The smallest lad of the four was Will Caslette, always called Billy or Giant. He was the son of a widow lady, who owned a small but neat cottage on one of the side streets of the town. Mrs. Caslette thought the world of her offspring and Giant was fully worthy of the affection she bestowed upon him. Although small in size he was manly in his deportment, and at school he was as bright as any one in his class.
About a year before, the four boys had organized an outing or gun club and obtained permission to go camping for a few weeks in the vicinity of Lake Cameron. They reached the lake after several adventures and settled down in a comfortable camp, from which, however, they were driven by a saw mill owner named Andrew Felps, who ran a rival concern to that in which Snap’s father owned an interest. The young hunters then moved to Firefly Lake, a mile away, and there hunted and fished to their hearts’ content. They were frequently joined by old Jed Sanborn, a trapper who lived in the mountains between the lakes. They had some trouble with Ham Spink, a dudish young man of the town, who established a rival camp not far off, and they came close to perishing during a disastrous forest fire.
The summer outing made the boys hungry for more, and as soon as the winter holidays were at hand they made arrangements to go into the woods again, this time taking their outfits on sleds. They had with them their snowshoes, and found the latter articles very useful when out after game. They fixed up a comfortable camp, and rescued a half-frozen tramp. But the tramp did not appreciate what had been done for him and ran away with some of their things, which brought on a lively pursuit. Then the boys had more trouble with Ham Spink and his crony, Carl Dudder. In the end it was discovered that Ham and Carl had gotten the tramp to annoy the young hunters, and as a result Mr. Spink and Mr. Dudder had to foot some heavy bills for their sons. Ham and Carl were sent off to a strict boarding school, where their parents hoped they would turn over a new leaf. Snap and his chums came back home loaded down with game.
“The best outing ever!” declared more than one of the boys.
“We’ll have to go again!”
And then and there they began to plan what to do during the next vacation.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Snap, one day, during the spring. “Why not get a good boat—–one that will stand some hard knocks—–and go through Lake Cameron and Firefly Lake to Lake Narsac? Jed Sanborn was telling me that was a fine place for hunting and fishing, and the lake is as clear as crystal.”
“It’s an awfully wild place, so I was told,” said Shep.
“About a million snakes up there, so I once heard,” put in Whopper. “Snakes are so thick you have to kick ’em out of your way to walk around.”
“Excuse me, I don’t want any snakes,” answered Giant, with a shiver.