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   Chapter 3 TAKING POSSESSION

The Outdoor Chums at Cabin Point; Or, The Golden Cup Mystery By Quincy Allen Characters: 11126

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Frank had learned that many years back there had been a company organized to mine the iron that was known to exist in certain sections of the hills in that region.

Considerable work had been done, and some ore even shipped away, when, for some reason or other, the scheme had been given up after a shaft had been sunk for fifty feet or more, and workings started.

The entrance to the abandoned mine had been visited by curious people coming to that locality. It was even marked on the old map which Frank had used in making the outlines of his own little chart.

"Here it is, boys!" cried Jerry, who had pushed to the front; "Frank was correct when he said he could see where the wheels of the stage had run in off the road just back there. I hope our stuff is all right."

"So do I!" echoed Will, anxiously, "because I've got most of my new rolls of films, as well as my flashlight apparatus, in my big pack. I'm only carrying a lot of precious developed films in this bag, with other things I need. You see I'm meaning to put in quite a bunch of time while up here experimenting and that's why I carried them along."

They had their fears quickly relieved, for their property lay just inside the old shaft leading into the abandoned iron mine.

"It all seems to be here, and in decent shape," remarked Frank. "That stage driver kept his word when he said he'd take good care of our stuff. And now to divide it up so every one has a share."

"No funny business, Frank," Bluff reminded him; "every one of us expects to get an equal tote load."

"That's what I say, too," echoed Will, who suspected he might be treated too generously by his chums, and given less than his proper proportion to carry, for Will was over-sensitive concerning his lack of physical strength.

In the end they managed to distribute the blankets, food, and other things in a fashion that was fairly equitable, and then resumed their journey. At this point they expected to leave the road, and follow a trail that if stuck to would take them to the shore of the big lake around Cabin Point, their intended destination.

"Our course should be almost due northwest from here on," the guide informed his three companions as they set forth. "I'm telling you that for a purpose, you understand."

"You mean in case we lose the pesky trail that seems so faint, we can keep going in the right direction all the same; is that it, Frank?" asked Jerry.

"You've struck the right nail on the head, Jerry, for that was what I meant. But by keeping our eyes on the trail we ought to have little trouble following this old path."

"It strikes me the trail hasn't been worked much for some time," Bluff observed.

"That's true enough," said the pilot of the expedition, "but once a trail has been well worn you can find it years and years afterward if you look the right way. It's easy to notice heaps of signs that tell the story, where the earth was worn away by passing feet. When you're in doubt just push back the grass and there it lies as plain as day."

Frank always prided himself more or less on his ability to follow tracks where others might give up the task in despair. Nothing pleased him half so much as to run across a puzzle along these lines that required his best work in order to find the answer.

After they had gone on for some time a rest was called.

"That's a good idea, Frank," Jerry declared when he heard the order given to drop their burdens and lie around for ten minutes or so. "Not that I'm feeling played out you understand; but I've always been told it was poor policy to whip a willing nag."

"It's certainly a pretty rough path, all right!" Will admitted.

"But we must be about half-way across by now," added Bluff.

"How about that, Frank? Let's take a look at your map again," said Jerry.

Upon examination it was found to be about as Bluff had thought; the shore of the big water could not be more than half a mile further on. Cheered by this information, even Will expressed himself as willing to start again.

"When you've got anything unpleasant to do," he told them, "I believe in getting it over with as soon as you can, and off your mind."

"Huh! that pleases me a heap to hear you say so, Will," chuckled Bluff; "because you know there's that dicker I wanted to make with you for that new hunting knife I took such a fancy to. I offered you my old one and something to boot in the bargain. Now I understood from the way you acted the deal wasn't pleasant to you; so please get it over with as soon as possible."

"I'll see you in Guinea, Bluff, before I trade that splendid blade," retorted the other, "but I told you where I got it, and any time you feel like it you can send for one just like mine. Let it go at that then."

There came another hard pull. Sometimes the way was so rough that all of them panted more or less. Will showed real grit by keeping up with the others, though he had to shut his teeth hard together, and take himself mentally to task when he felt his legs tremble under him with weakness.

All at once Jerry, always the first to discover things, gave vent to a yell.

"Hey there, fellows! I see water ahead through the trees! Yep, it's the big lake as sure as anything! We've got there at last!"

"Good!" muttered Will in an undertone, as though he did not wish the others to hear him; to tell the truth, he felt as though he could not stagger on much further over that rough trail, and carry the heavy pack in the bargain, as well as the new bag containing his precious fi

lms.

The sight of the splendid sheet of water seemed to inspire them all with new energy, for they perceptibly quickened their pace until impatient Jerry was almost running in his eagerness to get to his destination.

After a while they found themselves standing on the shore of the inland sea, where the waters were lapping the shore with a murmuring sound that was sweet music in the ears of Frank Langdon.

"Well, one thing's settled anyhow," remarked Will, presently, as he heaved a sigh of relief; "we didn't get lost, did we, fellows?"

"Shucks! that was the last thing to bother me," declared Bluff with a fine appearance of scorn. "For one, I've passed the novice stage in woodcraft, and reckon myself able to get along with the next chap."

"All the same," he was told by Frank, "I've known the time when you did manage to lose your bearings and run up against a whole bunch of trouble in consequence."

"But that's past history," remonstrated the other; "and times have changed since then, Frank. I should hope I've learned my lesson by now."

"Now where do you think this Cabin Point lies, that we're going to hunt up, with the idea of making our home there during our stay?" Jerry demanded.

"Just look to the left and I think you'll see a wooded cape that reaches out into the lake like a tongue or a finger," the pilot explained, pointing as he spoke.

"Frank, you're all to the good there, that must be our goal," Bluff hastened to assert; for indeed since there was no other similar projection of the shore in sight, it seemed reasonable to believe Cabin Point was before their eyes.

"We'll soon settle that matter," observed Frank, once more making a start.

They did not have far to go, for the half-concealed and wholly overgrown trail reached the lake close to the wooded cape. Perhaps long before, when loggers had a camp in that region while felling the virgin growth of forest, the point of land was a favorite camp with them. That would account for the trail, and why it had grown up in recent years.

Once on the ground, they began to look earnestly for signs of the abandoned cabin which it was hoped would afford them shelter during their outing. For some little time this search bore no fruit, and Will was beginning to feel quite disconsolate.

"Looks to me as if it was going to be our job to start a brush shanty that will give us shelter for a couple of nights till we can put up a more substantial affair," he told Bluff, who happened to be close to him, looking to the right and to the left in a vain attempt to be the first one to make a pleasant discovery.

Will had hardly spoken when they heard a call from Jerry.

"I might have known it was no good trying to beat his sharp eyes out," grumbled Bluff, as though really disappointed because he had failed to locate the cabin.

"What difference does it make who turns the trick?" ventured Will, looking happy again; "so long as it's done. The end and not the means is what counts. Hello! Jerry, have you struck pay dirt?"

"Here it is!" came the triumphant answer, and the others hurried forward, to discover the log structure partly concealed from view by branches of trees, vines, moss, and every sort of green growth.

"No wonder we couldn't see it easily," expostulated Bluff; "everybody doesn't happen to have microscopic eyes like Jerry here. I warrant you now I passed within thirty feet of this spot several times, and never tumbled to what was so close by."

"One of the first things we'll do, fellows," suggested Frank, "will be to get busy and cut down a lot of this stuff that keeps us from having a fine outlook over the bay and the big lake beyond."

"How about the cabin itself?" asked Will. "Seems to me the chimney is sort of dilapidated on top."

"That can be soon remedied, and I'll take care of it," Frank assured him. "Then this door is hanging on one rusty hinge; we'll find a way to stand it up again. Let's step inside and look around a bit; I'm more anxious about the roof than almost anything else, for that's apt to leak like a sieve until we fix it."

"Go a little slow," Will warned them, "for I've known of wild cats or other wild beasts taking up their quarters in an abandoned cabin." This remark caused Bluff and Jerry to laugh, for they could themselves look back to a ludicrous experience of the kind.

It turned out that the cabin had no ferocious occupant and upon investigation they found that the roof was not very bad after all.

"In one corner only it looks as if the rain had come in," said Frank finally; "or water when the snow melted, which tries a roof more than anything else. Why, given half a day and we shall have a weather-proof top all over. Take note of that big yawning fireplace, will you? I can see what jolly times we'll have sitting around there on cool nights; and up here we're apt to have many such."

"We can make bunks against this wall where you can see the remains of two right now," Bluff intimated.

"Until then we'll spread our blankets on the floor and rough it, which suits me all right," Jerry announced.

Will had lowered his burdens to the floor. He seemed anxious to get settled after some fashion. First of all he opened the new bag. The other boys were still looking curiously around, finding a number of interesting features connected with the lone cabin on the point, when they heard Will give a cry of utter astonishment. Turning quickly they saw him staring down into the bag he had opened, with a look of consternation on his face.

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