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Troop One of the Labrador By Dillon Wallace Characters: 5653

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

"Don't shoot, sir! It's just me!" Jamie piped in terror from the tree.

"It's only a kid!" Bill swore an oath of disgust and lowered his rifle. "You git down out'n that tree! Git down quicker'n lightnin', too!"

"I'm comin', sir!" came Jamie's frightened voice from the tree-top.

Jamie lost no time in descending from his perch and in a moment stood trembling before his captors. It was quite dark now and snowing hard, and to the frightened little lad the two big lumbermen loomed up like giants.

"What you doin' here?" demanded Bill with an oath as he seized Jamie's arm with a grip that made the lad wince.

"I were-I were huntin' for the cache," confessed Jamie.

"Goin' to steal our cache, was ye? Well, we'll teach you to leave other folkses things be!" The man gave Jamie a savage shake. "Tryin' to steal our cache, eh? Who set you on to it? That's what I want to know! Who set you on to stealin' it, now?"

"I weren't goin' to steal un, sir," chattered Jamie, horrified at the implication that he was a thief.

"What were you huntin' the cache for, then? Don't lie, you little rat, or I'll twist your neck off!"

The fellow seemed quite capable of executing the threat literally, as he again shook Jamie savagely.

"I-aint'-lyin'-about-un, sir!" pleaded Jamie between the shakes. "I were-just-goin'-to-look-at un, and-if-'tweren't-Lem Horn's silver fox-I weren't-goin' to touch un!"

"Well, 'tain't Lem Horn's silver fox. It's things of our'n! Do you hear that? 'Tain't Lem Horn's silver, it's our'n what's in that there bag! You leave our things be! Do you hear what I'm sayin'? You and your gang keep away from our cache, and don't go foolin' with anything you don't know anything about! Do you hear?" The man gave Jamie another shake.

"I-I didn't know! We-we just suspicioned 'twere Lem's silver, and I were wantin' to take un back to he," explained Jamie.

"You heard what I said? 'Tain't Lem Horn's silver! You hear that, don't you?"

"Aye, sir, I saw what you was takin' out of the bag, and 'tweren't Lem Horn's silver. 'Twere something to drink out of a bottle. I sees you drinkin' it."

"Let the kid go, Bill," laughed Hank, who until now had kept silent.

"We were all thinkin' 'twere Lem's silver. I'll tell un 'twere not the silver but somethin' else that you takes from the Captain that you were hidin' in the cache," said Jamie hopefully.

"You goin' to tell that! You heard what we said, and you goin' to blab it?" the man roared in a rage.

"Aye, sir, I'll just tell the others so's they'll not be thinkin' 'tis Lem's silver," said Jamie innocently.

"The others? Who's 'the others'?" demanded Bill.

"Doctor Joe and the other scouts," Jamie explained.

"'Doctor Joe and the other scouts,'" quoted the big lumberman. "Who's this here Doctor Joe? And who's th

e other scouts?"

"He's Doctor Joe! Everybody knows Doctor Joe!" explained Jamie, quite astonished that any one should ask who Doctor Joe might be. "The scouts be the other lads of the Bay, sir."

"Well, this here Doctor Joe, whoever he is, and these here other scouts, whoever they be, better keep out'n our business and mind their own," roared the man. "I suppose they're this here bunch what's campin' down by the brook and been runnin' all over the country to-day?"

"Aye, sir, we're all campin' down handy to the brook, and we've all been lookin' for the cache, but I'm the only one that finds the rock," admitted Jamie.

"You ain't camped down there now!" The man swore a mighty and strange oath that made Jamie tremble. "You was camped there, but now you ain't! You're goin' with us, you be! Hear that?"

"Aw, let the kid go!" broke in Hank, impatiently. "We better be gettin' a jog on us too. Leave the kid be, and come on. He's just a kid and he can't kick up any trouble. Leave him be, and let's get out of here."

"Not me!" The man gave Jamie's arm a painful twist. "I ain't goin' to leave this here kid to go back and blab to that there Doctor Joe and the hull country. He heard our talk, and if it gets to the boss you know what that means. I ain't takin' any chances on him, and I'm half of this."

"We'll be gettin' in bigger trouble if we takes him along. We'll have the hull country huntin' us," Hank protested.

"You heard me! I ain't goin' to take chances on his blabbin'! He goes along, and I'll fix him so's he won't blab and nobody'll get our trail if they do hunt us. The snow'll hide it," insisted Bill.

"Well, let's get a move on then," said Hank. "The wind's risin' and it's goin' to kick up a sea. I don't want to be caught out on the Bay again in a sea like we had that other time. The snow's goin' to be thick too, and we'll lose our bearings."

"Go on, then. I'll foller with the kid," said Bill, still holding Jamie's aching arm.

"Better let the kid go," said Hank, swinging a rifle over his left shoulder and with an axe in his right hand striding away through the darkness and thickly falling snow.

"Come along you!" and Jamie's captor, gripping Jamie's arm in one hand and with a rifle in the other, followed in the trail of the man Hank, dragging Jamie almost too fast for his legs to carry him.

On and on they went through the darkness. Now and again Jamie fell over stumps or other obstructions, and each time the man, with a curse, jerked him to his feet.

Snow was falling heavily and the wind was rising. Once they crossed a frozen marsh where the snow swirled around them in clouds. Then they were again among the forest trees, forging ahead in silence save for an occasional curse by the man who held Jamie in his merciless and relentless grip.

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