“Wake up, everybody!”
Bang! bang! bang! went the big spoon on the frying
pan Frank held.
As the others came crawling out of the tents they
sniffed the air.
“Say, that bacon smells prime!” declared
Will, smacking his lips.
“Hope you didn’t forget
about that mess of hominy I spoke about last night,
Toby. Hominy’s my great stand-by for breakfast.
All right, I see it on the fire. Give me just
five minutes. If it wasn’t for that gun-
“Talk about your Ambrosia, that
Java sure has it knocked clean out,” broke in
Jerry. “Me for a quick-dressing act and
Uncle Toby grinned, for he knew what
appetites boys are apt to develop when in the woods,
and, of course, he had made allowances.
They were soon gathered around the table and busy.
“What’s the programme
for to-day?” asked Frank, when the edge of their
appetites had been taken away.
“First thing of all I want some
snapshots of the camp in the morning sun. You
can see that’s the best time to get a good view.
Now, just sit still, fellows, and let me do my little
trick,” said Will.
They assumed grotesque positions,
but the photographer refused to stand for that.
“What d’ye think I want,
a collection of freaks broken loose from the lunatic
asylum? Here, you, Will, be dishing out some more
bacon on to your plate; Frank, take up the coffee-pot
and be helping Bluff. Uncle Toby, just look pleasant.”
“Pretend you found my gun, and
I was giving you half a dollar, Uncle Toby,”
remarked Bluff, quickly.
“Always thinking of that cheap,
clap-trap affair,” growled Jerry. “Goodness
knows if we’ll hear anything else from him all
the time we’re in camp. I declare I’ve
half a notion-
“To do what?” asked Frank, looking at
Jerry only smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
“Now, hold your positions, fellows.
Frank, lean a little forward, so your face stands
out better; there, that’s right. Toby, raise
your head and point up as if you saw a bird in that
tree. That’s good, all right; it’s
over. Thank you!”
Will kept his position for a little
while, and every few minutes seemed to find a chance
to snap off another view. He evidently believed
in getting a variety of the main subject of their
outing-the home camp.
“I move we try and find old
Jesse Wilcox this morning,” suggested Frank.
“That suits me, if we don’t
have to go too far,” agreed Jerry.
“How’s the shin, by the
way, this morning? Haven’t noticed you
“Feels pretty fair. Next
time I chase out of camp I’m going to make sure
to clear that old box, all right. How about the
rest-do you say go?” asked Jerry.
“Count me in,” called Will.
“Yes, you will want to get some
views of the old trapper and his cabin, with the door
covered with muskrat skins,” remarked Frank.
“Coming along, Bluff?”
asked Jerry, watching the other covertly.
“I guess not to-day. I’m
going to hunt around again to see if I could have
unconsciously grabbed up that gun as I bolted, and
then dropped it in the brush. Such a thing might
happen, you know, fellows,” returned the other.
So he remained behind when the other
three sallied forth, Frank and Jerry carrying their
guns over their shoulders, while Will brought up the
rear bearing his camera ready for use and on the lookout
“If you see any game please
give me a chance to snap a view before you shoot,”
he pleaded; at which the others laughed.
“Perhaps, but we can’t
promise. If a partridge got up suddenly it would
be a case of shoot first, and think afterwards,”
“But if it should be a deer standing feeding?”
“Or a black bear on his hind legs begging?”
“All right. I’m going
to be ready for all that comes along. Still life,
if I have to, or anything else.”
Will’s last words were drowned
in the report of Jerry’s gun. He had swung
it around like a flash, and without apparently glancing
along the barrels, fired one charge at something that
was flashing through the undergrowth.
There came a second shot, so close
upon the heels of the first that the reports were
almost blended in one.
Jerry turned and looked reproachfully at Frank.
“Talk about your sporting blood,
you sure wiped my eye that time,” he said.
“The bird was a little too close
for your shot to scatter; I had a better chance as
it flew away farther. You’d have dropped
him with your second barrel, I reckon, old fellow,”
cried Frank, hurrying forward to pick up the partridge.
“Yes, I’ve no doubt I
would; but that’s the first time I ever had any
one step in and beat me clean. I’ll have
to watch out for you after this, you sly ’possum.
But then you’ve shot lots of these birds up in
Maine, I suppose?”
“Plenty of them; but up there
they light in trees, and the natives don’t hesitate
to drop them while they sit.”
“That’s little short of murder,”
After an hour’s walk they reached the camp of
“There it is, boys,” said Frank, pointing
“And he’s home, too; something
I hardly expected at this time of day,” from
Jerry. “Because if he has a line of traps
the morning is the time he tends them, I’m told.”
As they approached, the man in the
camp turned and saw them. He was a tall and angular
fellow, well on in years, and with keen eyes that seemed
always looking for signs around him.
“Say, boys, this here is right
nice o’ you, comin’ to look me up.
Out on a leetle hunt to-day?” he asked, as he
shook hands all around.
“We’ve come up to camp
out for a couple of weeks, while repairs are made
to the school building, damaged in the gale of wind,”
“Sho, ye don’t say?
Well, now, that’s fine! I’ll be right
glad to see sumpin’ o’ ye while around.
Whar’s the camp, Jerry?”
“At the spring under the twin
hemlocks. We wanted to run over and see how you
were getting on. Started to put out your traps
yet, Jesse?” asked the other.
“Oh! I got a few in line.
Season’s a bit early yet, ye see. Bringing
in some musquash,” and he swept his hand around
at a dozen wooden frames upon which the skins were
drying in the shade.
“Please let me get a picture
of you at work, just as you were when we came up,”
said the ambitious photographer, keen on the subject
that interested him most.
The trapper grinned good-naturedly.
“Fire away, then. So long
as I don’t give away any o’ my secret ways
o’ preparin’ the pelts, I don’t
keer. I’m some proud o’ that shack,
too. Sheds the rain, an’ kin be kept warm
easy; what more do a feller want?” he observed.
The operation was speedily completed.
“Hope you feel better now you’ve
got that out of your system,” said Jerry.
“I have five more exposures
on this roll of film, boys. Hope to get something
worth while before we start back to camp,” retorted
Will, caressing his new camera.
“Where do you get the muskrats,
Jesse?” asked Frank, as he bent down to examine
the way in which each skin was carefully stretched
out on its little frame.
“Along the edge o’ the
swamp half a mile off. They’s jest rafts
o’ ’em thar. As a rule the pelts
bring about fifteen cents each, but jest now thar’s
quite a boom on, an’ I reckon I’ll git
“That’s fine. What
else do you catch here in season?” asked Jerry.
“Wall, a few mink, not many,
once in a long while an otter, fur which I git twenty
dollars. Then I caught three bobcats last winter,
seven foxes, eleven ’coon, half a dozen ‘possums,
an’ two black b’ars, though one o’
them I shot arter we had a right lively argyment.”
“Whew! then there are
bears around here?” asked Will, eagerly; “what
wouldn’t I give to get a picture of one in its
The old man laughed.
“Kinder risky business a shootin’
that thing at a b’ar, ’specially
a she-b’ar as has young uns nigh.
Like as not she’d rush ye. Now, I got a
skin here with the head on it, an’ if it comes
to the wüst we might rig that up, natural like,
so ye cud git a picter o’ a wild an’ ferocious
beast coming at ye on his hind legs.”
“Oh! I hope I won’t
have to descend to a fake like that. But we’ve
come to put in the day with you, Jesse. Show
us how you set your traps, won’t you?”
“Sartin I will. Was jest
startin’ out for a turn when ye showed up; so
s’pose ye drop in line. It won’t take
more’n an hour or two, boys.”
They were delighted at the chance,
Will lugging his camera along, though the old trapper
cast a dubious eye on the affair, as if he did not
wholly like the idea of visiting his traps with such
a “contraption,” something unheard of
in his experience.
“Now, don’t even whisper,
fellers. Here’s the swamp and my traps begins
clost by. I’ll show ye all about it by signs.
Dumb trappers is most successful, they sez,”
remarked Jesse, holding up his hand.
The three boys followed close at his
heels, each picking his way, and walking on his tiptoes,
as though that would make any difference.
So they entered the edge of the swamp.
Suddenly the man came to a halt and stooping, pointed
“Looky yonder,” he whispered
hoarsely, “that’s somebody stealing out
o’ my traps!”