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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about The House Boat Boys.

Maurice turned resolutely around as he spoke.

“Where are you going?” demanded his chum, nervously.

“Ashore again to see.  If that is a man, I rather think Mr. Stalling would have said something to me about it; though now that I think of it he did hint that it wasn’t altogether safe for a stranger to go wandering off into the woods and swamps right now.  Perhaps it’s just as you say, and this is some black thief they caught.  But I hope you’re mistaken, Thad.”

“I do, too, because you see I want some sleep tonight.  But hold on.”

“What’s the matter now?” asked the other, as Thad caught his arm.

“I’m going with you, that’s all,” and accordingly he stepped ashore, carrying the gun along with him.

They approached the suspicious object with more or less display of valor; though doubtless the hearts of both lads beat like trip-hammers from the unwonted excitement.

The moon, which had been partly hidden by some fleecy, low-lying clouds, now took a sudden notion to sail into a clear patch of blue sky; and in consequence objects could be much more readily seen.

Both lads strained their eyes to discover how much truth there might be in the grim suspicions of Thad.

Not until they were close up to the strangely swaying object could they fully decide as to its character.

Then Thad gave a grunt, while Maurice laughed.

“That’s the way with most ghosts, Thad; when you get close up they just turn out to be something awfully common and you feel sick to think what you imagined,” remarked Maurice, as he put up his hand and took hold of the swinging object.

“Say, who’d imagine now that they’d hang up an old bundle of wraps off goods, like this?” said Thad, in disgust.

“But you can sleep all right now,” remarked his friend, not a little relieved himself to find that they were not up against one of those grim tragedies that have been so common through the country of the lower Mississippi.

“That’s right.  Let’s get back home.  I want to hear what you picked up about George,” declared Thad, a little confused.

And accordingly they once more went aboard the boat, seeking the comfortable interior of the cabin, where Maurice could spin his yarn, and a council of war be called to decide on many matters.

CHAPTER XVI.

The trouble that was met on the road.

The night seemed unusually long to Thad.

They had locked the door of the cabin, and by this time he had come to the positive conclusion that no human being could ever climb in through the little window, as long as that stout iron bar remained across its center.

Nevertheless, half a dozen times Thad awoke, and on each and every occasion he seemed to deem it a solemn duty to get out of his bunk, pass over to the window, which was, of course, open for ventilation, and observe the whole of the shore that could be seen.

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