Laughter greeted this grotesque contrast.
“I don’t think you need expect any such up-shot in this affair,” Mr. Perry advised.
“Do you expect a villain to show his hand?” Bud inquired.
“It seems to me that we have some villains in the plot already.”
“Who are they?” asked Hal.
“How about those sophomores who kidnapped your cousin and marooned him here?”
“Oh, they’re only play villains,” Cub put in disdainfully.
“How do you know they wouldn’t do something worse than haze freshmen?”
“I don’t; but until they do they’re just play villains, and that doesn’t interest me.”
“I see,” Mr. Perry observed; “you want people to be either very good or very bad.”
“No,” Cub returned slowly. “I wouldn’t put it that way; I don’t want anybody to be bad at all; but the fact of the matter is there are lots of good people in the world and a good many bad.”
“And to make a good story you think it is necessary to bring good people and bad people together, eh?”
“Well, that’s what makes fireworks, isn’t it?”
“Oh, ho, I get you now,” said Mr. Perry. “You’re fond of spectacular things.”
“No, I wouldn’t put it that way,” Cub replied; “but I don’t like to see anybody make a bluff at anything and not make good. Now, we’ve started out with a glorious bluff at some very clever rascality, and it looks as if it’s going to prove to be just an ordinary hazing affair.”
“It looks to me like a very extraordinary affair, whether it was hazing or not,” returned his father.
“And you think we’ll find a villain if we investigate it to the end?”
“Why, sure,” Mr. Perry smiled. “I shouldn’t be surprised if we’d find Captain Kidd’s treasure buried on this island.”
“Now you’re joking,” Bud put in.
“What kind of mathematics would you use to locate that treasure?” Hal inquired with a kind of jovial challenge.
“Cube root,” was the reply.
“That means dig at the roots of a four-cornered tree and you’ll find a box of pieces of eight shaped like a gambler’s dice,” Cub inferred.
“That’s pretty good imagination, and, I think ought to put us in a frame of mind well suited for further investigation,” said Mr. Perry. “Now let’s go to the spot where Hal found that diary of his cousin and see if we can’t discover something more of significant interest.”
The Hook-Up on Shore
Arrived at the open area where Hal had found his cousin’s “Crusoe diary”, the three boys and Mr. Perry began a careful examination of the surroundings for further evidence that might throw light on the strange affair, which, for the time at least, appeared to defy the mystery scoffer’s “mathematics”.
First they scrutinized every foot of ground where the grass had been trampled so violently, it seemed, as to suggest a physical combat. But they were not sufficiently skilled in the arts and subtleties of the aborigines to work out the “code” of footprints and twists, tears, and breaks in the grass, twigs and foliage. So the result of the inspection of an apparently recent battle ground was nil.