He was soon ready for the plunge, and noting the direction in which the object had last been seen, he waded into the water. The first touch felt icy, but after he had ducked down and taken a few strokes it did not seem so bad. He struck out lustily, and Shep held up both torches, that he might have some light by which to guide himself.
Snap was a good swimmer, but the object out on the lake was further away than he had calculated, and it took him fully five minutes to get in the vicinity of it. The sky had clouded over a bit, hiding the stars, so he could see little or nothing on the water. On the shore he could see the two torches that the doctor’s son was waving and that was all.
At last Snap saw the dark object directly ahead of him. By this time he was somewhat exhausted by his swim and he was glad to think that he would soon be able to rest. Then he made a discovery which did not please him at all.
The object was nothing more than a part of a fallen tree, the trunk resting half in and half out of the water and several branches sticking out in as many directions. At a distance it looked a little like the rowboat but the resemblance faded completely as he got closer.
“Too bad! I thought it was the boat sure!” he murmured. “Well, I’ll have to rest on the log a bit, before I strike out for shore.”
He swam up to one of the branches and caught hold of it. He was on the point of reaching for the tree trunk when an unusual sound came to his ears.
Then Snap made a discovery that almost took his breath from him. On the tree trunk rested a big wildcat, it’s eyes gleaming fiercely at the youth in the water!
THE CAMP ON LAKE CAMERON
Snap did not stand upon the order of his going, but went at once. Without a thing with which to defend himself, he had no desire to come into contact with such a savage creature as a wildcat, and, consequently, he dropped back into the water in a hurry and started back for the shore. He almost fancied he heard the wildcat splash in after him, and a chill crept down his backbone which was not caused by the night air.
“Hello! hello!” he yelled to Shep.
“Got the boat?” came back the cry.
“Not much! Get your shotgun ready and fire a shot into the air.”
“What’s the matter?”
“A wildcat is out here—–on a floating log. I’m afraid he’s after me.”
“A wildcat! Want me to scare him away?”
The doctor’s son now understood, and raising his shotgun with one arm he pulled the trigger.
The report sounded out loudly in the night air and the echoes went ringing over the surrounding hills.
In the meantime Snap continued to swim for the shore with all possible speed. Fortunately he came in where there was a sandbar, so that he could wade to solid ground. When Shep reached him he was panting for breath.