The incidents we have just described were by no means the only interesting or exciting ones that happened while Egan, Curtis and Hopkins remained at the shooting-box. The boys shot water-fowl until they were tired of the sport, and frequently entertained their friends, both male and female, who came over to see how they were getting on. They drove the ridges for deer, hunted wild turkeys and ate many a dinner of quails that Hopkins shot for them over Don Gordon’s pointers. It was a fortunate thing for David Evans that Hopkins got lost the first time he went quail hunting, for the story he told and the results that came of it, effectually silenced those who had hoped to prove that David stole the mail himself.
The days flew on, and in a short time – it seemed a very short time to all of them – Don’s guests began to talk of going home. They all dreaded the separation, for they had become very much attached to one another. “But it won’t be for any great length of time, fellows,” said Curtis. “The members of our happy family will all come together again on the fifteenth of January – all except Fred and Joe, and I really wish they were coming too – and the next time we go hunting it will be in the wilds of Maine. I can’t promise that we shall have a chase after mail-robbers, but I may be able to show you a moose, and you Southerners will have a chance to try your hands at something that will be entirely new to you – I mean fly-fishing. We shall have just enough of that to let you see what a five or six-pound trout can do when he makes up his mind to fight. I assure you that I shall try by every means in my power to make your sojourn with me as pleasant as you have made my visit here.”
The parting time came at last, and the Gray Eagle took Don’s guests up the river. The four boys they left behind them were very lonely after that. Don’s first care was to strip the shooting-box and lock it. He did not want to go there any more, for there were too many things in it that reminded him of his absent friends. The antlers which had been given up to Egan for the exclusive use of his “blunderbuss,” the clock-bracket and wall-pocket that Curtis had fashioned with his knife, the camp-chair which had given away with a great crash and let Hopkins down upon the floor – all these spoke eloquently of the days that were gone, and Don could hardly endure the sight of them. Of course this feeling of loneliness wore away after a while, and the brothers enjoyed themselves during the holidays as they always did; but when the time came for them to return to Bridgeport, they were ready and waiting.
Their second year at the academy proved to be an eventful one. Some things happened which, like the night attack of the Mount Pleasant Indians, were not down on the programme; and what they were, and how Don and Bert behaved themselves at school, what they saw and what they did for amusement when they went home with Curtis at the close of the term, shall be told in “The Rod and Gun Club.”
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