“Suppose I go ahead and take a look?” asked Shep, and the others nodded. A moment later the doctor’s son disappeared among the bushes lining the lake shore.
When he came back he said the deer were moving up the lake front and as a consequence all hands followed with all possible speed. They kept up the chase for nearly an hour and once saw the game, but the deer were too far away to take a shot. Then the game started to run, and speedily disappeared.
“That’s the time we got left,” grumbled Shep. “Too bad!”
“It can’t be helped,” answered Snap. “We can’t expect to bring down something every time we go out. If we did that there would be no fun in hunting.”
Then the young hunters started back for camp, never dreaming of the disagreeable surprise which awaited them.
IN WHICH THE ENEMY APPEARS AGAIN
On the way back to camp Shep brought down a squirrel and Whopper knocked over a rabbit, so the quest after game was not altogether fruitless.
The boys had covered a good stretch of ground, and they were pretty well tired out when they came within sight of the cabin.
“Oh, fellows, look!” screamed Giant suddenly. “The cabin is on fire!”
He pointed ahead, and a glance showed his chums that he spoke the truth. All broke into a run, and they reached the shelter almost in the time it takes to tell it. Smoke was coming out of the door and windows, but as yet the fire had gained little headway. It was confined to some brushwood which had been thrust inside, against one of the log walls.
“Some enemy has done this!” cried Snap, angrily. “Look out, I am going to drag this fire outside.”
With his bare hands Snap caught at one end of burning brush and hauled it through the open doorway. As soon as he had done this the doctor’s son leaped into the cabin and kicked out the rest of the fire. He could stay but a minute, for the smoke almost strangled him. Then Whopper and Giant went in and made certain the fire was out. Soon the smoke commenced to clear away; and the momentary excitement was over.
“Now, what does this mean?” demanded Snap, and his voice was full of anger.
“It means that we have been cleaned out,” answered the doctor’s son, after a hasty glance around. “Look!”
He pointed to a shelf in a corner on which they, had placed some of their stores, and then to the fireplace, and to the log that had contained their cups, plates and cooking utensils. Everything was gone.
“Robbed!” said Whopper, laconically. “What a shame!
“And they were going to burn down the cabin on us, too,” added Giant, bitterly. “I wonder if they touched the boat?”
At this question all ran outside and down to where the Snapper had been tied to an overhanging tree. The rowboat had disappeared.