As he laid his finger on the map, he continued, “That was a good location for a fisherman’s camp, but a poor one for a fire guard. High up on this hill,” and again he laid a finger on the map, “there is a fine spring. A dense rhododendron thicket surrounds it, and tall hemlocks grow above it. Make your camp in that thicket. It is so dense that I think nobody could possibly see a tent there. But make sure. If necessary, put hemlock boughs or rhododendron branches around it. Nobody but Mr. Morton and I must know that you are in camp in the forest or that you have any connection with the forestry department. I will tell him where your camp is and he will inspect it and give you more detailed instructions. But remember that yours is a secret patrol. I would rather that nobody should learn of your presence in the forest. But if you do meet any one, pose as a fisherman. Don’t, under any circumstances, let anybody suspect your real purpose.”
The forester paused a moment, in deep thought. “Smoke,” he said at last, “would betray the location of your camp—at least in the daytime. Don’t make any fires unless it be at night. Then be sure they are small, well concealed, and as smokeless as possible. Do your cooking with this.”
He stepped to a closet and returned with an alcohol stove and a can of fuel, and continued: “From your spring to the summit of the mountain it is only a short distance. You can get a wide outlook there. Examine the forest carefully in every direction as often as possible. But leave no telltale marks to indicate that the place is a lookout point. And be sure you don’t do anything to draw attention to your camp.”
The forester then swore Charley in as a fire patrol and gave him his badge, with instructions to keep it out of sight.
“You’ll need this, too,” he said with a smile, handing Charley a portable telephone. “Your friends can’t be at the other end of the wireless all the time, you know.”
“Can we fish at all?” asked Charley. “I want Lew to have some fun on this trip. He’s going to help me a lot with the work.”
“Fish as much as you like, as long as it does not interfere with your duty. But remember that your business is to protect the forest. That comes first. You will have to decide how to do it, according to circumstances.”
The boys carried their duffel to the forester’s car. Mr. Marlin telephoned his assistant to look after things during his absence, and in another minute Mr. Marlin and Lew and Charley were whirling along the highway. They reached the point at which they were to enter the forest, jumped to the ground and unloaded their duffel. Mr. Marlin said good-bye, turned his car, and sped back to his office, leaving the two young fire guards alone in the heart of the wilderness.
An Encounter with a Bear
Rapidly the duffel was made into two packs. These were both heavy and bulky.