[Illustration: “There is Moosehead lake.”]
He was not an ambitious hunter, and rarely pushed far into the solitudes of the wilderness in search of moose or other big game. A coon hunt was to him the climax of all fun. It was chiefly with a hope that his comrades might enjoy some novel entertainment of this kind that Cyrus made his first stoppage at Uncle Eb’s camp, purposing to sojourn there for a few days.
He was not disappointed.
The stupidly tired trio had slept for about two hours, while the reader has been receiving information second-hand about their past and future, when a scratching, scraping, boring noise on the outside of their bark roof temporarily disturbed their slumbers. Dol called out noisily, and, as was the way of that youngster on sundry occasions, talked some gibberish in his sleep. The scraping instantly ceased.
A renewed and blissful season of snoring. Another awakening. More music on the roof, evidently caused by the claws of some wild animal, while each of the campers was startled by a loud “Cluck!”
“Lie still, fellows! Don’t budge. Let’s see what the thing is,” breathed Cyrus in a peculiarly still whisper which he had learned from his moose-hunting guide of whom mention has been made.
Dead silence in the hut. Redoubled scraping and rattling above, with a scattering of bark chips.
Then light appeared through a jagged hole just over a string which was stretched across one corner of the cabin, and from which dangled sundry articles of camp bric-a-brac, mostly of a tinny nature, with Uncle Eb’s last morsel of “pork.
“By all that’s glorious! it’s a coon,” breathed Cyrus, but so softly that his companions did not hear.
As for the two Farrars, they were working up to such a heat of excitement that they felt as if life were now only beginning. They had heard of the thievish raids made by the black bear on unprotected camps, and of his special fondness for pork. Not knowing that there was no chance of an encounter with Bruin so near to civilization as this, they peered at that hole in the roof, expecting every moment to see a huge, black, snarling snout thrust through it.
It was a pointed gray muzzle which warily appeared instead—appeared and disappeared on the instant. For at this crisis Tiger’s shrill bugle-call resounded without, giving warning of an attack on the camp. The thing, whatever it was, scrambled from the roof, and with a strange, shrill cry of one note made towards the woods. The dog followed it, barking for all he was worth.
Now, too, Uncle Eb’s booming “Whoop-ee!” was heard.
The hardy old woodsman, after his visitors had gone to roost, instead of stretching himself as usual upon his pine mattress, had started off, accompanied by Tiger, to visit some traps which he had set in the forest, hoping to catch a marten or two. He took the precaution of closing the door of the hut when he saw that its inmates were soundly sleeping, thinking meanwhile, that, as day was dawning, there was little chance of any wild “critter” coming round the camp during his absence.