“All I’ve got goes to you, Joe. Doctor, do you hear that?”
“It—it ain’t much, but it’s something. The blue box—I put it in the blue box—” Here the sufferer began to cough.
“The blue box?” came from Joe questioningly.
“Yes, Joe, all in the blue box—the papers and the money—And the blue box is—is—” Again the sufferer began to cough. “I—I want water!” he gasped.
The water was brought and he took a gulp. Then he tried to speak again, but the effort was in vain. The doctor and Joe raised him up.
“Uncle Hiram! Speak to me!” cried the boy.
But Hiram Bodley was past speaking. He had passed to the Great Beyond.
THE SEARCH FOR THE BLUE BOX.
Three days after his tragic death Hiram Bodley was buried. Although he was fairly well known in the lake region only a handful of people came to his funeral. Joe was the chief mourner, and it can honestly be said that he was much downcast when he followed the hermit to his last resting place.
After the funeral several asked Joe what he intended to do. He could not answer the question.
“Have you found that blue box?” questioned Doctor Gardner.
“No, sir, I have not thought of it.”
“Probably it contains money and papers of value, Joe.”
“I am going to look for it to-day,” said the boy. “I—I couldn’t look for it while—while—”
“I understand. Well, I trust you locate the box and that it contains all you hope for,” added the physician.
As luck would have it, Ned Talmadge’s family had just gone away on a trip to the West, so Mr. Talmadge could offer the boy no assistance. But Ned was on hand and did what he could.
“You don’t know what you’ll do next, do you, Joe?” asked Ned, as he and Joe returned to the wreck of the cabin.
“Well, if you haven’t any money I’ll do what I can for you.”
“Thank you, Ned; you are very kind.”
“It must be hard to be thrown out on the world in this fashion,” went on the rich boy, sympathetically.
“It is hard. After all, I thought a good deal of Uncle Hiram. He was strange in his ways, but he had a good heart.”
“Wasn’t he shot in the head once by accident in the woods?”
“Maybe that made him queer at times.”
“I’ve got six dollars and a half of my spending money saved up. You may have that if you wish,” continued Ned, generously.
“I’d rather not take it, Ned.”
“If I can, I want to be independent. Besides, I think there is money around somewhere,” and Joe mentioned the missing blue box.
“You must hunt for that blue box by all means!” cried the rich boy. “I’ll help you.”
After the death of Hiram Bodley, Joe and two of the lake guides had managed to repair one room of the broken-down cabin, and from this the funeral had taken place.