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BY WARREN L. ELDRED

ess.

CHAPTER VI

As she talked, she had led them into the dining

room. The lunch was all ready, and it seemed to THE JOYS OF CAMP LIFE

the hungry boys as if they never had tasted anyDoctor HALSEY stepped forward and removed thing quite as good. his hat, as the lady turned toward him inquiringly. Mrs. Spencer proved a kind and gracious host

"I trust you will pardon me for stopping you," Before the boys left the cottage, they felt he began, “but we are strangers here, and want as if they had known her a long while. The meal to find the nearest neighbor who can supply us being over, Doctor Halsey excused the boys and with food. We reached our camp about an hour himself, reminding their hostess how much work ago, expecting our provisions would be there, but awaited them. With many heartfelt expressions we don't find them. Our cupboard is in worse of gratitude, they prepared to depart. condition than that of old Mother Hubbard.” “Mrs. Spencer, can you tell us where to find

“Oh, I 'm so sorry!" was the compassionate Mr. Samuelson?" Tom inquired. “He was to reply. “Now, let me see! What can I do for you? cart our stuff over from the railroad station at Why, yes! We have plenty of bread and meat in North Rutland, and I want to hunt him up and the house-and milk and tea. So we can give you see what 's become of it." an informal luncheon. I cannot promise you very Mrs. Spencer hesitated. “You 'd better not go much, but in an emergency like this, it will be there-yet,” she said finally. "You can inquire better than nothing."

at the North Rutland freight office, and find out “Indeed, yes!” exclaimed the doctor, grate- whether your goods were delivered, but I fully. “It is very kind of you to suggest it, but I would n't let any one know, if I were you, that dislike to trouble you."

I'd had any dealings with Mr. Samuelson." "Don't speak of it," was the prompt reply. "It The boys looked surprised, so she added, by really is no trouble"; adding, with a smile, “but I way of partial explanation, “This will seem like will drive on and get things ready. You will find very strange advice, no doubt, but I assure you our landing about half a mile up the lake, the that it is the best I can give. I earnestly hope we next one to yours. Or, if you come by land, look all may understand the matter clearly before the on the left side of the road for a mail-box with summer passes." my name on it, Mrs. Elizabeth Spencer."

Wondering, yet not caring to question further, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Spencer," Doctor the party left their kind friend and walked back Halsey responded. “I hope some day we may have to Beaver Camp, discussing with eager curiosity an opportunity of repaying your great kindness." the strange affair partially revealed to them by

Mrs. Spencer nodded pleasantly and started the Mrs. Spencer's guarded warning. They had not horses. “Come up and sing for me sometimes, yet settled upon any definite plan of action when and we 'll call the account settled," she said. they turned into the camp road.

They went back to the bungalow, and removed All at once Eliot stopped short and stared the marks of recent travel as well as their re- about. “It looks as if some one had been dragsources permitted. Then they started for what ging a big box or something else large and heavy Lefty called "the palace of Lady Bountiful." through those bushes," he said, pointing toward

It was nearly a mile by the road, but finally the left. "See how the ground is scraped and they found Mrs. Spencer's home-a pretty, white torn up. Suppose we investigate." cottage with green blinds.

They plunged into the underbrush, and within Upon the shady porch, shielded from the sun by ten yards found a trunk. Walter Cornwall set awnings and climbing vines, sat the girl who had up a shout of joy, and eagerly inspected his propbeen in the carriage, and three others.

erty to see if it had been damaged in transit. A sudden shyness seized the boys, and they felt Farther in among the trees and bushes was the a strange reluctance to advance. Then one of the ice-cream freezer, packed full of smaller articles. girls disappeared within the house, and in a min- Scattered about were boxes, barrels, trunks, and ute Mrs. Spencer came out to welcome them. bundles. Apparently everything was there except

“I know you will be willing to take things just the cots, Jack's trunk, and the smaller one belongas you find them,” she said half jestingly. “I 'm ing to Cousin Willie, who had brought two in order only sorry that I can do so little for you.” to carry what his mother considered necessaries.

ور

"Well, I wish whoever dumped this stuff out reproached him. After all, he was only a little here in the wilderness would kindly tell us how fellow, and this was the first time he ever had to get it back," muttered Tom, who, nevertheless, been so far away from home without his mother. was vastly relieved to know that so much of their No wonder the poor chap felt homesick ! equipment had arrived. “I don't see how we 're Lefty rolled over quietly, and put his arm progoing to drag it up to the bungalow."

tectingly around the younger boy. "Hold on a minute," Eliot said thoughtfully, "What 's the matter, kid ?” he said gently. seating himself on a box; "it looks to me as if At first no answer came from the sobbing boy, this stuff had been left up at the bungalow all but at length his tale of woe was told. He was right. Whoever stowed it away locked the door so lonesome and tired (he would n't say homeand put the keys outside under the mat. Some- sick) that he could n't go to sleep, and yet he body came along, read the sign, opened the door, did n't want the boys to know how miserable he dragged out all the truck, and dumped it here. felt for fear they would think he was a baby. Must have used a wheelbarrow or a stone-boat.” Lefty smiled to himself when this statement fell

"All of which is very interesting, but what 's falteringly from Willie's lips. it got to do with getting our house furnishings Lefty soothed and comforted the unhappy boy back, under the ancestral roof?" Ed interrupted. as best he could. “It won't be nearly as hard to

"My idea is to see if that stone-boat is n't morrow, Willie," he whispered. "By that time, around somewhere, load as many of our boxes you 'll be so happy that the vacation won't seem and barrels on it as we can manage, and then long enough. Don't feel badly, either, when the drag it to the bungalow," Eliot went on. Luckily fellows tease you, because you 'll notice that we it was soon discovered, overturned on the ground, make fun of one another every day. It 's a sign among some bushes.

Then the tedious, back- they like you if they sort of jolly you along. breaking process of transferring all the equip- “Suppose we form a partnership, you and I. ment to the bungalow was undertaken.

You want the fellows to think that you ’ve quit Although twilight lingered long for their ac- being a kid. That 's good! That 's the proper commodation, it was dark before they finished. spirit! If you 're really on the level, I 'll stand

While the boys still busied themselves unpack- by you and help all I can, but I 'll expect you to ing the things, Doctor Halsey fried some bacon do your part, and you must n't feel sore if I sail over the camp-fire, and made “camp flapjacks,” into you like a Dutch uncle whenever you play the which the boys pronounced "great." The evening baby. I 'll begin now by telling you to go to sleep. meal was informal in the extreme, the bungalow Just forget everything, and settle down for pleasbeing in a state of wild disorder, but the boys ant dreams." made the best of the situation.

"All right, partner," Willie murmured drowsily. Nine o'clock came-half-past-and, at last, the When the doctor awoke, soon after sunrise, doctor said: “We have a whole vacation before and looked over the still forms about him, he saw us, and there is no need of doing too much the the partners fast asleep with their arms around first day. Leave the rest until to-morrow. It 's each other, and he smiled contentedly. warm to-night and clear. We may as well curl up on the piazza, I suppose."

CHAPTER VII And they did. Wrapping themselves in blankets

"HOIST THE FLAG! THE GIRLS ARE COMING!" and pillowing their heads on sweaters or anything else soft that came handy, they drifted off Many duties awaited the boys that first morning to dreamland.

in Beaver Camp, and they were stirring before The doctor slept in the middle of the long line, the sun was very high in the eastern sky. with five boys on each side. Lefty found himself Doctor Halsey paired them off, and set them to at one end with Cousin Willie next, between him- doing different things that needed attention. One self and Tad.

pair cut wood and piled it near the camp-fire; The boys were very tired, and soon fell asleep, another carried groceries into the room which in spite of their hard beds which afforded slight had served the former occupants as a kitchen, comfort for aching muscles.

and arranged them conveniently on the shelves; a About an hour later, Lefty stirred uneasily, third finished unpacking the boxes and barrels; then rolled over, seeking a more comfortable another swept out the rubbish, aired the blankets, position. As he did so, he was conscious of a and made the premises tidy, while the last two sound like a stified sob from his next neighbor. boys carried water, washed dishes and cooking

He smiled scornfully. What was the kid blub- utensils that had just come out of boxes and barbering about, anyhow? Then Lefty's kind heart rels, and aided in the preparation of breakfast.

During the morning, Tom and the doctor ar- The natives exchanged glances of ominous ranged for a supply of milk, eggs, butter, and solemnity, and sighed in a manner which somevegetables from a farmer in the neighborhood, how conveyed the idea of awe, apprehension, and while Jack and Eliot rowed across the lake to gloomy foreboding all at once. purchase some necessary articles. While they "Reckon ye won't stay there long. There ain't were gone, Tad and Lefty walked over to the a feller in the hull township that 'd go near the railway-station at North Rutland, where they place. It 's haunted! They say there 's awful found the two trunks that had not yet been de- goings on after dark, and somethin' always haplivered, but no cots.

pens to folks that stay there." "Whatever has become of those bally beds?” "I noticed it," Lefty solemnly assured them. Tad exclaimed helplessly.

"Last night, along about midnight, I heard a "I wanted to warn Tom not to buy 'em,” Lefty queer noise out in the woods. It was a wild, reminded him, “but you would n't let me. I knew mournful sound”-he shivered as he recalled the something 'd happen to 'em."

experience, noting the fact, as he paused, that “Maybe the railroad is using them. They have his auditors were visibly impressed – "like— like sleepers, you know."

a man playing a bass viol in a prison cell. I “Sure! Maybe they 've used them for part of seized the first weapon that came handy, which the road-bed.”

turned out to be a can-opener, and went forth to "No. I know what, Lefty. Don't you remem

discover the cause-". ber the salesman said the legs could be folded "All alone?" gasped one of the natives. underneath? They probably got tired, curled up “Sure! If I 'd taken some one with nie that their legs, and went to sleep.”

would have made a pair, and it 's not time yet "Well, anyhow, I wish they 'd come. The for pears. Well, I stole silently into the woods, piazza floor may be swell for rugged constitu- and what do you suppose I saw ? A red, white, tions, but there are things I like better."

and blue elephant with gleaming tusks and a "We won't sleep there to-night. We 'll cut steamer trunk! He was sitting on a log, singing, branches and make camp beds. I read a book not 'Has anybody here seen Kelly ?' Oh, yes! the long ago that told how to do it.”

place is haunted, all right!" "Perhaps they 'll come to-morrow. There 's a "Wal, I swow !” ejaculated one of the boys, and freight up from the south every morning. I won- all three stared at Lefty with feelings too deep der if some one here would cart them over to the for expression. camp and bring the trunks at the same time?" "We 'll arrange a game with you the next time

"Should n't be surprised. I 'll ask the supreme we 're over," Tad hastily assured them. “Come potentate of freight and baggage."

along, Lefty! We want to hunt up the great and That official “guessed ’Zekiel Pettingill 'd bring only ’Zekiel and get him to bring the cots over 'em over for 'em if he had a load that way," and when they get here. It 's no fun tramping over directed them toward the humble home of the to the station every day, only to find out that worthy Ezekiel.

there 's nothing doing.” As they turned away from the office, they be- They located Neighbor Pettingill, and made came suddenly aware that three boys, evidently favorable arrangements with him, then started natives of the place, were regarding them atten

back toward the camp. tively from the top rail of a near-by fence.

"Well, Tad, we seem to have landed knee-deep "Mornin'," one of them ventured.

in an awful mystery,” Lefty remarked. "We 've Lefty removed his hat and bowed low. “Greet- hired a haunted camp and discovered a man that ings," he responded.

we don't dare talk about when anybody 's around. That stunned the trio into speechlessness, and I thought Tom said this was such a quiet section it was not until Tad and Lefty had moved some of the country.” yards away, that the previous speaker again "That was before taking. His present ideas found his voice.

have not yet been submitted for publication. I “Reckon you fellers play ball?"

wonder if those fellows can play base-ball enough Reckon we do! Want a game?”

to keep themselves warm.” The boy nodded. “Be you the fellers that 'r' Lefty shrugged his shoulders doubtfully. "You stayin' over on the lake?”

never can tell about these country teams, Tad. "We be- but not all of them. There are eight They may be able to play all around us.

Most more."

likely they practise a lot, and have a bunch of "Campin' on the Raymond place, ain't ye?" heavy hitters on board. It is n't a good plan to "We 're making a feeble stab in that direction.” underestimate a team like that. If you do get

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walloped, it makes you feel like a three-cent piece "Oh, don't fret about Cousin Willie ! The with a hole in it."

kid 's got the right stuff in him, Tad. I had a “If Beaver Camp is haunted, it must have been talk with him last night, and he and I have spooks that moved our things out into the woods. formed a partnership for for mutual imPerhaps they put up the sign at the same time, provement and development." warning us not to land on our own property." “That 's fine, Lefty! A partnership like that

ought to do you lots of good. I 'm so glad, for your sake, that Cousin Willie has consented to improve you. You need it! Of course, I would n't say so to any one outside, but since you mentioned it—"

"Exactly! Cousin Willie has the right idea about camp life, Tad. I don't believe he 's going to give up very easily, no matter what. happens. At home, I suppose he 's humored and petted to death, so he 's grown to expect it. He knows that he can have his own way if he makes a fuss about it, consequently he rules the roost.

"He seems to have sense enough, though, to know that such

program does n't specially draw a crowd up here. He 's a sensible kid ! I don't know where he got his level-headed notions —" "They

from branch of the family.”

"A lot they do! You 'd have to give trading-stamps to get anybody to take 'em. Anyhow, Cousin Willie has made up his mind that it 's time he quit being a kid. He wants to show the fellows up here that he is just as big as they are in feelings, and has just as stiff a backbone. I told him I 'd stretch forth a

helping hand to aid a stumTHE DISCOVERY IN THE UNDERBRUSH. (SEE PAGE 622.)

bling brother as long as he

acted as if he meant what he “Won't it make the fellows' eyes stick out said, and he quite fell on the offer." when we tell 'em that they 've struck a haunted “Good work, Lefty! I did n't think the kid had house?” Lefty chuckled. “We 'll work that idea it in him. I hope he 'll make good. It would for all it's worth, Tad. If you and I can't have tickle Mother immensely if he developed as she some fun out of it on the side, it 'll be a wonder.” wants him to up here at camp."

"Cousin Willie 'll have fourteen fits when he Arriving at Beaver Camp, the fun-loving pair learns about it,” Tad made answer. "He 'll be lost no time in proclaiming the fact that intelliso scared, he 'll be afraid of his own shadow.” gent natives had declared the place to be haunted,

VOL. XXXIX.–79.

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but the announcement excited only amusement courage the boy with a few suggestions and a and ridicule.

little praise. The boys, however, welcomed the invitation to Will was very happy when the signal was given meet the natives in friendly rivalry on the base- to come out of the water. New forces were stirball diamond, and began to discuss ways and ring within him, and it seemed to him as if he means of accomplishing their defeat.

were just beginning to be a real boy. Also he "First thing on the program, we must get our

felt a growing regard for these lively, fun-loving, diamond in shape," Tom suggested. “If we play manly fellows, who seemed to take especial pains in the village, they may want a return game here. to be kind to him and to help him in the carrying Anyhow, we need plenty of practice. We want out of certain commendable resolutions which he to make a good showing."

had made, and which he had partially revealed “Probably by to-morrow we 'll be able to tackle to Lefty when their partnership was formed. our athletic field," Charlie observed. “We seem The campers sunned themselves on the beach for to have things in fairly good shape around the a few minutes, in spite of the doctor's warning of place."

possible sunburn, then dressed leisurely and wanAnd it was agreed that this matter should re- dered up toward the bungalow. ceive attention the next lay.

A dismal wailing, which reminded them of By mid-afternoon, the campers were comfort- backyard fences at home, saluted their ears ably settled in their new quarters, and they cele- they approached the house, and Charlie and Italbrated the completion of their hard toil by hav- ter, who were in the lead, ran forward to ining an invigorating bath in the lake.

vestigate. No cat had been on the premises since Cousin Willie stood timidly on the shore, after their arrival, so they wondered whence came the having waded in until his ankles were covered, unmistakably feline solo. shivering at the thought of plunging into the cold "A cat!" Charlie gasped. “In a cage, too! water.

Well, did you ever !" "Let 's duck the kid," Bert proposed to Lefty. The others crowded around, and saw a small

"Don't you do it-now," was the pleading re- Maltese kitten imprisoned in a rough cage made sponse. “He 's only a kid, you know, Bert, and if of a crate. On this was tacked a sign bearing you go to work and scare him into fits the first the inscription printed in red ink: time he comes down to swim, he won't get over it in a hurry. What 's the use, anyhow? We want

DANGER! DO NOT TOUCH! WILDCAT to brace the kid up! Most likely he 'll enjoy it

CAPTURED IN THE WOODS ON THE as well as any of us once he gets the habit. If he

RAYMOND PLACE. MANY MORE AT sees that we 're not going to bother him, he won't

LIBERTY! BEWARE! be afraid to come in."

"All right, deacon!" Bert laughingly replied. The kitten had a piece of red ribbon tied "I 'll help make a water baby of him.”

around its neck, and a little bell tinkled when it He waded ashore as he spoke, and stood for a moved. moment beside the younger boy, swinging his "Must belong to some one in the neighborarms to keep warm.

hood," Tom asserted. “We'd better hang on to it “Can you swim, Willie?" he asked finally. until it 's claimed." "A little."

“Wonder how it got into the crate.” “Better come in. The water 's fine to-day. “Through the crater, most likely." Honest! It does n't feel cold after you 've been There was considerable speculation as to how in awhile, and it 's a lot more fun than standing and by whom the kitten had been placed on the here shivering. Come on in with me. It is n't bungalow piazza, but other matters claimed the deep until- until you get out there where Ed and boys' attention, and just then they were too busy Tad are."

to attempt a complete solution of the mystery. Willie drew back, reluctant to plunge in, but A large flag was owned by Beaver Camp, and Bert threw an arm about his waist and lifted him Tom, with the help of Eliot and Charlie, atinto the water, where they both splashed about tempted to attach it to halyards on a flagpole near gaily for a few minutes. Then Bert swam off a corner of the bungalow. This required some into deeper water, and Willie essayed a few little time, but they had just completed the task, strokes himself.

when Bert came running up the pathway from "Not bad, Will! Kick your legs out more.

the shore. That 's the way!" Doctor Halsey called to him "Hoist the flag!” he cried breathlessly, as he from the shore. Then he waded out to neared the house. “The girls are coming !"

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