The boys were delighted with the suggestion of Mr. Perry that they establish a camp on the island and needed no urging to begin work on the project. With true outing instinct they had come prepared for just such an emergency as this. They had brought with them a tent large enough for four and a complete set of camp tools, including spade, shovel, axe, pickaxe, hatchet, saw, hammer, and nails.
Returning to the Catwhisker, they hauled all these supplies out on deck preparatory to taking them ashore.
“Let’s make a better ascent up this steep bank before we carry these things up,” Mr. Perry proposed. “It’s quite a climb, as it is, without a load in our arms to hamper us.”
“Only one person can work at a time to any advantage,” Bud suggested.
“That’s true,” replied the director of the expedition. “But we can work in rapid shifts and finish this job quickly. I’ll take the first trick and make things fly for about fifteen minutes, and then one of you can take my place.”
With these words, he stripped off his coat, seized the pickaxe and shovel and stepped over the side of the boat onto the landing ledge. Then he began a vigorous attack on the steep incline between the ledge and the land level above.
The task consumed a little more than an hour of speed labor, and by that time it was after one o’clock and each of the hillside stairway builders had worked up a very healthy appetite. So they prepared and ate luncheon on board the yacht, and then began the work of moving tent and other supplies to the site selected for their camp. By the time this was done and the tent pitched, it was 3 o’clock.
“Now, what next?” asked Cub as he sat down on a camp chair after the last guy rope had been drawn taut and fastened securely to its peg. “It seems to me that it’s about time for another pow-wow of the Catwhiskerites.”
“I agree with you, Bob,” said his father, also unfolding a camp chair and sitting down, followed by similar action on the part of the other two boys.
“Well, what’s the question?” asked Bud.
“I’ll offer a question if somebody’ll take the chair and preside,” Hal volunteered.
“All right,” Bud agreed. “You act as chairman, Mr. Perry.”
“I am elected by Bud, there being no opposition,” announced the owner of the Catwhisker. “Now, what is the question, Hal?”
“I’ll put it this way,” the latter replied: “Resolved, that mathematics is more useful to a detective than a flashlight or a skeleton key.”
“That isn’t half-bad at all,” declared Cub in the midst of general laughter and applause. “The main trouble is that we can’t find anybody on this island to take the other side of the question.”
“Very well,” ruled the chair; “this question being decided in favor of the affirmative, we will now proceed to the next.”