The wildest excitement ensued.
Jerry met with a mishap right in the
beginning of the hunt, falling over the long box in
which much of their camp material had been carried.
It happened to lie just back of the
tent, empty save for a few fag-ends of canvas brought
along in case of need, and with the cover in place.
“Talk about your obstacle races!”
he shouted, as he scrambled up, and went limping after
the others; “this has ’em beaten to a frazzle.”
The hunt for the offender was without
result. He had evidently made haste to scuttle
off, after heaving the stones at the camp.
Frank and Will, after searching for
some little time, started to return to the camp, and
on the way overtook Bluff.
“Where’s Jerry?” asked Frank, as
they joined forces.
“Don’t know,” came
the answer, as Bluff pushed on eagerly ahead; “last
I saw of him he was taking a header over that long
coffin-box back of the tents.”
“I hope he didn’t hurt
himself badly, that’s all. What’s
your hurry, Bluff?” continued Frank, noticing
that the other seemed particularly anxious to get
“Why, I left my gun standing
against a tree,” replied Bluff.
“Well, we all did about the
same thing. I forgot I had a gun, in fact, being
so anxious to get my hands on that chump who bombarded
our camp. I guess you’ll find the gun safe.
Uncle Toby stayed in camp,” said Frank, nudging
“He did not. I saw him
scooting off like a scared dog. Like as not that
coon is hiding somewhere under the bushes at this very
minute,” declared Bluff.
At which both the others laughed.
Presently the cheery blaze was seen through the trees.
Some one was there, for they could
see him bending over as though busily engaged.
“It’s Jerry, all right,” said Bluff,
over his shoulder.
“But what in the wide world
is he doing? I believe he’s been hurt, boys,”
declared Frank, with a touch of anxiety in his voice,
for Jerry and he had been very thick of late.
“Binding a bandage around his
shin, as sure as you live! Hello! What happened
to you, old fellow? Did one of those rocks hit
home, or was it the box you tried to capture that
jumped up and kicked you?” asked Will.
Bluff was in the meantime rushing
wildly about the camp as though looking for something.
“I tumbled over that plagued
box, that’s all; and after limping around for
a spell thought I’d better come back and put
some witch-hazel on the bruise,” explained the
other, turning down his trousers’ leg, and scrambling
to his feet to ascertain how well he could walk.
“It will be some stiff in the
morning, I reckon. Talk about your bears, I thought
one had me nailed when I fell over that thing ‘ker
chunk,’” he continued, as he rubbed his
shin and screwed his face up as if to conceal his
“I told you so-it’s
gone!” shouted Bluff, at this juncture.
“What’s gone?” echoed Will.
“My gun! Something seemed
to tell me it was a silly thing for me to run off
in that way and leave it. And now they’ve
stolen it!” wailed Bluff.
“What! Do you really mean
to say you can’t find it?” questioned Frank.
“Help me look, fellows.
Oh! my heart will be broken if it’s true.
I was just dreaming of what great things I meant to
do with that splendid repeating shotgun. Please
search around the camp!” pleaded Bluff.
Of course they immediately started
a thorough hunt for the strangely missing weapon,
even the limping Jerry seeming as deeply interested
in the search as any one of his comrades.
High and low they looked, turning
over all the blankets in the tents, but not a sign
of the wonderful “pump-gun” could they
The other guns were just where they
had been left, and so far as they could see not another
thing had been stolen.
“I declare, this is mighty queer,”
remarked Frank, when they were ready to give over
“Strangest thing I ever heard of,” declared
“Talk about your airships, I
think the blooming old thing must have taken wings
and sailed away,” grunted Jerry, still rubbing
his wounded shin sympathetically.
“But why should they pick out
Bluff’s gun of the lot?” demanded Frank.
“That’s easy enough to
answer. They knew a good thing when they saw it,
I bet that crowd noticed what a bully gun I carried,
when we passed them on the road, and they’ve
been hanging around ever since,” avowed Bluff,
“Then the rocks-” began Will
“Were fired at us only to tempt
a rush. It was all a plot, fellows, to coax us
away for a short time. And the worst of it is
the game worked only too well. I’ll never
get over that loss, never! I feel sick!”
went on Bluff.
He kept shaking his head as if working
himself up into a desperate frame of mind. Evidently
it would have gone hard with any one of Andy Lasher’s
crowd if the offended boy could have laid hands on
him just then.
“I wonder if Uncle Toby could
give us any information on this subject?” suggested
“Oh! call him in and see.
Perhaps he even grabbed it up in his fright.
Shout to him, Frank, please,” exclaimed Bluff,
“Hello! Uncle Toby!
Show up here; the coast is clear, and all danger past!”
Placing his hands about his mouth,
after the fashion of a megaphone, Frank shouted these
words several times.
“There he comes!” cried
Will, pointing to a moving object.
“Has he got anything in his
hands?” gasped Bluff, anxiously.
“Not that I can see,” replied the other.
Bluff groaned and wrung his hands disconsolately.
“It’s gone, boys!
I’ll never set eyes on that beauty again.
Might as well give up and go back to town,”
he said, gloomily, as if brokenhearted.
“Oh! shucks! Don’t
give up so easy, Bluff. Who knows but that we
may find a chance to recover the gun again, sooner
or later. Live in hopes.”
“It’s easy for you to
say that, Frank, when your gun is all safe and sound.
Why, what can I do now without anything to shoot game
“Well, I wouldn’t worry
about that. This is Kamp Kill Kare, you know.
Trust us to find plenty for you to do. There’ll
be fish and game to clean, and dishes to wash while
Toby is busy at something else. Oh! you can be
useful all right, I give you my word, Bluff,”
said Frank, gaily.
The aggrieved boy gave him one indignant
look. He did not seem in a humor to trust himself
Meanwhile the aged darkey had entered the camp.
“Have you seen my repeating-gun,
Toby?” demanded Bluff, striding up to him.
“‘Deed an’ I hasn’t
seen any gun since I jumped into de bush to find dem
young raskils wot trowed dat stone at me. I war
just a-wishin’ I had a gun along. Wouldn’t
I jest a peppered dem scalawags as dey run past
me?” replied the old fellow.
“Say, did you see them then?” demanded
“I shore did, Marse Frank.”
“How many were there?” came the quick
“I war jest a-countin’
ob dem jailbirds, an’ had ’rived
at ’leven w’en a ’streperous root
she keeled me ober. W’en I gits up
agin dey had gone. Den I heard Marse Frank a-callin’
me to come back,” went on Toby, glibly.
The boys looked at each other and
smiled. They knew that without doubt he had been
cowering close to the ground in mortal fear the whole
time, for Uncle Toby had little reputation for bravery.
“Did you see any of them have
a gun?” asked Bluff, faintly.
“I done t’ink de whole
bunch hab guns; least-way dat was my ’pression
at de time dat creeper done trip me up. It’s
lucky my haid is ’customed to hard knocks, or
it split open for sure.”
“That settles it; my new gun
is gone. Oh! it makes me so mad just to think
one of that crowd may be handling it,” cried
Bluff, shaking his fist.
“I just fancy I can hear the
squirrels laughing, and the little chippies singing
for joy,” declared Jerry. “Now they’ll
have a chance to live. What’s hard on you,
Bluff, is just happiness to them.”
“You always did envy me the
possession of that gun, and I know it, in spite of
your sneers. You just thought I’d beat you
out in making a record. Wait! I’m
going to get that cracker-jack gun back again, some
fine day,” remarked Bluff, grimly.
And Frank, seeing that look of determination
on his face, knew he meant it.