A MYSTERIOUS CONVERSATION.
The old hunting lodge where the two boys had sought shelter was a rambling affair, consisting of a square building built of logs, and half a dozen wings, running to the rear and to one side. There were also two piazzas, and a shed, where wood had been kept for winter use.
“In another year or two this old lodge will fall down,” remarked Ned, as he gazed around him.
“It must have been a nice place in its day,” returned Joe. “What a pity to let it run down in this fashion.”
“The rain is coming around on this side now, Joe; let us shift to the other.”
The hermit’s boy was willing, and watching their chance, between the downpours, they ran around to another portion of the old lodge.
“It certainly is a little better here,” observed Joe, as he dashed the water from his cap.
A minute later the rumbling of the thunder ceased for the time being, and they heard a murmur of voices coming from one of the rooms of the lodge.
“Why, somebody must be here!” ejaculated Ned. “Who can it be?”
“Two men, by their voices,” answered the hermit’s boy. “Wait till I take a look at them?”
“Why not go in?” questioned the rich youth, carelessly.
“They may not be persons that we would care to meet, Ned. You know there are some undesirable characters about the lake.”
Not far off was a narrow window, the panes of glass of which had long since been broken out. Moving toward this, Joe peered into the apartment beyond.
Close to an old fireplace, in which a few sticks of half-green timber were burning, sat two men. Both were well dressed, and Joe rightfully surmised that they were from the city. Each wore a hunting outfit and had a gun, but neither had any game.
“We came on a wild-goose chase,” grumbled one, as he stirred the fire. “Got nothing but a soaking for our pains.”
“Never mind, Malone,” returned the other, who was evidently the better educated of the two. “As we had to make ourselves scarce in the city this was as good a place to come to as any.”
“Don’t you think they’ll look for us here?”
“Why should they? We were sharp enough not to leave any trail behind—at least, I was.”
“Reckon I was just as sharp, Caven.”
“You had to be—otherwise you would have been nabbed.” Gaff Caven chuckled to himself. “We outwitted them nicely, I must say. We deserve credit.”
“I’ve spent more than half of what I got out of the deal,” went on Pat Malone, for such was the full name of one of the speakers.
“I’ve spent more than that. But never mind, my boy, fortune will favor us again in the near future.”
A crash of thunder drowned out the conversation following, and Joe hurried back to where he had left Ned.