TED FINDS SOMETHING
“Sure it wasn’t an owl?” asked Paul, when a full minute had passed away, without their hearing a repetition of the sound that had reached the ears of his comrade.
“Didn’t sound like it. I kind of thought it was somebody calling for help!” said Bobolink, quivering with the suspense caused by the situation.
They stood in a group, listening eagerly. The night wind stirred the tops of the tall forest trees softly, and even this gentle sound boomed on their strained nerves like the strokes of a bass drum.
“Oh! there! Didn’t you hear it that time?” whispered Bobolink.
“I guess we did,” replied Paul; “and you’re right in saying it is somebody shouting. But all the same I don’t feel sure it was a call for help. Let’s remember, fellows, that Ted and his crowd must be somewhere about up here. And you know from past experiences what dodges he’s up to when he wants to play a trick on anybody.”
“Do you mean he’d like to draw us off by shouting that way, while some of his fellows went along to the farmhouse, and got the lost boy?” asked William.
“That would be just like Ted. He’s as full of tricks as an egg is of meat,” Jack took it upon himself to say at this juncture.
“Well, what are we going to do about it, boys?” asked Wallace.
“I leave it to Paul; whatever he says ought to be good enough for me,” replied Wallace.
“And me,” came from the others without hesitation.
“Thanks, fellows. I hope that my plan will prove the best after all. But don’t blame me if I should make a mistake. Let’s head for the road, which I take it ought to be somewhere over yonder,” remarked Paul, pointing through the darkness.
“The road, eh? I see, you mean that once we get on that we’ll have it easy all the way to the pond. That suits me all right. Count William in.”
“Yes, seeing that our lanterns are out, and not a match in the crowd, I guess the sooner we get our feet planted on the highway, the better for our noses. I’ve barked mine already against a tree, and another dose will spoil my classic beauty,” grunted Bobolink, rubbing tenderly at the spot in question.
“Then come along, the rest of you,” said Paul, starting off.
“Seems to me it’s getting lighter,” announced Wallace, presently.
“Mebbe our eyes are used to it, that’s what,” Bobolink remarked.
“Mine are closing up right fast, I warn you, fellers,” said William; “and before long it’s going to be a case of the blind leading the blind. That branch took me across the face. Hey! ain’t that the same old shout?”
“Sounds like it; but much nearer,” returned Paul, with a vein of uncertainty in his voice, as if he might be commencing to doubt whether they were doing the right thing in paying no attention to the calls.
“Oh! I guess I know what it means,” remarked Jack; “I’ve been trying to make it out all along. That’s sure a different voice. Some of Ted’s crowd have got separated, and they’re just trying to get together again. You’ve heard quail calling, after being flushed and scattered. How, Paul?”