Thad looked after him, and scratched his head. Then he did a most extraordinary thing, which was nothing more or less than reaching down and taking the packet from the hole in the wall, stripping the cover from the book, and wrapping up a piece of wood in its place.
Then he thrust the deception in the hole, and after a look about him hid the diary, with its precious contents, inside the coffeepot, which he had emptied of its contents, and cleaned.
Perhaps he was playing a practical joke on his chum; but his face was too sober to indicate this.
The probability was that Thad felt uneasy, and as both of them were apt to be away from the craft at the same time, in the process of wood gathering, he intended to make things as secure as possible during his absence.
Which was conclusive evidence that at least he had not changed his mind concerning the fact of a human face having been pressed against that little window on the previous night.
When Thad came out he found that his comrade had gone ashore, taking the ax with him.
Indeed, the sound of lusty blows told that he was already hard at work, securing a supply of the necessary fuel.
Thad shut the door of the cabin.
He would have locked it, no doubt, only that it happened Maurice had the key in his pocket just then.
So Thad shrugged his shoulders, and dragging the little ferry-boat over the twenty feet of water he pulled himself ashore.
It was easy to locate the chopper by the sounds that arose; and so he soon joined his mate, ready to spell him in the labor entailed by the necessity for fuel.
The wood burned so quickly, with a strong draught always causing the stove to roar, that large quantities of fuel were absolutely necessary.
Both boys handled an ax first-rate, and indeed, Thad could equal many an experienced woodsman in the accuracy of his strokes; while Maurice was not far behind him.
When the chance came, and Maurice stopped for a breathing spell, the second relay came into action; and once more the chips flew as the fallen oak branches were cut into stove lengths.
By the time it came Thad’s turn again to rest he wandered off, much to the amusement of Maurice, who knew whither his thoughts must be roving.
Just as he swung the ax above his head for a downward stroke he received an electric shock.
Thad was calling his name, calling in an excited tone, too, as if there was dire need of the other’s presence.
“Bring the gun! bring the gun!”
That seemed to be the tenor of the shouts; and as he dropped his tool Maurice swooped up the Marlin, which was standing against an adjoining tree, and jumped for the river bank.
He knew that whatever had happened Thad wanted him at the water’s edge; and it was in that direction he hastened as fast as his legs could carry him.