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The Outdoor Chums; Or, The First Tour of the Rod, Gun and Camera Club By Quincy Allen Characters: 12093

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"They don't seem to be around," said Jerry, when he and his chum had covered at least half the distance to the lumber camp, without seeing a sign of the three fellows who had tried to dispute their advance in the morning.

"I hope they're not hovering around our camp, to make trouble for the boys," observed Frank, shaking his head.

The other laughed aloud in a scoffing way.

"All I can say is, I'm mighty sorry for Pet and his pals if they try that sort of business when that criminal of a Bluff is sitting there with his Gatling gun, ready for work. I'd sooner face a tiger, honest I would, than that instrument of destruction. I bet there won't be a chippy left around here when we get out."

"Oh! shucks, Jerry, remember that he isn't in your class. When he empties that six-shot gun and makes a miss every time, what does it matter? If the game had only poor Bluff and his repeater to fear they could well laugh. But when you look over the sights it's a different matter."

"That's nice of you, Frank. I'll try and be more lenient with the poor fellow, then. Anyhow, I know he shuts both eyes when he pulls the trigger, for I've watched him more than once. A man that's gun-shy never will make a success as a hunter. Isn't that so?"

"I've been told so; but, all the same, Bluff is a good-hearted chap, and I like him first rate. He furnishes fun for the whole squad; and, besides, nothing makes him mad-at least, if he ever brushes up it's over and done with like a flash. But isn't that the lumber camp ahead-I thought I had a glimpse of it through the trees-there it is again!" said Frank.

"You're right, but I don't see the wagon."

"I hardly thought it would be here before half an hour more. We needn't go any farther than the cabin, and can be taking in the sights while we wait."

"Precious little to see here; don't compare with some of the big camps up in your Maine, I guess. But they're making a gash in the timber all right, and in a few years it'll be all gone-that is, what is worth taking."

They came to a halt near the log cabin, from which the head of the cook was quickly thrust, he having heard the sound of their engines as they approached.

"Back again, boys?" he inquired genially, for the vision of that coin was still fresh in his memory.

"Bad penny always comes back, Jock," laughed Jerry.

"We've come to convoy the wagon in. You see all our supplies, tents, grub and blankets happen to be in that wagon, and we don't mean to let it be captured by any of the Lasher crowd," remarked Frank.

He saw the cook start at the mention of that name, as he muttered:

"Butch Lasher a-comin' up hyer-then them fellers must aben some o' his pals."

"Just what they were," and Frank went on to explain how it came there was a second vacation for the academy boys of Centerville, and also the unfortunate fact of Andy, known among his chums as "Butch" for some unexplained reason, having determined to take an outing in the same region at the identical time they had arranged to come.

"We expect to have trouble with them right along, but they'd better be careful how they try any of their smart tricks on us up here. We mean to let them alone, if they mind their business and pay no attention to us; but, on the other hand, we know how to defend ourselves, and we've got the means to do it," he went on.

The cook shook his touseled head.

"Thet critter is sure a terror, an' I orter know," was all he would say; but the boys could imagine that there was some sort of a story back of it.

Less than ten minutes later, while Jerry was prowling around looking at the bunks in which the lumberjacks slept when in camp, the sound of voices came to Frank, who was watching outside, and looking down the crooked road he caught sight of the wagon, with the two colored men on the seat.

A shout brought Jerry plunging out of the door, and he joined in noisily greeting the coming of the team.

It had been previously arranged that he was to take Erastus on his machine over to the station on the railroad, about two miles away, so that he might get the afternoon local, which would stop upon being flagged.

Meanwhile, Frank would escort the wagon to the camp, feeling quite able to take good care of the supply train, as Jerry called it, when he tired of saying "chuck-wagon."

Jerry got away first, with Erastus perched behind him, and grinning from ear to ear with the novelty of the experience.

"H'm, he won't think it so funny if they strike a root and take a header; but then Jerry's a cautious driver, and he knows something of the lay of the land; so I hope they'll get along without a spill. Now, Uncle Toby, do you think you can stand a mile or two of rough sledding; for the 'tote-road' is hardly meant for a wagon with springs?" Frank asked, as the other vanished from sight, going back along the way they had come from Centerville.

"'Deed an' I specks I kin, Marse Frank; dis chile is able to stan' a heap o' knockin' 'round on 'casion. S'long as I keeps my shins safe, I don't seem to keer 'bout much else. Say de word, sah, an' I'se ready to hit um up ag'in right peart," was the reply from the old, gray-headed Toby, who had worked for Frank's father many years-indeed, he was fond of saying he had been a slave in the Virginia branch of the Langdon family "befo' de wah."

The horses had not had a very hard pull up to this time, and were, therefore, in pretty fair condition to attempt the last quarter of the journey.

And they needed all their strength to drag that heavily-laden wagon over the half-broken road, where so many obstacles stuck up to jolt the poor driver until he almost lost his grip on the seat, though the boys had been able to avoid most of these because they could steer aside with the single line of wheels.

But the vehicle had been well made, and the horses were full of vim, while the venerable black man who gripped the reins was a "sticker," as he expressed it, after being once tossed out upon the back of the near hors

e by the sudden stoppage of the wagon.

After rather a trying experience they finally sighted a column of smoke, and, calling Toby's attention to this, Frank said:

"That's as far as we go this time, Toby."

Toby shut his eyes for a brief moment and doubtless gave thanks, for his poor old body must have been pretty well bruised by this time.

Will and Bluff had spied the wagon by now, and they shouted a noisy welcome.

"Now we're prepared for a siege, with the grub at hand," cried Bluff, dancing around with his gun held on high.

"Say, be careful with that contraption, will you? If ever it started going off not one of us would live to tell the ghastly tale," called Will, as if really and truly alarmed, which, of course, he was not.

Bluff gave him an indignant look, for it pained him to have his pet gun insulted after this rude fashion; but he was too much delighted over the coming of the supply wagon to cherish any animosity; and besides, as Frank said, he never could keep on being angry over a few minutes at a time.

Such fun they had getting that vehicle unloaded.

Then the tents had to go up, which was an operation that consumed considerable time, for Frank proved to be very exact in his way of arranging things, and would not accept any poor work.

When finally both tents had been erected, with a burgee bearing the club name floating from the very tops, the camp began to have a mighty cheery look that was invigorating.

Then another fly was put up just in the rear, under which some of the coarser provisions, such as water would not injure should the rain get in, were stored; here, too, Toby was to bunk while in camp.

"Everything looks like business, boys," said Jerry, as he came in later.

"What did you do with Erastus?" demanded Frank; "upset him in a ditch?"

"Do I look like I had been rooting? He got off on the train, and is home by now."

Home-the boys looked at each other, for it already seemed as though they had been away a long time, and yet their first night under canvas was still ahead.

They meant to keep the horses with them over night, and next day Jerry would go with Toby to the farmer's, about a mile off, leaving the outfit there until it was needed to take them back again.

As evening came on the boys began to lie around and watch the old darkey start operations for supper, which he did with evident delight; for Toby loved nothing better than to get away with "Marse Frank" and some of his friends, where he could wait upon them and enjoy a holiday in the woods.

The unusual exertions of the ride and subsequent wood-chopping had really tired all of the chums, though none of them would publicly admit it. When Bluff attempted to get up in a hurry for some purpose, he found himself so stiff he could hardly move, and it was only after much grunting and three distinct efforts that he finally managed to reach his feet.

Frank only smiled.

He had expected just this, and knew that in a few days the boys would have succeeded in getting the kinks out of their muscles.

Bluff had insisted that they have fried onions with that glorious steak, and, indeed, he even prepared a dozen of the same himself, for Bluff could be very persistent when he chose; Frank called a halt at this number.

"We may want a few another time, old fellow," he admonished.

"Oh! all right, then. I was just waiting till somebody called me off. I've shed more tears than Brutus ever dropped at the bier of Caesar. Wow! some kind person wipe my eyes, please; my hands are too rank to touch my tear-rag," he declared, and Will performed this friendly office, thinking that he deserved it after his heroism.

The coffee was soon bubbling on the fire, and the delightful odor of that fine sirloin steak, together with a second frying-pan full of onions, so permeated the surrounding atmosphere that had any of the Lasher crowd been hiding in the vicinity they must have suffered tortures in the thought that they were debarred from that glorious outdoor feast around the first campfire.

"Look there!" said Jerry, quietly, pointing as he spoke.

"It's a little chipmunk come to find out what all this row is about here," remarked Frank, tossing a piece of bread toward the cunning animal. "If you don't do anything to frighten them away we can have a lot of such friendly creatures hanging around the camp all the time."

"Then, for goodness' sake, chain up that annihilator of Bluff's before he gets it working overtime. Looks as if he had an eye on it just now, for game is game to the pot hunter, no matter how he gets it, or what it happens to be," growled Jerry, scowling in the direction of the other, who only grinned in reply.

"Supper am ready, gemmen. Kindly draw yer seats 'round de table," announced the tow-headed cook at this juncture; and in the eagerness to appease their keen hunger everything else was forgotten for the time being.

Two collapsible tables had been brought along, and these were placed under the raised fly of one of the tents, so that the warmth of the open fire could be enjoyed; but the whole supper had not been cooked after the old fashion, for Frank had a little outfit that burned kerosene, making its own blue flame, and which the other boys declared to be the finest thing of the kind they had ever seen.

A set of aluminum ware went with it, the kettles nesting in each other; there were cups, dishes, knives, forks and spoons for four persons; besides, Frank had added a lot of kitchen things from the house, so that they were amply supplied.

The supper was almost finished when something crashed through the branches of a tree and fell at Frank's feet.

"What's that?" exclaimed the boy.

Crash! came another object. It landed on a platter and bounded off into

Bluff's lap.

"A rock! Somebody is throwing rocks at us!" cried Will, starting to scramble to his feet in wild excitement.

"It must be one of that Lasher crowd," ejaculated Jerry; "come on, boys, and let's get hold of the fellow!"

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