Fenn Masterson's Discovery: or, The Darewell Chums on a Cruiseñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
FENN BECOMES ILL
“Well, now, what’s our program?” asked Frank when the four Darewell chums were in the railroad train, speeding through the outskirts of Duluth. “I s’pose Fenn will make a bee line for Bayville and see Ruth.”
“I intend to go there, not only to see Ruth, but to see her father,” announced Fenn coolly. “It’s no more than right, is it? He invited us to come and see him, if we ever got out this way, and here we are. It would be mean not to pay a visit.”
“Oh, yes, Stumpy,” remarked Ned. “We know just how you feel about it,” and he laughed, whereat Fenn blushed, for he was rather sensitive concerning his liking for young ladies.
“Leaving Mr. Hayward out of it, what do you intend to do, after we’ve got our camp established?” asked Frank, looking at Fenn, with whom this idea had originated.
“I’m going to see what those men were doing on the cliff,” was the decided answer. “Maybe they were Chinese smugglers. If they were – ”
“Yes, if they were I s’pose Stumpy will climb up there single handed, make ’em all prisoners, and then write a half-dime novel about it,” put in Bart.
“Not exactly,” answered Fenn. “I don’t see what’s to hinder me giving information to the government, though, about the smugglers, if that’s what they are. I understand there’s a reward for that sort of information, and I could use a bit of spare cash as well as any one.”
“That’s so!” exclaimed Ned. “I didn’t think about that. I’m with you, Stumpy.”
“You’ll want half the reward, I guess,” interjected Bart.
“Sure,” said Ned. “Who wouldn’t? Why can’t we all go in on this thing?”
“Of course we can,” declared Fenn. “We’ll go camping somewhere back of that cliff, and then we can – ”
“Hush! Not so loud!” suddenly cautioned Frank. Then, bending his head closer to his chums, as they were sitting in two seats facing each other he added: “There’s a man a couple of seats back who’s been watching us pretty sharply ever since we began talking this way. I don’t like his looks.”
“Where is he?” asked Fenn in a whisper.
“Don’t look now,” replied Frank, making a pretense of pointing out the window at a bit of scenery. “He’s staring right at us. It’s the man with the light hat, with a white ribbon band on, whom I mean. You can size him up as soon as he turns his head.”
The boys cautiously waited for an opportunity, and took a quick inspection of the man Frank had indicated. He was a total stranger to the four Darewell lads, as far as any of them knew, but it did not take long to disclose the fact that the man was much interested in them.
He watched their every move, and, when any one of them spoke, the fellow tried to catch what was said. The man seemed like an ordinary traveler, and, except for a peculiar cast in one eye, was not bad looking.
“Let’s change our seats,” suggested Fenn, when the train had proceeded some miles farther, and the car was not so full.
“We want to talk, and we can’t be whispering all the while.”
They moved farther away from the man with the cast in his eye, and were once more discussing their plans, when Frank again noticed that the man was listening. He, too, had moved up several seats, and, under pretense of reading a paper, was straining his ears for whatever the boys said.
“Let’s go into the other car,” proposed Fenn. “If he follows us there we’ll tell the conductor.”
But the man evidently did not care to run any more risks and the boys were not further annoyed.
“I wonder who he was?” asked Ned. “Perhaps he had something to do with the smugglers.”
“Oh, I guess he was just some fellow more interested in the business of other persons than in his own,” replied Frank. “I hope we didn’t talk too much, so that he’ll know what we are going to do.”
“That’s so, he might go and give information to the government, and get that reward,” announced Fenn. “I wish we’d been more careful!”
“Well, I guess he’ll have his own troubles finding that cliff,” was Bart’s opinion. “We didn’t mention any special place. Our secret is safe enough.”
After further consideration of what they had said the boys agreed with this view. As they were now almost alone in the car they talked freely, deciding on what to do when in the woods.
They had brought a small sleeping tent with them, some guns which they had hired and a limited supply of food. As they were going to be within reach of small settlements, villages or, at the worst, scattered farm houses, they calculated they could, from time to time, buy what they needed to eat.
They had made a careful study of a map of the country they intended to utilize as part of their vacation trip, and decided on a place to camp that was not far from where they had observed the queer actions of the men on the cliff. It was also within a short distance of Bayville, where, as has been said, Mr. Hayward and his daughter lived.
They left the train at a station, near the foot of a small mountain, on the slopes of which they were to pitch their tent. Their baggage and supplies was piled up on the platform and, Frank, surveying it, exclaimed:
“Oh, dear, I wish we had that mule we used when we were rescuing my father. He could carry a good deal of this stuff, and we wouldn’t break our backs.”
“Aw, don’t mind a little thing like that!” advised Bart. “Why it’s not far, and we can make two trips if necessary.”
They decided this would be the best plan, and, taking what they could carry, they set off into the woods, the station agent agreeing to look after what baggage they left behind, until they came back for it.
The weather was fine, and the air, in that northwestern region, was clear and bracing.
“I could carry twice as much as this,” announced Ned, as he walked along, balancing his load on his shoulder.
“Here, take mine then!” cried Frank quickly.
“Not to-day,” retorted Ned with a laugh. “I was only figuratively speaking.”
They picked out a good camping place, and, as they had brought the tent with the first load, they set that up.
“Now for the rest of the stuff, and we’ll be in good shape for the night,” remarked Bart. “Come on, fellows. Why, Fenn, what’s the matter?” he asked quickly, as he noticed the stout youth seated on a log.
“Me? Nothing. I’m all right.”
“No, you’re not. You’re as white as a sheet of paper,” went on Bart. “Don’t you feel well?”
“Sure. I’m all right. I guess I walked a little too fast; that’s all.”
“Well, take a good rest before you make the second trip,” advised Ned.
“No, I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” proposed Frank. “We three can easily carry what stuff is back there at the depot. Let Fenn stay here and rest, and we’ll go back for it. Besides, we ought to leave somebody on guard,” he added quickly, fearing Fenn might object to anyone doing his share of the work.
“Oh, I’ll be all right in a minute, fellows,” said Fenn, trying to smile, but making rather poor work of it. “It’s the heat, I guess.”
“It is hot,” agreed Bart.
“You go ahead and I’ll catch up to you,” proposed Fenn. “I’m feeling a little better now.”
“No, you stay here and we’ll fetch the rest of the stuff,” repeated Frank, and he insisted on it, with such good reason, also pointing out that if any tramps came along they might steal the tent, that Fenn consented to remain on guard. In fact he was very glad to do so, as he felt a curious sensation in his head and stomach, and he was not a little alarmed, as he had never been seriously ill.
“I hope he isn’t going to be sick,” observed Bart, as the boys started back to the station. “We’ll have to give up our camp if he is.”
“Oh, he’ll be all right,” asserted Ned, confidently. “It was only the heat and the walk.”
“I hope so,” rejoined Frank.
But when the boys returned with the remainder of the camp stuff two hours later, they found an unpleasant surprise awaiting them.
In the tent, stretched out on some hemlock boughs which they had cut before leaving, they found poor Fenn. He was very pale and his eyes were closed.
“He’s asleep,” whispered Ned.
Frank entered softly and placed his hand on Fenn’s head.
“He’s got a high fever,” he said, with alarm in his voice. “Fellows, I’m afraid Fenn’s quite sick.”
OUT ON A HUNT
Frank’s announcement seemed to strike a cold chill to the hearts of Ned and Bart. Sickness was something with which they had seldom come in contact, and they did not know how to proceed.
“I suppose we’d better get a doctor,” ventured Ned.
“Where?” inquired Frank as he came from the tent. “There isn’t one within five miles – maybe farther.”
“Haven’t we any medicine?” asked Bart. “I thought you said you brought some along.”
“So I did,” replied Frank. “Stuff for burns, cuts and stomach aches, but I don’t know as it would be safe to give him anything when he has a fever.”
“Have you got anything for a fever?” inquired Ned.
“Yes, some of those little, white tasteless pills, that come in small bottles. Homeopathic remedies they call ’em. I’ll read the directions.”
At that instant Fenn murmured something.
“He’s talking!” exclaimed Frank, listening at the flap of the tent.
“Water, mother. Give me a drink of water,” spoke the sick boy.
“He thinks he’s home,” said Ned.
“Here, I’ll get him a drink, and you read the directions on that bottle of pills,” directed Bart. “Maybe we can give him some.”
Fenn drank thirstily of the spring water Bart carried in to him, scarcely opening his eyes, and, when he did, he did not know his chum.
“The smugglers!” exclaimed the now delirious youth. “We’ll catch ’em! Don’t let Ruth fall into the cave. Look out!”
The boys were much frightened, especially Ned and Bart. Frank, from the experience he had had with his father, knew a little more than did the others about cases of illness. He read what it said on the bottle of pills and decided it would be safe to give Fenn several of the pellets.
“Now, we’d better get the camp in shape for night,” said Frank. “We’ve got to stay here until morning, no matter what happens. We can’t move Fenn until he’s better.”
“Maybe he’ll not get better,” remarked Ned, rather gloomily.
“Oh, cut out such ideas,” advised Frank. “He’ll be all right. Probably his stomach is upset. Now hustle around and get a fire going. I want some hot coffee, and so do you. Then we’ll all feel better, after a bit of grub.”
Once Bart and Ned had something definite to do they did not worry so much about Fenn. Frank took a look at him, now and then, in the midst of the work of making the camp.
“He’s asleep,” he announced after one inspection. “I think his fever’s going down some.”
“That’s good,” commented Bart, his face losing some of its worried look.
The boys ate a hasty supper and then made a more comfortable bed for Fenn. The tent was big enough for all four to stretch out under it, but the three chums decided they would take turns sitting up, in order to administer to the sick lad.
Frank gave him some more medicine during the night, and, by twelve o’clock, Fenn was somewhat better, though he still had a fever.
It seemed that morning would never come, but, at length, there shone through the forest a pale, gray light, that turned to one of rosy hue, and then the golden sunbeams streamed through the trees.
“Thank goodness the night’s gone,” exclaimed Ned, who had the last watch. “It seems as if we’d been here a week, instead of a few hours.”
“How is he?” asked Bart of Frank, who had assumed the r?le of doctor.
“No worse, at any rate,” he said, as he felt of his chum’s head.
“Do you think we ought to get a physician?”
“I think we’ll see how he is to-day,” answered Frank. “If he doesn’t get any worse I believe it will work off. I’ll give him some more medicine.”
There must have been some virtue in the pills, for, by noon, Fenn’s skin was much cooler, and he had began to perspire, a sure sign that the fever was broken. His mind, too, was clear.
“What’s the matter? What happened?” he asked. “Was I sick?”
“I guess it was a little touch of sun-stroke,” replied Frank with a laugh. “How do you feel?”
“Pretty good, only weak. I’m hungry and thirsty.”
“That’s a good sign. I guess we can fix you up.”
Fenn made a fairly good meal on canned chicken and some biscuits which Ned concocted out of a package of prepared flour.
“I think I can get up now,” announced the sick youth, as he finished the last of his meal.
“No you don’t!” exclaimed Frank. “I’m the trained nurse in charge to-day, and you stay in the tent until night, anyhow.”
Fenn wanted to disobey, but he found he was weaker than he thought, so he was glad to stretch out on the blanket, spread over the fragrant hemlock boughs. He was so much better by night that the boys were practically assured he was out of danger. They felt correspondingly happy, and prepared as fine a meal as they could in celebration of the event.
Fenn ate sparingly, however, and then fell off into a sound, healthful sleep. His three comrades took turns during the night watch, but there was nothing for them to do, save, now and then, to replenish the camp fire.
The next day Fenn was so much better that he insisted on getting up, but he did not have much ambition to do things.
“We’ll go hunting, as soon as you are able,” announced Frank, after breakfast. “Our pantry isn’t very well stocked.”
“Don’t wait for me,” urged Fenn. “Go ahead. I can stay in camp, and look after things while you three are gone. I’ll take my turn at hunting a little later.”
At first the boys would not hear of this, but, after Fenn pointed out that they must have stuff to eat, they agreed to go hunting the next day, leaving him alone in camp, if it was found, by morning, that he was well enough.
Fortunately this proved to be the case and Ned, Frank and Bart, carrying the guns they had hired in Duluth, started off, cautioning Fenn to take care of himself, and not to wander away from the tent.
“We’ll be back as soon as we have shot something to eat,” promised Bart.
It was rather lonesome in camp for Fenn, after his chums had left. At first he sat in front of the tent, watching the antics of some squirrels who, emboldened by hunger, came quite close to pick up crumbs. Fenn scorned to shoot at them.
“I think I’m strong enough to take a little walk,” decided the youth, after an hour or so of idleness. “It will do me good. Besides, I want to get a line on just where that cliff is, on which we saw the queer men.”
He started off, and found he had regained nearly all his former strength. It was a fine day, and pleasant to stroll through the woods.
Fenn wandered on, aiming for the lake, which was some distance away from where the tent was pitched. Suddenly, as he was going through a little glade, he heard a noise on the farther side of the clearing, as though some one had stepped on, and broken, a tree branch. Looking quickly up he saw, half screened by a clump of bushes, two Chinamen, and a white man.
The odd trio, whose advance had alarmed Fenn, stopped short. Then one of the Celestials muttered some lingo to the other. An instant later the three drew back in the bushes, and Fenn could hear them hurrying away.
“I’m on the track of the smugglers!” he exclaimed. “I’m going to follow them and see where they go! I must be nearer the cliff than I thought.”
Off Fenn started, after the three men. If he had known what lay before him he would have hesitated a long time before doing what he did. But Fenn did not know.
THE CHINESE BUTTON
Game was not so plentiful in the woods about the camp, as the three chums had hoped. Frank, Ned and Bart tramped along, keeping a close watch for anything that would promise to restock the larder, but, for some time, the most they saw, were numbers of small birds – too small to shoot.
“Why can’t we scare up a covey of partridges?” asked Ned, rather disgustedly, after they had been out an hour or more.
“Why don’t you wish for a herd of deer, or a drove of bears, that is if bears go in droves,” suggested Bart. “You want things too easy, you do.”
“I don’t care whether they’re easy or not, as long as there are some of them,” retorted Ned. “I’d like to hear how this gun sounds when it’s shot off.”
“Hark! What’s that?” exclaimed Bart, looking up as a sudden whirring noise was audible in the air over their heads.
The boys looked up, and, to their surprise, saw a big flock of wild ducks, flying quite low. It was rather early in the season for them, as they learned later, but they did not stop to think of that. Without further words, they raised their guns and blazed away.
“Hurrah! We got some!” yelled Ned, as he saw several of the wild fowl tumbling earthward.
“The other barrel!” exclaimed Frank. “We may not get another chance, and we’d better kill enough to last us a week.”
They fired again, and killed several more of the ducks. They found the birds to be in fairly good condition, though they would be fatter later on.
“They will make fine eating!” remarked Bart, as he held up a string of the wild fowl. “Maybe Fenn won’t like to set his teeth in a nice browned piece of roast duck.”
“Providing he is well enough to eat it,” added Ned.
“Oh, he’ll be well enough,” was Frank’s answer. “But I’d like to get something else besides duck.”
“Well, we’ve got plenty of time yet,” suggested Bart. “Let’s go a little farther.”
Slinging their game over their shoulders, and reloading their guns, the boys once more started off. They had not gone far before a commotion in a clump of underbrush, just ahead of where Ned was walking, startled the lad into sudden activity.
“Here’s something!” he called in a hoarse whisper.
“Yes, and it’s liable to come out and shake hands with you, and ask how you like the weather, if you yell that way again,” remarked Frank. “Don’t you know any better than to call out like that when you’re hunting?”
“I couldn’t help it,” whispered Ned. “I saw something big and black. I think it’s a bear.”
“A bear! Where?” cried Bart in a whisper, cocking his gun.
“Go easy,” advised Frank. “We stand a swell chance of killing a bear with these light shotguns. Where is it, Ned?”
The boys were all speaking in low tones, and had come to a halt in a little circle of trees. All about them was thick underbrush, from the midst of which had issued the disturbance that caused Ned to exclaim.
“There it is!” he said, grasping Frank by the arm, and pointing toward something dark. At that moment it moved, and a good-sized animal darted forward, right across the trail, in front of the boys, and, an instant later was scrambling up a tall tree as if for dear life.
“Fire!” cried Ned, suiting the action to the word. He aimed point-blank at the creature, but, when the smoke cleared away, there was no dead body to testify to his prowess as a hunter.
“Missed!” exclaimed Ned disgustedly. “And it was a fine chance to bowl over a bear cub, too.”
“Bear cub?” repeated Frank. “Take a look at what you think is a bear cub.”
Frank pointed to the tree, up which the animal had climbed. There, away out on the end of a rather thin limb, it crouched, looking down on the boys – a huddled bunch of fur.
“A raccoon!” exclaimed Bart. “You’re a fine naturalist, you are, Ned. Why didn’t you take it for a giraffe or an elephant?”
“That’s all right, you’d have made the same mistake if you had seen it first,” retorted Ned. “I’m going to have a shot at it, anyway.”
He raised his gun, but the raccoon, probably thinking now was the opportunity to show that he believed in the old maxim, to the effect that discretion is the better part of valor, made a sudden movement and vanished.
“See!” exclaimed Ned triumphantly. “He knew I was some relation to Davy Crockett. He didn’t exactly want to come down, but he had some business to attend to in another tree.”
“That’s an easy way of getting out of it,” remarked Bart, “but I’ll wager you would have missed worse than I did if you had shot.”
“Oh, come on and stop scrapping!” exclaimed Frank.
“We’re not scrapping,” retorted Ned. “Only I say I’m as good a shot as he is.”
“You can prove it, by shooting at a mark, when we get back to camp,” suggested Frank. “Just now we’re out hunting, not trying to decide a rifle match.”
But word seemed to have gone through the woods that three mighty boy hunters were abroad, and all the game appeared to have gone into hiding. Tramp as the chums did, for several miles, they got no further sight of anything worth shooting at.
“I guess we’ll have to be content with the ducks, and go back,” remarked Frank, after a somewhat long jaunt in silence. “Fenn may be lonesome waiting for us.”
“I know my stomach is lonesome for something to eat,” returned Bart. “The sooner some of these ducks are roasting, or stewing or cooking in whatever is the quickest way, the better I’ll like it.”
“All right, let’s head for camp,” agreed Ned, and, having picked out their trail, by the help of a compass they carried, they were soon journeying toward where their tent was set up.
“I hope Fenn is all right,” remarked Frank, as they trudged onward.
“All right? Why shouldn’t he be?” inquired Bart.
“Well, I was a little worried about leaving him alone.”
“Why Fenn is able to take care of himself,” declared Ned. “Besides, what’s there to be afraid of?”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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