“Mr. Felps,” began Snap, after a painful pause, “I want you to listen to what I have to say. Last night our rowboat with our outfit on board disappeared. I don’t know if it drifted off or was stolen. If it was stolen, and we find it out, somebody is going to be arrested for the theft.”
“Ha! do you call me a thief!” burst out the lumber dealer, in a rage.
“Not at all I am only telling you a few plain facts. We have every reason to believe our boat is somewhere around this camp. If it is I want to know if you are going to give it up peaceably, or if we’ll have to send down to town for an officer of the law?
“You—–you—–” commenced Andrew Felps, and then looked at Giles Faswig, who had turned slightly pale.
“This may not be a serious business to you but it is to us,” continued Snap. “There are four of us in our party, and if you have our boat, we can all testify to that fact. Three of us can stay here and watch you while the fourth goes for the officer.”
“Do you think we’d steal a measly rowboat?” asked Vance Lemon, but he glanced at Faswig as he spoke, and his tone was an uneasy one.
“I don’t know what you’d do. But that boy, said something about bringing in a boat last night, and I want to know if it is our boat.”
“How do I know whose boat it is?” growled Giles Faswig.
“Has it got the name Snapper on it?” asked Whopper.
“I didn’t notice. I saw a boat drifting on the lake and hauled it in, that’s all,” answered Giles Faswig, curtly. “For all I know, you are trying to get somebody else’s property away from me.”
“You let us see that boat, and we’ll soon tell you if it is ours or not,” said Snap.
“I was out on the shore last night and I saw something drifting by and drew it in,” explained Giles Faswig. “I hauled it back of yonder bushes. If you can prove it is your property you can take it, but not otherwise.”
“We’ll soon find out,” answered Snap, and walked over in the direction pointed out. As he did this, Whopper put his little fingers in the corners of his mouth and gave a piercing whistle.
“What’s that for?” demanded Andrew Faswig, in alarm.
“We want our crowd down here—–and some others,” said Whopper.
“Some others? Who?” asked Faswig, and now he was also alarmed.
“Some folks who will give us all the help we want,” said Snap, quick to understand the ruse his chum was playing.
“How many people are up here?” asked the rich lumber dealer, nervously.
“Oh, seven or eight,” answered Whopper, but did not add that he was counting in Felps’s own party.
Behind a thick mass of brushwood rested the Snapper, as the boys’ craft had been christened. The boat was very much as the lads had left it, but Snap was quick to detect that the painter, which had before had a frayed-out end, had been cut by some sharp instrument, probably a knife.