sound of a low whistle.

“I see him,” Bob said a moment later, peering through the branches. “I think it’s that fellow that had the jug the other day.”

The man, swinging swiftly along on his snowshoes, passed directly beneath the tree in which they were concealed.

“He’s going up to see if we’re cutting on the tract,” Jack declared as soon as he was out of sight.

“Probably,” Bob agreed. “If he is he’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Jack’s prediction was correct, for in less than a half hour they sighted the man returning and it was evident, from the speed he was making, that he was in a great hurry to get back to the camp.

“Had we better go back and tell Tom?” Jack whispered.

“I think we’d better wait till we’re sure they are coming,” Bob replied after a moment’s thought. “We don’t want to give a false alarm and it may be that Ben has an entirely different plan.”


So they waited another hour and had about concluded that the enemy did not intend to make the attack, when the distant sound of voices reached their ears.

“I believe they’re coming,” Bob said, straining his ears to the utmost to learn if they were approaching.

“Yes, they’re coming all right,” he declared a moment later, as the voices came decidedly nearer. “And, by the sound, there’s a lot of them,” and drawing a whistle from his pocket, he put it to his lips and blew with all his strength.

Almost immediately a faint whistle was heard from the direction of their camp.

“He heard us all right,” Bob declared, as he returned the whistle to his pocket. “Now we want to get back just as soon as our legs will take us there.”

As rapidly as possible they scrambled down to the ground, and fastening on their snow-shoes started off at a swinging trot, a pace which, on snow-shoes, covers ground with almost unbelievable speed.

“I don’t know as we really need to hurry so after all,” Bob panted, after they had covered about half the distance back. “It isn’t likely that many of them have snow-shoes, and they won’t be able to make much speed without them. Can you hear anything?”


For a moment they stood still and listened. Very faintly the murmur of voices reached their ears.

“There’s plenty of time,” Bob decided, as he started off again at a more moderate pace.

In a few minutes they reached the clearing and as Bob glanced at the place where the men had been at work when they had left a few hours before, he gave vent to a low chuckle.

“I’ll bet it’ll be a surprise to Ben when he doesn’t find a soul here,” he said as he started across the clearing toward the former cutting.

Tom met them just as they came in sight of the crew, busily at work, “as though they had never cut anywhere else and never intended to,” Jack laughed.

“So they’re a comin’,” Tom greeted them.

“They sure are, the whole kerboodle of them I guess,” Jack replied as he kicked the snow-shoes from his feet.

“We didn’t wait to see how many there were,” Bob explained. “But we could hear them and I guess Jack’s about right. Listen. They can’t be very far away now.”

But although they strained their ears, not a sound reached them from the direction of the rival camp.

“Sure and they probably cut out the talkin’,” Tom said. “I gess they mane ter take us by surprise as it was, but it’s meself as thinks the surprise will be on the ither foot.”


It was a full half hour later when they caught the first glimpse of the “invading army,” as Jack termed them. They appeared suddenly in the woods on the other side of the clearing, full fifty strong. Only a few were equipped with snow-shoes, and that was undoubtedly why they had been so long in getting there. Every man had a club of some kind in his hand, but the boys were unable to see any guns. Big Ben was too well acquainted with the type of man he employed to trust them with anything more deadly than an ax handle or a broken peavey.

They stopped on the edge of the clearing as if undecided as to the next move. The fact that there was no one working on the disputed tract when they arrived had evidently disarranged their plans.

From their position, just within the fringe of trees which separated the camp from the place where the crew was at work, Tom and the boys watched, trying to catch sight of Big Ben. The men were talking excitedly but in low tones, so that they were unable to catch what was being said, but from their wild gesticulations they judged that many of them were urging an immediate attack on the camp.

“I see him,” Jack whispered, as they all saw the big man shouldering his way through the mob.


As he stepped out into the clearing, he stopped and faced his men, and it was evident to the watchers that he was giving them orders, but he spoke too low for them to hear what he said. He talked only a moment and then started across the open space.

“Come on. We’ll go mate him,” Tom said, as he stepped out from behind a big spruce and closely followed by the boys advanced to meet him. With a face as black as a thunder cloud, the big man came to within six feet of them before he spoke.

“So you thought you’d better quit, hey?” he sneered, as he came to a halt.

“Ye kin put it thot way if ye wish,” Tom replied in a sharp tone.

“And it’s a mighty lucky thing for you that ye did quit. If ye hadn’t ye’d have been made to.”

“Mebby and mebby not,” Tom grinned.

“I’d advise ye to keep a civil tongue in your head or the fact that ye got cold feet may not do any good. It isn’t too late for a fight yet, and my boys are spoiling for one,” and the big man nodded his head in the direction of his crew.

“Just a moment, Mr. Donahue,” Bob broke in as the man was about to continue. “We do not wish to have any trouble and that is the reason that we stopped cutting on that tract. But you will agree that this piece of land belongs to Father, and if any of your men step foot on it we shall hold you responsible.”


“Responsible be hanged,” Big Ben snorted. “I’ll have you to understand that I go where I like, and take my men with me too. Now ye say ye don’t want to fight. Well, there’s jest one way ye can get around it.”

“And that is?”

“By giving me your word that you’ll cut no more timber on that tract.”

“Thin, begorra, it’s meself thot gesses there’ll have ter be a fight after all,” Tom declared with a grin.

“Is that your answer?” Big Ben asked, looking at Bob.

“That depends,” Bob replied slowly. “For how long a time do you expect us to keep off?”

“Till I tell ye that ye can go ahead,” he snapped.

“I’m afraid that’s too indefinite,” Bob asserted firmly.

“Then ye refuse?”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to,” Bob replied sadly. “But I warn you once more that you will be held responsible if there is any trouble.”

Big Ben made no reply but turned and waved his hand, evidently a prearranged signal. The sign was greeted with a loud chorus of yells, and the mob, brandishing their clubs, charged forward.


At that moment Bob put his hand to his mouth and a shrill whistle sounded through the forest. Instantly six men, led by Jacques Lamont and Jean Lareau, stepped into sight, and each man carried in his hands a Winchester.

At the sound of the whistle the crowd paused and at the sight of the six determined looking men they came to a full halt. Big Ben’s face was a puzzle as he saw the turn things had taken.

“What—what—do you mean?” he stammered.

“We mean to prevent murder,” Bob answered sternly. “Our men, except these six, have only their axes with which to fight, and you know what that would mean in case your men got to them. As I said before, we do not want trouble, but if any of your men come any nearer I’m afraid those rifles will have something to say about it. Remember you are on our land.”



For a moment Big Ben paused as if undecided what to say, and before he could come to a decision the sound of sleigh bells was heard, and, glancing quickly around, the boys were overjoyed to see their father just turning into the clearing in a light cutter drawn by a spirited bay. Mr. Golden was driving and by his side sat Sheriff Switzer. As Big Ben saw the two men he started toward his crew, but, evidently changing his mind, he stopped after taking a few steps, and turned back.

“What’s all the rumpus here?” Mr. Golden cried as he handed the reins to the sheriff and sprang from the sleigh. “Hello Ben,” he added, as though he had just noticed the man. “What seems to be the main difficulty?”

“Your men have been cuttin’ on my land, that’s what’s the mater,” the man growled.

“You don’t mean it,” Mr. Golden said, and turning to Tom he asked:


“How about it, Tom? That’s a pretty serious accusation,” he said gravely, but as he spoke the boys caught sight of a well known twinkle in their father’s eye which told them that he was not blaming them for what had been done.

“Sure and if he owns thot strip,” and Tom waved his hand in the direction of the disputed tract, “we’re guilty all right.”

“I’ve got the papers what says I own it,” Big Ben shouted.

“And so have I,” Mr. Golden declared, more quietly but no less firmly. “Didn’t the boys tell you that my deed had been found?” he asked.

“S’posin’ they did, that don’t make it so. I say the land is mine.”

“Well, well, I see there’s no use in arguing about it now. We’ll have the court settle that question at the next term. Meanwhile I’m sure there is no reason why we should have trouble. You’ve cut on the tract and it seems that we have done the same. If the court says the land is yours then the timber which we have cut belongs to you, and the same the other way round. That’s fair, isn’t it?” and Mr. Golden glanced at the sheriff, who nodded his head.

But Big Ben, evidently realizing that the argument was going against him, had already turned away and was walking rapidly toward his men. He said a few words to them in a tone too low to be heard by the boys, and after a short pause the mob turned and soon disappeared in the woods.


“You sure came in the nick of time,” Bob declared as he shook hands with his father and the sheriff. “Those fellows were just in the right mood for a fight and it’s hard telling how long we could have held them off.”

“You seem pretty well fortified,” Mr. Golden laughed as he turned to the six men with the rifles and shook hands with each of them.

“It’s good to see you, Jacques,” he added, as he welcomed the big trapper. “I hope you’ve had a good season.”

“Ver’ bon merci,” Jacques replied with a bright smile. “I bring down one beeg load ver’ fine pelt. Mebby geet ’nother fore spring.”

“Oh, by the way, Tom, I managed to scare up four horses for you and they ought to be along in an hour or two,” Mr. Golden said, turning to the foreman. “How are the sick ones? Did you find out what’s the matter with them?”

“Come into the office and we’ll tell you all about it,” Bob broke in. “It’s quite a long story.”

Leaving the horse to be taken care of by one of the men, Mr. Golden and Mr. Switzer followed Tom and the boys into the office, where a good fire was roaring in the stove.


“Now let’s have the story,” Mr. Golden smiled, as they removed their overcoats and sat down.

For some minutes Bob talked rapidly, telling them all that had happened. No one interrupted him, and when he had finished the sheriff, as if he could hold in no longer, exploded with:

“The dirty rascal. I never would have believed that Ben would do as mean a thing as that.”

“Nor I,” Mr. Golden agreed. “Of course I knew that he was pretty sore over losing that contract, but I did not think that he would poison my horses. He ought to be punished for that. I could overlook all his other tricks to try to hold us back, but he’s gone a bit too far,” and he shook his head gravely.

“But we’ve got to prove that he did it first,” Jack said as he put a big chunk of wood in the stove.

“And I’m afraid that will be a hard thing to do,” his father declared. “You see it’s against the law for a druggist to sell arsenic, and for that reason whoever sold it to him is not going to own up to it.”

“How about doing any more cutting on that strip?” Bob asked.

“I don’t think we’d better risk it,” his father answered after a moment’s thought. “It would probably end in a fight and it isn’t worth it. Court sits week after next and I’ll have the matter settled then.”


They talked matters over until the dinner horn sounded. Mr. Golden said that he and Mr. Switzer would have to leave soon after dinner in order to catch the afternoon train for Skowhegan, as he had to attend an important directors’ meeting at the bank the next morning.

The four horses arrived soon after the two men left, and the following morning saw three teams hard at work trying to catch up on the hauling. The sick horses were rapidly recovering, and Sam declared that they would be able to work in a day or two.

All that day the two boys worked with the crew cutting down the big spruce trees, rejoicing in the thought that every one added to those already cut, brought their father so much nearer to the fulfillment of his contract. It had been moderating all day, and toward nightfall it began to rain.

“Looks like we’re in fer a thaw,” Tom declared as they entered the mess room for supper.

Soon the rain was coming down in a steady pour, which lasted until about eight o’clock, when the wind shifted into the northwest and the mercury began to fall rapidly. In another half hour the rain had ceased, and with a sigh of relief Tom stepped to the door of the office and glanced at the thermometer hanging just outside.


“Faith and she’s tumbled twenty degrees in the last hour,” he declared, coming back into the room. “There’ll be one peach of a crust in the mornin’ I’m thinkin’.”

The next day was Sunday and the boys had decided to get an early start and spend the day with their Indian friend, Kernertok.

“Hurrah!” Jack shouted, when, just as day was breaking the next morning, he rushed out of the bunk house, closely followed by Bob. “There’s a crust strong enough to hold a horse.”

It was many degrees below zero, and as he had declared, the surface of the snow was frozen solid.

“I really believe we can skate on it,” Bob asserted as he slid about on the smooth surface.

“Of course we can,” Jack agreed eagerly. “And it’s mighty lucky we brought our skates with us.”

After a hurried breakfast they got their skates from the office and quickly exchanging their moccasins for shoes they were soon skimming over the surface of the lake on their way to Kernertok’s cabin.

“It’s almost as good as ice to skate on,” Jack declared, and his brother agreed with him.

Thanks to the crust they reached the cabin much sooner than they had expected and found Kernertok eating his breakfast. Kernertok was very glad to see them, as was also Sicum, his faithful dog.


The day passed quickly, as days spent with him always did, and almost before they were aware of it, it was time to start for the camp.

As they skated along side by side, with long swinging strokes which bore them rapidly over the surface of the lake, Bob said suddenly:

“Jack, boy, we’ve got to prove that Ben Donahue poisoned those horses. If we don’t he’ll find some way to hold the crew up long enough to make father forfeit that contract. But if we can prove that he did it, we’ll have a club to hold over him and can make him be good.”

They were only about a mile from the camp as Bob spoke, and, as if by one impulse, both stopped.

“You’re right, of course,” Jack said as he stooped to tighten a strap. “But how are we going to do it? You remember what father said about it being next to impossible to find out where he got the stuff.”

“I remember it all right, but I’ve been thinking about it all day and I believe there’s a chance. It’s a mighty slim one, I’ll admit, but it’s a chance.”

“All right, spring it,” Jack said eagerly.

“Well, it’s like this. He must have had the arsenic either in a bottle or a box, and if we could find it, it might tell us what we want to know. Now he either threw it away or else he took it back with him, and I’m counting on his having taken it back to his office. You know in some ways he’s rather stupid, though smart enough in others.”


“I guess I get what you’re driving at,” Jack declared as Bob paused. “You mean that it’s up to us to search his office for that bottle, hey?”

“You guessed it the first time,” Bob smiled. “What do you think of the idea?”

“Mighty risky.”

“Granted; and what’s more, not likely to be successful,” Bob agreed. “But it’s a chance. Anything better to offer?”

“I didn’t mean to throw any cold water on the plan,” Jack assured him with a smile. “I really like the idea, and as you say it’s the only way that even has a hint of success. I’ve always thought I’d make a dandy burglar. When do we make the try?”

“The sooner the better, I’d say. How about tomorrow night? I don’t want to do it on the Sabbath.”

“Tomorrow night it is then,” Jack agreed without hesitation.

“Not a word to a soul, even to Tom,” Bob cautioned. “He wouldn’t let us go if he knew it.”

They reached the camp just in time for supper, and as soon as the meal was over Bob got his guitar and for nearly two hours the room rang with the music of the old hymns.


The cold weather continued and the next day the horses which had been sick were again put to work, and at quitting time that night the teams had caught up with the work and the last log felled was loaded on to a sled just as the supper horn sounded.

“Now I fale better,” Tom declared as he led the way to the mess house.

It was shortly after ten o’clock that night when the chorus of snores in the bunk house struck the key, as Bob afterward told Jack, which assured him that all the men were asleep. Jack occupied the bunk directly over them and as he had been conscious of no movement “on the upper deck” for the past thirty minutes, he guessed that his brother had fallen asleep. Reaching up, he gave the slats a push, and immediately a low whisper assured him that he had misjudged him.

Very quietly the two boys slid to the floor and started pulling on their clothing, and a few minutes later they were sitting on the steps of the office fastening on their skates.

“Gee, but it sure is cold,” Jack declared, as he pulled his heavy mittens on to his nearly numbed hands. “Thirty-five below,” he announced a moment later, as he glanced at the thermometer by the light of his pocket flash.

It was very dark, as there was no moon and a slight haze rendered the stars all but invisible, although now and then bright streaks lighted up the sky as the weird Northern lights sent their mysterious streamers up and down the heavens.


“There, I guess we’re about ready to start,” Bob declared, as he thrust a pair of soft doeskin moccasins in his pocket.

But just at that moment Jack laid his hand on his brother’s arm with a low hist of warning. His sharp ears had caught the sound of crackling snow crust off to the right. Hastily he unlaced his shoes and, slipping them off with the skates still attached, he substituted a pair of moccasins similar to the ones his brother had put in his pocket.

“Wait a minute, Bob, I’ll be right back. I just heard a noise off there in the direction of the bunk house and I’m going to see what it was,” and he glided away in the darkness with noiseless steps, while Bob, with his skates still on, hobbled into the office, where it was comparatively warm.

Ten minutes passed.

“Wonder what’s keeping him,” he thought.

Five more minutes went by.

“If he don’t come in another five minutes I’ll go look him up,” Bob declared half out loud.

The five minutes slipped away and no Jack came.

“Hope he hasn’t got into trouble,” he thought, as he also quickly substituted moccasins for the heavy shoes.


Outside the door he stood and strained his ears. A light wind swayed the tops of the pines and spruces with a faint moaning sound, but otherwise perfect silence reigned throughout the deep forest.

“He said over by the bunk house,” he muttered, as he started off in that direction, making not the slightest sound as his moccasined feet struck the snow.

In a moment the rough side of the bunk house loomed out of the darkness directly in front of him, and again he stopped and listened. No sound came to tell him what had become of his brother.

“Mighty funny,” he thought, as he turned the corner of the building and groped his way step by step along the back.

As he neared the other corner he stumbled over an object lying on the snow. A flash from his light showed him that it was a gallon oil can. He picked it up and, unscrewing the top, smelled of the contents.

“Gasoline,” he whispered. “Now I wonder what that’s doing out here.” And then the thought struck him that he did not remember ever having seen a can of that kind anywhere about the camp. Throwing the light of his flash about him, he eagerly searched for tracks, but the surface of the snow was as hard as ice and he could see nothing which gave him the slightest clue. Carrying the can in his hand, he crept around the building until he had made a complete circuit.


“And I know just as much as when I started,” he thought as he listened again. “One thing is sure though,” he muttered. “Something has happened or Jack would have been back long before this.”

After waiting a moment in deep thought, he decided that he had better go back to the office.

“He may have turned off and came around another way and be waiting for me all the time,” he thought.

But the hope was vain for, as he approached the little office, no answer came to his low whistle.

He had brought the oil can with him, and having stepped inside the door he examined it more closely by the aid of his flash. It was a very ordinary can and he had about given up the hope of obtaining a clue from it, when his eye caught sight of two letters in the tin near the bottom. B. D. he made out, and a slight shudder passed down his back as a horrible thought struck him.

“B. D. stands for Ben Donahue. Someone came here with that can of gas intending to set fire to the bunk house,” flashed through his mind, as he stood rooted to the spot. “Jack must have discovered him or them and they gave it up. But what have they done with Jack?” And another shudder shook him as he realized that the boy was probably in the power of someone who was desperate enough to set fire to a building in which many men were sleeping.


“What shall I do? What can I do?” were the questions which flashed through his mind over and over again.

And then a sudden feeling of hope came to him as he remembered that Jacques Lamont was there, and in almost no time he was inside the bunk house creeping softly toward the farther end where he knew Jacques was sleeping. He thought he knew the right bunk and as he reached the end of the room a flash showed him that he was right. The Frenchman was in a lower bunk and kneeling on the floor Bob put his lips as close as possible to his ear and whispered, “Jacques.”

The man stirred and Bob placed his hand over his mouth and at the same time whispered again.

“It’s Bob, Jacques. Don’t make a noise but get your clothes on and meet me outside as soon as you can.”

Bob did not have long to wait, as Jacques joined him almost as soon as he was outside the house. Bob quickly led the way to the office and as soon as they were inside he pulled down the shades and lighted the lamp. He then told the Frenchman what had happened.

“What do you think about it?” he asked, as soon as he had finished.


“I tink it ver’ serious matter, oui,” Jacques said slowly shaking his head.

“No doubt about that,” Bob agreed. “But what shall we do about it?”

“I tink we go ver’ queek down to dat camp, see what we see.”

“My idea exactly,” Bob said as he glanced at his watch. “Had we better get Tom?”

“I tink non,” the Frenchman answered after a moment’s thought. “Tom he geet ver’ mooch excite, oui. He mak’ too mooch noise. We go find Jack. Me ver’ strong. You ver’ queek, oui. We geet heem.”

Bob was not at all sure that he was doing right in taking the Frenchman’s advice, but he knew that he was right in his judgment of the Irishman. As brave as the traditional lion, Tom was very impulsive and Bob believed that this was a time when judgment and wits should be used rather than brute force. So he decided not to wake the foreman. Opening the top drawer of a desk, which stood at one end of the room, he took out a couple of automatics.

“I hope we won’t have any use for them, but it’s better to be careful than sorry,” he said, as he handed one to the Frenchman and slipped the other in his pocket.


As they stepped out of the office Bob noticed that it was warmer and that the haziness had increased.

“Wouldn’t wonder if it snowed before morning,” he said.

“Eef she get warm enough she may snow,” Jacques agreed.

It was so dark in the woods that they were obliged to go slowly to avoid striking the trees, and Bob chafed at their slow progress. Every little while they stopped to listen, but no sound save that caused by the wind, which was gradually growing stronger, came to their ears.

It was eleven o’clock when they started, and Bob’s watch told him that over an hour had passed when he almost ran into a thick clump of bushes which he at once recognized as the spot where he and Jack had hidden and from behind which he had shot the jug from the hand of the man.

“We’re almost there,” he said in a low tone, catching Jacques by the arm.

“Oui, I know thees place ver’ well,” the Frenchman whispered back, as he came to a halt. “We have to be ver’ careful now.”

The construction of Donahue’s camp was very similar to that which they had just left. There was the office, the mess house, bunk house and horse shed.


As silently as two ghosts they stole forward until they stood only a few feet from the office, the building which was nearest to their own camp. Not a light was visible in any of the buildings as they stood and eagerly gazed about them. Slowly they crept around the small building, pausing every few feet to listen with ear pressed close to the walls. But no sound was to be heard, and silently they made their way to the bunk house, where they repeated the performance with a like result. Only the snores and grunts of the sleeping men came faintly to their ears. The mess house and the horse shed were treated in like manner and with the same result.

“If they’ve got him here anywhere they’re keeping mighty quiet about it,” Bob whispered, as they stood once more beside the office. “I’m going to have a look in here,” he declared as he tried the door.

It was locked, as he had expected it would be, but at the back they found a small window which was not fastened.

“You keep watch outside here, Jacques, while I see what I can find inside,” Bob proposed as he carefully pushed up the window.

He did not know whether or not anyone slept in the office, and at the moment, being greatly upset over Jack’s disappearance, he felt that he did not care much.


“You better watch, let me geet in,” Jacques whispered, taking hold of the boy’s arm. “Mebby someone sleep in thar. He geet you. I ver’ strong, he no geet me.”

“That’s all right,” Bob returned, “but you can never get those shoulders of yours through that window. It’s too small.”

Bob was right, although Jacques would not be convinced until he had tried. It was a very tight squeeze for Bob, but after much twisting and squirming he finally got through and dropped lightly to the floor. Throwing the light of his flash about him, he saw that he was in a small room fitted up much the same as his father’s office. To the right was a door leading into another room which, from the size of the building, he judged must be somewhat larger than the one he was in. The door was closed, but opened easily as he turned the knob. Throwing the rays of his flash ahead of him he saw that it had been used as a sleeping room, for on the farther side was a fair sized bed which, from the rumpled appearance of the bedding, had been occupied not long since.

Slowly, inch by inch, he pushed open the door and stepped into the room.

“I guess there’s no—” but that was as far as he got, for at that moment he heard a slight sound from behind the door.


He started to turn, but before he could get his flashlight around he was struck a heavy blow on the back of his head. He struggled to keep his feet but, in spite of his efforts, he felt himself sinking to the floor. A myriad of stars flashed before his eyes for an instant, then oblivion.


When Jack left his brother sitting on the office steps he fully expected to be back in a very few minutes. Noiselessly he ran over the frozen snow toward the side of the bunk house. As he reached it he stopped to listen, and the slight sound of the crackle of snow crust came to his ears.

“Somebody’s out back there,” he thought as he stole silently toward the back, keeping close to the side of the building. When he reached the rear corner he paused again. The sound was now more distinct and, as he held his breath, he could plainly hear someone moving over the snow.


Carefully he stuck his head around the corner, only to feel a powerful pair of arms clasp about his neck. A muffled cry burst from his lips as he was dragged to the snow, but before he could repeat the cry a huge hand was pressed firmly over his mouth effectually blocking the attempt. He struggled with all his strength to free himself, but, soon realizing that he was but a child in the powerful hands of the man who was holding him, he gave it up and lay still. He heard approaching footsteps and knew that he was in the power of at least two men. How many more there might be he had no way of knowing.

“Give me dat rope,” he heard the man who was holding him down whisper.

“Now you mak’ der noise and I keel you queek,” the man whispered in his ear as he removed his hand from over his mouth.

The boy did not for a moment doubt but that he was quite capable of carrying out the threat, so he did as he was ordered. Quickly his hands were tied behind his back and a large handkerchief, which from the odor was none too clean, was bound over his eyes. Then he was roughly jerked to his feet.

At that moment a window, near the farther back corner, was pushed open. Instantly the boy was pushed around the corner and one of his captors again held his hand over his mouth as they crouched on the snow. But whoever had opened the window evidently decided that everything was all right and what he thought he had heard was a false alarm; for, after a moment or two, Jack heard the window shut down.


“We geet away queek now,” one of the men whispered. “Dat feller mebby come out here,” he added, grabbing the boy by the arm.

Silently they stole away through the deep forest at the back of the camp. It was too dark for rapid traveling, but they hurried along as fast as they could go and avoid hitting the trees.

Jack expected that they would head down the lake toward the Donahue camp, as he had no idea that the men were other than employed by Big Ben. But, to his surprise, they soon turned north and, after proceeding in this direction for an hour or more, bore sharply to the east. Whither they were bound he had not the least idea, as they were now in a stretch of country strange to him. He knew that there were no towns for many miles in that direction, the section being probably the wildest in all Maine. Not a word was spoken as they hurried along, covering mile after mile.

Jack’s legs were beginning to ache and his breath was coming in short pants when, suddenly, they emerged from the dense woods onto the shore of a lake.


“If I’m not mistaken this is Chesuncook Lake,” he thought as the men came to a halt, and for the first time since they had started began to talk in the French language. Jack could understand French fairly well, but they talked so rapidly and with a dialect which he had never heard before, that although he was able to catch a word here and there, he was unable to get the drift of the conversation.

Evidently Jack was not the only one who was tired, for they rested for nearly a half hour before they started again. Their way now led straight across the lake, which was about two miles wide at that point. On reaching the opposite shore, they plunged again into the deep forest which lined the bank. The men did not now seem to be in as great a hurry as at first, and for this Jack was very thankful, as he was very tired and felt that he would not be able to keep up the pace they had been going much longer.

It must have been nearly two hours later, and the boy had about decided to refuse to go any farther, when suddenly a small log cabin loomed out of the darkness directly in front of them. Much as he loathed the two Frenchmen, Jack could not but feel a thrill of admiration for the way in which they had steered a straight course through the pathless forest when it was so dark it was impossible to see more than a few feet ahead.

“They must have cats’ eyes,” he thought as they stopped in front of the cabin.


The door was not locked and, without hesitation, one of the men pushed it open and stepped inside.

“Geet in thar,” the other man ordered, as he pushed Jack ahead of him.

It was pitch dark in the room, but the men were evidently familiar with the location of things, for in a moment the one who had entered first had a lamp lighted. For an instant the light dazzled Jack’s eyes so that he was obliged to close them. When he opened them a moment later he saw that he was in a cabin which evidently had been occupied at some not very distant date. The room contained but little furniture, two or three common straight backed chairs, a rough table, and a well battered iron stove was all, with the exception of a couple of rude bunks built one above the other against one side of the room. In the corner of the room was a pile of stove wood and in another a crude closet. The cabin held but the single room.

“Geet the fire goin’ Pierre, and I’ll see what I can find to eat,” ordered the larger of the two men.

Jack sank down on one of the chairs, glad of a chance to rest his aching legs. As the two Frenchmen hurried about their tasks he studied them closely. They were both large men, well above the average in both height and weight, but the one whom the other had called Pierre was little less than a giant.


“He must be all of six foot three,” Jack thought as the man straightened up after touching a match to the kindling in the stove.

Both men wore short black beards and resembled each other so closely that he decided they must be brothers. The eyes of both were small and shaded by shaggy brows, giving to their faces a most cruel expression.

Jack was not lacking in bravery, but as he realized that he was in the power of two men who probably thought no more of murder than he would of shooting a squirrel, a chill of fear stole over him, and he breathed a silent prayer that he might escape.

To his surprise he saw that the closet or cupboard was well supplied with food, judging from the large number of cans which he could see on the shelves.

Since entering the cabin the men had not paid the slightest attention to him, and several times he wondered if it would not be possible for him to slip out of the door and escape them in the darkness. But he realized that, even should he succeed in eluding them, he would more than likely perish from cold and hunger before he could find his way back to the camp. And besides, he remembered that a light snow had been falling for the past hour, and that as soon as it was light they would easily be able to track him.


By this time the fire was roaring up the old rusty chimney, sending a welcome warmth through the room.

“Hope they don’t intend to starve me,” Jack thought as the odor of frying bacon filled the room.

But his heart sank as, the meal being ready, the two men sat up at the table and started eating without as much as a glance toward him. Jack was by this time very hungry and his mouth watered as he saw them gulping down huge mouthfuls of the food. Besides bacon, he could see that they had a good supply of eggs and crackers, as well as canned fruit.

“They must have been expecting to come here soon or they wouldn’t had those eggs here,” he thought as he watched them.

But his fears in regard to starving were groundless for, as soon as they had satisfied their appetites, the larger man, without a word, untied his hands and motioned toward the table, indicating that he was welcome to what was left. Somewhat to his surprise he found that there was enough and he made a hearty meal, cleaning up every bit that was left.

“They may not be so generous next time,” he thought as he washed the last mouthful down with his third dipper of coffee.


Meanwhile a large kettle had been filled with snow and placed on the top of the stove to melt, and as soon as he had finished the big Frenchman in gruff tones ordered him to get busy and wash the dishes. At first Jack was on the point of refusing, the tone in which the order was given making his blood boil with anger, but quickly realizing how completely he was in their power he decided to make the best of it and do as he was ordered.

The men sat at the table playing cards with a dirty pack which they had taken from the drawer and paid no further attention to him. Washing the dishes was not a long task and as soon as he had finished he sat down in the only chair unoccupied and for a time watched the men. They were playing for small stakes and it was evident to the boy that the smaller man was winning. A heavy frown settled on the larger man’s face and Jack wondered if the game would not end in a fight. But after playing for an hour or more the loser threw down the cards with an exclamation of disgust and declared that he was tired out and was going to bed.

The two bunks were filled with small pine boughs as Jack could tell by the odor which pervaded the room.

“Guess I’ll have to sleep on the floor,” he thought as the two men threw off their heavy coats and pulled off their moccasins.


It was nearly five o’clock in the morning when they threw down their cards and started to make preparations for bed. Jack wondered anxiously what disposition would be made of him, but he was not left long in doubt. He was told to keep his seat in the chair and quickly and expertly the larger of the men bound his hands together behind the back of the chair. His feet were then tied firmly to the legs of the chair.

“Now I guess you stay put,” the man grunted as he straightened up and surveyed the job.

Jack had not uttered a word while he was being tied. He knew that a plea for mercy would be a waste of breath, so he kept quiet. After stuffing the stove full of wood they extinguished the light and the boy could hear them as they tumbled into the bunks, and a few minutes later the sound of heavy breathing told him that they were asleep.

For a time he strained at the rope in an effort to free himself, but it had been tied by a man skilled in the art, and all he accomplished was to chafe his wrists until it seemed as though they were rubbed raw. Realizing that he was causing himself pain and getting no results, he soon gave up the effort.

“Perhaps Bob could do it, but I can’t,” he thought.


Then he fell to wondering what object the men could have in bringing him there. Were they going to hold him for ransom? Or were they merely trying to save themselves from arrest for attempting to burn the bunk house? These questions and many others ran through his mind as he sat there in the darkness listening to the heavy breathing and snoring of the two Frenchmen.

How slowly the time passed. It seemed hours before the first hint of the approaching dawn crept in at the windows. The fire in the stove had been out for some time and the room was beginning to grow cold. He had tried to sleep, but his position in the chair was too uncomfortable to permit it and besides his arms were paining him severely due to the strain on them.

Slowly the light grew stronger until finally a beam of sunshine stole in at the east window, telling him that the weather had cleared. He knew that it must be nearly eight o’clock, but the two men gave no sign of waking. He was now thoroughly chilled through, and his arms ached as he had never believed it possible for arms to ache. Would they never wake and set him free? Another hour passed and still another. The pain was rapidly becoming unbearable and he had about made up his mind to shout, regardless of consequences, when he heard one of them stir. A loud yawn followed, and a moment later Pierre crawled out of the lower bunk. He stretched himself and came over to where Jack was sitting.


“You cold?” he asked with a broad grin.

“Rather,” Jack replied.

“Dat’s all right. I untie you, you mak’ fire queek,” and a moment later the boy was beating his arms about his body to restore the arrested circulation.

By the time he had the fire roaring up the chimney the other man was up, and soon the two sat down to breakfast. As before, Jack was forced to wait until they had finished, then he was told that he could go to it. He went without hesitation. The food was good and there was plenty of it and he made a hearty meal.

“They don’t intend to starve me at any rate,” he thought as he swallowed the last mouthful.

“Now you wash up and then you can sleep you want to,” Pierre growled as he got out the pack of cards.

Jack made short work of the dishes, and as soon as he had finished he tumbled into the lower bunk and, pulling the heavy blanket over him, he was almost immediately lost to the world and to his troubles as well.

When he awoke it was dark. For a moment he was uncertain where he was, but as memory returned he lay quiet and listened. Not a sound broke the deathlike stillness of the room.


“They must have gone out or I could at least hear them breathe,” he thought.

After waiting a few minutes longer, he crept softly from the bunk and carefully groped his way to the stove. It was stone cold.

“They must have been gone for some time,” he thought as he took from his pocket a small flashlight. “It’s funny they didn’t search me to see if I had any shooting irons,” he whispered to himself as he crossed the room to the closet where he found a small tin box filled with matches. “Guess they were too stupid to think of it,” he concluded, lighting the lamp on the table.

He next started a fire in the stove, for the room was already decidedly chilly, and as soon as it was going in good shape he sat down in front of it and started to think what his next move should be. Had the men really left for good, or were they playing some trick on him? were the questions which raced through his mind. Should he leave or stay? On the one hand he knew that he was miles from the nearest settlement or camp, and he very much doubted his ability to find his way through the woods in the darkness. He well knew what it meant to be lost in the Maine woods at that time of year. On the other hand, he shuddered at the thought of being tied up again to pass another night of agony. In fact the thought was unbearable.


He got up, and, going to the door, tried to open it, only to find that it was fastened on the outside. An examination of the windows showed that they were nailed down in such a way that it would be impossible to get them open without tools.

“Wonder if they thought I wouldn’t know enough to smash one of them if I wanted to get out,” he grinned as he went back to the stove. “I’ll wait long enough to get something to eat anyhow,” he decided, as he glanced at his watch and saw that it was nearly half-past six.

In the closet he found a package of flapjack flour and several cans of condensed milk. There was a little water left in the pail, and diluting the milk he soon had a batch of batter ready for the iron, and by the time the coffee had come to a boil he had eight richly browned cakes ready.

By the time he had finished his supper he had decided on his course of action. He would smash a window and climbing out hide in a tree from which he could watch the cabin. If the men had not returned by nine o’clock he would return and spend the night there. If on the other hand he should see them coming back, he would wait until they were inside and then steal away through the woods, preferring to take his chances in the forest rather than to be tied up again. But he had waited too long already. He had selected a stick from the pile in the corner and was on the point of attacking the window, when he heard someone at the door. A log was snatched away and the two men entered, barely giving him time to throw the stick back on the pile.


“You geet supper ready for us ver’ queek,” Pierre snarled as he flung his cap on the floor and sat down in front of the stove.

Knowing the folly of resisting, Jack made haste to obey and did his best hoping that, if he pleased them, they might not tie him up. But in this he was doomed to disappointment for, soon after eleven o’clock, having tired of playing cards, the big Frenchman tied him to the chair in much the same way as before. But this time, remembering a trick which Bob had taught him, he held his muscles as tense as possible while the rope was being tied. To his joy he found, when he relaxed, that the rope was much looser than on the previous occasion. He waited until heavy breathing told him that his captors were asleep and then began to try to work his hands free. For all of a half hour he struggled and tears of disappointment came to his eyes as gradually he realized that he could not do it. He could almost do it but not quite, and finally was forced to give up the attempt. But his position was much more comfortable than it had been before, for the looseness of the rope allowed him to rest his arms by moving them slightly when they began to ache.


Slowly the hours dragged past until, when he thought it must be nearly morning, he fell into a troubled sleep.

The dawn was just beginning to steal in at the window when he awoke with a start. The room was cold and he was chilled through. His arms felt numb and he restored the circulation by moving them slowly up and down as far as the rope would permit. An hour passed and then another and still no signs of life from the sleepers. Would they never wake and untie him?

He had again about reached the limit of his endurance when, happening to glance toward the window on the east side of the room, he saw something which made his heart leap. A face was pressed close against the window pane. A second glance revealed the fact that it was the face of an Indian and, in a moment, to his great delight, he recognized Kernertok.


As the eyes of the Indian rested on the boy bound to the chair, a look first of amazement and then of anger spread over his face. He stared at him for a moment and then disappeared, but a moment later Jack heard the door, which had not been fastened, slowly pushed open. Noiselessly the old man stole across the room and the next moment the rope which bound his wrists was cut and his arms were free. To free his feet was but the work of a moment, and standing up Jack placed his finger on his lips and pointed toward the bunks.

The Indian motioned for the boy to follow him, and was starting for the door when suddenly, without warning, Pierre sprang from his bunk and confronted them. As the Frenchman saw the Indian he let loose a loud cry and sprang for him. Kernertok met him with a blow on the chin which staggered him but did not knock him down, and in another second they were rolling on the floor, first one on top and then the other.

The cry had wakened the other man, and by the time Pierre and Kernertok had clinched, he was out of his bunk and rushing for Jack. But the latter, as soon as he had seen what had happened, had stepped quickly back to the pile of wood and picked up a round stick about two inches in diameter and eighteen inches long. Seeing the man coming for him, he did not hesitate but hurled the stick with all his might. It caught the Frenchman full on the forehead and he went down in a heap as though he had been shot.

“One out,” Jack muttered, as he turned to the two struggling on the floor.


He knew that the Indian was strong and wiry, but feared that he would be no match for the giant Frenchman should the latter succeed in getting a decisive hold. He quickly picked up the stick and was about to go to the old man’s aid when suddenly the latter broke away and sprang to his feet. Pierre, with a cry of rage, followed suit. But before he had time to spring again at the old man, an unexpected ally entered the fight. There was a fierce growl and a gray streak flashed through the air. Pierre went down, thrown off his balance by the impact. Vainly he tried with all his might to keep the huge jaws from his throat, as man and dog rolled over and over on the floor. But the dog had secured a hold and was not to be shaken off. Fortunate indeed was it for Pierre that Kernertok had taught Sicum not to kill, else the man’s throat would have been torn into slits by the sharp teeth. As it was the dog bit just hard enough to keep his hold. But it was plenty hard enough to take all the fight out of the Frenchman, and when, a moment later, Kernertok dragged the dog away, he made no attempt to rise.

“Good old Sicum,” Jack said as he threw his arms about the dog’s neck.

Sicum gave vent to a low whine as if to say that he was glad to have been of service.


“Git rope,” Kernertok ordered, and in another moment Pierre was tied hand and foot. He made no resistance as the dog stood close by showing his teeth.

The man’s throat, although bleeding, was but slightly torn, and after a hasty examination they turned their attention to the other man who still lay where he had fallen. He was breathing heavily and, as Jack bent over him, he slowly opened his eyes. He too had had all desire for fighting taken out of him, and offered no resistance as Kernertok bound his hands and feet.

A search through their pockets revealed no weapon more formidable than a pocket knife.

In a few words Jack told his friend what had happened and Kernertok in turn told how he was returning from a trip to a town in the northern part of the state and had just happened to glance in at the window in passing.

“It was a mighty lucky thing for me that you did,” Jack declared as he finished.

“What for you tie up young white boy?” the Indian asked Pierre, stepping close to where he was lying.

“We ’fraid he tell police we try burn bunk house, so we tak’ him off. No know what do wid heem,” the man replied sulkily. “We no mean hurt heem.”

“I thought probably that was it,” Jack declared.

After a short talk they decided to set the men free and leave them there.


“We be heap safe, they got no gun and we got Sicum,” the Indian declared after a thorough search had failed to reveal any firearms in the cabin.

“You follow us an’ Sicum kill you heap quick,” Kernertok warned them as he cut the rope which bound the smaller Frenchman’s hands together.

Leaving him to free his feet and to untie Pierre, they started for Kernertok’s cabin which he told Jack was about twenty miles to the southwest.


Bob slowly and painfully groped his way back to consciousness. It seemed as though his head was about twice its natural size and it ached with a dull heavy pain. With the return of his senses remembrance gradually drifted back and he slowly opened his eyes. Now he remembered opening the door and wondering if anyone was in the room. As he carefully felt of the back of his head a lump nearly the size of a hen’s egg thoroughly convinced him that there had been.

“You feel better, oui?”


He turned his head at the question and saw that Jacques was standing by the side of the bed on which he was lying. A small lamp, on the table at the opposite side of the room, illuminated the surroundings sufficiently for him to see that he was in the room which he now remembered to have entered.

“I—I guess so,” he said, swinging his feet to the floor and raising himself on one elbow. “I think I’m all here, but you can never tell,” he added, lying back again as his head began to swim. “But how’d you get in, Jacques?” he asked feebly.

“Heem let me in,” the Frenchman replied, pointing toward the foot of the bed.

Bob followed with his eyes and, for the first time, saw that a man sat in a rocking chair close to the wall of the room. A second glance convinced him that the man was Big Ben Donahue, but he did not look nearly as big now as usual, as he slouched in the chair.

What means of persuasion the Frenchman had used in gaining admittance to the office Bob did not ask, and Jacques volunteered no information on the subject.

As the brain cleared and the pain grew less intense, Bob noticed the look of dejection which overspread the man’s face. He looked, as he afterward told Jack, as though he had lost his last friend.


“Eef you can mak’ walk we go now,” Jacques said in a low tone, as he motioned for him to try if he was strong enough to stand.

Bob nodded assent and the Frenchman took hold of his arm and helped him to his feet. His head swam, but he gritted his teeth determined not to yield, and soon the dizziness began to pass.

“But Jack?” he questioned, glancing toward Big Ben.

“Heem not here. We go queek. I tell story on the way,” Jacques whispered, taking him by the arm and leading him from the room.

To Bob’s great surprise Big Ben offered not the slightest objection to their leaving. He had spoken no word since Bob’s return to consciousness. In fact he seemed totally indifferent as to their movements. Bob could not understand it, but having implicit confidence in Jacques, he followed him without a word.

The cold air seemed to clear the last remnant of cobwebs from his brain and as they made their way, slowly at first, through the deep woods, his strength rapidly returned. His head still ached, but the pain was slowly growing less and he did not mind it.

For some distance neither spoke a word, Bob being aware that he needed to save his breath and the Frenchman wise enough to encourage him to do so. But when they were about half way back to their camp, curiosity and worry got the better of him, and he stopped and leaned against the big tree.


“Jacques, was it Ben who hit me?” he asked.

“Oui, heem lam you one, all right.”

“Lam is about the word I guess,” Bob laughed. “But I don’t suppose I can blame him. I suppose he took me for a burglar. But what about Jack? You spoke back there as if you had found out something about him.”

“Oui, I tink two mans geet Jack. They try burn bunk house. Jack heem see ’em. They scared. Not know what do so take heem off up north. But I tink they no hurt heem.” Jacques hastened to add, as an exclamation of fear burst from Bob’s lips.

“But, Jacques, how did you find out all this? I don’t understand it.”

“Ben, heem tell me.”

“But how in the world did you make him do it? He isn’t in the habit of giving away that kind of information. And I never saw him act so funny as he did tonight. What does it mean?”

For a moment Jacques seemed to be lost in deep thought, then he said slowly: “I no can tell now. Sometime mebby, not now.”

Bob saw that his friend had a good reason for keeping his secret, and asked him no more questions about the man.


“All right, Jacques,” he declared. “I know you’d tell me if you could, but what are we going to do about Jack? He must be found.”

“Oui, we find heem. First geet home, geet rest, then go. But,” he added, reaching his hand around to his hip pocket, “I forgeet. Here what we came for,” and he held out a small square bottle.

Bob seized the bottle with a cry of joy and saw that it was about a third filled with a fine white powder.

“Where did you find it?” he asked eagerly.

“Heem gave it to me.”

“You mean Ben?”


“But how in the name of—” Bob began and then stopped. “All right, old man, I won’t ask any questions,” he said, as he put the bottle in his pocket and started off again.

He had noticed that there was no label on the bottle and was somewhat disappointed. Still he realized that, if the bottle contained arsenic, the fact that it had been found in Donahue’s possession would be an important piece of evidence against him.

It was nearly three o’clock when they reached the office and, in spite of Bob’s assertion that he was all right and wanted to start at once on the search for Jack, the Frenchman insisted that he get a few hours’ sleep. Seeing that he was determined, Bob gave up the argument, knowing in his heart that the Frenchman was right.


“Eet ver’ dark now. Hard to follow trail. Mak’ bon time when light come,” was the argument which caused Bob to yield.

In the little bedroom which opened out of the office, they threw themselves on the cots without removing any of their clothes, and pulled a heavy blanket over them. Bob was not long in finding out that he was more tired than he had thought, and in a very short time he was sound asleep.

It was light when Bob awoke. He glanced over toward the other cot and seeing that it was empty he sprang to his feet and rushed out into the office.

A fire was roaring in the stove before which sat Jacques and Tom Bean.

“Sure and it’s meself thot would like ter know what yer mane by going off in the night without lettin’ me know about it,” he demanded in a stern voice; but the twinkle, which he was unable to keep out of his eyes, told Bob that Jacques had already explained things to him, and that he was not angry.

“When do we start?” he asked.

“Jest as soon as we get something forninst our belts,” Tom replied. “Come on wid yez. Breakfast is ready and we’ll be on the way in no time.”


They made short work of the meal and in less than twenty minutes they were out back of the bunk house searching for the trail. It was hard to pick up, as about three inches of snow had fallen during the early morning hours, but soon Bob’s sharp eyes spied a broken end of a branch and a few feet away another.

“Come on,” he shouted. “They headed north.”

Traces of the trail were few and far between, and they were often obliged to stop and hunt for some time before they could pick up the trail again, and any but skilled woodsmen would have been utterly at sea. But about ten o’clock, after they had covered about twelve miles, they lost the trail and, search as they would, they were unable to find it.

“It’s only about three miles from here to Kernertok’s cabin,” Bob said after they had been searching for all of a quarter of an hour. “What’s the matter with going there and getting him and Sicum? I’ll bet he can pick up the trail.”

But Jacques shook his head.

“Dog no geet scent after snow,” he declared.

“You don’t know Sicum,” Bob said. “That dog would smell Jack, if he knew that his life might depend on it, through a foot of snow. What say, Tom?”

“Sure and it’s meself as thinks the bye’s right. It’s worth a try anyhow.”


So they struck off to the east and in about three quarters of an hour the small log cabin hove in sight.

“Gee, but I don’t believe he’s home,” Bob said in a tone filled with disappointment, as he saw that no smoke was coming from the chimney.

A moment later his fear was confirmed when they found the door locked and repeated knocking brought no response.

“Now what’ll we do?” he asked, leaning against the cabin.

“Go back and try to pick up the trail,” Tom proposed, but Jacques shook his head.

“She no bon,” he declared. “No can find heem.”

“What then?” Bob asked.

“’Bout twenty mile up north ees Lake Chesuncook. I tink mebby they mak’ for dat lake. Cabin on shore. Mebby we find heem there. We try, oui?”

They were about to adopt this plan when suddenly Bob held up his hand.

“Listen,” he whispered.

All strained their ears.

“Hear that?”

“I don’t hear nothin’.” Tom replied; but Jacques, keener of ear, said:

“I hear dog.”

“And it’s Sicum,” Bob declared.


In a few moments the sound came again and this time it was heard plainly by them all. Bob put his fingers to his mouth and a shrill whistle sounded through the still forest. The sound had hardly died away when his quick ears caught the faint sound of an answering whistle.

“Hurrah! That’s Jack,” he shouted, dancing about in his excitement.

Quickly he repeated the whistle and this time it was answered much more plainly.

“Come on. Let’s go meet them,” he cried, and started off on the run without waiting to see if the others were following.

He met the dog first, and stopped to pet the animal, which almost upset him as he leaped upon him with short barks of joy.

He had hardly started off again before he caught sight of Jack and in another moment the brothers were in each other’s arms. Kernertok was not far behind and came in for his full share of the joyous greeting. Then Tom and Jacques came up and the reunion was, as Jack declared, complete.

They were soon in the little cabin belonging to the Indian, and a few minutes later a fire was sending its cheerful heat through the room. While Kernertok hustled about preparing a meal, the others were busy telling their stories. First Jack gave an account of what had befallen him, and as soon as he had finished, Bob told of the visit to the camp of their enemy in their search for him.


“But what happened to Big—” Jack began, but a warning glance from Bob caused him to stop in the middle of the sentence, and the others did not appear to notice the interruption.

In an amazingly short time the Indian had a meal of bacon and eggs, together with hot biscuits and coffee on the table, and it was a very merry party that sat down and gave thanks to the Giver of all good things.

Soon after three o’clock they said goodbye to Kernertok and started for camp, reaching there just in time for supper. Jacques had declared that he must be off early the following morning for the far North, and although the boys coaxed him to stay another day, he stuck to his purpose.

They were up early the next morning to see him off, and the first sign of the coming day was just showing in the east as the big Frenchman swung his long lash with a crack like a pistol shot over the heads of his huskies.

“Au revoir,” he shouted, as he fell in behind the sled. “I see you in der spring, oui?”

“You bet. Goodbye, Goodbye,” both boys called after him, and the next moment the vast forest had swallowed him.


“There goes a friend worth having,” Bob declared, as they turned back to the office.

“One in a thousand,” Jack added, pushing open the door.

A few moments later, when they were by themselves in the office, Tom having gone to the horse shed to give some orders to Sam, Jack said:

“I say, Bob, what was the idea in hushing me up so mysteriously yesterday, when I started to ask you about Ben Donahue?”

“I’ll be jiggered if I know what it’s all about,” Bob replied slowly. “I never was more surprised in my life than I was when I saw Ben sitting there in that chair as meek as Moses and then some. He didn’t so much as open his mouth and acted for all the world like a whipped puppy. I asked Jacques what it all meant, but he was about as communicative about it as a clam, and I didn’t really find out a thing. He said mebby he could tell me sometime. Do you know what I think? For some reason Ben is afraid of him. I don’t mean physically, but Jacques has got something on him sure as you’re alive, and it must be something pretty serious to make him come across with that bottle of arsenic; that is, if that’s what it contains, and we’ll know in a minute if it is.”


He drew the bottle from his pocket and, removing the stopper, dropped a little of the white powder on the hot stove. Instantly a white cloud arose.

“It’s the stuff all right,” he declared, as the well-known odor of garlic filled his nostrils.

“What are you going to do with it?” Jack asked.

“Take it down home with us and give it to father,” replied Bob as he put the bottle back in his pocket. “I don’t know whether he’ll want to make a charge against Ben or not. You know he’s apt to be pretty easy when it comes to a thing like that, and—”

“Anyhow,” Jack interrupted, “I guess Ben’ll think twice before he tries any more of his tricks to keep back father’s work now that he knows we have that bottle. Do you know, Bob,” he continued, “when Jacques got that bottle he saved the day for father, so far as that contract is concerned. At least that’s my opinion. The way things were going it was only a question of time when Ben would have hit on something which would have spilled the beans in good shape.”

“I guess you’re right about that,” Bob agreed. “He came pretty near doing it when he sent those fellows up to set fire to the bunk house. If they had succeeded it would have set us back a week or more. Father’s got you to thank for that.”


Jack’s face flushed at the praise and he tried to disclaim the credit, but Bob insisted that it was due him and finally he let it go at that.

“Do you think father’ll have any trouble in proving his title to the tract?” he asked.

“Don’t see why he should,” Bob replied. “He’s got the deed and it ought to be clear sailing I should think.”

“Well, it’s been a bully vacation,” Jack declared as he got up from his chair. “I suppose we’ve got to go tomorrow, but I sure do hate to leave the woods. But of course we want to spend a few days with the folks before we go back to the Fortress.”

“Sure we do. But come on and make it snappy,” Bob cried as he pulled on his mittens. “I feel like the fellow who put the pep in pepper this morning, and I want one more whack at those big spruces before we leave.”

So they spent the day with the crew, adding log after log to those already piled up on the shore of the lake, waiting for the breaking up of the ice in the spring.

The evening they spent with the men in the bunk house, telling stories and singing songs to the accompaniment of Bob’s guitar.

All too soon bedtime came, and they climbed into their bunks for their last sleep in the big woods until spring.


Tom was to drive them down to Greenville in time to catch the noon train for the south, and after breakfast all the men gathered about them to say goodbye, and tears shone in more than one pair of eyes as they shook hands with each man in turn.

“You mak’ der new man of me. De bon Dieu bless you,” said big Jean Larue, the tears streaming down his cheeks, as he gripped Bob’s hand as though he never wanted to let it go.

They reached Greenville just in time to get a bite to eat at the hotel before train time.

“We’ll be back in time for the river drive,” Bob shouted to Tom, as he waved his hand from the rear platform as the train pulled out from the station.

The next volume in this series will be “The Golden Boys on the River Drive.”



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Transcriber’s Notes

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