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The Outdoor Chums; Or, The First Tour of the Rod, Gun and Camera Club By Quincy Allen Characters: 12487

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Centerville was a thriving town situated almost midway down the east shore of Camalot Lake, and very nearly opposite Newtonport on the opposite bank; in consequence, there was more or less rivalry between the two places, which condition extended from the shopkeepers and banks to the sports of the boys of the bustling miniature cities.

Since the four chums are to figure as the leading spirits in our stirring tales of the Outdoor Club, it seems only proper that we should take an early opportunity to introduce them more fully to the reader, together with some of their more prominent hobbies, hoping that the acquaintance thus begun may ripen into warm intimacy as we journey along in company.

Jerry Wellington's father was a railroad magnate, and in full sympathy with his boy's love for the open; indeed, it was from the elder Wellington that Jerry, no doubt, inherited his love for fair play, whether in games on the baseball or football arena, or in sports afield; his sympathies seemed to be always with the under dog in the fight, and he would scorn to shoot a rabbit or a quail unless in full flight; or to take a game-fish by any other means than the methods in vogue among true sportsmen.

On the other hand, Bluff Masters could never get it through his head what need there was for all this fuss and feathers about giving the game a chance; he had the old primal instinct of the red Indian, whose one desire was to secure his quarry, no matter whether by hook or by crook; since Bluff never pretended to be anything of a shot, or an expert angler, perhaps he was right in believing that, so far as he was concerned, the game had all the chance necessary at any and all times.

Frank Langdon, as mentioned before, was the son of the banker, and having lived up in Maine knew about all there was to know about the tricks of campers; since his chums as yet had had only limited chances to discover what the extent of his knowledge might be, they were very anxious to put Frank to the test, and learn a few of the said wrinkles, calculated to make them better sportsmen.

Frank had one sister, a pretty girl named Nellie, and Bluff Masters had shown a decided partiality for her ever since they were first brought together.

The last one of the quartette, Will Milton, was one of the rich widow's two children, and since he and Frank were deeply interested in photography, it was perhaps only natural that Frank should be attracted by Will's twin sister, Violet, whom he believed to be the sweetest girl of his acquaintance.

These four boys attended the private school of Alexander Gregory, D.P., and the sudden announcement that during a recent storm the buildings had suffered so severely as to necessitate the closing of the academy for a limited period, had fallen upon the community like a thunderbolt from a clear sky.

Those students coming from a distance were being sent away at the expense of the proprietor of the school; and others, who belonged either in Centerville or Newtonport, were allowed to go home, subject to a call some two weeks later.

While the boys worked at replacing the fallen boxes, they kept up a running fire of observations regarding this new calamity that threatened their peace; for when Andy Lasher and the ugly crowd with which he trained took a notion to make themselves disagreeable they could do it "to the queen's taste," as Jerry said.

"Shall we give the outing up?" asked Frank, after he had heard some of the dire prophecies advanced by his comrades, especially Bluff Masters.

"Never!" exclaimed Jerry.

"Ditto!" cried Will, looking more determined than ever.

"Oh! I'm just as anxious to go as any one, only it seemed right to look the old thing squarely in the face before we started to lay plans. If the rest say go, you can count on me all right. I'm the last to squeal if trouble comes, and you know that, fellows," declared Bluff, glancing around defiantly.

It was a habit with Bluff to be always expecting something serious to happen; and in case his suspicions were verified, as might occasionally occur, he would crow over the others, and strut around as though he thought himself a prophet gifted with second-sight, and able to forecast coming events with ease.

On the other hand, should the prediction fail to come about there was always a good excuse handy to account for the failure.

"Well," said Frank, as he winked at Jerry, "since we are all of one mind, I don't know why we should waste any more time about it. For one, I'm going straight to the bank and have a friendly chat with my dad. I just feel dead certain he'll be as tickled over the chance of an outing as I am. He never forgets that he was a boy, you see. So-long, fellows; see you later at Will's house."

There was a scattering then and there, Bluff heading in the direction of the building where his father had his offices, while the other two kept on in company, their homes being close together.

Will was the only one who really expected any show of opposition: for his widowed mother simply idolized him, seeing every day new traits of character as well as little facial resemblances that made him appear more and more like the husband and father who was gone; but then the boy knew just how to overcome these scruples, and his arguments were always backed up by his twin sister, so that in the end he usually attained his wish.

His one great hobby lay in the line of photography, and such had been his remarkable success with a cheap outfit that his mother had surprised and delighted the boy on a recent birthday by giving him an expensive camera.

Of course, he was fairly wild to get away into the woods and secure many stunning pictures of the great outdoor folks, the birds and animals inhabiting the wilds. Will cared little about shooting, and expected to do all his hunting with his camera.

When about an hour later Frank called each of his chums up on the 'phone, and eagerly demanded to know how things had turned out, he was delighted to hear them say one after the other that everything was lovely, and full permission to go had been duly granted.

After lunch they held a grand pow-wow at the home of Will, to which the two girls were ad

mitted; for it had been deemed best that all the schools in both Centerville and Newtonport should be closed for a few days, in order to make a few needed repairs after the storm.

"Frank, consider yourself appointed commander-in-chief; and now please tell each of us what we must do," said Will, as they gathered around in the living room.

"I'll see about the wagon that is to take our stuff up. One of us can meet the driver on the road after we've picked out the spot for the camp. Every fellow be sure to have his outfit ready at seven in the morning. Bring two blankets apiece, and the things I've written down here-a towel, soap, and such little necessities," returned Frank.

"Who looks after the grub part of it?" demanded Bluff, who was never known to be separated from his appetite.

"That's my part, too," said Frank; "only, if any of you have any particular fancy in the line of stuff to eat now's the time to add it to the list I've made out."

"Let's take a squint at it, partner," remarked Bluff, anxiously.

He ran through the list.

"Don't think I'm going on short rations," laughed Frank, noting the expression akin to dismay appearing on the other's face; "but you see we'll have our motor-cycles along, and when we need a new lot of groceries it'll just be fun to mount and fly down here to pick up a bundle. Read out the variety, Bluff, and see if any one thinks we want anything else."

"H'm, here's matches, sugar, tea, coffee, condemned milk-I mean condensed milk-butter, four loaves of bread made at home by Frank's hired girl, who's a dandy cook," read Bluff, in a sing-song tone. "Then comes bacon, salt pork for cooking fish with, half a ham, potatoes, pepper and salt, self-raising flour, cornmeal, fine hominy, rice, beans, canned corn, tomatoes, Boston baked beans, a jar of jam, canned corned-beef and crackers.

"What else-don't all speak at once?" asked Frank, holding a pencil ready.

"I say a nice juicy beefsteak for the first night in camp; we won't be able to produce any game at short notice, I reckon, and that would be fine; just put that down for my sake, chief," observed Jerry.

"And, say, ain't we going to have any onions?" asked Bluff indignantly, at which Frank doubled up as if taken with a fit.

"That's one on me, boys. Why, I wouldn't ever think of going into camp without a supply of good onions along. If you ever came trudging home at evening, with game on your back, tired to beat the band, and when near camp sniffed fired onions cooking, you'd say they're the best thing ever toted into the wilderness. That's the time you showed your good sense, Bluff, old man. Onions? Why, to be sure, and plenty of 'em. Anything more?" he laughed.

The boys shook their heads; they had not had enough experience in camping out to warrant suggesting other additions to the apparently complete list made by the fellow who had been there, and knew all about the needs of those who go into the wilderness.

"All right. If you happen to think of anything just get it, that's all. Look at Jerry grinning there. I bet I know what he's thinking about-that all this is utter foolishness, and that we ought to start out with nothing more than we could carry on our machines, and then take pot-luck? How about that?" demanded Frank.

"Oh! well, have it your own way, fellows," declared Jerry, with a shrug of his shoulders; "you know my ideas about these things. I'm the kind of a sportsman who goes into the woods as light as possible-give me a frying pan, coffee pot, tin cup and a pie platter, some pepper and salt, some matches, a camp hatchet to cut browse for my bed, and my trusty rifle with which to supply the game, and I warrant you I can get along as well as the fellow who makes a pack-horse of himself, and totes all sorts of canned goods over the carries."

"That sounds all mighty well in theory, but there's mighty little practical sense about it. A blanket is the camper's best friend of a cool night; and even if he is lucky enough to shoot enough game to satisfy his wants, he'll get sick of one diet in a short time. I ought to know something about it, for I've tried it both ways," declared Frank.

"Yes," broke in Bluff at this juncture, "and you wait and see if Jerry don't eat his share of every blessed thing we pack in-he won't refuse one dish. He's quite satisfied to turn up his nose at others carrying loads, while he goes free; but, at the same time, he eats a quarter of the grub every time."

Both Frank and Will laughed heartily at this, in which they were joined by Nellie Langdon and Violet Milton.

"Pshaw!" scoffed Jerry, turning a bit red at the same time, "if others are silly enough to make pack-horses of themselves, and lug all such things into the primeval wilderness, why, of course, I'm willing to help dispose of them when the time comes; purely out of good-heartedness, you see, for it makes their loads lighter. Just drop that subject, boys, and put me down for a bottle of maple syrup; for when Frank gives us some of those famous flapjacks he's told about so often, we ought to have the proper thing to go with them."

So they talked the thing over from beginning to end, and it looked as if the team Frank expected to engage would have their work cut out for them, hauling all this camp stuff over the roads to the point beyond the head of the lake.

The boys were evidently eager to get to work, and hence the conference presently broke up, Jerry heading in one direction, and Frank and his sister, with Bluff finding some plausible excuse for hanging on, going in another.

Later on that day, while Frank was at the big grocery store, giving orders to have the various edibles put up so as to be ready on the following morning before seven o'clock, he was interested in seeing Andy Lasher, backed by several of his pals, actually making similar purchases, though just where they secured the necessary funds, having no rich fathers to appeal to, was somewhat of a mystery.

Andy sent many a dark look across at the tall boy he secretly feared, but apparently he knew that this was no time to bring matters to a head, and hence there was nothing said; but the look on his freckled face told of dark intentions.

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