“If we try to get down to our camp now we’ll be soaked,” said Snap, as they gathered under the semi-protection of a large hemlock tree. “The underbrush is loaded with water, and if there is anything I hate it is to have a wet bough slash me in the face or breast.”
“And we don’t want to go back without that bear,” put in Shep.
“No, indeed!” cried Giant. “It cost us too much trouble to get a shot at him.”
“Wonder what became of the other bear?” mused Whopper.
“Oh, he ran away,” said Shep. “More than likely we’ll never see him again.”
“If we could find a place that was half dry, I’d be in favor of staying on the mountain all night,” went on the leader of the club. “We could build a fire and broil those quail Giant shot. We’d have a bird apiece, and that would make a good supper, with what is left of the lunch.”
“The thing of it is, to find the place,” put in Giant.
“Let us hunt around a little.”
They moved around with caution, for they wanted to keep as dry as possible. At last they reached a low, overhanging cliff, well sheltered from the rain. Here were some dry brushwood and a number of cedar trees, and they speedily built a roaring fire and began to broil the birds Giant had brought down.
It was not a particularly inviting spot, but it was better than being out in the open, and they made the best of the situation. They dried their wet coats and took their time eating supper, and none of them thought of retiring until nearly nine o’clock. By that time the storm had cleared away completely and the stars were showing themselves in the blue vault of heaven.
Fearful that some wild beasts might be around, the young hunters resolved to take turns at standing guard. The campfire was kept burning, for nobody wished to remain in such a locality in utter darkness.
Whopper remained on guard first, and about midnight he was relieved by Snap. The leader of the club had just put some fresh wood on the fire when he heard a strange sound some distance from the shelter. Then came a mocking laugh.
“Ha! ha! He is dead! I am dead! Who will bury me?” came to his ears.
“The ghostly voice!” he muttered to himself. He gave a sudden shiver and then steadied himself. “I am going to find out what it means, or know the reason why!” And he gripped his gun tightly.
“Did you speak, Snap?” questioned Whopper, who was just turning in on the pile of dry leaves the leader of the club had vacated.
“Yes—–no—–I don’t know. I just heard something,” was the unsatisfactory reply.
“What did you hear?” And now Whopper sat up.
“I heard that ghostlike voice. It was—–There it goes again!”
Both boys listened and heard a hideous laugh. Then came the words, repeated many times:
“I am dead! He is dead! Who will bury me? See the lights! I am dead. Beware of the mountain! He is dead! The mountain will kill you! See the lights! Who will bury me? Ha ha!” And then the strange voice died away in the distance.