After a little more talk the journey was resumed, and nothing out of the ordinary came to their notice until late in the afternoon. Then Shep, who was in the bow looking forward, held up his hand for silence.
“What is it?” whispered Giant, who was next to him.
“Some small animals squatting on yonder rocks,” replied the doctor’s son. “I don’t know what they are.”
The young hunters stopped rowing and took up their shotguns with care. They allowed the boat to drift behind a screen of bushes on the side of the watercourse. Then they looked through the bushes with care.
“I know what they are—–muskrats,” whispered Giant.
“I see two of them,” added Shep. He raised his gun and Giant did the same. Bang! bang! went both pieces, one directly after the other. The muskrats gave a leap upward and fell with a splash into the stream.
“We hit them, that’s certain,” said the doctor’s son. “But they may get away.”
Eagerly the boys rowed up to the spot where the muskrats had sat. Around the rocks the clear water was churned up into mud. But on the surface floated the two bodies of the creatures.
“I don’t know what we are going to do with them,” said Snap. “The skins are not very good this time of year.”
“I couldn’t resist bringing one of ’em down,” said Shep.
“Just the way I felt,” added Giant.
They continued on their way, and a few minutes later came to something of a cleared spot along the watercourse. Here Snap leaped up, shotgun in hand.
“Here’s our chance, fellows!” he whispered. “All together.”
He pointed to some low trees beyond the clearing. The branches were thick with quail. All understood and took up their firearms.
“I’ll shoot high, Shep can shoot low, Giant to the left and Whopper to the right,” commanded the leader of the club. “All ready?”
“Yes,” was the low answer, and the four weapons went off almost as one piece. There was a great fluttering in the trees and five quail were seen to drop. Then two others flew around in a fashion that told plainly they were seriously wounded.
“Come on, we must get them!” cried Giant, and leaped forward. As the two wounded birds flew close together he blazed away a second time, and the game dropped like a stone. The rest of the quail were now out of sight.
“Seven quail!” cried Snap, enthusiastically. “I don’t call that half bad.”
“I call it very good,” declared the doctor’s son. “To-morrow we can have quail on toast.”
“Where are you going to get the toast?” questioned Whopper.
“Well, we’ll have quail on crackers then,” put in Giant.
Stowing the quail away in the bow of the boat, they went on through the gathering darkness. The sun had gone down over the hills in the west, casting long shadows across the little watercourse.