Edward Stratemeyer.

The Gun Club Boys of Lakeport





Sure an nobody will be after drinkin that, he said. If you want water youll have to chew it!

This is the banner cold snap so far, observed Harry. I trust the thermometer doesnt go much lower.

If it does the bottom will drop out sure, added Link, with a grin.

I dont feel much like stirring from the fire, came from Fred.

See Fred, doubled up like a squaw, cried Bart. Fred, are you toasted yet?

Never mind, I noticed you grumbled as much as I did, during the night, returned the stout youth.

Did I?

Did you? Well, I just guess. You wanted all the extra blankets, you did.

Never mind, boys, said Joel Runnell. Well have a good hot breakfast, and that will warm us all up.

Pancake flour had been brought along by Link and Bart, and that morning they had coffee, pancakes, and fried rabbit. They did full justice to the meal, and as old Runnell had said, all felt warm and in better humor after the repast was finished.

It remained cold all day, and the boys spent the time around the shelter, cutting more firewood, and fixing the place up so that the wind could not get in quite so freely. Link started another snowball fight, but it did not last.

Yet Link was out for some fun, and at supper time he reminded Harry of the trick to be played on Teddy.

Im willing, came from Harry, readily. But I think we ought to let the others know, so they can enjoy the fun.

I shouldnt tell Runnell. He might want to stop us.

So it was agreed to tell the other boys. All were much interested and did what they could to make Harry and Link look like Indians.

First some reddish dirt was dug up and thawed out, after which it was mixed with a little rabbit grease and smeared on their faces. Then some feathers were put in bands and stuck around their heads, and each wrapped himself in a camp blanket, in true Indian style.

Youve got to have weapons, said Joe. Here, each take a hatchet.

I brought along a bow and some arrows, said Bart. Link can take that.

And Ill take my gun, put in Harry.

See that it is empty first, said Joe, warningly. We dont want any accident. And the weapon was discharged on the spot.

All these preparations were made in secret, while old Runnell was out looking for game. The boys had persuaded Teddy to go out, too.

When Joel Runnell and the Irish lad returned to camp Link and Harry were missing.

They went up the north shore, said Joe. Teddy, they wanted to know if you wouldnt follow them up. I think they have something they want you to help carry home.

All right, answered the Irish lad, willingly, and set off at once, whistling merrily as he trudged along.

As luck would have it, Joel Runnell was busy skinning some rabbits found in the traps. Consequently he did not notice the actions of the boys and inside of a minute after Teddy left the camp they were following him up.

Dont let him see you, whispered Joe to the others.

If he does the game will be spoilt.

You keep out of sight yourself, returned Bart.

And dont talk so loud, came from Fred. Remember, its so quiet just now a fellows voice carries further than you imagine.

After that they remained silent and took good care that Teddy should not see them.

All unconscious of the trick about to be played upon him, the Irish lad trudged on and on, until he was quarter of a mile from camp.

Hello, boys! he called out. Where are you?

No answer came back, and he continued to move on, until a sudden stir in some bushes caused him to halt. It was after sunset and the woods appeared dim and ghostly.

I say, where are you? he went on. Link! Harry!

Again there was no answer, but now he saw two forms moving silently from the bushes to a spot behind him.

Joe had seen to it that Teddy did not take his gun along, so the Irish lad was totally unarmed. He watched the figures in considerable alarm.

Sure an they cant be the boys, he told himself. Link! Harry!

Slowly the figures drew closer and as they did so Teddys hair almost stood on end.

Indians! he cried. Indians! Oh, Im a dead by now!

Pa-wa! Pa-wa! cried one of the advancing figures. Bunk-a-bunk a busta-bust! Pa-wa!

Nunk-a-nuck! came from the other. White boy Injun prisoner!

Mercy on me! shrieked poor Teddy. Dont touch me! Dont touch me, Mr. Indian!

White boy big chiefs prisoner, came from the second figure. Maybe scalp white boy!

At this Teddy clasped his hands in terror.

Dont ye do it! he yelled. Help! somebody, help! The Indians have come to murder us all in our beds! Dont touch my hair! I nade it, I do!

He wanted to run, but one of the wrapped-up figures caught him by the arm, while the other raised his hatchet threateningly.

White boy be silent! was the command. No speak a word.

Fer the sake o me family! groaned Teddy. Please let me go!

White boy good to eat maybe?

To eat is it! Oh, my! just to hear o that now! No, Im no good to eat! Im tough, terribul tough! If ye try to eat me yell break yer teeth!

At this came a snicker from behind the trees.

Say, but hes scared right enough, murmured Bart.

Down on your knees your Japanese, went on Harry, giving his hatchet a wild flourish.

Oh! oh! Dont sca scalp me! groaned Teddy, and fell on his knees.

Injuns let white boy go on one condition, said Link, who had a wild desire to burst out laughing.

What is that? was the eager question.

White boy stand on head and sing big song.

CHAPTER XXIII
PIKE SPEARING THROUGH THE ICE

Well, did you ever hear the beat of that? asked Fred, in a whisper, after Link had made his outrageous request.

Hush, we may miss something, came from Joe.

Stand on me head, is it? asked Teddy, thinking he had not heard aright.

Yes. Sing big song.

What shall I sing?

Sing, De Wacht am Rhine.

Eh? I cant sing a Dutch song.

Did you hear that? came with a suppressed laugh from Joe. De Wacht am Rhine of all things for Teddy!

No sing Dutch song, sing Chinese song Chow Chow Chippy Chow! went on Link.

Sure an I cant sing Chinese ayther! said poor Teddy. Ill sing The Wearin o the Green, if ye want me to.

White boy sing French song La Loopa de Loopa, came from Link.

Sing Russian song Tvitsky Smoultskyitvalitz, put in Harry. At this there came a distinct snicker from behind the nearby trees.

What a name for a song! murmured Fred. His teeth will fall out if he dont take care!

Dont know Frinch, or Russian, said Teddy.

Too bad, big Injun weep much tears, sighed Link. White boy sing Mary Has a Little Ox?

Eh? Do you mean, Mary Has a Little Lamb? queried Teddy, in perplexity.

No. Injun no like lambs bad for Injun complexion. White boy sing What is Home Without Um Alarm Clock. Sing nine verses and can go home.

Sure an I niver heard o the song, said Teddy. Tell ye what Ill sing, he added, brightening. Ill sing ye a song me father made up.

Good! shouted both Indians. But must stand on head, added one.

Oh, dear, groaned Teddy. I never sang standin on me head before. Are ye sure youll let me go if I do it?

Yes, white boy run to bosom of family.

With a great effort Teddy managed to stand on his head, balancing himself on his hands, a feat he had learned after visiting a circus which had once stopped at Lakeport. Then with even a greater effort he began to sing:


Me father had an old blind mule,
An he was very frisky,
To git upon that muleys back
He said was very risky.
The mule was swift upon his feet,
Could run a mile a minit!
He beat the hosses at the track
Not wan of thim was in it!

Fine song! Make Injun heap laugh! cried Link and began to dance around as if greatly pleased.

White boy sing more such song, put in Harry. Injun learn em. And almost out of breath poor Teddy went on, wobbling from side to side as he did so:


Me fathers mule he loved to eat
Green grass and ripe pertaters,
But niver cared a single cent
To swallow ripe termaters!
Wan day that mule stood on his head,
A-facin two big Injuns,
The Injuns roared to see him there

But he got up and walked away, fer he saw it was all a joke an he wasnt goin to stand fer such nonsense any longer, concluded Teddy, and arising to his feet, he squinted comically first at Link and then Harry. Yer fine lads to play such a trick on me, he added. Supposin Id had me gun an shot off both yer heads?

The end of this speech was lost in a burst of laughter from behind the trees, and Joe, Bart and Fred ran into view.

Hullo, Teddy, how do you like Injuns? queried Fred.

Teddy, your voice is fine when you stand on your head and sing, came from Bart.

Oh, stop yer foolin, said the Irish boy, calming down. Sure, didnt I know it was a joke all along.

Oh, Teddy, did you know it? asked Harry.

To be sure I did.

I dont believe it.

All right then, and the Irish lad tossed his head into the air. I wasnt goin to spoil

Teddy, youre drawing on your imagination, burst in Link. But well let it pass.

Wait till Im after gettin square, said Teddy, and put up one finger warningly.

Never mind, the song was O. K., said Fred. Did your father really make it up?

And whats the end of the second verse? queried Link.

No, me father had nothin to do wid it. I got it out of an old joke book, an Ive forgotten the end of it. Thats the reason I made up an endin.

Three cheers for Teddy, the acrobatic songster, cried Fred, and the cheers were given with a will. The cheers put the Irish lad in a better humor; but it was a long time before he forgot how they had played Indian on him.

Whats all the cheering about? asked Joel Runnell, as they came back to camp, Link and Harry having first wiped the red mud off their faces and hidden away the feathers and blankets.

Weve been initiating Teddy into a secret society, said Link.

Didnt know you had a secret society.

This is the Forest Wanderers, put in Harry. Teddy is now Head Chief of the Royal Frying Pan.

Youve been cutting up high jinks, said old Runnell, with a smile. Well, its all right, but dont none o you git hurt, thats all, and there the affair ended.

Joe and Harry had not forgotten about the three tramps, and were anxious to make a hunt for the rascals, but the next morning Joel Runnell asked all hands to go down to the lake front with him and help erect a shelter on the ice, from which they might spear some pike and other fish.

Its too cold to stay out there without a shelter, said he, and directly after breakfast they set to work.

The fishing-wigwam, as the boys named it, was a primitive affair, built up of long tree branches, set in a circle of snow. The branches were fastened together at the top, like the poles of an Indian wigwam, and then snow was packed around on the outside to a point just above their heads.

Now this will make a comfortable place to fish in, said Joel Runnell, and with a sharp axe began to chop a hole in the ice about a foot and a half square. Of course this hole will freeze over from time to time, but once we are through the main ice it will be an easy matter to cut away whatever forms later.

The tree branches made the fishing shelter rather dark inside. On this account they could look down into the water with ease, for the latter was lit up by the light on the outside of the shelter.

This is great! cried Joe. Why the water is almost as bright as day!

At last the hole was cut and finished off to old Runnells satisfaction. In the meantime the boys had prepared a fishing bait which the old hunter approved. The bait was nothing but a little imitation fish, made of wood and a bit of tinfoil.

Now, wait till I have my spear ready, said Joel Runnell, and brought out the weapon mentioned, which was fairly long and with a razor-like point.

In a few minutes he was ready for the test, and he showed Joe how to drop the bait into the hole and jerk it around in the water below.

For quite a while Joe jerked the imitation fish around in vain. Once a lazy looking fish came fairly close, but not close enough for old Runnell to use the spear.

Perhaps we had better try a line and hook, said Harry.

Be patient, said the old hunter. Youll never have any success at fishing if you are not patient. You must ah, I guess well get something now.

Joel Runnell bent directly over the hole. A good-sized pike had shown himself. He darted off, but soon reappeared. Then, as Joe gave the bait another jerk, the pike came directly under the hole and sniffed at it.

It was a splendid chance and old Runnell was not slow to take advantage of it. His spear was up, and down it came with force and directness, taking the pike directly through the back. There was a twist and a short struggle, and in a twinkling the pike lay on the floor of the fishing shelter, breathing its last.

Oh, but thats a prize! cried Bart, enthusiastically. He must weigh three pounds!

Youd have a fine time bringing him in on a line, was Joes comment. Hed tire you out sure, or maybe break the line on the edge of the ice.

All inspected the pike with great interest, and then Joel Runnell passed the catch over to Teddy to be cleaned.

Can we get another one, do you think? asked Bart, who was anxious to try his luck.

Perhaps, although a big pike like this usually keeps his territory to himself. More than likely his home was under yonder overhanging tree.

This time Bart took the spear and Link the bait, and nearly half an hour went by. But then a pike larger than the first appeared.

Oh, my, what a chance! murmured Link. Now, Bart, dont miss him!

Ill do my best, answered Bart, who was quivering with excitement.

All of the others were interested and drew around the hole hardly daring to breathe. Three times the pike came fairly close and then swam away. Once he passed directly across the opening, but so swiftly that Bart did not take the chance to hit him.

He has gone, said Fred, after a few minutes more had passed, but just as he spoke the pike reappeared and came up directly under the hole, where he began to turn around.

Now! cried old Runnell, and down went the spear, in something of a sideway fashion. But it passed through the pike near the tail, and with a whirl and a great splashing, he came up to the surface and out of the hole.

Hurrah, youve got him! cried Link, as he wiped the cold water from his face. Say, he gave me a regular shower bath, didnt he?

Oh, you mustnt mind that, put in Fred. Why such a pike as that is worth a dip into the lake.

Not in this freezing weather, came from Joe. But hes a beauty and no mistake. Four inches longer than the other and at least half a pound heavier.

There are a great many kinds of pike, arent there? asked Link.

Yes, a great number, answered old Runnell. The big muskalonge, the pike-perch, the pickerel, the wall-eye or glass-eye pike, and the gray pike, and half a dozen other varieties. The pike-perch of the Great Lakes sometimes grows to three feet and weighs fifteen or eighteen pounds.

The fishing was continued for over two hours longer and one more small pike was obtained. Then Fred tried his hook and line and very soon brought in several small fish.

Now, well have fish to last us for awhile, said Joel Runnell. What we dont use at once we can let freeze in the ice. And this was done by simply throwing the fish in a hollow and pouring clean water over them.

The party had used up a good share of their deer meat, but the best part of one of the halves still remained or rather, had been left at the camp when they went fishing. But now, when they got back, strange to say, the deer meat was gone.

Hullo, what does this mean? cried Joe. Have we had another visit from Dan Marcy and old Skeetles?

Somebody has taken the meat, that is certain, put in Bart.

Joel made a careful examination. The meat had been left hanging on one of the pine trees.

An animal took that meat, said the old hunter. And I am pretty certain I know what kind of a beast it was.

CHAPTER XXIV
A BATTLE WITH A WOLVERENE

All of the young hunters listened to Joel Runnells words with deep interest.

An animal took the meat? questioned Joe. What sort of an animal?

Unless I am greatly mistaken, lad, it was a wolverene.

A wolverene! cried several in chorus.

Oh, do you think it was really a wolverene? came from Link. Why, they are very fierce, arent they?

About as fierce a beast as you can bring down in these parts, Link, and just about as hard to track, too.

Ive never seen a live wolverene, came from Harry. I saw a dead one once at my fathers store Jerry Daley brought it down. It was about as long as a wolf, but a good deal heavier, and was black, with a lightish streak running around each side toward the tail. It had a sort of cat head, with the ears laid low, and an awful savage looking mouth.

Yes, and Jerry Daley was almost killed by the beast, too, put in Joe. It ripped up his arm and gave him a fearful scratch on one knee. Jerry put two bullets into it and then cut its throat with his hunting knife.

Ive heard a lot of stories about wolverenes, said Fred. A good many hunters fight shy of them.

And the wolverenes fight shy of the hunters, put in old Runnell. Cant blame em either.

Maybe we had better not go after this beast, put in Teddy. I dont want to be chewed up.

Oh, yes, let us go after him, came from Bart. Im not afraid. Remember, he stole our deer meat.

Better let that meat go, went on Teddy.

Oh, I dont want to eat the meat after a wolverene has chewed on it, added Bart. But we ought to teach the beast a lesson.

Wolverenes are great for stealing hunters meat, said Joel Runnell. And not only that, they soon learn how to get at rabbits and other animals that have been trapped. I once heard tell of how a hunter went out to look at his traps and he discovered a wolverene watching em. He kept out of sight, and pretty soon a rabbit got into one of the traps. As soon as the rabbit was a prisoner, Mr. Wolverene came out of hiding and pulled the rabbit out of the trap, and just then the hunter killed the beast.

The matter was talked over, and it was decided that two of the boys should go with old Runnell after the wolverene. Lots were cast, and the choice fell upon Joe and Bart.

Bart, that ought to suit you, said Fred.

And it does, was the quick answer.

It suits me, too, came from Joe. Sorry you cant go, Harry, he added to his brother.

Well, such is luck, was the reply. Perhaps next time Ill go and youll have to stay home.

A hasty lunch was had, and in less than half an hour old Runnell, Bart, and Joe were on the way.

The track of the wolverene was plainly to be seen, and they followed it with ease over the rocks where the wind had blown a good deal of the snow away.

Are your guns ready for use? questioned old Runnell. It may be that we may fall in with some other kind of game besides the wolverene.

The weapons were in proper condition and both were held in such a fashion that they could do no harm as the party traveled along. They had now to enter the woods, with thick pines on one side and a variety of small hemlocks and scrub bushes on the other. They were going uphill, and walking at every step became more difficult.

Here are the marks very plainly, said Joe. The wolverene got tired of carrying the meat and dragged it.

Make no more noise, said Joel Runnell. We may be closer to the beast nor you think.

After that they proceeded in utter silence. The trail led around a number of pointed rocks and then among the pines.

Suddenly Joel Runnell came to a halt and motioned for the others to do likewise. Looking ahead, Joe and Bart saw a spot where the snow was much disturbed, and there lay the best part of the deer meat which had been stolen.

Crouching low, Joel Runnell began to look in among the pine trees, for he felt certain that the beast he was after could not be far away. Evidently the wolverene had been disturbed while devouring a portion of the game and had leaped out of sight among the pine branches.

The wolverene is well called the glutton, for it loves to gorge itself upon any meat which it can obtain. When it has such meat in its possession to give it up is almost out of the question, and it becomes maddened to the last degree.

All this Joel Runnell knew, and he also knew that if he advanced to where the meat was lying more than likely the wolverene would leap upon him.

But it was not the old hunter who first caught sight of the beast. Happening to glance over his shoulder Bart saw a sight which filled him with sudden terror. The wolverene was there, in a high branch, ready to leap down upon his head!

Oh! yelled the boy, and then, more by instinct than reason, he swung his gun around and fired. The firearm held a fair charge of shot, and this took the wolverene partly in the breast and left foreleg. There was a fierce snarl, and down came the powerful creature at Barts very feet.

As the wolverene landed both Joe and old Runnell wheeled around. The latter would have fired, but Joe was in his way.





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