“Well, if this isn’t the limit!” groaned Shep.
“Boat gone, cooking utensils gone, supplies gone—–everything gone but our firearms! Who could have done it?”
“Maybe the Felps crowd,” suggested Whopper.
“Or Ham Spink’s gang,” added Giant. “Or the ghost.”
“I don’t believe the ghost had anything to do with this,” said Snap. “I think it was either the Felps or the Spink crowd. It looks just like some of their dirty work.”
“Well, this thing was done within the last three hours,” came from the doctor’s son. “The question is, what have they done with the boat and our stuff? Of course, we must get them back.”
“We ought to have somebody arrested for this,” put in Whopper.
“Perhaps, Whopper, but we’ve got to catch them first,” answered the leader of the club.
All looked eagerly up and down the lake, and across to the other shore. Shep imagined he saw a boat pulled up in the bushes on the other side, but was by no means sure.
“If we can’t get our things back we’ll have to go home,” said Giant, soberly.
“I am not going home!” cried Snap. “We’ve got our guns and some ammunition, and the deer.”
“I wonder if they touched the deer?” All rushed back to where the big deer had been left, hung up in a cool spot in the forest. Evidently the enemy had not seen this game, and it was untouched. Looking around near the water front they found a small box of salt, a spoon, and some scattered cartridges for the rifle. Evidently the marauders had left in haste and dropped the things on the way.
“I am glad we have the salt,” observed Snap. “Those thieves ought to have the salt down their throats,” muttered Whopper. “They are altogether too fresh!”
The young hunters walked around the camp for half an hour and more. They did not know what to do. They were hungry, but in no humor for eating. They wanted to get on the track of their stolen belongings, but did not know bow to strike out.
“Maybe some tramps came along and did this,” suggested Snap, dropping on the ground to rest. “Some of that class of fellows would think it fine sport to clean us out.”
“One thing is certain,” said Shep, “and that gives me an idea,” he added suddenly. “The boat must be somewhere on this lake, and it can’t leave excepting by the river that runs into Firefly Lake. Perhaps it would be a good idea for us to go down to the river and set a watch for the thieves.”
“It’s a long tramp,” answered Giant. “And don’t forget the snakes down there. If we-----”
Giant broke off short as a distant gunshot sounded out. It was followed presently by a second shot. Then all became as quiet as before.
“Those shots came from across the lake!” cried Snap.
“Yes, and right close to the spot where I thought I saw that boat,” added the doctor’s son.
Fellows, I believe there is a camp over there, and if we can manage to get across perhaps we’ll learn something about our belongings.”