The patrol leader returned, in less than an hour, accompanied by Paul and a farm hand employed by Mr. Hunter. They brought with them not only four mattresses, but the shotguns and rifles shipped by the boys from the academy for their mid-winter hunting. Ernie announced that their trunks and valises also had arrived and that George, the farm hand, would return for them in the automobile.
The work progressed rapidly and by the time the trunks and valises arrived the mattresses were all in position, the food and cooking utensils were stored away in the narrowest compass of space that could be arranged for them and a large pile of resinous wood had been gathered.
It was now 4 o’clock and the boys felt that they were entitled to a rest. A large boulder with a flat end two and a half feet in diameter was rolled into the cave and propped into position, with slabs of stone for a table. On this was placed a large kerosene lamp, which, when burning, lighted up the cave very well. A supply of camp chairs had been brought with the first load, so that everybody had a seat.
“I call this something swell, from the point of view of a smart rustic who hasn’t absorbed any city nonsense,” observed Miles Berryman, seating himself comfortably in a chair and gazing about with great satisfaction. “I think, Ernie, that we must all agree that you are a very wide-awake opportunist.”
“Is that the kind of musician who plays an opportune at every opportunity?” inquired John St. John in a tone of gravity as deep as the cavern in which they were housed.
“Now, see here, Johnnie Two Times,” exclaimed Miles portentously: “you know what we came near doing to you six months ago for springing that kind of stuff.”
“We came near ducking him in the lake,” reminded Earl Hamilton.
“Yes,” continued Miles in the attitude of a stage threat, “and if we can’t find a lake around here we can find a deep snowdrift to throw him into.”
“I wonder if he catches the drift of that argument,” said Clifford Long, with a wink at Miles.
“He not only catches it, but he understands, and hence he does snow drift (does know drift) of what the menacing Miles means,” declared John, who had long answered to the nickname of “Johnnie Two Times,” because of the combination of baptismal and family names by which he was legally known.
A roar of pun-protesting groans filled the cavern, and as several of the boys arose in attitudes of vengeance, the punster made a dive for the exit and disappeared beyond the blanket portiere. None of the protestors followed. They did not feel like engaging in any vigorous sport following the strenuous exercises they had had.
Five minutes later “Johnnie Two Times” returned. One glance at his face was sufficient guarantee that he had lost all his punning facetiousness. He held in his hand a bit of paper which he laid on the stone table by the lamp.