“Do so, and we’ll have your whole crowd arrested for stealing our outfit,” came from Giant.
“And for trying to burn down our cabin,” added Shep.
“I didn’t burn down your cabin,” said Ham, hastily.
“Well, somebody did.”
“It wasn’t me,” said Carl, and he looked at Ike Akley as he spoke. That boy shifted uneasily but said nothing.
While the talking was going on Jack Voss had quietly slipped off a portion of his clothing. Now he made a leap into the lake and swam rapidly for the raft.
“Get back there—–unless you want to get hurt!” cried Snap, who saw the movement. But Voss kept on swimming and soon gained the raft. Then he took hold of the rope that connected it with the canoe, untied the raft, and swam with the end of the rope back towards shore.
“That’s the way to do it!” sang out Ham. “Bring the rope in and we’ll pull them back!”
“Pull! pull!” shouted Snap, and he and his chums did their best to send the two rowboats and the canoe away from the shore. But the boy in the water had gained a good footing on the rocks and he held fast.
“Come in here and help me!” he panted, and Ham and Carl prepared to do so. All had a good hold of the rope when something unexpected happened.
Taking out his pocketknife Shep leaned over the rear of the canoe and severed the rope that had been dragging the raft. As the rope parted down went the boys holding on with a loud splash! All disappeared beneath the surface of the lake and each came up with his mouth full of water. In the meantime, relieved of the weight of the clumsy raft, the two rowboats and the canoe shot out into the lake a distance of a hundred feet or more. There our friends rested, wondering what the enemy would try to do next.
In the darkness the water seemed extra cold, and the lads who had received a ducking could not help but shiver as they crawled to the shore. They had gained possession of the raft, but they did not appear to be very happy over it.
“Are you coming back with our boat or not?” demanded Ham Spink, after an awkward pause, during which our friends remained silent.
“Why should we come back?” answered Snap. “You treated us very shabbily.”
“Well, didn’t you deserve it?” came from Carl Dudder. “You shot off our fireworks on the Fourth of July. We heard all about it.”
“Didn’t you try to steal our clothing when we were in swimming?” said Whopper.
“It was a mean piece of business to try to burn down our cabin and to run away with all we had,” said Giant. “Perhaps you wanted to starve us into going home.”
“It was only a bit of fun,” pleaded Ham Spink. “We—–er—–we were going to return your outfit to-morrow.”
“I don’t believe it,” said the doctor’s son promptly.
“Ain’t you going to give us back our boat and the canoe?” asked Ike Akley.