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   Chapter 25 BREAKING CAMP

The Outdoor Chums; Or, The First Tour of the Rod, Gun and Camera Club By Quincy Allen Characters: 9615

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


And they had bear steak for supper.

Honestly, none of them thought a great deal of the treat, only that it seemed to be the proper thing for hunters to enjoy the results of their prowess with their guns.

Bluff was the happiest chap in camp, unless Will be excepted; he fondled that recovered gun almost the whole evening, and while Jerry winced every time he saw it, he dared not lift up his voice in protest after the great work which the so-called Gatling gun had done in the hands of a greenhorn.

Jerry with all his skill in the line of shooting had never been given the opportunity to kill a bear, and he felt that the time had gone by for him to class Bluff as a "come-on."

They spent a joyful evening, though, going over the exciting incidents of the last forty-eight hours again and again.

"And to think that we have only been up here a few days, boys. Why, if this sort of thing keeps on at this rate during our two weeks' stay, whatever in the world am I going to do for more films?" asked Will, plaintively.

"Keep the balance for especially good subjects," said Jerry, carelessly.

"Yes, but sometimes, you know, the best pictures are those you fail to get. Now, there was that one with you hanging to that ladder, I'll never get over my disappointment about losing that. Whenever anything of that sort crops up again, I hope nobody will steal my camera."

"Talk to me about dogged perseverance, this fellow certainly has 'em all beat to a frazzle," said Jerry, with an injured air, "I expect next he'll be proposing that we go back to that old shaft, and while I hang by my teeth to that blessed, shaky ladder, he will crack off a few views of the circus. Don't you dare propose that, or I'll forget my promise to be good, and begin to hide things again!"

"Oh! all right, I won't mention it, only it's a shame, that's what, when any fellow in these days refuses to put himself out a little just to oblige a friend, and interest posterity," grumbled Will.

They stayed up until quite late, singing songs of school and college life, and having a happy time. Not one among the four dreamed of the shadow that was even then hovering over Kamp Kill Kare.

There was no alarm that night, for which one and all felt grateful. This thing of being aroused out of a sound sleep to have the covers whipped off by a roaring gale may read all very nice, but the reality is quite a different matter. And when wild animals invade the peaceful camp it strikes one as very funny in print, but is apt to bring about a chilly feeling when encountered in real life.

As usual, Frank was the first one up, and he soon had the camp astir with his cheery calls. The nipping, frosty air proclaimed that now the Fall had come in earnest, and that they would be glad after this to keep a fire burning during each night, for warmth.

As they sat about the blaze after breakfast, laying out plans for the day, the sound of a horse's neigh startled them.

"It's the sheriff, I reckon," said Jerry, as they jumped up.

And he had guessed correctly, for presently they saw a horseman appear, and as he came up he waved his hand in greeting.

"Sorry, boys, but I've got some bad news for you," he said.

"Anybody dead, or sick?" asked Frank, turning a bit pale.

"Oh, no, nothing of that sort, I'm glad to say. This concerns you fellows only?" was the quick reply of Mr. Dodd, the sheriff.

The four boys looked at one another with alarm.

"I bet I know what it is-the Head has concluded to start the school up under half a roof, and wants us to come back right away!" said Will, mournfully.

Mr. Dodd laughed aloud.

"Hit it the first slat out of the box, Will. And you've got to report to-morrow morning, so you must go back to-day sure. I saw some of your fathers, and they say the same, so there's no escape. Sorry to bring you bad news; but looks like you've been doing your share of game-getting in the short time you were here," nodding toward the bear that was hanging up, and the deerskin, as well as the pelt of the invading wildcat.

"Well, it's hard lines, sir, but I suppose we have to obey. But get off and have breakfast. Toby just loves to cook, you know. There's plenty of coffee left, and you can have your choice of bear steak, or venison," said Jerry, hospitably.

So the sheriff made himself at home. He even assisted the boys get their things together preparatory to moving back to town, before riding on further.

The motor-cycles had been securely packed away under the big fly all this time, and had not suffered at all from the rain. Indeed, the boys took good care to keep them well oiled, knowing the benefit of having such valuable pieces of mechanism in first-class order at all times.

Jerry went over to the farmer's and secured the horse

s and wagon. Then the work of dismantling Kamp Kill Kare began. They tried to appear gay, but every one of the boys had become attached to the place during their short stay, and felt badly over leaving these scenes with so much undone that they had planned for.

"Never mind, fellows, we're going to come again and again. This first camp of the Rod, Gun and Camera Club isn't going to be the last, by any means. And I guess we've learned a good many things on this trip," sang out Jerry, cheerily.

"That's true every day, with all of us. I'm learning all the time. And next year when we get under canvas we will have a lot of pleasant memories to look back to. Why, with Will's pictures to help out, the winter will be a constant feast of stories about the things that have happened to us up here," remarked Frank.

"I'd like to have seen more of old Jesse. He's just chock full of woods lore, and can give you all the points you want about animals and such. How are things getting on out there, fellows? Is the wagon pretty well loaded?" asked Jerry.

"Have the last tent packed away in ten minutes. Toby says he can drive all right, but we'll keep near by to lend him a hand if necessary. The road is some rough in places until we get on the pike."

Half an hour later the wagon moved away from the camp under the hemlocks. Uncle Toby looked back and grinned amiably as he noted his ladder of protection, and his friendly tree of refuge.

Each boy in turn started his machine by walking, then vaulted into the saddle, and began to move along the trail that led down to the lumber camps at the head of the lake.

No one said a word. In truth all were too full of emotion to speak, for they felt this sudden flitting more than they cared to admit.

A turn of the trail and no longer could they see the twin hemlocks under which the two khaki tents had stood. Frank had broken up many times in his camping experiences and knew just how it felt; but the sensation was new to the others. It was as if they had just lost a dear friend-as though something had gone out of their lives that could never be recovered again.

Now in advance of the trundling wagon, and anon bringing up the rear, they kept on until finally the opening at the lumber camp was gained. From now on their progress would be faster, and if they wished they could leave Toby to come along with the wagon while they opened up and made a speedy run for home.

Somehow no one seemed to care about doing that. The wagon held something that had been associated in their minds with the most delightful of times, and they felt as though they ought to continue to act as a guard of honor to the slow moving team.

"Cheer up, fellows," called Frank, seeing how gloomy his chums looked; "every one of us has good reason for feeling proud and satisfied, even if our vacation has been cut short. I know I'm glad I came. I've had just a glorious time!"

"And to think of the fine pictures I'll be developing to-night. Oh! don't I hope they turn out good, though. Frank, you promised to come around and help me with your advice. I wouldn't take a chance of spoiling those views for anything," said Will, beginning to brighten up at the thought.

"And sure, I ought to be satisfied, with a deer, four wild dogs, and part of a wildcat, too, as my portion," exclaimed Jerry, also smiling again.

"Well, what d'ye think of me then, me and the blessed old pump-gun you used to make so much fun about? A bear, a great big savage bear that was trying to shake me down out of that tree It's in the wagon, too, and all our folks are going to try how sharp their teeth are when they get to biting a genuine bear steak. I rather think I'm in this thing some, eh, fellows?" demanded Bluff, positively.

"Yes, I rather believe you lead the procession this time, Bluff. Go up ahead, and do the grand marshal act when we get near home. But, say what you will, boys, we did have glorious fun. I doubt whether any fellows ever had more adventures crowded into so short a time before. And we're all of the same mind, I take it, ready to try it again at the very first opportunity," said Frank.

And how they did try it again will be told in another book, to be called: The Outdoor Chums on the Lake; or, Lively Adventures on Wildcat Island." In that volume we shall meet all our young friends again, and likewise their enemies, and follow out the particulars of some decidedly thrilling happenings.

"Before we get into civilization again, let's give one last rousing cheer for good old Kamp Kill Kare," cried Jerry.

"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! tiger!" rang out four boyish voices; and then, waving an imaginary farewell to the pleasant camp under the hemlocks, the outdoor chums turned once more to the duties of school life.

THE END

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