Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected; please see the end of the text for details.
THE ROVER BOYS ON SNOWSHOE ISLAND
The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box
ARTHUR M. WINFIELD
Author of "The Rover Boys at School," "The Rover Boys on the Ocean," "The Putnam Hall Series," Etc.
New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers
Made in the United States of America
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BOOKS BY ARTHUR M. WINFIELD
THE FIRST ROVER BOYS SERIES
THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS THE ROVER BOYS IN CAMP THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA THE ROVER BOYS ON THE RIVER THE ROVER BOYS ON THE PLAINS THE ROVER BOYS IN SOUTHERN WATERS THE ROVER BOYS ON THE FARM THE ROVER BOYS ON TREASURE ISLE THE ROVER BOYS AT COLLEGE THE ROVER BOYS DOWN EAST THE ROVER BOYS IN THE AIR THE ROVER BOYS IN NEW YORK THE ROVER BOYS IN ALASKA THE ROVER BOYS IN BUSINESS THE ROVER BOYS ON A TOUR
THE SECOND ROVER BOYS SERIES
THE ROVER BOYS AT COLBY HALL THE ROVER BOYS ON SNOWSHOE ISLAND
THE PUTNAM HALL SERIES
THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS THE PUTNAM HALL RIVALS THE PUTNAM HALL CHAMPIONS THE PUTNAM HALL REBELLION THE PUTNAM HALL ENCAMPMENT THE PUTNAM HALL MYSTERY
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
* * * * * *
Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York Copyright, 1918, by Edward Stratemeyer
My Dear Boys: This book is a complete story in itself, but forms the second volume in a line issued under the general title, "The Second Rover Boys Series for Young Americans."
As mentioned in several volumes of the first series, this line was started a number of years ago with the publication of "The Rover Boys at School," "On the Ocean," and "In the Jungle." In those volumes my young readers were introduced to Dick, Tom and Sam Rover.
The volumes of the first series related the adventures of the three Rover boys while attending Putnam Hall Military Academy, Brill College, and while on numerous outings.
These Rover boys were, of course, growing steadily older. They met three young ladies in whom they became intensely interested, and, after becoming established in business, three happy marriages followed. Presently Dick Rover was blessed with a son and a daughter, as was also his brother Sam, while the fun-loving Tom became the proud father of twin boys, who were as full of spirit as their parent had ever been. At first the boys were kept at home, but then it was thought best to send them to a boarding school.
At Colby Hall the young Rovers made a host of friends, and also some enemies. They had to work hard over their studies, but they had a thoroughly good time.
In the present volume the boys are still at Colby Hall, but presently the scene is shifted to Snowshoe Island, where the lads go for a short hunting season. How they ran into a most unusual mystery and helped an old lumberman to establish his claim to the island, I will leave the pages which follow to relate.
In conclusion I wish to thank my numerous readers for the many kind things they have said about these Rover Boys books, and especially about the initial volume in the second series. I trust that all my readers will like Jack, Andy and Randy, and Fred as much as they did Dick, Tom, and Sam Rover.
Affectionately and sincerely yours, EDWARD STRATEMEYER.
I FUN ON THE ICE 1 II SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROVER BOYS 13 III OUT OF PERIL 23 IV OUT HUNTING 33 V UNCLE BARNEY STEVENSON 44 VI DEEP IN THE WOODS 56 VII AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 65 VIII THE SLEIGHING PARTY 76 IX A MISHAP ON THE ROAD 86 X SOMETHING ABOUT TWO GOATS 96 XI THE JOKE ON ASA LEMM 108 XII IN COLONEL COLBY'S OFFICE 119 XIII ASA LEMM IS DISMISSED 132 XIV OVERHEARING A PLOT 143 XV AN ALARM OF FIRE 152 XVI PUTTING OUT THE FLAMES 161 XVII CAUGHT IN THE ACT 168 XVIII HOME AGAIN 177 XIX OFF FOR SNOWSHOE ISLAND 188 XX CAUGHT IN A SNOWSTORM 197 XXI AN ASTONISHING REVELATION 207 XXII THE FIRST NIGHT ON THE ISLAND 216 XXIII UNEXPECTED VISITORS 226 XXIV A WAR OF WORDS 237 XXV FACING THE WOLVES 247 XXVI JACK FREES HIS MIND 258 XXVII THE BLUE TIN BOX 268 XXVIII UNCLE BARNEY'S SECRET 279 XXIX THE DISCOVERY 289 XXX SETTLING ACCOUNTS—CONCLUSION 298
THE ROVER BOYS ON SNOWSHOE ISLAND
FUN ON THE ICE
"Sure! Been ready half an hour."
"Wait a minute, Frank, till I tighten my skate strap," cried Fred Rover, as he bent down to adjust the loosened bit of leather.
"Hurry up, Fred, we don't want to stand here all day," sang out his Cousin Andy gaily.
"That's it! I want to win this race," broke in Randy Rover, Andy's twin brother.
"Now remember, the race is to be to the old white pine and back," announced the starter. "Every contestant has got to touch the tree before he starts to come back; otherwise he'll be counted out."
"You ought to have a pistol to start us with," came from Jack Rover.
"I guess my old locomotive whistle will do for that," answered Frank Newberry. He paused to look at the line of skaters. "Now then, everybody on the job!" and a loud whistle rent the air.
Instantly there was a scurry of skates, and off the line started across Clearwater Lake to where a blasted pine tree reared its naked trunk against the skyline.
It was a Saturday afternoon in early winter, and the cadets of Colby Hall Military Academy were out in force to enjoy themselves on the smooth ice of the lake, near which the school was located. The cadets had been amusing themselves in various ways, playing tag and hockey, and in "snapping the whip," as it is called, when Gif Garrison, at the head of the athletic association, had suggested a race.
"We might as well find out who is the best skater in the school," Gif had said.
"Right you are," had come from his particular chum, Spouter Powell. "Let us get up a race by all means."
With so many cadets who could skate well, it was an easy matter to arrange for the contest. To make the matter more interesting, one of the Hall professors, Mr. Brice, said he would give some prizes to the pupils coming in first, second and third.
"I'll give a fine book of adventures to the first cadet, and also books to the others," Mr. Brice announced. He was still a young man, and in hearty sympathy with everything in the way of outdoor sports.
Among those to enter the contest were Jack Rover and his three cousins, Fred, Andy and Randy. All were provided with hockey skates, and each felt confident of making a good record for himself. Yet they all knew that the school boasted of some fine skaters, one lad in particular, Dan Soppinger, having won several contests on the ice in years gone by.
"We've got our work cut out for us!" cried Fred Rover, as he skated beside Jack.
"Save your wind, Fred," answered his cousin briefly.
"Believe me, this is going to be some race!" came from Randy, who was on the other side of Jack, with his twin brother next to him.
"I don't care who wins so long as I'm not last," responded his twin merrily.
Over twenty cadets had started in the contest, and soon the line, which had been fairly even for a few seconds after the whistle had sounded, began to take on a straggly appearance, as some skaters forged ahead and others fell behind.
"Don't give up! Everybody keep in the race until the finish!" cried Professor Brice encouragingly. "Remember, a race isn't over until the end is reached."
Thus encouraged, those who were in the rear did their best to overtake those ahead. But gradually the skaters divided into three groups; eight in the lead, six but a short distance behind them, and the others several yards further to the rear.
In the front group were Jack and his cousin Randy, while Fred and Andy were less than ten feet behind.
The distance across Clearwater Lake was about half a mile, but the blasted pine tree was located some distance down the shore, so that the race would be close to a mile and a half in length.
Spouter Powell was in the lead when the first group of skaters came up to the pine tree. Dan Soppinger was close behind him, with Jack and Randy following. Behind Randy came Walt Baxter, another cadet who skated remarkably well. The others of the first group were gradually dropping back to the second contingent. Spouter Powell touched the tree with his finger tips, and was followed almost immediately by Dan Soppinger. As they turned to go back to the starting point, they were followed by Jack and Randy.
"Hi, you fellows! what do you mean by skating so quick?" piped out Andy Rover gaily.
"We'll leave the tree to you, Andy!" shouted his twin.
"I don't think we'll win, but, anyway, we won't be last," came from Fred, as he and Andy touched the tree.
"Well, we can't have everything in this world," was the philosophic reply from the other Rover boy.
It could be seen that the race had now narrowed down to the five who were in the lead. Of these, Spouter Powell and Dan Soppinger were less than two feet apart, while only a yard to the rear came Jack, Randy and Walt Baxter.
"Go it, Randy!" sang out Andy, as he dropped still further behind. "Go it! I know you can win!"
"Keep it up, Jack!" yelled Fred, who, being the smallest of the four Rovers, found it impossible to keep up the pace. "Don't let Spouter and Dan hold you back!"
There were numerous cries of encouragement for all of the skaters as they swept forward toward the starting point. Here a line had been drawn on the ice, and the cadets stood at either end, some with their watches in their hands to time the winners.
"I'll bet Dan Soppinger wins!" cried one of the cadets. "He's the best skater on the lake."
"Well, Spouter Powell is a good skater, too," returned another.
"Huh! what's the matter with the Rover boys?" burst out a third cadet, round-faced and remarkably fat—so fat, in fact, that he had not dreamed of participating in the contest.
"I don't know much about how they can skate," was the reply. "They weren't here last winter, you remember."
"Yes, I know that," answered Fatty Hendry.
"Here they come!"
By this time the skaters were half way on the return from the blasted pine. Spouter Powell and Dan Soppinger were still in the lead, but Walt Baxter was crawling up steadily, while Jack and Randy were close behind.
"Say, this is going to be a neck-and-neck race!" cried one of the cadets, Ned Lowe by name. He had wanted to race himself, but knew that his skates were too dull for that purpose.
"Stand back! Give them plenty of room!" exclaimed Professor Brice, and he took measures to clear the cadets away from the finishing line.
Quite a crowd had assembled to witness the contest, not only cadets, but also some folks from the neighboring town of Haven Point, and also a number of young ladies from Clearwater Hall, a seminary located some distance away.
The skaters had still a distance of several hundred yards to cover when it was seen that Spouter Powell was gradually falling behind. Then Jack Rover forged forward, followed by his Cousin Randy.
"The Rovers are crawling up!"
"See, Jack Rover and his Cousin Randy and Dan Soppinger and Walt Baxter are all in a line!"
"This certainly is one close race!"
The excitement increased as the racers drew closer to the finishing line. Walt Baxter was panting painfully, showing that he had used up almost every ounce of his strength.
"Oh, dear! I do hope the Rovers come in ahead," whispered one girl skater to another. She was a tall girl, remarkably good looking and dressed in a suit of brown, with furs.
"So do I hope the Rover boys win, Ruth," answered her girl companion, "now that my Cousin Dick has fallen behind."
"It's too bad, May, that your Cousin Dick couldn't have kept up," answered Ruth Stevenson.
Closer and closer to the finishing line crept the four leading skaters, Jack and Randy in the middle, with Dan Soppinger on their left and Walt Baxter on their right. Now Spouter Powell had fallen back to the second group of racers.
"Here they come!"
"It's Dan Soppinger's race!"
"Not much! Here comes Walt Baxter! Gee, see him strike out!"
"It's the Rovers who are coming to the front!" exclaimed Ned Lowe.
"I knew they couldn't hold those Rover boys back," was Frank Newberry's comment. "Now then, boys, for a final dash!" he shouted.
All four of the leading contestants were bending forward and striking out as powerfully as possible, their arms swinging from side to side like pendulums and their skates ringing clearly on the smooth ice.
For an instant all were in a line, then, by a tremendous effort, Walter Baxter forged a foot ahead. But almost instantly Dan Soppinger overtook the other cadet. An instant later Randy Rover came up beside the others, followed by his Cousin Jack.
The finishing line was now less than fifty yards away, and the crowd was yelling all sorts of words of encouragement and cheering wildly, even the girls and older folks present being much excited. Then, of a sudden, an exclamation of wonder rent the air.
"Look at that, will you? Did you ever see such striking out in your life?"
"He's coming forward like a cannon ball!"
These exclamations had been brought forth by the sudden change of tactics on the part of Jack Rover. Coming back from the blasted pine he had managed to hang close to his opponents, but without using up all his reserve force. Now he let out "for all he was worth," as he afterwards declared, and, with strokes that could hardly be seen for their rapidity, he forged in front of Soppinger and Baxter.
"It's Jack Rover's race!"
"Look! Look! Here comes his Cousin Randy!" yelled Ned Lowe.
"No use in talking—you can't hold those Rover boys back," was Fatty Hendry's comment.
What the cadets had said was true. Following the extraordinary spurt made by Jack, Randy let himself out, and in a twinkling had passed Baxter. Then he found himself neck-and-neck with Dan Soppinger, who was struggling with might and main to catch up to Jack, just two feet ahead.
"Make room for the winners!"
"Jack Rover wins the race!"
"Yes, and Randy Rover is second!"
"Who takes third place?"
"Soppinger, I guess."
"No, I think Walt Baxter was a little ahead of him."
"Nonsense! It was a tie between them."
"Three cheers for the Rover boys!" shouted Ned Lowe, and many cadets joined in the cheering.
Jack and Randy were quickly surrounded by many of their chums and congratulated on their success.
"It was a tie race between Soppinger and Baxter," announced Professor Brice. "And that being so, I will give each of them a third prize," and with this those two contestants had to be contented.
"You made that race in record time, Jack," announced Gif Garrison. "It is better time by twelve seconds than was ever made before on this lake."
"Well, where do I come in?" demanded Randy.
"You broke the record by ten seconds," was the reply. "And believe me, that's some stunt!"
"I guess I was beaten fairly," announced Dan Soppinger, a little ruefully; "so there is no use of complaining."
"Oh, it was a fair and square race sure enough," answered Walt Baxter. "All the same, if my skates had been just a little sharper I think I might have won," he added a little wistfully.
"Well, I am glad the honors stay in our family anyhow," announced Fred, as he skated up, followed by Andy.
"And first and second prizes, too!" cried his cousin. "That ought to be enough to hold the other fellows for awhile."
Jack and Randy were both panting from their exertions, but their faces showed their satisfaction, and especially did Jack look his pleasure when he happened to glance beyond the crowd of cadets and saw Ruth Stevenson waving her hand toward him. Beside Ruth was May Powell, who waved gaily to all of the Rovers.
"Fine race, boys! Fine race!" was Fatty Hendry's comment. "Just the same, none of you would have been in it for a minute if I had entered," and at this joke there was a general laugh.
"Say, Fatty, you should have gone into it just to lose flesh," was Andy's dry comment. "If you tried real hard, you might lose a pound a mile," and at this there was another laugh.
The crowd began to gather around Jack and Randy and the others who had won the race, and many wanted to shake hands with the oldest Rover boy. Even some of the town folks skated up, and they were followed by some of the girls from Clearwater Hall.
"I say, boys, this may not be safe!" cried Professor Brice suddenly, when the crowd on the ice had become unusually thick. "This ice isn't as strong as it might be."
"Yes, and with Fatty in the crowd——" began Andy Rover. Then, of a sudden, he stopped short because an ominous crack was heard, followed by several other cracks.
"The ice is breaking!"
"Skate away, everybody, or we'll go down!"
Instantly there was a commotion, and all of the skaters tried to break away from the spot where the crowd had congregated. The confusion was tremendous, and in the mix-up six or eight persons, including Ruth Stevenson and May Powell, were thrown down. Then came another crack, and it looked as if in another instant the ice would give way completely and precipitate the whole crowd into the cold waters of the lake.
SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROVER BOYS
It was a time of extreme peril, and it is doubtful if any one realized that more than did Jack Rover. He, too, had been thrown down, and across his legs was sprawled the heavy form of Fatty Hendry. It was the toppling over of the fat youth which had caused one of the cracks which were now so numerous in the ice.
"Hi! get off of me!" yelled Jack, and managed to pull one of his legs free; and with this he pushed the fat youth to one side.
"Help! help! We're going down!" came in a scream from May Powell.
The ice had become depressed where she and Ruth Stevenson stood, and both were already in a half inch of water.
"Scatter! Everybody scatter!" cried Professor Brice, and then rushed to one side, to rescue several little boys and girls.
"Come on, Jack, we've got to help those girls!" cried Randy, and caught his cousin by the arm, thus assisting him to his feet. Then off the pair skated, with Andy and Fred behind them, all bent on going to the assistance of the girls from Clearwater Hall.
Now, I know quite well that to the readers of the former volumes in these two "Rover Boys Series," all of the Rovers, both old and young, will need no introduction. But for the benefit of those who have not perused any of the previous volumes in this line, a few words concerning our characters will not be amiss.
In my first volume, entitled "The Rover Boys at School," I told how three brothers, Dick, Tom and Sam Rover, had been sent off to Putnam Hall Military Academy, where they made a host of friends, including a manly and straightforward cadet, named Lawrence Colby. From Putnam Hall, the Rovers were sent to Brill College, and after leaving that institution of learning they went into business in Wall Street, New York City, where they organized The Rover Company, of which Dick was now president; Tom, secretary; and Sam, treasurer.
While at Putnam Hall the three Rovers had become acquainted with three charming girls, Dora Stanhope and her cousins Nellie and Grace Laning. This acquaintance had ripened into loving intimacy, and when Dick went into business he had made Dora Stanhope his life-long partner. A short while after this Tom married Nellie Laning and Sam married Grace.
When first married, Dick and his beautiful wife Dora had begun housekeeping in a small apartment, but a few years later the three brothers had purchased a plot of ground on Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson river, and there they had built three handsome houses, Dick living in the middle house, and Tom on one side and Sam on the other.
Before the young people had moved into the new homes, Dick and Dora became the proud parents of a little son, who was named John, after Mr. Laning. The son was followed by a daughter, Martha, so named after her Great Aunt Martha of Valley Brook Farm, where the older boys had spent many of their youthful days. Little Jack, as he was called, was a bright lad with many of the qualities which had made his father so well liked and so successful in life.
About the time Jack's sister Martha was born, Tom and Nellie Rover came forward with twin boys, one of whom they named Anderson, after his grandfather, and the other Randolph, after Uncle Randolph, of Valley Brook Farm. Andy and Randy, as they were always called for short, were exceedingly clever and active lads, in this particular being a second edition of their father. Andy was usually saying things that were more or less funny, and Randy thought that playing some trick was the finest thing in the world.
"You can't find fault with those kids, Tom," Dick Rover said more than once. "They are chips off the old block."
"Well, I suppose they are," Tom Rover would reply, with a twinkle in his eye. "But if they never do anything that is really mean or harmful, I won't care."
About the same time the twins were born, Sam and Grace Rover came along with a beautiful little girl, whom they named Mary, after Mrs. Laning. Then, a year later, the girl was followed by a sturdy little boy, who was christened Fred, after Sam Rover's old school chum, Fred Garrison.
Living so close together—the three stone mansions on Riverside Drive were connected—the younger generation of Rover boys, as well as the girls, were brought up very much like one big family. The winters were spent in New York City, while during the summer the young folks were generally bundled off to Valley Brook Farm, where their grandfather, Anderson Rover, still resided with his brother Randolph and wife Martha.
At first both the girls and the boys had been sent to private schools in the metropolis. But the boys showed such a propensity for "cutting up," as Dick Rover expressed it, that the fathers were compelled to hold a consultation.
"The best thing we can do is to send them to some strict boarding school," was Dick Rover's comment, and in this the brothers agreed.
Some time before, their old school chum, Lawrence Colby, who had since become a colonel in the state militia, had opened a military academy, which he called Colby Hall. The place was gaining an enviable reputation as a first-class institution of learning, being modeled after Putnam Hall, which, in its day, had been run somewhat on the lines of West Point.
"We'll send them to Colby Hall," had been the decision of the older Rovers, and to that place Jack, Andy and Randy, and Fred had gone, as related in detail in the volume entitled "The Rover Boys at Colby Hall."
The military school presided over by Colonel Colby was located about half a mile from the town of Haven Point, on Clearwater Lake, a beautiful sheet of water about two miles long and half a mile wide. At the head of the lake was the Rick Rack River, running down from the hills and woods beyond. The school consisted of a large stone building shaped somewhat in the form of a cross, the upper portion facing the river. It was three stories in height, and contained, not only the classrooms and the mess hall, but also the dormitories and private rooms for the scholars. To one side was a brick building, which at one time had been a private dwelling, but which was now occupied by Colonel Colby and his family and some of the professors. On the opposite side was a new and up-to-date gymnasium. Down at the water's edge were a number of small buildings used as boathouses and bathhouses. Behind the Hall were a stable and a barn, and also a garage; and still further back there were a large vegetable garden and numerous farm fields.
On their arrival at Colby Hall, the Rover boys had found several of their friends awaiting them. One of these was Dick Powell, the son of Songbird Powell, a former schoolmate of their fathers, a fellow who was usually called Spouter because of his fondness for making speeches. Another lad was Gifford Garrison, usually called Gif for short, who was at the head of the school athletics. Gif was the son of Fred Garrison, after whom Fred Rover had been named.
They also made friends of a number of others, some of whom we have already met. These included Walter Baxter, the son of Dan Baxter, who in years gone by had been an enemy to the older Rovers, but who had long since reformed.
Before coming to Colby Hall Jack Rover had had a quarrel in New York with a tall, dudish youth named Napoleon Martell, and this had almost led to a fight. Nappy Martell, as he was usually called by his cronies, was a pupil at the military academy, and soon he and his crony, a big, overgrown bully, named Slogwell Brown, did what they could to make life miserable for all of the Rovers. But in one of their dirty tricks they over-reached themselves, and as a consequence they had been exposed and sent away from the institution of learning for the time being.
"But they are coming back," Walt Baxter had told the Rover boys; "and they say when they do, they will make it hot for you."
"Well, when Slugger and Nappy return we will be ready for them," had been Jack Rover's reply.
"And the next time we won't be as easy on them as we were before," Fred had added.
All of the cadets formed a battalion of several companies, commanded by one of the older cadets, Major Ralph Mason. The Rovers took to the military drill and general exercises readily, and soon learned how to march and how to handle a gun. They enjoyed drilling very much—in fact, they enjoyed it more than they did studying, although all of them were good scholars.
As has been stated, Colby Hall was located about half a mile out of Haven Point. On the other side of the town was located Clearwater Hall, a boarding school for girls. During a panic in a moving picture theater in the town, Jack and his cousins had become acquainted with a number of these girls, including Ruth Stevenson and May Powell. After that the four boys had taken four of the girls rowing on the lake and on other outings, and through this had become quite well acquainted with a number of the Clearwater Hall pupils. Jack was particularly interested in Ruth Stevenson, and thought her a very beautiful and entertaining young lady. The others did not seem to have any particular preference, although Fred was often seen to side up to May Powell, the entertaining cousin of Spouter.
And now, having introduced these young ladies in a proper manner, let us return to them at the time when they were struggling on the ice and in the midst of the frightened crowd rushing hither and thither, striving to save itself from being immersed in the icy waters of the lake.
"Oh! oh! What shall we do?" cried May in terror, as she clung to her companion's arm.
"Come on! We'll have to skate away from here!" burst out Ruth. "Come! let us see if we can't get to shore," and she started off, her companion still clinging to her.
In the meanwhile, Jack and Randy were skating as fast as possible in the direction where they had seen the two girls. But now a crowd of cadets and town folks swept in front of them, and the next instant Randy was hurled flat on his back and went spinning across the smooth ice.
By this time one of the spots on the lake had broken through, and the water was rapidly rising all around it and covering the sinking surface. Men, women and children mingled with the cadets and hurried in all directions, but most of them toward the shore.
"Come on! We've got to help those girls somehow!" panted Jack, as he skated over to where Randy had been flung. He assisted his cousin to his feet just as Fred and Andy flashed up.
"The girls! Don't you see them over there? They are going down!" yelled Fred.
"Yes, I see them! Come on!" answered Jack.
As tired as he was because of the race, the oldest Rover struck out with all the vigor he could muster. Soon he found himself sloshing through water that was several inches deep. The next moment he stood beside the two girls, who had become almost too frightened to move.
"Come on! Don't stand here!" he called, catching Ruth by the arm.
He looked back and saw that Fred and the others were close behind him, and that Fred already had hold of May. Then he started off up the lake.
"Oh, Jack, hadn't we better head for the shore?" gasped the frightened girl.
"No. There is too much of a crowd in that direction already," he answered quickly. "If they don't look out they'll all go in. Come on! The best thing to do is to get out where there isn't anybody."
He skated on, allowing the girl to rest on his arm as he did so. Soon they seemed to be out of the danger zone, and then he looked back.
The sight that met his gaze filled him with new alarm. Fred had been skating with May close beside him, but their feet had caught in one of the new cracks, and both of them had gone down headlong. Andy and Randy had been close behind, and now they too went sprawling, while the ice cracked ominously, as if ready to let them down into the water at any instant!
OUT OF PERIL
"Oh look! May and Fred have both gone down!" cried Ruth.
"Yes, and there go Andy and Randy over them!" exclaimed Jack.
"And look, Jack, the ice is cracking everywhere!" continued the frightened girl. She clutched his arm and looked appealingly into his face. "Oh! what shall we do?"
"Spread out, you fellows! Spread out!" yelled the oldest Rover boy. "Spread out! Don't keep together!"
His cry was heard, and an instant later Andy commenced to roll over on the ice in one direction while his twin rolled in another. In the meantime, Fred had managed to scramble to his feet, and now he pulled up May.
"Come on, we'll soon be out of danger," encouraged the youngest Rover; and, striking out, he pulled May behind him, the girl being too excited to skate.
In less than a minute the danger, so far as it concerned the Rovers and the two girls from Clearwater Hall, was past. All reached a point where the ice was perfectly firm. Here Ruth speedily gained her self-possession, but May continued to cling closely to Fred's arm.
"I'm going to see how they are making out in front of the boathouse!" cried Randy. "Some of the skaters must have gotten in."
"I'm with you," returned his twin. He looked back at his cousins. "I suppose you will look after the girls?"
"Sure!" answered Jack quickly. "Go ahead."
"I don't suppose we can be of any assistance down there?" came from Fred.
"I don't think so, Fred. There is too much of a crowd as it is; they will simply be in one another's way."
"Oh! oh! suppose some one should be drowned!" moaned May.
"Let us hope for the best," answered Jack. He did not want to add to the girls' fright, yet he was decidedly anxious over the outcome of the unexpected catastrophe.
They skated toward the shore at a point between Colby Hall and the town, and then they worked their way along shore up to the vicinity of the military academy. Here men and cadets were rushing hither and thither, some with planks and others with ropes.
"Six of the cadets broke through," announced Spouter Powell, as he came up to learn if his cousin was safe.
"They are all out, aren't they?" questioned Jack quickly.
"Yes. But there may have been others that went under the ice. Professor Brice and Mr. Crews are going to make a thorough search." Crews was the gymnastic instructor.
The excitement continued for fully half an hour. By that time it was ascertained that every one had gotten off of the ice or out of the water in safety. Those who had gone down were rushed to shelter, so that they might not catch cold. Gradually the crowd dispersed, and then Professor Brice had danger signs placed at various points on the ice, so that there should not be a repetition of the accident.
"The thing would not have occurred had not the entire crowd happened to congregate around the winners of the skating race," explained Professor Brice to Colonel Colby.
"You think the ice is thick enough for any ordinary crowd?" questioned the master of the school anxiously.
"Yes, sir. You can test it for yourself."
"Well, we must be more careful in the future, Mr. Brice. We don't want any of our cadets drowned."
"We won't have any such crowd again if I can avoid it," was the reply.
"It's all nonsense to have such races anyway. It encourages too much rowdyism," was the comment of Asa Lemm, one of the language professors. Lemm was the least liked of all the teachers at the Hall. He did not believe in a boy's having any fun, but expected the cadets to spend their entire time in studying. He had once been fairly wealthy, and the loss of his money had made him sour-minded and disagreeable.
"I cannot agree with that opinion," returned Colonel Colby coldly. "The boys must have some exercise. And to be out in the fresh air is a very good thing for them. They will study so much the better for it."
"Maybe; but I doubt it," answered Asa Lemm shortly. "You let a boy go out and carouse around, and the first thing you know he won't care for anything else," and he strode away with his chin held high in the air and his lips tightly compressed. He was a man of very positive ideas, which he tried at every opportunity to impress upon others.
"Aren't your feet wet?" questioned Jack suddenly, as he looked down at the skating shoes worn by Ruth and May.
"Well, they are rather damp," answered Ruth.
"Mine are both wet and cold," said May. "I shouldn't mind it if I could dry them off and warm them somewhere."
"Come on up to the Hall," went on Jack. "I'm sure they will let you dry them in front of the open fire in the big living-room."
"Oh, Jack, we don't want to go there in such a crowd of cadets!"
"Don't worry about the cadets," put in Fred.
When they arrived at the living-room of the military academy, they found it practically deserted, the great majority of the cadets being at the lake front or in the big boathouse, where a pot stove was kept going for the benefit of the skaters.
"My, but this is a cozy place!" remarked Ruth, after she had become comfortably settled in a big armchair with her feet resting close to the blaze.
"I wish I was a cadet here," sighed May. "It's more fun being a boy than being a girl."
"How do you know? You never were a boy," returned Fred, with a grin.
"I know, just the same," May answered. "I'm sure you boys have a much better time of it than we girls."
This started quite an argument, in which all of the young people, including Spouter, joined. In the midst of the talk Andy and Randy came in, having been told where the others had gone.
"It's all over and everybody is safe," announced Randy.
"And the only thing lost, so far as we can find out, was Fatty's skating cap," put in Andy.
"Well, if that's all, we can chip in and buy him another cap," remarked Jack, and at this there was a short laugh. Now that the peril was a thing of the past all felt greatly relieved, and their manner showed it.
Jack and Fred had the pleasure of skating all the way to Clearwater Hall with Ruth and May. During that time the young folks grew quite confidential.
"Why don't you get your sister Martha to come to Clearwater Hall?" said Ruth to Jack. "I'm sure I'd like very much to meet her."
"Yes, and why not have your sister Mary come too?" added May to Fred.
"Say, that's a great idea!" burst out Jack.
"Let's put it up to the folks at home without delay," added his cousin. "But they might not like to leave the private school they are now attending," he continued, his face falling.
"That's true, for they are getting along very nicely," said Jack. "Just the same, we can put it up to the folks at home and let them know all about what a nice place Clearwater Hall is—and what awfully nice girls there are here." And at this latter remark Ruth and May blushed.
"I sent a letter to Mary a year or two ago," said May; "but at that time I wasn't here. I think I'll send her another letter."
"Do, by all means," returned Fred quickly. "And let her know all about how nice a place it is. That may help."
"It would be a fine thing if they were at this school—it would give us more chances to call here," remarked Jack to Ruth.
"Last week I met Cousin Dick in town," said May, "and he was telling me how that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell had left the Hall. He said the pair were terribly down on all you Rovers."
"Yes, they were very much enraged over the way we exposed them," answered Fred.
"They deserved to be exposed!" cried Ruth. "The idea of their shooting two of Mr. Lacy's valuable cows and then trying to prove that you did it! It was shameful!"
"Well, their folks had to pay Lacy for the cows," answered Jack.
"And then to think how they tampered with the chains on that lumber raft so that the raft went to pieces in that storm on the lake!" added May. "Oh, I think they must be very wicked boys!"
"They are certainly no angels."
"Jack, if they should come back to Colby Hall, won't you be afraid that they will try to do something more to get you into trouble?"
"More than likely they will; but I am not afraid of them."
"We intend to keep our eyes wide open, and if Slugger or Nappy try any funny work, we'll jump on 'em like a ton of bricks," added Fred.
Then the subject was changed, and a few minutes later the cadets bid the girls good-bye, promising to see them again if possible in the near future.
"I'll tell you what, Jack, they are a pair of mighty fine girls," was Fred's comment, as he and his cousin skated back in the direction of the military academy.
"I agree with you, Fred."
"I wish we could persuade Martha and Mary to go to Clearwater Hall," went on the youngest Rover boy, wistfully. "I'd like first rate to have 'em get better acquainted with May and get acquainted with the other girls there."
"We'll have to be careful how we write home about it," cautioned his cousin. "If we aren't, they'll think we want them to come just on account of Ruth and May, and then they'll tease the life out of us."
"Oh, sure, we'll be careful! Just the same, it would be a fine boarding school for them. I don't think much of that fashionable private school where they are now going. Most of the girls there think more of how they are dressed and what dances they are learning than anything else."
"By the way, do you think Spouter knows more about what Slugger and Nappy intend to do than he told?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why, perhaps he heard something, but didn't want to tell all of it for fear of alarming us."
"I don't think Spouter would do that. He knows well enough that we aren't afraid of that pair."
"Just the same, Fred, if they do come back we'll have to keep our eyes wide open, for they surely will do their best to put one over on us, and any fellows who would be mean enough to do what they have done, wouldn't hesitate to do worse."
"I can't understand why Colonel Colby is going to let them come back at all."
"Oh, I suppose he feels that he ought to give them at least one more chance. He probably remembers how Dan Baxter acted toward our fathers and the colonel himself, as well as their chums, and how Baxter afterwards reformed."
"Yes, that may be true. But when one fellow like Walt Baxter's father reforms, a dozen others remain as bad as ever, or grow worse. To my mind, there isn't much in the way of reform in Slugger Brown's make-up, or in Nappy Martell either."
"Oh, I agree with you there. Slugger Brown is nothing short of a brute, and Nappy Martell is as sly and vicious as any fellow I ever ran up against. We'll certainly have to watch them when they get back here."
After the excitement attending the skating races, matters moved along quietly at Colby Hall for several days. The Rover boys, as was their custom, paid close attention to their studies.
"We've got to make a record for ourselves," was the way Jack put it. "If we don't, our folks may take it in their heads to send us to some other boarding school, thinking Colonel Colby is too easy with us."
"And to take Jack away from this vicinity when he is getting so sweet on Ruth Steven——" began Randy, when he was cut short by a book flung by his cousin, landing on his shoulder.
"You cut out that talk, Randy!" cried Jack.
"Let's talk about the weather," murmured Andy, who had passed to the window. "Say, fellows, do you know, I think it's going to snow!"
"Hurrah! That means some fun snowballing!" cried Fred.
The snow came down all that night, and in the morning covered the ground to the depth of several inches. A great many of the cadets rushed out in glee, and half a dozen impromptu snowballing matches were soon in progress.
It was almost time to go in for the morning session when several of the cadets noticed a figure, huddled up in a slouch hat and a heavy overcoat, coming up from behind the Hall toward a side door.
"Here comes Bob Nixon!" yelled one of the cadets, mentioning the name of Colonel Colby's chauffeur. "Let's give him a volley."
"Right you are!" exclaimed Andy gleefully.
"Stop! Can't you see——" commenced Jack, but before he could finish his sentence both Andy and Randy had let drive at the advancing figure. One snowball took the man in the shoulder and the other landed just below his left ear.
"Here! here! what do you mean by such proceedings?" cried the attacked individual in great wrath, and then, as he held up his head and pushed back his slouch hat, all saw that it was Asa Lemm.
"Great watermelons!" groaned Andy. "I thought sure it was Nixon!"
"I knew it wasn't, and that's why I tried to stop you," said Jack.
"Say, he's some mad," whispered Randy, as the language teacher strode toward them. "I wonder what he'll do."
"How dare you boys attack me?" roared Asa Lemm, as he shook his fist at the crowd. "How dare you do it?"
"It was all a mistake, Mr. Lemm," said Randy meekly.
"We didn't know it was you—really we didn't," came from Andy. "We thought it was Bob Nixon. He likes to snowball with us."
"I do not believe a word of it!" cried the irate instructor. "How many of you threw at me?" he questioned, glaring at the crowd.
To this there was no immediate answer, and then Randy stepped forward.
"I did, for one," he said.
"And so did I," came from his twin.
"No. We were the only ones, Professor," answered Randy. "And I hope you will overlook it this time," he continued. "We did not know it was you."
"Both of you report to me after school this afternoon," said the instructor harshly; and then without another word he turned and tramped off into the Hall.
"Now we are in for it, Andy," was Randy's dismal comment.
"Oh, well, he can't do any more than kill us," was the light-hearted reply of the other.
"Do you want to be killed, Andy?" quizzed Jack.
"I know what he'll do," was Randy's comment. "He'll keep us both in and give us extra lessons to learn." And in this surmise the fun-loving Rover boy was correct. For their rashness in snowballing the teacher they were made to stay in after school for two afternoons, and in addition had two extra pages of Latin to translate.
"He's a lemon, if ever there was one," was what Andy said after his punishment had come to an end. "Oh, wouldn't I just like to get square with him!"
"We'll have to think something up, Andy," answered his twin.
Following the first fall of snow, came another, but then the sun came out brightly, packing down the snow so that sleighing became quite popular.
"If we only had a big sleigh up here, we could go and get the girls from Clearwater Hall and give them a ride," said Fred one day to Jack.
"I was thinking we might hire a big sleigh in town some Saturday afternoon and do just that," answered his cousin. "I'll look into it the first chance I get."
Fred and Jack had not forgotten the sport they had had earlier in the season, when they had gone out with Frank Newberry and some others on a hunt for rabbits and other small game.
"The hunting season is still open, Fred," said Jack one day. "What do you say if we ask Colonel Colby for permission to go out."
"Suits me," answered his cousin quickly.
"Do you think Andy and Randy would like to go, too?"
"More than likely. They have been wanting to go ever since we brought down that game."
When the subject was mentioned to the twins, they quickly agreed that it would be a fine thing if they could all obtain permission to go on a hunting trip the coming Saturday. Colonel Colby was appealed to without delay.
"Well, boys, I have no objection to your going out," he said. "I know you all understand the use of firearms, and I know, also, that your fathers loved to go out in their day and hunt. And I did a little bit in that line myself," and he smiled faintly. "But I want you to be very careful in what you shoot at; and do your level best to keep out of trouble of all kinds," and he looked at Jack and Fred as he uttered the latter words.
"Getting into trouble before, Colonel Colby, wasn't our fault," answered Jack quickly.
"I know that."
"By the way, Colonel Colby, if it isn't asking too much, would you mind letting us know if Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell are really going to return here?" questioned Fred.
"They have asked for permission to come back—at least, their parents have asked for them—and I have the matter under consideration," answered the master of the Hall. He gazed questioningly at the Rovers. "I meant to mention this subject to you, and I am glad you have brought it up. In one way, I don't feel like having them here; but in another way I should like to give them another chance in case they feel like turning over a new leaf and making a fresh start. What do you boys think of it?"
For a moment all of the Rover boys were silent, looking at each other questioningly. Then the others showed that they expected Jack to speak.
"Well, if you want my candid opinion, it's just this, Colonel Colby," said the oldest Rover boy earnestly. "Personally I would much prefer to have Brown and Martell stay away from Colby Hall. But if you think they ought to be given another chance to make good here, why, I am sure I'm not going to stand in their way. Just the same, if they do come here, I'm going to watch them pretty closely so that they won't be able to play any more of their dirty tricks."
"I shall not blame you for watching them, Rover. After what happened to you and your Cousin Fred, it is no more than right that you should be on your guard. Yet, I trust that you will give Brown and Martell a chance to prove themselves, provided they really do want to turn over a new leaf and make amends for what has happened."
"Oh, we'll give them plenty of chances to make good if it is in them; won't we?" and Jack turned to his cousins.
"Sure!" came in a chorus.
"Then that is settled, and I am glad of it. Now you have my permission to go on your hunting trip, and I trust you will bring down all the small game you desire. But, as I said before, be very careful. So far, I have allowed all of my pupils to go out hunting whenever they have so desired, and without any accidents happening. I don't want to break that record." And with these words the master of the Hall dismissed them.
This conversation took place on Thursday evening, and all day Friday the boys were anxiously looking forward to the proposed outing and wondering what the weather would prove to be. They obtained permission to take two small rifles and two double-barreled shotguns belonging to the institution, and these they cleaned and oiled so that they would be in prime condition.
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and the four Rovers obtained their breakfast as early as the rules of the school permitted. Then, with game bags and guns slung over their shoulders, they set out on their skates up the lake shore and then along the Rick Rack River, the wind of the day previous having cleared large portions of the ice of snow.
"Come on, let's have a race!" cried Andy gleefully. Had he not been on his skates he would have attempted a handspring in the exuberance of his spirits.
"No racing to-day!" warned Jack. "You save your breath, Andy. We expect to skate and tramp a good many miles to-day before we get back to the school."
"All right, just as you say," answered his cousin, and then he began some horseplay with Fred, which came to a sudden end when the youngest Rover tripped him up and sent him plunging into a snowbank on the side of the narrow stream.
"Now let up, I tell you!" warned Jack. "You never want to try any horseplay when you are tramping or skating along with a loaded gun. It's too dangerous. Remember what Colonel Colby said," and then Andy sobered down a little.
All too soon for the boys, the skating on the river came to an end. Beyond, the stream was little better than a rocky watercourse, now thickly covered with ice and snow.
"Why can't we leave our skates here until we come back?" suggested Randy.
"We could if we were sure we were going to return this way," answered Jack. "But we had better take them along, for we may return to the Hall by an entirely different route. We'll place our skates in our game bags for the present;" and this advice was followed.
After this the Rover boys trudged along through the woods bordering the stream. Soon they came upon some rabbit tracks, and less than a minute later Jack suddenly raised his double-barreled shotgun and blazed away.
"Hurrah! you've got him!" cried Fred, and all of the boys rushed forward to where the game lay—a big, fat rabbit.
"Say, Jack, you're the lucky one!" cried Andy. "Now you know what you promised?" he added.
"All right—it's your turn now to have the shotgun," answered his cousin, for that was the bargain which had been made. "I'll carry the rifle."
On and on went the young hunters, getting deeper and deeper into the woods. Here they managed to stir up more game, and Andy had the pleasure of bringing down the second rabbit, while the others laid low several squirrels.
"This is pretty rough ground around here," remarked Jack, after they had wound in and out around some exceedingly rough rocks and through some thick underbrush.
"We had better keep close to this stream," was Randy's suggestion. "If we don't, we may become hopelessly lost in these woods."
"Huh! I guess we could find our way out sooner or later," retorted his twin. To Andy, getting lost in the woods would seem nothing more than a big joke.
The young hunters continued to advance, and, during the course of the next hour, brought down several more rabbits, and also another squirrel. Then, just as Andy had handed back one of the shotguns to Jack and the weapon had been reloaded, they heard a strange noise coming from back of some bushes not a great distance away.
"Now what do you suppose that is?" whispered Fred.
"I think I know, Fred," was Jack's reply; "and if I am right, get ready to fire as soon as I do."
The two boys with the shotguns went in advance, and soon reached a point where they could look beyond the bushes. Then came a sudden whirr, and up into the air went a small flock of pheasants.
Bang! bang! rang out Jack's fowling piece, and bang! bang! came the report of Fred's firearm.
The strange whirring continued, but then three of the birds were seen to drop to the ground, one dead and the other two seriously wounded.
"Hurrah! we've got three of them!" cried Fred excitedly, and then ran forward, to quickly put the wounded birds out of their misery.
"Say, that's some luck!" exclaimed Randy. "If I——"
Randy stopped short, and so did some of the others who had started to speak. A strange sound from a distance had reached their ears.
"Help! help!" came in a low cry. "Help! For heaven's sake, somebody come and help me!"
UNCLE BARNEY STEVENSON
"What is that?"
"It's somebody calling for help!"
"It's a man's voice; and he must be in pretty bad shape to call like that!" burst out Jack.
"Hello there!" yelled Randy. "Where are you?"
"Here! Under the fallen tree!" came in a faint cry. "Help me, quick!"
"I think the cry came from that direction," said Andy, pointing with his hand.
"And I think it came from over there," added his twin, pointing off at a right angle to the first direction given.
"I think Andy is right!" exclaimed Jack. "Anyway, he and I can go off in that direction, while you, Randy, and Fred can see if you can locate him over yonder."
Neither of the boys had been exactly right in locating the cry for assistance, which had come from a point about midway between the two places suggested, but it was Jack who saw a large fallen tree from a distance and ran quickly toward it, yelling for all of the others to do likewise.
The sight which met their gaze filled them with a pity and a strong desire to be of assistance. There, in the snow, lay an elderly man, clad in the garb of a hunter or lumberman, with a shotgun and a well-worn game bag beside him. Over the man's legs and one outstretched arm, rested the upper portion of a large pine tree, which had evidently crashed down because of the weight of snow upon it but a short time before. The man lay on his chest, and it was all he could do to raise his head to cry for aid.
"Say, this is tough!" exclaimed Andy, as he reached the spot. "What can we do to help him?"
"We've got to pry up that tree somehow," answered Jack.
"Come on; let us see if we can't lift it!" exclaimed Randy, and took hold of one of the numerous branches.
The others did the same, and all pulled upon the tree with their utmost strength. Yet, it was too heavy for them and could scarcely be budged.
"We've got to get some kind of pry and pry it up," announced Jack. "I wish we had brought a hatchet along. I meant to bring one, so that we could make firewood, but I forgot it."
"Help me! Help me!" moaned the man. "Don't leave me here pinned down like this;" and then he seemed to faint.
Alarmed by the condition of the sufferer, the boys ran around the spot looking for something which might aid them in releasing the man. They found several flat stones, and then discovered a sapling which they succeeded in pulling up by the roots. Piling up the flat stones close to the fallen tree, they placed the sapling upon them, using it as a lever, and by this means Jack and the twins managed to raise the fallen pine just high enough to allow Fred to haul the hurt man from under it. Then they let the pine slip back to its original position.
"Looks to me as if he might have his two legs broken, and maybe his arm," announced Jack, after they had placed the man on his back with his head raised on some pine boughs stripped from the trees. The sufferer's eyes were closed, and he breathed heavily.
"We ought to get a doctor for him just as soon as possible," said Randy. "But where to go for one, excepting back to Haven Point, I don't know."
While the young hunters were wondering what they had better do, the man slowly opened his eyes and gave a gasp.
"Help me! Please help me!" he cried feebly.
"Don't excite yourself, you're all right now," answered Jack kindly. "Take it easy. We'll do what we can for you."
The man had closed his eyes again, but now he opened them and tried to look around him.
"You got me clear of the fallen tree, did you?" he murmured. "Good! I was afraid I'd have to stay there until I froze to death."
"How about it? Can you use your left arm?" questioned Jack.
"I don't know. I guess so," answered the man, and then tried to raise the arm in question. He held it up for a few seconds, but then let it drop heavily by his side.
"It's pretty well lamed I reckon," he said. "You see, I had it right under one of the tree limbs."
"What about your legs? Can you move them at all?" went on the oldest Rover boy. He did not have the heart to mention that the man's lower limbs might be broken.
Feebly, the man raised up first one leg and then the other. The limbs had not been broken, but they were much bruised and swollen, and the movements caused the sufferer to give a groan.
"I'm afraid I'm done up so far as walking is concerned," he said dolefully. "You see, I'm getting old," he went on. "If I was a younger man, maybe this wouldn't affect me quite so much. But as it is——" He shook his head dismally.
"I guess you had better let us carry you out of the woods," said Jack. "You can't walk, and you certainly can't stay here alone."
"Do you know where the nearest house is located?" questioned Randy.
"Let me see——" The man mused for a moment, shutting his eyes while he did so. "Unless I'm greatly mistaken, Bill Hobson lives on the edge of the woods just to the north of this spot."
"Is he a farmer?" questioned Fred.
"No, he's a lumberman, like myself," was the reply. The man looked from one to another of the youths. "May I ask who you are?"
"We're the Rover boys," answered the oldest of the four. "I am Jack Rover, and these are my cousins, Fred, Andy, and Randy."
"Glad to know you, boys; and doubly glad to think you were up in this section of the woods just when I had this accident. I sha'n't forget your kindness. My name is Stevenson, but most all the folks that know me call me Uncle Barney. I take it from your uniforms that you belong at Colby Hall."
"We do," answered Andy.
"I don't belong in this neighborhood. I just came over early this morning to see what the hunting looked like around here. My home is on Snowshoe Island, in the middle of Lake Monona, about ten miles north of here."
"I think you had better rest on some of these pine boughs while some of us try to locate the Bill Hobson you mentioned," said Jack. "Can you point out the general direction of his place?"
"It's up along this mountain stream," and Barney Stevenson indicated the Rick Rack River. "You just follow that watercourse for about a quarter of a mile, and I'm pretty sure you'll come to it."
"Well, if you're sure it's along this stream, we might as well try to get you there first as last," announced Randy. He turned to his cousins. "Why can't we take turns in carrying him, either on our backs or on a litter?"
"I think we had better try to make some sort of litter of pine boughs," answered Jack. "It will be much easier for the four of us to do the carrying than for one."
"I've got a hatchet in my game bag, and you can cut some pine boughs with that. And you will find some cord in my game bag, too."
"How did the accident happen, if I may ask?" questioned Randy, while Jack began to trim several large boughs from the fallen pine.
"It came quicker'n lightning," was the old lumberman's answer. "I had just spotted a fine, fat rabbit, and was taking aim, when, without warning, the tree gave a sudden snap like the report of a gun, and down it came right on top of me. Of course, I tried to jump out of the way, but my foot caught on a tree root, or a rock, or something, and down I went, and the next minute the tree came down on top of me, right across my legs and my left arm, like when you found me. I tried to pull myself loose, but my legs and my arm seemed to be wedged down between the tree and some stones, and I couldn't budge nary a one of 'em."
"I guess you can be thankful that you didn't break your arm or your legs."
"I suppose that's true, my boy. Just the same, I suppose this will lay me up for a week or two, and maybe longer," answered Barney Stevenson, dubiously.
Having cut several pine boughs that looked as if they might answer the purpose, the four boys lost no time in twisting them together and then tying them into a rude litter. Across this they laid additional pine boughs, and upon these placed the form of the hurt man. When they moved him he shut his teeth hard, evidently to keep from crying out with pain.
"I know it must hurt you, Mr. Stevenson," said Jack kindly. "We'll be just as careful as possible."
"I know you'll be, my lads. I suppose I ought to have a doctor, but if I can get to Bill Hobson's cabin, I guess I'll be all right. Bill will most likely have some liniment, and that will fix me up."
With the old lumberman resting on the litter and the four youths carrying this as carefully as possible, the party made its way along the Rick Rack River, which at this point was little better than a mountain torrent. They had considerable difficulty in climbing over the rocks and in making their way through the heavy brushwood, but finally they came out to a cleared space, beyond which there were only scattered patches of trees.
"I see some smoke!" cried Fred presently.
"That must be the smoke from Bill Hobson's place," announced the old lumberman, and then he closed his eyes once more and lay back on the litter, for the pain he was suffering was great.
Keeping on in the direction where they had seen the smoke, they soon came in sight of a fairly large cabin with a lean-to attached. They marched up to the place, and Jack rapped upon the door, which was opened a moment later by a burly man, well along in years.
"What do you want?" began the man, and then looked past Jack to the litter and the old lumberman lying on it. "What's this? Why, it's Uncle Barney, I declare! What's happened?"
"I got hurt by a falling tree, Bill," was the reply. "And if it hadn't been for these cadets, I might be layin' down in the woods yet."
"He is quite a bit hurt," explained Jack. "You had better let us carry him in and place him on a couch or a bed of some kind."
"Surest thing you know, young man," answered Bill Hobson. "Fetch him right in," and he turned to make a bunk ready for the sufferer.
Fortunately the cabin was well warmed, so that as soon as they had Barney Stevenson safe inside, they lost no time in taking off some of his clothing and examining his hurts. The other old lumberman, assisted by Jack, did this, and Hobson examined the condition of his friend with care.
"I can't see that anything is broken," he announced; "but those bruises are pretty bad. I think I'll bathe 'em with hot water, and then put on some liniment and bind 'em up."
"I guess I'll have to stay right where I am for a spell, Bill," said the hurt man.
"That's what, Uncle Barney. And you're welcome to stay as long as you please," announced the owner of the cabin. The boys had brought along the old lumberman's game bag and shotgun.
Bill Hobson wanted to know the particulars of the affair, and the Rover boys related how they had come up into the woods to hunt and heard Barney Stevenson's cries for assistance, and how they had liberated him and brought him along on the litter.
"I'm very thankful indeed to you," said Barney Stevenson, and his face showed his gratitude. "If I can ever do you boys a good turn, believe me, I'll do it."
"Didn't you say you lived on Snowshoe Island?" queried Jack.
"I've heard of the place, but I don't know exactly where it is located or why they call it Snowshoe Island."
"It's a big island located almost in the middle of Lake Monona," answered the old lumberman. "I own the place, and it's called Snowshoe Island because some years ago a number of Indians lived on it and made their living by making snowshoes. The Indians are all gone now."
"I guess, Uncle Barney, you've lived on that island a good number of years," put in Bill Hobson.
"Twelve years coming this Christmas," was the reply. "I went there the day after my wife was buried," and the old lumberman's face clouded as if the memory of what had happened was still bitter.
"Do you do any lumbering there?" questioned Randy, more to change the subject than for any other reason.
"Oh, yes; I do quite some lumbering during the season. I have a firm in the city that sends up there every year for all the stuff I cut. At this time of year. I like to go out hunting. It's the one sport that I thoroughly enjoy. And I reckon you boys enjoy it, too, or you wouldn't be out with your guns."
"Yes, we like to go hunting once in a while."
"Well, now, listen to me, boys. You saved my life out there in the woods, and if I was real well off, I'd try to reward you for it. But, as it is——"
"We don't want any reward," broke in Jack quickly.
"I know you don't—you're not that kind. And I'm not going to offend you by offering it. Just the same, if you ever feel like coming over to Snowshoe Island and paying me a visit, I'll treat you as well as I know how."
"Maybe we might be able to go over there and do some hunting some time," suggested Andy.
"Yes, you come over some time and stay a few days or a week with me, and I'll give you the best time hunting I can," answered Barney Stevenson.
"By the way, Mr. Stevenson," said Jack curiously, "do you know a Mr. Frederic Stevenson?" Jack had learned from Ruth that that was her father's name.
At this unexpected question, the old lumberman opened wide his eyes and glared at the young cadet.
"Yes, I know him—very well," he growled. "But I don't want to hear anything about him—not a word! Is he a friend of yours?"
"He is the father of one of the young ladies who is a pupil at Clearwater Hall."
"Oh, I see! Humph! Well, I don't want to hear anything about Fred Stevenson, and if you want to be friends with me, you needn't mention his name to me again," went on the old lumberman, much to the surprise of the Rover boys.
DEEP IN THE WOODS
"What do you suppose was the reason that old lumberman didn't want to hear Mr. Stevenson's name mentioned?" questioned Randy of Jack, about half an hour later, when the four cadets were tramping through the woods again to resume their hunting.
"I'm sure I don't know, Randy," was the slow reply. "Evidently he was very bitter over something."
"Having the same name, it looks to me as if this Uncle Barney, as they call him, might be some relative of Ruth's family," said Fred.
"More than likely."
"Maybe he's some cast-off relation, who got into trouble with them and then took himself off to that Snowshoe Island," was Fred's comment.
"I'd have asked him some more questions if he hadn't acted so ugly about it," went on Jack.
"Yes. But he seemed to be a very nice sort of man otherwise," put in Andy quickly.
"I agree with you there." Jack gave a little sigh. "There must be some mystery to it."
"Why don't you ask Ruth about it some time?"
"I will, when I get a good chance to do it. Of course, if it's some sort of family affair, I'm not going to butt in."
Before the Rover boys had left the cabin of Bill Hobson, they had been assured by old Uncle Barney that he was feeling fairly comfortable and that the owner of the place would look after him until he recovered. Barney Stevenson had mentioned Snowshoe Island several times, and had told the boys again that he was sorry he could not reward them for coming to his assistance, but that if they ever cared to visit his island, he would do his best to make them feel at home and show them where the best hunting in that vicinity was to be had. He had also mentioned the fact that there was a vacant cabin close to his own on the island, and that they would be welcome to camp out there at any time they chose to do so.
"I'd like to visit his place some time," said Fred, "just to see how the old fellow lives. I'll bet he's got quite a comfortable outfit there."
"He may live in very queer style," returned Randy. "According to what he says, and what that Bill Hobson told me, he must be a good deal of a hermit."
"Maybe he committed some sort of crime and the other Stevensons cast him off," suggested Andy.
"Oh, I can't think that! He didn't look to be a criminal," returned Jack. "Don't you remember what he said about taking up his residence on the island after his wife died? Maybe that loss made him feel as if he didn't want to mingle with the rest of the world."
The boys talked the matter over for some time, but could reach no conclusion whatever regarding the way the old lumberman had acted when Frederic Stevenson's name had been mentioned. Then, however, they stirred up some more squirrels and rabbits, and in the excitement of the chase that subject, for the time being, was forgotten.
They had brought a lunch with them, and at noon they found a convenient spot and there built a small campfire, over which they made themselves a can of hot chocolate, and this, with some sandwiches and some doughnuts, constituted the repast. Andy wanted to take time to clean a couple of the squirrels and cook them, but Jack and the others were afraid this would take too long, and so the idea had to be abandoned.
"Gee! but this tramping through the woods gives a fellow an appetite!" cried Andy, after he had eaten his second sandwich and his third doughnut. "I could eat a whole rabbit or a squirrel myself." And then, feeling in fine fettle, he proceeded to pull himself up on a near-by tree limb and "skin the cat," as it is called by acrobatic boys.
"You look out, young man, that you don't tumble down on your head," warned Jack. "This ground around here is frozen pretty hard."
"If I tumble, I know where I'll land," cried Andy gleefully; and, swinging himself back and forth on the tree limb, he suddenly let go and came down straight on Jack's shoulders. Both went down in the snow, and there rolled over and over, each trying to get the better of the other. Then Fred commenced to snowball the fallen pair, and Randy joined in; and a moment later there began a snowball fight on the part of all four which lasted about ten minutes.
"Cease firing!" cried Fred at last, as he dug some of the snow out of his left ear. "If this is going to be a snowballing contest, all right; but I thought we were out to do some hunting."
"Fred surrenders, and the war is over!" cried Jack.
"Hoist the milk-blue flag and call it off!" burst out Andy gleefully. "Throw the snowballs into the ice-cream freezer and season to taste!"
After that the four young hunters packed up their belongings and saw to it that the campfire was completely extinguished. Then they continued on their tramp in the vicinity of the Rick Rack River.
"I'm getting tired of hanging around this watercourse," said Fred finally. "I believe the reports of our guns have driven all the remaining game away. Why can't we strike off into the woods yonder and come in on the other side of Haven Point?"
They noted the position of the sun with care, and then struck off at right angles to the river. Soon they found themselves going up hill and presently struck a lumberman's trail leading down in the direction of the town. Here, however, after two hours of hunting, they failed to find any game whatever.
"We didn't improve things by coming over here," grumbled Andy.
"Now I guess we had better be thinking of getting back to the school," said Jack, as he consulted his watch. They had been told that they must return in time for the evening meal.
"All right, I'm ready to go," came from Fred. "Gosh! I wish I had a horse to ride, or something." The many miles of tramping had wearied him greatly.
"My left foot is beginning to hurt me a little," put in Randy. "I slipped on the rocks this morning when we were carrying that old Uncle Barney. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now it's growing quite lame."
"You can walk on it, can't you?" questioned Jack anxiously.
"Oh, yes, I can walk; but I can't go any too fast—or any too far, either."
The boys had done their best to keep track of where they were going, and now they turned in what they thought was the direction of Haven Point. But, as my young readers may have heard, it is an easy matter to lose one's sense of direction in the woods, and before they knew it, they found themselves in a locality that was entirely strange to them.
"We don't seem to be getting much closer to town," announced Fred presently. "I don't see a farmhouse of any sort in sight."
They had gone but a short distance when they stirred up several more rabbits, and had the pleasure of bringing two of the creatures down. Then they came to a small clearing, and beyond this some farm fields.
"Now we must be getting to somewhere," announced Randy; and a few minutes later a turn of the road brought them in sight of a farmhouse. Here they saw a farmer coming from a cowshed with a pail of foaming milk, and accosted him.
"Sure, you're on the road to Haven Point," answered the farmer, in reply to their question. "It's about two miles and a half from here. But do you want to go to the Point or to Colby Hall?" he went on, noticing their uniforms.
"We want to get to the Hall—and by as short a route as possible," answered Jack.
"Then the best thing you lads can do is to come right through my lane here and go across the back field. Then you will come out on the road that runs from the Hall to Carwell. I guess you know that?"
"Oh, yes; we know that road," returned Randy.
The cadets thanked the farmer for his information, and lost no time in following his directions. Soon they came out on the other highway, and then started forward as rapidly as their somewhat weary legs would permit.
When they reached the vicinity of Colby Hall Jack found, by again consulting his watch, that they were almost three-quarters of an hour late.
"Let's see if we can't slide in without any of the teachers seeing us," suggested Andy.
"Oh, I don't know that we've got to do that, Andy," returned Jack. "We haven't done anything wrong."
"Well, we are late, and you know some of the teachers won't stand for that."
"We had permission to go hunting, and we couldn't help it getting lost up there in the woods," answered his twin.
They were just about to enter one of the side doors of the Hall, when it was flung open and they found themselves confronted by one of the younger teachers, accompanied by Professor Lemm. They stepped to one side to let the teachers pass.
"Yes, as I remarked before, Tompkins, unless you have strict discipline in that class——" Asa Lemm was saying, when, of a sudden, he happened to glance at the cadets and recognized the Rovers. "What are you doing here? Where have you been?" he demanded, coming to an abrupt halt.
"We've been out hunting, sir," answered Jack.
"Hunting, eh?" And as was usual with him, Asa Lemm drew down the corners of his mouth.
"We had permission from Colonel Colby to go," put in Randy.
"Ah, well, in that case——" Asa Lemm paused for a moment. "Did he say you could stay out as late as this?" he added suddenly.
"We had permission to stay out until supper time," answered Jack.
"Don't you know it is an hour after that time now, Rover?"
"Three-quarters of an hour, Professor. We might have been on time, only my cousin here slipped on the rocks and hurt his ankle, and that has delayed us a little."
"Humph! always some excuse! You boys have got to learn to be on time. You'll never get through life unless you are punctual. I shall mention the fact of your being late to Colonel Colby. Now go in at once, and if you are too late to get anything to eat, it will be your own fault;" and thus speaking, Asa Lemm moved on with the other teacher.
"Oh, but he's the sourest old lemon that ever grew!" was Andy's comment.
"You never said anything truer than that, Andy," answered his twin.
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
"Say, fellows, did you ever hear this song?"
It was Ned Lowe who spoke. He sat in one of the rooms belonging to the Rovers. On his knee rested a mandolin which he had been strumming furiously for the past ten minutes.
"Sure we've heard it, Ned!" cried Andy. "What is it?"
"For gracious sake, Ned! why don't you let up?" cried Fred, who was in the next room trying his best to study. "How in the world is a fellow going to do an example in algebra with you singing about good times on the old plantation?"
"That is right, Ned. Why don't you sing about good times in the classroom when Asa Lemm is there?"
"Gee Christopher! what's the use of your throwing cold water on this camp meeting?" came from Walt Baxter, who sat on the edge of the bed munching an apple.
"Really, it's a shame the way you young gentlemen attempt to choke off Ned's efforts to please this congregation!" exclaimed Spouter Powell, who sat in an easy chair with his feet resting on the edge of a chiffonier. "Now, when a man's soul is overflowing with harmony, and beautiful thoughts are coursing through his cranium, and he is doing his utmost to bring pleasure——"
"Wow! Spouter is at it again! Somebody choke him off!" cried Randy, and catching up a pillow, he threw it at the head of the cadet who loved to make long speeches.
"Say, fellows, why won't some of you let me get a word in edgeways?" came from Dan Soppinger, who stood with his back against the door leading to the hall. "I've been wanting to ask you a question for the last ten minutes. Who of you can tell me the names of the fifth, tenth, and fifteenth presidents of our country?"
"Oh, baby!" wailed Andy, throwing up his hands in comic despair. "Dan is worse than either Spouter or Ned."
"I thought you were going to put a padlock on that question box of yours, Dan," remarked Fred.
"I'll bet there isn't one of you can answer my question," retorted Dan Soppinger.
"Sure! I can answer it!" returned Andy readily. "What was that question? Who was the first laundryman in Chicago?"
"No; I said, who were the fifth, the tenth, and the fifteenth——"
"Oh! I remember now—the fifth, tenth and fifteenth discoverers of the North Pole. That's easy, Dan. The fifth was Julius Caesar, the tenth, Benjamin Frank——"
"See here! I didn't say a word about the North Pole discoverers!" ejaculated the Human Question Box. "I said the fifth, tenth and fifteenth——"
"Men to find out how to manufacture oleomargarine out of pure butter," finished Andy. "Now that's a purely scientific problem, Dan, not an ordinary question. You want to take three pounds of oleomargarine and divide them by two pounds of unadulterated butter, then——"
"For gracious sake! has that boy gone crazy?" cried Dan Soppinger in despair. "I come over here and ask an ordinary question in history——"
"How do we know it's an ordinary question in history?" broke in Randy. "The five, ten and fifteen sounds like a problem in higher arithmetic."
"Say, Dan, just forgive me for what I said, and I'll send you the answer day after yesterday on a postal card," announced Andy mournfully. "And I'll prepay the postage, too. Now, be a good boy, Son, and run along, and maybe some time papa will buy you a lemon stick," and at this remark there was a general laugh, in the midst of which Dan Soppinger threw up his hands, turned and left the room.
It was several days after the hunting expedition, and the Rover boys had settled down once more to their studies. This was the off hour in the evening, and, as was usual, a number of their friends had dropped in to see them.
"Only three weeks more to the winter holidays," announced Gif presently. "What are you fellows going to do with yours?"
"We haven't decided yet, Gif, any further than that we're going home," answered Jack.
"If you feel like it, you had better come and pay me a visit. I know my folks would be only too glad to have you."
"And we'd be glad to have you come down to New York and stay with us, Gif," was the reply.
During the days that had gone by since the hunt, the Rover boys had had several little differences with Professor Lemm. The teacher had spoken to Colonel Colby about their coming in late, but the master of the Hall had passed this matter over as being of no importance, somewhat to Asa Lemm's chagrin.
"Oh, how I love that man!" had been Andy's comment.
The weather had remained clear, but on Thursday of that week came another fall of snow, and by Friday this was in good condition for sleighing.
"I wonder if we can't get up a sleighing party for Saturday afternoon and take out some of the girls from Clearwater Hall?" said Jack.
"We ought to be able to get some sort of box-sled down at the Haven Point livery stable," answered Randy. "Suppose we call the liveryman up on the 'phone and see what he has to say, and then call up the girls?"
This was done without delay, and, as a result, it was arranged that the liveryman should call at the school early Saturday afternoon for the four boys and some of their chums, bringing with him a large box-sled drawn by four horses. Then the boys were to get the girls, and all were to take a ride until the supper hour. It was arranged that the four Rovers should go on the ride, and also Spouter Powell, Gif Garrison, Fatty Hendry, and some others.
"Of course, Fatty, we really ought to make you pay double price," remarked Andy to the fat boy, when the arrangements were being made.
"Nothing doing," grunted Fatty. "I don't weigh a bit more than Spouter or Gif."
"Oh, no, not at all—only about sixty pounds more!" remarked Gif.
Some of the girls attending Clearwater Hall had stated that they wished to do a little shopping in Haven Point before going on the ride, and so all had promised to meet the boys in front of the moving picture theater, which was a resort well-known to all of them.
"Now if the weather only remains good, we ought to have a peach of a time," announced Randy, after all the arrangements had been settled.
The weather remained good, and promptly on time the liveryman drove up to the entrance of the Hall with his big box-sled, which he had filled with straw and robes. Into the sled piled the boys, Fatty Hendry perching himself up on the front seat beside the driver.
Some of the lads had provided themselves with tin horns, and they set off on the trip with a grand flourish, a number of the cadets left behind gazing after them wistfully. But these lads were not utterly disconsolate, for the reason that skating and coasting were now both very good around the school.
The horses pulling the box-sled were fine animals, and in a short space of time they jangled merrily into Haven Point, the boys blowing their horns loudly to attract attention.
In the meantime, Ruth Stevenson and May Powell, accompanied by Alice Strobell, Annie Larkins, and some of their chums from Clearwater Hall, had arrived in the town and gone to several of the stores on various errands. Then, a few minutes before the time appointed for meeting the cadets, they hurried over in the direction of the moving picture theater.
Several of the girls went into a drugstore close to the theater, leaving Ruth and May standing on the sidewalk, looking at the various gaudy billboards which were displayed there. The girls were discussing the picture of a well-known moving-picture actress, when suddenly Ruth felt some one touch her arm. Turning, she found herself confronted by a tall, heavy-set youth, rather loudly dressed, and accompanied by another boy, wearing a fur cap and fur-lined overcoat.
"Excuse me, but this is Miss Ruth Stevenson, I believe?" said the big youth, with a broad smile on his coarse face.
Ruth was not at all pleased by being thus addressed, for she had recognized the fellow as Slugger Brown, and also recognized Nappy Martell. Nappy raised his cap and bowed pleasantly, both to her and to May.
"We just got back to Haven Point," said Slugger Brown smoothly. "Been away a short while, you know."
"And we thought we would go into the movies before going back to school," put in Nappy Martell. "Were you going in, too? If you were, let's go in together. I'll get the tickets," and he opened his coat to thrust his fingers into his vest pocket and bring forth a small roll of bills.
"Thank you, we are not going into the theater," answered May stiffly. She did not like either Slugger or Nappy, and was sorry the pair had shown themselves.
"How about it?" broke out Slugger, taking hold of Ruth's arm in a decidedly familiar way. "Let's go in. You've got time enough."
"Thank you, but we have something else to do, Mr. Brown," responded Ruth icily.
"You can't do much outside on a cold day like this," went on the bully. "Come on in—I'm sure it's nice and warm in there, and they've got some dandy pictures. Come ahead."
"Sure!" broke out Nappy. "I'll get the tickets," and he took several steps toward the ticket booth.
"Thank you, but I said I didn't want to go with you," said May, quite loudly and with flashing eyes.
"We pick our company when we go anywhere," added Ruth, giving Slugger Brown a look which would almost have annihilated any ordinary boy. But the bully was proof against anything of that sort.
"Oh, you needn't get on your high horse about it, Ruth Stevenson," he sneered. "Some day maybe you'll be glad to go to a show with me."
"If you won't go, I guess there are other girls just as good, and maybe better," added Nappy Martell, not knowing what else to say.
It was at this moment that the big box-sled containing the cadets hove into sight. With a flourish, the driver drew up to the curb with the boys tooting loudly on their tin horns, but this salute came to a sudden end when the lads caught sight of their former schoolmates.
"Look who's here, will you!" ejaculated Randy.
"Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell," murmured Fred.
"Say, they are talking to Ruth and May!" broke in Andy.
To all this Jack said nothing. But he lost no time in leaping to the pavement and walking up to the girls, who came forward to greet him.
"Oh, I'm so glad you got here!" exclaimed Ruth in a low voice, and she looked at Jack appealingly and then let her eyes rove in the direction of the bully and his crony.
"Those boys are just too horrid for anything!" murmured May, by way of explanation.
"What did they do?" demanded Spouter of his cousin, he having quickly followed Jack from the sled.
"They almost insisted upon it that we accompany them into the movies!"
"Why, they hardly know you!"
"That's true, Dick. And I think it was awful of them, the way they came up."
"That Brown boy caught me by the arm, and he had no right to do that," said Ruth to Jack. "I don't want a thing to do with him."
"You get into the sled, girls, and we'll tend to Brown and Martell," announced Spouter, and the tone of his voice showed his anger.
The girls did as bidden, being assisted by the others; and, in the meantime the remaining girls came from the store and also got into the sled. Spouter and Jack strode across the pavement, and caught Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell just as they were on the point of dropping their tickets into the ticket box.
"Come here a minute. I want to talk to you," said Spouter, catching Martell by the arm.
"And I want to talk to you," added Jack, as he detained Slugger Brown.
"I won't talk to you," retorted Nappy Martell, and tried to pass.
"Yes, you will!" answered Spouter. "You listen to me, Nappy! After this you leave my cousin, May Powell, alone. If you don't, you'll have an account to settle with me."
"And you leave both of those girls alone!" said Jack to Slugger Brown. "Miss Stevenson doesn't want anything to do with you. Now, you mind what I'm telling you, or you'll get into trouble the first thing you return to the Hall!"
"Oh, say, Rover, you make me tired!" sneered the bully, glaring at Jack. "I'm not going to try to take your girl away from you. There are plenty of better girls around Haven Point. You go about your business and leave me alone;" and, thus speaking, Slugger Brown passed into the moving-picture theater, followed a moment later by Nappy Martell. The two others watched them out of sight, and then looked at each other knowingly.
"One fine pair, believe me!" was Spouter's comment.
"I'm mighty sorry Colonel Colby allowed them to return to the Hall," answered Jack. "I'm afraid it spells just one thing—Trouble!"
THE SLEIGHING PARTY
"What did you say to those horrid young men?" asked May, after Jack and Spouter had returned to the box-sled and the driver had picked up the reins and started through the main street of Haven Point.
"Oh, we told them to mind their own business after this," answered Jack.
"And if they don't, you let me know, and we'll attend to them," said Spouter to his cousin.
"It's too bad, Jack, they came back to Colby Hall," remarked Ruth.
"Right you are! But Colonel Colby wanted to give them another chance. He asked us about it, and we didn't want to stand in the way of Slugger and Nappy turning over a new leaf."
"Hi there—somebody start a song!" cried Andy, who caught a few words of what was said, and thought the occasion was getting too serious.
"That's the talk!" exclaimed Alice Strobell.
"What shall we sing?" questioned Annie Larkins.
"Oh, sing something that we all know," came from Jennie Mason. She, too, had seen Slugger and Nappy, but had refused to recognize them, remembering well the trouble she and Ida Brierley had had with the pair when all had gone out on the lake in a motor-boat, the particulars of which were given in the volume preceding this.
Soon the happy young folks were singing one familiar song after another and shouting and tooting the tin horns in great glee. In the meanwhile the turnout had left the vicinity of Haven Point, and was moving swiftly along in the direction of one of the neighboring towns.
"Oh, isn't this too lovely for anything!" exclaimed May, as one of the songs came to an end. "I never felt better in my life."
"If I felt any better, I'd have to call in the doctor," announced Andy with a sudden sober look on his face, and at this little sally all the girls giggled.
They were soon passing close to a stone wall, and from this some of the boys scooped handfuls of snow with which they began to pelt each other. Then they attempted to wash the faces of some of the girls, and a great commotion ensued.