“There ought to be some fine pickerel in this lake,” said Snap, and he fixed his rod and line for that specimen of the finny tribe and Giant did the same. Shep and Whopper went in for whatever they could catch. The fishing was highly successful and the boys soon had all the fish they would want for several days.
“Might as well give It up,” said Snap, when a call from Whopper interrupted him.
“Somebody is coming down the lake,” was the announcement. “A very old man in a canoe.”
THE OLD HERMIT’S TALE
All of the young hunters watched the approach of the old man with interest. He was a very tall individual, with snow-white hair and a flowing beard. He was dressed in a suit of rusty black, and on his head he wore a wide-brimmed straw hat, with a big hole in the top. His canoe was of birch bark, light and strong, and he propelled it with a short, broad paddle.
“I’ll wager he is a character,” said Snap, as the man drew closer.
“Shall I hail him?” questioned Whopper, as it looked as if the occupant of the canoe was going to pass without speaking.
“Might as well,” was the answer, and the boys set up a shout. At first the old man paid no attention, but presently he turned his craft toward shore and came to a halt directly in front of the camp.
“How are you?” said Snap, cordially. A look told him the Stranger was at least seventy or eighty years old.
“Pretty well, for an old man,” was the answer. “Who are you?”
“We are four boys from Fairview. We came up here to go camping. Who are you?”
“Me? Don’t you know who I am? I am Peter Peterson.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the boys. They remembered having once heard Jed Sanborn speak of Peter Peterson as an old fellow who lived among the hills bordering Lake Cameron. Peterson was a hermit, and having been crossed in love when he was a young man, he hated the sight of a woman.
“My name is Charley Dodge,” said Snap. “My father owns a share in the Barnaby saw mill.” And then the leader of the club introduced his chums. In the meantime the old hermit allowed his canoe to drift to shore and he stepped out and sat down on a rock.
“I know your father,” he said to Snap, “and I know your folks,” and he nodded to Shep. “Your father gave me some medicine when I was sick. So you came up here to go camping?”
“You are pretty brave lads to do that.”
“Oh, we’ve been out camping before. We came out last summer and also last winter.”
“No, to Lake Cameron and Firefly Lake.”
“That’s different from Lake Narsac. Don’t you know this place is haunted?” And Peter Peterson looked at the boys very solemnly.
“We’ve heard something about that, but we aren’t afraid,” said Shep.