“What’s that?” exclaimed Jerry,
startled by the cry.
It came again.
“Help! Oh! help, somebody!”
The boy was now convinced that he
had not heard the hoot of an owl, and that some one
was certainly in need of succor.
He remembered the crash of the trees
that had gone down in the tempest. Could it be
possible that the unfortunate one had been caught under
one of these falling forest monarchs, and pinned to
If so, no wonder that he cried at
the top of his voice for assistance. Unable to
escape he must starve to death, or become the prey
of wild beasts unless help came.
Jerry immediately crawled out of his
hole. He no longer remembered the fact that a
bear had recently been sniffing at the entrance to
the hollow tree. All he had in mind was that
he might be of assistance to a fellow human being
It was pitch dark in the woods, though
now and then a flash of distant lightning came to
momentarily relieve the gloom.
Jerry started in the direction he
believed the sounds came from. Now and then he
paused to listen, and in this way managed to keep going
“Hello! where are you?”
he cried, finally, as a dreadful silence fell upon
the forest ahead, a silence that made him very anxious
Immediately a voice called out wildly:
“Oh, here I am, under this fallen
tree! Please come and help me! I can’t
hardly move, and I think my arm is broken. Don’t
leave me to die!”
“It’s all right.
Don’t worry, for I’m not going to run away.
Speak again so I can get to you. It’s awful
dark under here.”
The other took him at his word, and
commenced to rattle on, saying all manner of things,
simply to direct his rescuer to the spot.
“It’s Andy Lasher, as
sure as I live,” said Jerry to himself, as he
recognized the other’s voice, despite the agony
So making his way forward he finally
came to the tree under which the other was pinioned
by some of the branches.
“I can’t see you, it’s
so dark here. Wait!” he said aloud.
“Oh! please don’t leave
me now; I’ll go out of my mind, sure!”
“I don’t mean to; but
I must have some light. Now, I happen to have
the stub of a candle in my pocket, and the wind has
died out, so I think it will burn if I stick it down
low. I’ll get you out somehow, Andy,”
said Jerry, cheerily.
He struck a match.
“Why, is it you, Jerry?”
“Sure thing. See there,
that burns all right, I guess. Now, I’ll
put it here in the shelter of this stump, while I
look into things.”
“You won’t leave me here,
Jerry? You ain’t that kind of a feller,
Andy was evidently alarmed. He
could not but remember that there had been bad blood
between this lad and himself for a long time.
Indeed, some recent events that were not at all to
his credit, must have cropped up to make him anxious.
“Not much. Say, you just
had the escape of your life, I tell you. This
heavy limb almost hit you in falling. If it had,
then it would have been one, two three for you.
You seem to be held down mostly by small branches,”
observed Jerry, after he had made a critical examination.
“Do you think you can get me
out, Jerry?” asked the other, very humbly.
“Easy. Just you wait, and
when I tell you what to do, go ahead.”
With that he started operations.
By breaking off the smaller branches one at a time,
he gradually weakened the network that was binding
the prisoner. Every obstacle, however small,
that was removed, made things easier. And finally
Jerry gave a pull at the imprisoned boy.
Andy let out a howl of pain, but all
the same he came free.
“I’m going to look at
that now, right away. If it is broken the sooner
you get back to Centerville and see a doctor the better;
but, somehow, I’ve got a notion it’s only
badly bruised. Here, bend it back, so I can slip
it out of the sleeve.”
With much misgiving and many exclamations
of agony, Andy did as he was told. The other
then examined it from one end to the other.
“Talk to me about luck, you’ve
got cause to be mighty thankful, Andy. There
are a lot of bruises here, but no bones broken,”
“Sure you ain’t mistaken,
Jerry-’cause it’s awful sore?”
groaned the other, and yet there was a trace of gratitude
in his voice.
“Make up your mind it’s
so. Now, the question is what are we going to
do the rest of the night? I was in a hollow tree,
but there isn’t room for two. Might manage
to make a fire somehow, and stand it out. Think
you can walk now, Andy?”
Jerry unconsciously thrust a supporting
arm around the waist of the other, and steadied his
steps as they moved slowly off. In so doing he
was heaping coals of fire upon the head of his adversary.
Andy grunted now and then as some jolt gave him new
pain; but on the whole he was very quiet. Perhaps
his mind was busy and his conscience working overtime.
So they reached the hollow stump.
“Here’s where I was camped
all through the storm, and mighty lucky for you that
I lost my way when out hunting. Now wait till
I dig out some of that dry wood from the inside.
It will make a capital start for a fire.”
Jerry set to work with a vim.
In five minutes he had a cheery little blaze going,
and more wood drying out close beside it. From
time to time other fuel was added to the fire until
it reached such proportions that it eagerly devoured
any sort of stuff they chose to feed it.
“This ain’t half bad,
because it’s getting mighty cold after that storm,
and if you happened to be lying drenched through under
that tree I reckon you’d be shivering some by
now, eh?” laughed Jerry.
Andy put out his right hand, for it
was the left arm that had been injured.
“I want to tell you that I feel
pretty punk now over the way I’ve treated your
crowd, Jerry. This is mighty white in you, and
that’s what, to act as you have with me.
I’m right sorry now I ever laid out to hurt
you fellers. I ain’t goin’ to keep
it up no longer, and that’s dead certain.
If Pet Peters wants to, he can go it alone. I’m
all in. You’ve made me ashamed.”
Jerry understood. There was really
no need of further words. Between two boys such
things are instinctively grasped; and Jerry knew what
a tremendous effort it must have been for this rough
fellow to frankly admit that he had been led to see
the error of his ways.
Perhaps the repentance was not wholly
genuine, and time would swing Andy back to his old
ways; but just then, sitting by that friendly fire,
he seemed to feel very warmly disposed toward the
lad whose coming may have saved his life.
“Oh! that’s all right;
don’t mention it. Glad to know you mean
to let us alone. It’s all we ask, anyway.
But what brought you away up here, Andy?” said
Andy dropped his head and gazed into
the fire. The other even thought he could see
what looked like a blush mantle his cheeks, though
the chums of the town bully would have shouted at
the very idea of such a thing.
“I reckon it was some more rotten
business, Jerry. To tell the truth I was up to
see old Bud Rabig, trying to get him to join us in
a raid on your camp. You see,” the boy
went on hurriedly, as though fearful lest his courage
might fail him before he got the whole thing off his
mind, “we’d tried to smoke you out and
made a botch of the trick; and I even pushed Bluff
over into the lake this afternoon, to get him a duckin’,
’cause the temptation was too great But it’s
all up with me now. After this I ain’t
goin’ to lift a hand against any of your crowd.”
“Did you get lost, too, trying
to make your way back to your camp?” asked Jerry.
“That’s just what I did.
Thought I could save time by taking a short-cut through
the big woods. Then the storm came down on me,
and I reckon I got some rattled. I lost my head,
and while I thrashed around, that pesky old tree came
down on me. Thought I was a-goner, I give you
my word,” and Andy shuddered.
“How long did you lie there?” questioned
“Hours and hours, it seemed
to me. I’d shout when I could, but something
seemed to tell me it wasn’t no good-that
I just deserved to die right there, because I’d
never been no good to my folks at home or anybody
else. But you just wait and see. I got a
light, I did. Thought I was sure goin’
Both boys were soon sleepy, for the
heat of the fire affected their eyes. So Jerry
fixed things to keep the blaze going while they napped,
rolling a log over so that it offered a good chance
for the fire to feed.
In this way they passed the balance
of the night, nor would either of them soon forget
the experience, though from different reasons.
In the morning they managed to cook
some of the fresh venison Jerry carried, and for which
the other seemed very grateful. Then they figured
out their position, which was not hard to do, since
the sky was clear and the sun well up.
Half an hour later Andy recognized
certain landmarks that told him he could make a turn
and reach his camp by the lake shore.
“Good-by, Jerry. I’m
going to skip out here. And I ain’t forgettin’
this either,” he said, thrusting out a hand,
while a queer grin crept over his face.
Jerry hurried on, anxious to relieve
the suspense of his chums.
As he came in sight of the camp he
paused and stared, as well he might, for it seemed
to be occupied by a stranger, and he a man with the
wild aspect of a madman.