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   Chapter 6 THE HOME OF THE OSPREY

The Outdoor Chums at Cabin Point; Or, The Golden Cup Mystery By Quincy Allen Characters: 11574

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Coming, Will!" shouted Bluff as he ran back of Frank.

"This way, along the shore!" they plainly heard a voice call from some distance away.

Of course anxious thoughts chased through the minds of the three boys as they hurried along. Will was evidently in trouble. Bluff, remembering the ospreys, pictured him lying at the foot of a tall tree with perhaps one of his legs broken. That would be an awkward condition of affairs to be sure, with their camp so far removed from real civilization.

Jerry, too, was imagining something of the sort, and wondering if they would have to make a litter in order to carry poor Will back to the cabin. He even went further and considered the question as to how they could take him to a doctor; or else force the old hermit of the Dennison estate to let them carry their injured comrade there.

Not so Frank. He had already made the discovery that the voice came from up in the air, and hence had quite settled in his mind what had happened.

"He got up all right, you see, fellows," was the way Frank explained it to the others, "but it wasn't so easy to creep down again. Perhaps he dropped the rope he had used, and couldn't clasp the trunk of the tree because it was so large."

"We'll soon know," ventured Jerry, "because I can see one of the fish-hawks flying over that tall tree, and I guess the nest must be in that."

"Here he is over here, you see," observed Frank. "He figured out that with the sun heading into the west he ought to get on that side of the nest in order to make a fine picture. So he climbed up and settled himself, waiting until the mother bird came with a fish for the fledglings, which may have taken hours."

"I see him!" cried Bluff. "There, he's waving to us now! And I'm glad to know our chum hasn't gone and broken a leg; for besides the pain to him it would upset all our fine plans for a good time up here."

Will was sitting astride the lowermost limb of an enormous tree standing about forty or fifty feet to the west of the one in which the nest of the ospreys could be plainly seen, close to the top.

Will grinned sheepishly as his chums came underneath. He was some thirty feet from the ground as his legs dangled over the lowermost limb. And Frank, remembering his theory, on looking at the base of the tree discovered that the rope loop did lie there. Will had inadvertently allowed it to slip from his grasp after reaching the lower branch and clambering up on to it.

He had removed his shoes and socks in order to make good use of his toes in climbing, just as do the blacks of the cocoanut islands. But later on, after getting his long delayed pictures of the old osprey feeding its fledglings, when the ardent photographer attempted to descend the big tree he found it an impossible task.

The trunk was far too thick for him to clasp with arms and legs. Will was not an athlete, though able to climb an ordinary tree if pushed. He always claimed that he could go up any kind if a bull were after him; but evidently here was a tree he could not descend, at least.

Just how long he had sat there on that lower limb trying to conjure up some possible plan that would take him in safety to the ground, they never knew. Will felt a little ashamed to be found in such a plight, and kept putting off his call for assistance as long as he dared.

When, however, he found that night was only an hour or so off, and realized that unless he pocketed his pride, he stood a chance of spending many gloomy hours aloft with only the osprey family for neighbors, he started to shout.

"If only I had that loop up here I could get down easily enough, I think, Frank," he called out as the three boys lined up below him.

"Perhaps you could, and again there's some doubt whether you'd be able to get inside the loop," Frank told him. "The easiest way to do is for one of us to run back to the cabin and fetch our rope. With a few trials I can toss the end into your hands or over the limb, then you can lower yourself."

Both Jerry and Bluff agreed that this was a good plan. The former even offered to act as messenger and get the article needed for the rescue work. He was gone only a short time, during which Frank asked a few questions, and learned that Will believed he had secured a number of "cracking good" pictures of the osprey group that would make a fine addition to his collection.

Frank made several casts upward before he was able to send the end of the rope over the limb, and within reach of the straddling boy. It proved to be just long enough, doubled, to reach within five feet of the ground.

"First I want to make sure of my camera," Will told them, and as they knew he would positively refuse to budge an inch unless his treasured black box were taken care of, Jerry told him to lower away.

After that had been done Will prepared to trust himself on the doubled rope.

"Have a care," said Frank, "and make sure of each grip as you go. There, you're all right now, I guess, so come along down."

"Take it slow if you don't want to burn your hands, Will!" Bluff cautioned him.

Without accident, Will managed to reach the ground. His first act was to snatch up his camera and look it over, sighing with satisfaction when he found it had received no injury.

"Get on your shoes and come along back home," Frank advised him, and the exciting little incident was closed.

Later on Will told them how patiently he had sat there, perched in the top of the tall tree next to the one containing the fish-hawks' nest, and waiting for a good chance to take the picture he wanted.

"The wind blew at first, and the treetop rocked so that it almost made me sea-sick," he went on to say, with a sigh; "but after an hour or so this let up. Then came o

ne of the ospreys with a big fish in its claws, and I began to get busy. I snapped off every bit of the film as I saw fine group pictures come up; and I do hope they all turn out well."

As he had a daylight developing tank with him he wasted little time in ascertaining this fact. His exuberant shouts announced later on that his success was all the heart of any ambitious amateur photographer could wish for. And indeed, when the exposed films were passed around after they had sufficiently dried it was seen that Will had done himself justice, for they were perfectly clear.

Frank himself could easily understand just how this fad was able to grip any one who took it up. He believed that it was much more interesting and profitable than hunting with a gun. In the one case all the result consisted of game that was soon eaten and forgotten; but those instructive pictures of timid animals and wild birds would give pleasure for an unlimited time.

"There's one thing I think we ought to get busy about, fellows," Frank remarked that evening as they sat around the rough table enjoying the supper Jerry had prepared; "and that is see what can be done about laying in a fresh stock of butter and eggs."

"Our supply of both is about down to the limit, for a fact," admitted Bluff, who was unusually fond of eggs, "fried, boiled, scrambled, and, in fact, any old way," as he himself always declared.

"Have you any plan by which we can get a new lot, and perhaps some fresh milk in the bargain?" Will sought to learn.

"So far as we know, there's only one house within several miles of this place," explained Frank, "and that belongs to the man they call a hermit because he keeps to himself, and never goes to town-Aaron Dennison."

"A likely chance we'd have of getting any supplies from him, I should say!" grumbled Jerry; but Bluff was quick to make a proposal.

"If you are thinking of going up that creek, and paying a visit to Aaron, I hope you will choose me to go along. Remember, I spoke first!" he called out.

Will looked disappointed. He had hoped that if ever they decided to call on the crabbed owner of the Dennison estate he might be along with his camera. And seeing this disappointed expression cross his face, Frank easily understood what it signified.

"Another time you can come, Will," he explained. "Just now we don't even know whether there really is a house inside of five miles. It's only hearsay with us, you remember. If we should manage to get friendly with Aaron, why, we'll be apt to wander up there many times, and you may come across your chance before a great while."

With that, Will had to rest content. In fact, he had another little plan of his own in mind, which he meant to work out on the following day. Frank suspected as much, though he really hoped it would not be of the same risky nature as getting the snapshots of the ospreys.

In the morning the two who had planned to follow up the stream and learn if it passed through the estate of Aaron Dennison waved their hands to Jerry and Will, after which they started along the shore.

After they reached the creek at the point where it emptied into the bay, they turned their backs on the big water, and plunged into the thick growth.

"How about this thing, Frank; do you really and truly mean this expedition to be a foraging one, with fresh eggs and butter in view; or is it that you just hope to get in touch with old Aaron Dennison, and see what a genuine hermit looks like?"

Bluff put this direct question after they had been making their way along the tortuous bank of the winding creek for nearly half an hour. Such difficulties as crossed their path had been easily overcome, for both boys were pretty good woodsmen, and accustomed to getting around in the wilderness.

"Take my word for it," he was assured by his chum, "I'm out for the grub above all things; though of course I admit to having a little curiosity about this mysterious Mr. Dennison. I've heard a lot of queer things about his doings. He has a pretty fine place away up here, but keeps it surrounded by a high fence, and they even say it has a strand or two of terrible barbed wire on top of the fence, to discourage any one from climbing over."

"Gee whiz! I hope he doesn't own a pack of wolf dogs that would make a jump for stray boys that chanced to get in the grounds."

"I asked particularly about that," said Frank, who somehow seemed to think of nearly everything, "and no one could remember ever seeing any around. So just as like as not the old man doesn't fancy dogs."

"Yes, there are people who shiver every time they meet a collie or a mastiff," admitted Bluff, "though for my part I've always liked all breeds. I believe a dog is man's best friend, as faithful as life itself."

"Well, here we are," remarked Frank, with a ring of satisfaction in his voice.

"It's a high fence, sure enough," said Bluff, "with barbed wire strung across where the creek comes out under it, so even a fox would find it hard to get through. How shall we manage it, Frank?"

"First of all, we'll move along the fence. There may happen to be a board loose where we can slip through. That would be better than trying the gate, to be turned down flat-footed."

They had not gone fifty feet before Bluff discovered the loose board they sought. It required only a small amount of agility to pass through the opening, after which they walked along through the woods on the other side of the high fence.

Presently they came in sight of a long, low house, which was half hidden amidst dense foliage, and looked, as Bluff called it, "spooky."

Straight up to the door of this building the two boys strode, and Frank without hesitation rapped loudly with his knuckles.

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