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   Chapter 2 A COOL CUSTOMER

The Outdoor Chums at Cabin Point; Or, The Golden Cup Mystery By Quincy Allen Characters: 11638

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"Come on everybody!" shouted Jerry, starting to run up the grade in his customary impetuous way.

The other three were close at his heels. All were inspired by an eager desire to find out whether the stranger had actually fallen all the way down the face of that steep declivity, or had managed to catch hold of some friendly projection.

If the chums had felt tired before that thrilling moment they quite forgot the circumstance in their wild anxiety to learn what had happened to the strange boy. Fortunately the spot where they had last seen the other vanish was not far away, and they soon came to the place.

Jerry was already flat on his stomach and peering over the edge when the other boys arrived. Even before they could see for themselves his shout announced that he had made an important discovery.

"He's hanging to a point of rock down there, as sure as anything, Frank! Oh! how are we going to get to him before his arms give way? See how he's throwing his feet up, trying to ease the strain, but there's nothing doing. Shall I go down there after him, Frank?"

"Don't you think of it, Jerry!" cried the alarmed Will; "let Frank make up a plan. You'd only tumble yourself, don't you know?"

Frank Langdon had an exceedingly active mind. He seemed to be able to grasp a situation instantly, and to decide quickly the best thing to do in an emergency.

Even while running to the spot he had used his eyes to advantage.

"Wait for me!" was what he snapped as he flung himself around.

Bluff, twisting his head backwards, saw that Frank was making for a tree that had been blown down at some previous time. It chanced to be close at hand, and in a dozen seconds the running boy had gained the spot.

Then Bluff gave a cry of mingled delight and admiration.

"It certainly takes Frank to hatch up a clever scheme on the spur of the moment! He's dragging that old wild grave-vine out from the wreck of the tree!" was what Bluff exclaimed in an ecstasy of satisfaction. "Oh! why didn't he tell me to go along with him? What if he can't manage it alone?"

Bluff was in the act of clambering to his feet when Jerry halted him.

"It's all right, Bluff, for he's got it loose now, and is whooping it up this way like everything. If only that fellow can hold on a little longer we'll pull him up O. K. Hey, down there, take a fresh grip and stick fast! We've got a vine rope coming on the jump! Steady now, old chap; we're standing by you!"

"Hurry!" they heard the other gasp. Undoubtedly after all his exertions he must have been short of breath, though the face he turned up toward them did not appear to be stamped with any great degree of fright.

Just then Frank arrived on the spot, and instantly started to lower the section of wild grape-vine he had secured from the fallen tree. It was at least a dozen or fifteen feet in length, and any one acquainted with the amazing strength of such a parasite did not need to be assured that it would easily bear the weight of several persons the weight of one who was in such peril on the rock below.

"Can you change your hold to the vine?" called Frank, when presently he could see that the lower end of his substitute rope dangled close alongside the other.

It required more or less agility and reserve strength to carry such a proceeding through successfully. The stranger, however, appeared to possess these necessary qualifications, Frank was pleased to see.

Will felt as though his heart was up in his throat as he watched the other hang on to the spur of rock with one hand, and seize the dangling object with the other. Frank had lowered the larger end of the vine. He had also sent it below the jutting rock, so that the one they meant to rescue could clasp his legs about it, and thus secure a much better grip.

When they saw he had really accomplished the difficult feat of transferring his weight to the vine the boys, whose heads projected beyond the ledge above, uttered encouraging shouts.

"Well done, old top!" called out Bluff, carried away by his enthusiasm, and acting as though he had known the other a long time. "Now just give us a little time and we'll run you up here in great shape. Here you come, then! Heave-oh, boys!"

It required their united strength to raise the boy who dangled at the end of the grape-vine. This was on account of the fact that their make-believe rope refused to bend very well, thus making its hauling up a clumsy business.

Still every foot helped, and all the while some of them kept calling out encouragingly to the boy below. In the end his head appeared in view, upon which he was seized by the arms by Frank and Bluff, and dragged over the edge.

Somewhat to the surprise of the boys, he immediately started to brushing himself off, as though the dust on his clothes bothered him more than any slight bruises he may have received in his ugly fall. Frank made up his mind when he saw this that the other was certainly nonchalant, or, as Frank himself expressed it, "a cool customer."

"I hope you're not hurt by your tumble?" Frank asked, at which the other shook his head, and continued dusting his coat as he replied:

"Don't think I got even a scratch, which is about my ordinary luck. But only for your coming I'd have dropped the rest of the way down to the bottom of the hole, and that might have changed things some. Thank you very much for helping. And that scheme of the wild grave-vine was a corker, too. I'd never have thought of such a thing, I'm positive."

"Oh! trust Frank for hitting the right nail on the head every time," boasted Will, who never lost a chance to magnify the deeds of the one he admired above any among all his friends.

The other now took occasion to look them over curiously, as though he had begun to wonder who they

were, and what brought four boys up into this region. Frank guessed this much, for he immediately introduced himself and his chums.

"We're from Centerville, a town that's a good way off from here. My name's Frank Langdon, this is Will Milton, the one next to him is Bluff Masters, and the other fellow, Jerry Wallington. We have always been mighty fond of camping, and just now mean to put in a few weeks on the shore of the big lake at a place called Cabin Point. Our stuff has gone ahead of us on the stage that came along here yesterday."

Somehow Frank thought the other started a little and looked keenly at him when this announcement was made. He could not understand, though, why it should interest any one to know that they intended to camp at any particular spot on the lake shore, since there were many miles to choose from.

"Oh! my name is Gilbert Dennison. I've been at college, and mean to spend my vacation playing golf. You see they do say I'm runner-up among the amateurs on the green links. Sent my clubs and luggage off yesterday, and was on the way to the train to-day when the horse smashed a wheel of the rig. I had to put out afoot, for, you see, I wouldn't miss making that train for a good deal, because of the match."

He took out his watch and held it in a hand that hardly trembled in the least, which Frank thought rather remarkable, seeing what a strain had been upon him lately. Altogether, Frank considered him the coolest person he had ever met. If he could control his nerves in this fashion when playing in a match it was no wonder he was looked upon as a coming wonder on the golf links, where such a gift counts heavily.

"You must excuse me for rushing off in such a beastly hurry, fellows!" Gilbert exclaimed, as he looked around for his bag, which, fortunately, had not fallen over the precipice at the time he stumbled; "some other time perhaps I'll run in on you at your camp, and be able to thank you in a more decent way for giving me a lift. I think I can make that train in half an hour."

Bluff and Jerry had not a word to say. They stood and stared at the other, astonished beyond measure. Really in all their experiences far and wide they had never met with such a self-possessed young person as this.

He picked up his bag, waved them a flippant good-bye, and then actually started to run down the slope. Bluff scratched his head and grinned, while Jerry exclaimed in disgust.

"Gee whiz! if that wasn't the queerest thing ever! You'd think he'd just stubbed his toe, and we happened along in time to help him rub the same. He sure is a cool customer, believe me, fellows!"

"Such base ingratitude I never ran across," ventured Will, indignantly. "Why, only for Frank's fetching that grape-vine along, and our pulling him up so neatly, he'd have had to let go his hold before now. And say, it was all of thirty feet down to the bottom of the hole from the rock he held on to; an ugly fall, I'd call it."

"Oh! well," observed Frank, more amused than otherwise by the singular circumstance, "when a fellow pursues any fad as he does golf he seems to chase it just as we've all done one of those jack-o'-lanterns in the marsh. When the fever is on him he can't think of anything else. That match on the links is, in his mind, the greatest event under the sun. We've all been there, boys, remember."

"But where did he come from, do you think?" asked Will.

"There's a village, I recollect, over the hills that way," Frank explained; "and it's just barely possible his folks live there. Being off the railroad, you see they have to make a little journey of some miles every time they want to go to the city. We may run on to the broken-down buggy further on."

"He's still running right along," remarked Jerry.

"And hasn't bothered to look back once," added Will, as though he could not understand why the other should so easily forget about the service they had done him.

"Well, looking back caused him his other stumble, and it's taught him a lesson, I reckon," laughed Frank, always ready to offer excuses for others' failings, but never for his own.

"We might as well be going on our way then, boys," suggested Bluff, as he gave his knapsack a fling that caused it to land squarely on his back.

The others picked up their scanty possessions for, as has been said before, the main part of their belongings had been sent on in advance by the stage.

"For one," observed Will with a little sigh, "I own up I'll be glad when we get to the lake. Seems to me this bag keeps on growing heavier all the time; and yet when I started out this morning I thought it as light as a feather."

"It's always that way," he was told by Frank, consolingly; "even your feet often begin to drag as though weighted down with lead, when once you find yourself growing tired. But, Will, say the word and I'll tote your bag for you."

"Not much you will, Frank! though it's certainly kind of you to offer to do it. I'd be a nice Outdoor Chum, wouldn't I now, if I let some other fellow shoulder my burdens? If I were sick or lame it might be a different thing; but that doesn't happen to fit the case now. I'll get along all right, so don't worry."

Accordingly they pushed on up the road, and presently arrived at the crest of the ridge. The trees prevented an extended view, however, much to the disappointment of Will, who wanted to make use of his camera.

They saw no signs of the wrecked vehicle mentioned by the young college chap who had given them his name as Gilbert Dennison, and hence concluded it must be further along the road.

A short time afterwards Frank announced that they were near the abandoned mine, which his informants had told him lay close to the border of the road they had followed over the rocky ridge.

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