How much time had elapsed Fred did not know when he was suddenly aroused and quickly sat erect. For a moment he was unable to determine just where he was but the sight of his sleeping companions soon recalled the events of the preceding day, and, satisfied, he was about to resume his place on his blanket when he was startled by the sight of two crouching figures approaching the camp. They came from behind the buttress of rock about thirty feet from the fire. Both figures were crouching low and moving slowly and with extreme caution.
Hastily Fred resumed his place on the blanket, having instantly decided not yet to awaken his comrades. He was eager to discover what the purpose of the men in visiting the camp was.
His heart was beating rapidly as he peered intently at the men. They had now drawn close to the camp and again had stopped to make certain that their approach had not been discovered.
Still moving silently they began to circle the place, moving in opposite directions. Several times each stopped to examine what he had discovered in the pockets of a coat he had found. Apparently, however, the search was not altogether satisfactory. After they had completely circled the camp, noiselessly as they had approached the two men withdrew.
It was evident that they had taken nothing of value and Fred indeed was almost ready to conclude that he had been dreaming or that his eyes had deceived him. The silence was still unbroken save by the occasional sigh of some heavy sleeper. The passing clouds were still reflecting the light of the moon and in the dim light Fred again thought he perceived the approach of the two crouching men.
In a moment, however, he was convinced that he was mistaken. Had he made the same mistake before? Had he thought he had seen, without actually seeing, two men creep into the camp? Almost convinced that he had been dreaming, Fred did not awaken any of his comrades, thereby escaping any ridicule that might be heaped upon him for disturbing their slumbers and in a few minutes was himself again soundly asleep.
A START AND A LOSS
When morning came Fred was still uncertain whether his experience of the preceding night had been a dream or a reality. As he glanced at the enthusiastic countenances of his friends he was almost convinced that what he had seen had been the shadowy figures of a dream. Besides he was fearful of the bantering which the Go Ahead Boys might bestow upon him if it was discovered that there was no basis for his statement.
However, as Fred deemed the matter too important to be entirely ignored, he said while the boys were seated about the improvised table, “Were any of you fellows up last night?”
“Not guilty,” laughed George. “I was asleep almost before I had stretched out.”
The other two boys also declared that their slumbers had not been disturbed and that neither had wandered about the camp.