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   Chapter 4 AS BUSY AS BEAVERS

The Outdoor Chums at Cabin Point; Or, The Golden Cup Mystery By Quincy Allen Characters: 13394

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"What under the sun ails Will?" demanded Bluff.

"It's his bag, don't you understand?" added Jerry. "Something's happened to upset him terribly. He looks as if he'd seen a ghost. Ten chances to one now he forgot to put the films in."

"What is it, Will?" called out Frank, who, being busy just then, had only turned his head when the cry bubbled from the other's lips.

"Oh! Frank, they're gone!" gasped Will.

"What's that? Do you mean your films?" demanded the other.

"Yes, oh yes, gone, worse luck! I don't understand it at all. Seems as though I must be dreaming, Frank!" and Will began to rub his eyes vigorously, as though by that means he hoped to get his proper sight back; after which he stared again at the open bag on the floor.

"You're dead sure you put them in the bag, are you, Will?" questioned the skeptical Jerry.

"Of course I am!" he was indignantly told. "But I can't understand where these silly things came from. They don't belong to me, that's sure."

"Hello! here's a mystery all right," said Bluff, scrambling to his feet and hurrying over to the other; in which action he was immediately imitated by the other two.

"Well, I declare that's queer!" burst out Jerry; "a lot of golf balls, a white sweater, and a pair of rubber-soled shoes! Why, Will, what has happened?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said the bewildered one, shaking his head sadly. "Here I pack my films and a few other little things in this new bag, and start out. Then when I open it, see what I get! Who's been playing a trick on me, I'd like to know?"

"Wait a minute," interrupted Frank, just when the injured one was beginning to frown and look suspiciously at Bluff and Jerry; "nobody here has had a hand in the thing, Will; but I think I know what happened."

"Then for goodness' sake, Frank, hurry up and tell us!" cried Bluff; "for Will here is beginning to have awful thoughts, and looks at me as if he could eat me."

"Yes, please explain the mystery, Frank, if you can," pleaded Will.

"To my mind it's as simple as anything could well be," began the other, soberly.

"You remember our meeting on the road with the young chap calling himself Gilbert something or other? Well, I happened to notice that the bag he carried was as near like your new one as two peas could be. When he hurried away to catch his train in his excitement he must have unconsciously picked up the wrong bag!"

"Then this one belongs to him, does it?" asked Jerry.

"Don't you remember," remarked Frank, "his saying something about his being runner-up in the amateur class of golfers, and that he was going to a tournament right then, which accounted for his haste?"

Will uttered a deep groan. He was evidently very much dejected over the unfortunate accident that had befallen him so early in their outing.

"What tough luck I've struck!" he said, as he stared down at the golf balls, as useless to him as so many stones. "I do hope that chap won't be so mad when he finds out what he's done as to destroy my precious films. What if he went and put a match to them? You know they'd flame up something fierce, and it'd be good-bye to all my hard work up in Maine."

"Oh! the chances are small that he'd be so venomous as all that," returned Frank, "especially when he must know it was all his own fault."

"But what do you think he'll do about it?" questioned Bluff.

"If I were Gilbert," suggested Jerry, drily, "my first job would be to hire some caddy with a heavy foot to kick me good and hard. Then I'd set out to get a new sweater and another supply of golf balls. Later on I'd make it a point to head back this way and hunt you up, to apologize humbly and to hand over your bag intact."

"Well said, Jerry," was Frank's hearty commendation.

Will picked up a little hope at that. Perhaps after all matters might not be quite so bad as they looked at first glance. Even if he did lose a week of time, there were plenty of other things he could be doing, since he had his camera and flashlight apparatus intact.

"Thanks, Jerry. I guess you are right," he told the other. "Every cloud has a silver lining, they say, if only you look for it. I'll try to hope for the best after this. My precious films may come back to me again undamaged. I hope so, anyway; but you know there's no telling what a fellow may do when in a sudden rage."

"Think again, Will," said Frank. "We all agreed that this Gilbert fellow was as cool a customer as we'd ever met. Now the chances are he'll grasp the situation at a glance, laugh at his blunder, put your bag safely away, and hustle to remedy the mistake so as not to be left out of the tournament. Believe that, Will, for your own peace of mind."

So the forlorn chum finally fastened the bag and hung it on a peg.

"I hope to see it give way to my own bag by the time a week or so has passed," he forced himself to say.

As the afternoon was getting well along the boys busied themselves with what appeared to be the most urgent duties. Such things as roof mending and the like could wait for another time, since there did not seem to be any possibility of a storm coming up, on that night at least.

"But we must surely pay attention to that roof the first thing to-morrow," Frank told them, as they began to make preparations for the cooking fire.

"Yes, that's right," Jerry added; "because we mustn't be like the Irishman in the old story who never did mend the hole in his roof, although always going to do so; and when they asked why he kept putting it off explained by saying: 'Whin it rains I can't mind it, and whin it's dry and fair, be jabers! phy should I bother?'"

Of course things were in something of a turmoil that evening, though the boys were beginning to plan just how they meant to store their possessions away so as to have their customary system about the cabin camp.

When the odors of supper began to fill the interior of the cabin the boys discovered that their camp appetites were already beginning to manifest themselves. They certainly appreciated that first meal in the open. It brought back to memory many other camps they had enjoyed together.

And later on while sitting around in front of the blazing fire it was only natural that the talk should be of those earlier events, which have been set down in such an interesting way between the covers of previous volumes of this series.

Having no cots or bunks as yet, they spread their blankets on the hard floor, and after this crude fashion settled down for the first night. None of them expected to obtain a good rest, because the first night out is always a wakeful one on account of strange surroundings. But in due time a

ll this would wear away and in the end it might even prove to be a difficult task to arouse some of the heavy sleepers at sunrise.

After breakfast the next morning all of them set to work. Even Will was not allowed to begin with his beloved photography until some semblance of order had been brought about.

They had brought a few tools along with them, Frank resting under the belief that a hand-saw, a hammer, and some nails would not come in amiss when they meant to start housekeeping in an old cabin that might need considerable repairing to make it habitable.

It was this habit of looking ahead possessed by Frank Langdon that so often made things much easier for himself and his chums than they might otherwise have been.

So while Frank busied himself at the roof, he had one of the others mending the door, and the remainder of the party searching for wood that could be utilized in making their rude bunks along the wall.

It was found that they could take down some boards that were really not needed, and saw them into the necessary strips required. So during the entire morning there was more or less hammering and sawing going on that must have greatly astonished the timid little woods folk dwelling in that vicinity, so long given over to solitude and quiet.

At noon-time things began to look a little shipshape. To begin with, the roof had been repaired, and Frank believed it would turn water in any storm short of a cloud-burst. Then the door also was swinging on two hinges, one of stout leather, also carried in Frank's pack for an emergency.

The four bunks were coming along nicely, and the amateur carpenters who worked on them promised a complete job before nightfall.

"And now," said Frank, as they munched a cold lunch at noon, having decided not to go to the bother of doing any cooking at that time, "I want Will to come with me to make a little search for that old boat we were told could be found hidden under a shelving rock near the shore. It hasn't been used for some years, and is apt to be in poor shape, but I've got some oakum and a calking tool. With those, I hope to put it in condition, so with frequent baling we can use it on the lake."

They made a systematic search all along the shore, but it was not until nearly an hour had passed that they discovered the spot where, under a shelf of rock, the old craft lay.

After making an examination, Frank declared he could mend the rowboat so that it would afford them more or less pleasure. Its planks had survived many a winter, thanks to the protection afforded by the shelf of rock.

Since the gaps in the open seams were so large that it would leak like a sieve, he realized his work would have to be done at the spot where the boat was found. This meant only a tramp of a quarter of a mile at most, going and coming.

"I'll get busy the first thing in the morning," Frank told Will. "Altogether, the job oughtn't to take me more than a day. Then we can all get together and drag the boat down to the water, and one of us can paddle around to Cabin Point, where there's a splendid cove to tie up in."

"The oars are good enough for our use, though splintered some," suggested the other.

"That will save us a hard job," Frank admitted, "because I don't think I ever shaped an oar in my life, and it's no little task, believe me!"

In their wanderings the boys had discovered a stream that emptied into the lake. Frank promised himself the pleasure of following it up some day, and finding what the country looked like in that direction.

"I've got a notion," he told Will, "that this stream runs through the property of that old hermit, Aaron Dennison; at least that's what one man told me. Perhaps he'll take it badly when he learns that a parcel of boys have squatted down for a month's stay so close to his place."

"I hope we do run across the queer old man some of these fine days," ventured Will; "and that I'm carrying my camera along with me, because I'd like to snap off the picture of a real hermit. I've got some odd people in my collection, but nothing so queer as that. I surely would like to get him."

On arriving at the cabin they found the other pair had been exceedingly industrious during their absence. The sleeping quarters were beginning to look shipshape, and promised more or less comfort when completed.

"Now if you fellows would only turn in and give us a helping hand," suggested Jerry, "we could get through in a couple of hours."

"Just what I was going to propose on my own account," Frank told him. "Many hands make light work, you know. So tell us what you want done, and we'll get busy."

All of them being handy with tools, they made a good job of the bunks. Indeed, considering what poor material they had to work with, the result did them great credit.

"Now who's going to be the first to pick his bunk?" laughed Will, when it was decided there could be nothing more done to make the sleeping quarters comfortable.

"No, you don't!" exclaimed Frank, when unconsciously all faces were turned toward him. "Every fellow is going to have a square show. Here, I'll hold four splinters of wood in my hand, all of different lengths. Each one draw, and the longest has first choice."

"That's a fair bargain," agreed Bluff, "though for my part one bunk is pretty much like another."

It turned out that Will was given first choice, and he took a lower berth, for they had been arranged in sections of two, on account of limited room. Frank, having second pick, took the one above, and the others then divided the remaining two between them.

After they had arranged their warm blankets, the place began to take on quite a cheery appearance.

"We'll get at that cranky table next, and steady it," said Frank; "then we need another bench, because as it is we have to use blocks of wood for seats. In fact, I can already see a dozen things to be done, with more to follow."

Jerry in passing across the cabin tripped, and uttered a grunt as though he had stubbed his toe.

"That makes three times that loose plank has caught me," he muttered, "and the old motto says 'three times and out.' So I'll just yank that plank up and settle it down afresh. A few of those big spikes you brought along ought to do the trick, Frank."

Accordingly the determined boy set about carrying this little plan into execution. Prying up one end of the plank, he managed to get a grip of it, and then raised it completely. It came up much more easily than Jerry had anticipated.

"Why, hello!" the others heard him say, "here's an old rat's nest made years ago, I should think; and look what's lying beside it, will you?"

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