“Run for all you’re worth, Will!” he said, as he clutched the sleeve of the other almost fiercely, for they had little chance of eluding those hungry flames now.
Together they rushed along, Frank’s eyes doing double duty, for Will seemed by this time half blind, and the one free hand was constantly rubbing his smarting orbs.
“A little further, and we’re safe!” he kept calling in the ear of his nearly exhausted chum.
The heat was beginning to be terrific now. Blazing branches flew through the air, and set trees on fire all around them.
“It’s like the fiery furnace!” Will said three times running, and Frank really began to fear his companion’s mind was getting unsettled from the fright of their desperate condition.
Oh! if the river would only show up ahead! No doubt the others had, ere now, gained the glorious haven, and were settled up to their necks in the water, ready to defy the power of the opposing element. But it was an open question whether the halting pair could ever make the shelter of the friendly stream.
“Let me go, Frank! You can make it alone!” pleaded Will.
“Shut up! Keep on running! I tell you we’re going to get there, and don’t you think for a minute we ain’t!” replied Frank furiously, as he pulled Will along.
THE WAR OF THE ELEMENTS
“This way, Frank! Turn a little to the left!”
“That’s Jerry shouting! Do you hear him, Will? Keep up your heart! We’re going to cheat the old fire yet!” cried Frank.
His companion seemed to pluck a little new spirit from the encouraging shout, and his lagging feet began to show more animation. In this way they hurried out of the already burning forest, and found themselves on the brink of the swift current of the valley stream.
“Jump in! The water’s fine!” shouted Jerry, who, with Bluff, had submerged himself up to his shoulders.
“But my camera! I can’t ruin it in the water!” shouted the obstinate Will, as he looked eagerly around for some place to conceal the object which he held in so much reverence.
“Under those rocks! We chucked our guns there!” called Bluff, pointing out the spot, in his eagerness to help matters along.
Will hastened to thrust the beloved camera into the cavity that lay beneath the rocks, and Frank, nothing loth, also pushed his rifle into the same place. Then it was ludicrous to see how quickly they made a plunge into the river.
Their immersion did not come a minute too soon. Frank knew that Will’s garments were on fire in several places, and did not doubt but that his own must be in the same condition, for the sparks were raining all around them.
“This is all right,” said the irrepressible Jerry, jumping up and down as he tried to hold out against the strong current.
“All I know is that we are in luck to have this blessed old river handy,” said Frank, with more or less feeling in his voice, as he watched the fire flash from tree to tree in pursuing its course.