GIFTS AND FAREWELLS

The next morning camp was broken and the _Slow Poke_ was made ready for
the cruise to Ferry Hill. Chub and Harry left Dick to fiddle with his
beloved engine and Roy to help him, and paid a farewell visit to Mrs.
Peel. They found the little woman busily and contentedly engaged about
the store, armed with a feather duster. Chub’s gasoline sign still
challenged the passing traffic from the corner of the building.

“I’m just going to let it stay right there,” said Mrs. Peel, when
Chub offered to get it down for her. “When you can buy gasoline for
twelve or fourteen cents by the barrel and sell it for twenty cents a
gallon, I think it pays real well. And you’d be surprised the number of
automobiles go by here! I’ve been keeping track of them this morning,
and there’s been three already. Didn’t any of them want any gasoline,
I guess; leastways, they didn’t stop; but maybe the next one will;
you never can tell. I took the sign out of the window, though,” she
added, apologetically. “It didn’t seem just the thing, although it was
certainly printed just lovely. I was wondering if you’d mind doing me
another one instead. I was making up my mind to ask you, in case you
came back again, just when you crossed the street.”

“I’ll be glad to,” said Chub. “What shall I print?”

“Well,”–Mrs. Peel folded her arms and pursed her lips–“I’ve heard
folks say that down to Washington Hills it’s hard to get waited on
at that store, and that half the time they get short weight. I guess
that’s how that fellow down there can sell as cheap as he does. I
thought you might just put on the sign, ‘Prompt attention, honest
prices, full measure.’ What do you think?”

“That’s lovely,” said Harry, “and it’s all true, too!”

“Well,” said Mrs. Peel, beaming at the compliment, “I always have held
that it pays to treat folks fair and square, leastway in the long run.
That fellow down to Washington Hills is doin’ pretty well now, but I
wouldn’t be surprised if he got into trouble before many years are
gone. Folks don’t mind being cheated for awhile, but they get tired of
it in the end. There was a man came here last Fall with a lot of signs
he wanted me to buy; cards, they were, that you put in the window and
around the store. Awfully pretty, too; looked like pictures, most. But
I didn’t take to them. Mostly they was signs like ‘Our Prices can’t
be Beat’ and ‘As good as Any, Better’n Many’ and ‘Our Prices are the
Lowest in Town.’ Well, course that last was true enough, because this
is the only store here, but most of them was sort of prevaricating. I
told the man so. I said if he had any real honest signs to fetch ’em
out and I’d look at ’em. But, if you’ll believe it, he didn’t have
one! My husband used to say that you could cheat a man once, and maybe
twice, but you couldn’t cheat him the third time because he wouldn’t
give you a chance. And I guess that’s about the way it is. I’ll get a
nice big piece of cardboard, sir, and the marking pot.”

Chub took particular pains with that sign, ruling his lines and spacing
his letters with a pencil before he set to work with the brush and the
lampblack. And when it was finished it certainly looked fine.

“There,” said Chub, holding it out, “that isn’t so bad, is it? I’ve
seen signs right in the windows of our stores at home that didn’t beat
that much. That capital F looks sort of wobbly, but you wouldn’t notice
it, I think.”

“It’s perfectly splendid!” said Harry, admiringly. And Mrs. Peel, who
had watched the lettering with an almost breathless interest, fluttered
off, in quite a tremor of excited pleasure, to find her spectacles.

“Looks just like it was printed on a printing-machine,” she exclaimed,
when her glasses had been adjusted and she was alternately trying the
effects of looking through them and over them. “I’m very much obliged,
sir. I–I think I’ll put it in the window and see how it looks from
outside.”

So, with Chub assisting, she tacked it to the back of one of the window
shelves, and cleared the one below so that the inscription should not
be missed. Then she hurried out to the sidewalk and viewed it with her
head perked about like a bird’s. Chub and Harry joined her and observed
the effect with satisfaction, and Chub, to Mrs. Peel’s delight,
discovered that it could be read from the corner of the street if you
found just the right spot to stand.

They made a few modest purchases for the boat’s larder and then bade
Mrs. Peel good-by.

“Well,” she said, “I do hope you’ll come again. You’ve been most kind
and obliging, all of you. I do hope you won’t hold it against me, the
way James acted. He’s a real nice man, ’cept when he gets his tantrums,
and then he’s that set and–and pig-headed there isn’t any use trying
to argue with him.”

“I think that’s so,” murmured Chub.

“Indeed, we didn’t mind him at all, did we, Chub?” assured Harry.

“No’m, not a bit,” Chub replied. “I–I hope he got his train all right
last night?”

“He must have, I guess. If he hadn’t he’d been back again likely. He
was real ashamed of the way he’d acted and the things he’d said, but
wild horses couldn’t get him to own up to it, Miss. Some men are like
that. You have to know them, Miss. My husband used to say that there
was two ways to judge a man. One way was to watch him in public, and
the other way was to see him at home. I’ve seen James at home. Well,
must you really be going?”

“Yes,” answered Chub, “they’ll be waiting for us at the boat, I’m
afraid. Good-by.”

“Good-by, sir. Good-by, Miss. I do hope you’ll come up this way again,
and–and–” The little woman broke off vaguely and swept her gaze
quickly about the store. Then, “Just you wait a bit, please, Miss,”
she exclaimed. She trotted back to the ribbon-case, casting a backward
glance at Harry’s face, and fumbled agitatedly about there for a
moment. Then she came back with a roll of light-blue ribbon which she
put in Harry’s hand.

“To tie up your hair, my dear,” she whispered, patting the hand that
held the gift.

“Oh, but really, Mrs. Peel–”

“Now don’t you say anything, Miss! It’s just a little remembrance from
an old woman you’ve been kind to. ’Tain’t worth a row of pins.” And
while Harry was thanking her she turned to Chub.

“Ain’t there any little thing you’d like to take along, sir?” she
asked, eagerly. “I do wish you’d select something. I suppose there
isn’t much here you’d care for, but–”

“Indeed there is, Mrs. Peel,” Chub assured her heartily, “but I’m not
going to take anything. I thank you just the same.”

Mrs. Peel’s eyes were ranging the store again, and Chub nudged Harry
and moved toward the door.

“Just a minute, sir!” And Mrs. Peel hurried away to one of the farther
shelves, returning in a moment, looking highly pleased with herself.
“There,” she said, “just you take that, sir. It’s a real pretty bit of
china, ain’t it? Course that sentiment don’t mean anything. Unless,”
she added, half shyly, “you want it should, sir.”

The gift was a pale pink mustache-cup, decorated with green leaves and
purple flowers, and bearing the inscription in funny gilt lettering,
“Friendship’s Token.” Chub glanced at Harry, whose eyes were dancing
merrily and yet looked a trifle misty, and then at Mrs. Peel.
Apparently, however, that lady was quite unaware of the irony of
presenting Chub with a mustache-cup, and Chub restrained a smile and
thanked her quite gravely and earnestly. When they reached the corner
with their gifts and purchases, they turned and looked back. The little
woman was in the doorway, smiling and waving her feather duster. They
waved back to her and went on. Harry was silent until they were taking
the hill. Then:




“I don’t care,” she said, half aggressive and half apologetic. “I think
it was perfectly sweet of her, Chub!”

“Of course it was,” answered Chub, emphatically.

“And–and it shows,” continued Harry, earnestly, “that the world is
just full of nice people, and you can’t always tell who they are at–at
first.”

“‘The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,’”

murmured Chub, adding, with a glance at Harry’s ardent face, “Anyhow,
’most any one could be nice to you without half trying.”

[Illustration: They waved back to her and went on]

“Why?” asked Harry, opening her blue eyes very wide. Chub’s gaze
wandered off to the scenery.

“Oh, just–just because,” he answered, vaguely.

* * * * *

Shortly before ten the _Slow Poke_ was on her way again, dropping down
the river with, for the _Slow Poke_, almost marvelous speed.

“At this rate,” sighed Harry to Chub, “we shall be home long before
supper-time.”

“Well, for my part,” answered Chub, turning the spokes of the wheel
idly back and forth, “I’m about ready to eat some one else’s cooking.
But don’t whisper it to Dick.”

“This will be our last–I mean _my_ last dinner on board,” said Harry,
regretfully. “Don’t you think we might find a real pretty place to
stop, Chub?”

“To be sure, we can; and we’ll make a farewell banquet of it and eat
everything nice we’ve got! You take the wheel a minute, and I’ll give
orders to my worthless crew.”

They made quite a ceremony of that dinner. Dick, imbued with the spirit
of the occasion, made a jelly omelet as a _pièce de résistance_, and
piled every good thing that the larder contained on the table up under
the striped awning. They had stopped the headlong career of the _Slow
Poke_ where a murmuring grove of trees came down and leaned over the
water as though to watch their green finery mirrored back to them from
the calm surface. They had snubbed the boat’s bow close to shore, so
that half the upper deck was in the cool shadow, and at that end they
had placed the table. Harry and Snip had jumped ashore and brought back
sprays of leaves for the adornment of the festal board and Roy had
ruthlessly snipped a dozen big red blooms from the geraniums in the
boxes. Dinner was late, but no one minded, not even the doctor, for
Ferry Hill was less than fifteen miles away, and three hours more would
bring them there.

[Illustration: The doctor was called on for a speech]

The doctor was called on for a speech when the dessert was brought on,
and responded eloquently, finally toasting his hosts in a brimming
glass of “vin de Cold Spring.” Chub responded, “on behalf of himself
and his crew, who, being a motley lot hailing from many countries,
were unable to speak the English.” The crew groaned loudly at this,
but later forgave the remark and responded generously with applause.
Snip ate his repast from a dish at Harry’s side and had a little of
everything, as was only proper when you consider the occasion. Harry
decreed that no one was to hurry the least little bit, and no one
did. And so it was two o’clock before the engine began its work once
more, and almost five when the _Slow Poke_ sidled up to the Ferry Hill
landing, and Snip, with a bark of sheer delight, leaped the intervening
two yards of water and capered around the float.

I might tell, at the cost of many details and much space, of the week
that followed, but the story is really finished at this moment. It was
a jolly week, the jolliest sort of a week, and every one, even Dr. and
Mrs. Emery, enjoyed it thoroughly. And every one, Dr. and Mrs. Emery
not the least, regretted the arrival of the day of departure. Good-bys
were said, promises of future meetings made, and, with the doctor
and Mrs. Emery and Harry waving from the landing, and Snip barking
farewell, the _Slow Poke_ moved away on the final stage of her journey.
The boys watched the group on the wharf until a point of land hid it
from view.

“Nice folks those,” said Dick, quietly.

“Yes, they are!” murmured Roy.

“Right, oh!” said Chub.

The voyage back to New York was taken in easy stages, for, now that the
end was in sight, no one was really anxious to reach it. They stopped
when they liked, and started when it pleased them, and had a pleasant,
lazy time of it. No incident of moment occurred worth setting down
here, unless, possibly, it is a very tiny incident that happened on the
second evening of the homeward voyage. Chub was getting ready for bed,
and Roy and Dick were standing at his door talking to him, their own
disrobement complete. Suddenly Dick pushed his way into the little room
and picked up something which was lying face down on the bed beside
Chub’s discarded garments.

“Hello!” said Dick. “Where’d you get the photograph, Chub?”

“Here! You put that down!” exclaimed Chub, making a dash for it. But
Dick was too quick for him and tossed it to Roy.

“Have a look!” he called, as Chub grappled him.

Roy had a look, and:

“It’s Harry!” he exclaimed, in surprise.

“Well, what of it?” asked Chub, defiantly.

“Oh, nothing,” murmured Roy.

“Oh, nothing,” echoed Dick, softly, and, joining arms, they marched
twice around the deck in the moonlight, whistling Mendelssohn’s
“Wedding March” badly out of tune, and grinning like a couple of
Jack-o’-lanterns when they passed the window. Chub, frowning and
muttering, stowed the photograph at the bottom of his suit-case.

Continue Reading

CHUB’S ADVENTURE

It was after eight o’clock, and they were back at camp, eating a
much-delayed supper and listening to the story of Chub’s adventures.

“I just had time to get behind that bale of hay with the horse-blanket
over it when they came into the tent. I thought sure they’d seen me! I
made myself as small as possible and felt around for the bottom of the
canvas, thinking every minute they’d reach down and pull me out.”

“Oh, but you were scared!” laughed Roy.

“I was,” acknowledged Chub. “You’d have been scared, too.”

“Then what happened?” asked Harry, eagerly.

“Now, if Dickums will cut a few more slices of bread I’ll proceed with
the narrative. I’m as hungry as a bear!”

“Well,” Chub proceeded, as he buttered another slice of bread and
helped himself to the stewed apricots, “I got my feet through under
the bottom of the tent and squirmed out until I just had my head
inside. I wasn’t going to leave that there, but just then the two
Gipsies began shouting and quarreling with each other, and I was pretty
certain that they didn’t know I was around. So I stayed still a moment
and listened. I couldn’t understand more than one word in three, for
they used the funniest language I ever heard, but I didn’t have any
trouble making out that one chap wanted money and the other didn’t want
to give it to him. I thought every minute they were going to fight, but
they didn’t; just romped around and called each other things in Gipsy
language–and sometimes in English–and raised all sorts of a rumpus.
I thought you could have heard them a quarter of a mile away, and I
wondered why the other folks didn’t come over to see what was up. But
I suppose they’re used to it. Presently I got my head outside, too,
but in such a position that I could see in under the canvas and hear
everything.

“Pretty soon they calmed down, and I heard one of them saying something
about a dollar, and the other fellow saying ‘Two dollars! Two
dollars!’ over and over. And finally one of them hove in sight, and I
ducked quick. I heard him fussing around back of the bale of hay, and
thought he was getting some of the canned things for supper. I lifted
the canvas a little way and saw that he wasn’t looking toward me at
all. He was leaning over the bale and pulling a piece of brown paper
out between the layers of hay. When he had it out he opened it, and I
felt like kicking myself. For there were bills and silver and coppers
wrapped up in it, and I knew it was the money I’d been looking for. But
I kept still and watched. He took a two-dollar bill out of the bunch,
did the rest up, and put it back where it had been before, shoving his
hand ’way into the hay. Then he went off, and I heard them squabbling
again, only they weren’t so peevish now.

“Then, thinks I, it’s my time. So I squirmed back until I had my head
and shoulders in the tent again. By stretching I could reach the bale,
and in the shake of a lamb’s tail I had that little bundle of money in
my pocket. Then I thought it would be a good scheme to have a look at
the chaps so I could tell them again. That’s where I made my mistake,
for, just as I got my head around the corner, one of the fellows got
up off the box he’d been sitting on and looked my way. I saw him all
right, and the other fellow too, but he saw me, which wasn’t down on
the program. I saw his eyes get big and his hand shoot out toward
me, pointing, and I heard him break into song, but I didn’t wait any
longer. I sneaked. I got tangled up in backing out, and lost some time
that way, but I got out before they reached me, and was up and running
like the dickens for the woods.

“Well, you never heard such a row as there was! I hadn’t got half-way
to cover when the whole place was in an uproar and everybody in that
camp was coming after me. The fellows in the tent came, too; one
through the back and the other by way of the door. It was a merry
chase, fellows! I made for the deep woods and then circled around
toward the road, thinking I could outrun any of them if I had a good
track. But I was off my reckoning. I reached the road all right and
had a few yards’ start, when the chap who had seen me broke out of the
woods and came after me like a house afire. And he can run, that Gipsy!
If we had him at college we’d win the sprints easily! I put on every
ounce of steam I had, but he kept gaining on me, and I saw that it was
no use. Then I made a dive for the woods again, thinking I might manage
to give him the slip. But instead of that I gave myself the slip. I
tumbled over a root or something, and before I could get my feet again
he had me.”

“Oh, Chub!” gasped Harry. “Did he hurt you?”

“Cut his head off,” said Dick. “Look for yourself, Harry.”

“No, he didn’t hurt me, that is, not to mean it. He pretty nearly broke
my back when he landed on me, but that was unintentional, I suppose. By
the time I’d got up, about six more of the Indians were on the scene,
all talking and jabbering away like mad. No one seemed to know what the
trouble was, and the chap who had me couldn’t get them to keep still
long enough to let him tell them. I never heard such a lot of noise in
my life. Sounded like a meeting of the Football Rules Committee. Well,
they held on to me and shouted and yelled, and I got my breath back and
tried to put on a front.

“‘What do you mean by chasing me like this?’ said I. ‘Let me go
immediately’–or words to that effect. ‘What you do in my tent?’
asks the pasty-faced gentleman who had caught me. ‘What tent?’ says
I, looking as innocent as anything. Then they all broke out again,
and pointed, and began to lug me back to their old camp. I went
unwillingly, but I went; that is, I went part way. Because, just as we
were getting back to it, along comes a cloud of dust with an automobile
in it. So I began to yell like anything: ‘_Help! Murder! Fire!
Thieves!_’ And, being a human sort of an automobile, it stopped quick
to see what was up. When the dust had blown away I looked up to find
Joe Whiting grinning down at me in surprise.

“‘Well, what the dickens are you doing here, Eaton?’ he asked.

“‘Having my fortune told,’ said I. ‘And I don’t like the way it’s
turning out.’

“Well, Whiting had three friends with him–they were touring, it
seemed–and it wasn’t more than half a minute until I was in the car
with them. The Gipsies didn’t want to let me go. They said I’d been
caught stealing; they can talk good enough English when they want to;
and they were going to have me arrested. But the fellows said I was
a particular friend of theirs, and they couldn’t spare me. Whiting
sort of wanted to get out and break up the camp, but I told him I knew
something that would be more fun than that. So we went on, and I told
him all about everything; how I’d found the stolen things and the
money, and all we had to do was to get the sheriff and go back there
and get them. Whiting said they weren’t in any particular hurry, and
they’d run over to Washington Hills and bring the sheriff back. So we
did it. Found the sheriff washing up for supper, got him into the car,
and hustled him back. The rest was easy. He just showed those Gipsies
his badge and the handle of his revolver, and they said, ‘Welcome to
our city.’ We hunted through the whole place and got everything except
a few cans of vegetables and two strips of bacon. Then the sheriff
threatened to arrest every one if they didn’t pay up for what was
missing and move out of the township before to-morrow night. And they
agreed to everything. We threw the booty into the automobile, said good
night, and kited for the store.”

“Well, you had a busy and eventful afternoon,” said the doctor, when
Chub had ended. “It was a lucky thing that your friends came just as
they did. I’m afraid you’d have fared badly otherwise.”

“I don’t believe they’d have hurt me, sir,” answered Chub. “You see,
they didn’t know I’d taken the money; they didn’t find that out until
the sheriff told them. And I don’t believe they’d have thought of it. I
think they’d have let me go after a while.”

“It did me good,” laughed Dick, “to see the expression on old Jim
Ewing’s face when you lugged the stuff into the store. He was a
picture.”

“The old ruffian!” growled Roy.

“Well, he saw the error of his way,” said Chub, cheerfully. “And he
came as near apologizing as it was possible for him to, I suppose.”

“Said he’d made a mistake; we could have told him that before,”
muttered Roy. “I hope he–” Roy glanced at the doctor and gulped. “I
hope he loses his train.” The others laughed.

“Well, Mrs. Peel apologized for him, anyway,” said Dick. “She’s a
nice old lady. She was so excited she didn’t know what was happening,
especially when Whiting bought the dozen cans of tomatoes. What did he
want with those, Chub?”

Chub chuckled.

“I asked him, and he said they were fine to set up on the fence-posts
and shoot at with revolvers. Said every time you hit one the blood
came. He’s a good chap, fellows. We must look him up when we get back
to college.”

“We sure must!” said Roy, vehemently. “Come on and let’s get these
things washed up. It’s ’most time for bed.”

“I wonder,” remarked the doctor, as he pushed Snip off his lap and
arose–“I wonder if you boys know what the date is.”




“Yes, sir, the fifth,” replied Chub, promptly.

“Sixth, isn’t it?” asked Roy, doubtfully.

“Seventh,” said Dick, as though he really knew.

“The seventh it is,” replied the doctor, “the seventh of August.
Does that suggest anything to any one?” He looked around the circle
smilingly. But every one looked utterly blank, every one save Harry;
she looked uneasy, as though she would have liked to change the subject
of conversation.

“Somebody’s birthday?” asked Roy, vaguely.

“Labor Day!” exclaimed Dick, and was promptly hooted.

“No, it’s nothing particular on the Gregorian calendar,” said the
doctor, “but it’s an important day on my calendar, I might say _our_
calendar.” And he laid his arm over Harry’s shoulders and pulled her to
him.

“Well, it isn’t Harry’s birthday,” said Chub, “because she–”

“And it isn’t the doctor’s,” Dick interrupted, “because that comes in
February. We–we observed it last time.” And Dick smiled doubtfully at
the doctor.

“You did indeed,” replied the latter, dryly, to the accompaniment of
Harry’s laughter.

“What did you do?” asked Chub, gleefully.

“They serenaded me,” said the doctor, with one of his slow smiles.
“The music was really nice, but, as it happened at half-past six in
the morning, I was obliged to interrupt it. In fact, I was obliged to
interview some half-dozen of the leaders at the office. And our friend
Dick, here, was one of them.”

“Oh, we didn’t mind, sir,” replied Dick, cheerfully. “You see,” he
explained, turning to Chub with a reminiscent grin, “we got up early,
about twenty of us, and went to the cottage. There were about eight
of us who could play things, and we had two violins, three banjos, a
concertina, and–and–”

“A clarionet!” prompted Harry, her eyes dancing.

“Yes, and we made pretty good music. We played ‘Boola’ and ‘Dixie’ and
something else. They weren’t especially appropriate, of course, but we
had to play what we all knew, or what most of us knew. We were just in
the middle of the third number on the program, with everything going
finely and the clarionet skipping every third or fourth note, when
up went a window and out popped the doctor’s head. ‘What does this
mean?’ he asked, very sternly. Then we all cheered and made noises on
the fiddles and things, and yelled, ‘Happy birthday, Doctor!’ And the
doctor told us to go back to the dormitory instantly. And we went.”

“And then you went to the office after breakfast, eh?” asked Roy.

“Oh, yes,” replied Dick, carelessly, “but the doctor didn’t really mean
half he said!”

Dr. Emery’s laughter mingled with that of the others.

“But you haven’t guessed my riddle yet,” he reminded them.

“I give it up, sir,” said Chub. “The seventh of August doesn’t mean a
thing to me.”

“Well, we wish it didn’t to us, don’t we, Harry?” Harry nodded
sorrowfully. “It’s the end of our two weeks’ cruise on the _Slow
Poke_,” said the doctor. “It’s the day we were due home.”

“O–oh!” exclaimed the boys in chorus.

“Can’t you stay a little longer, sir?” asked Chub, eagerly. But the
doctor shook his head with decision before Harry could get out the
words on her tongue.

“No, I’m afraid not, Chub. I’ve an engagement at home the day after
to-morrow and some things to look up first. I ought to have been back
to-day, I suppose, but I think one day won’t matter. Do you think you
can get us back to-morrow?”

“Easy, sir, if you really must go,” answered Chub. But Dick shook his
head dubiously.

“Why not?” challenged Roy.

“Well, you see, the engine hasn’t been working very well of late, and I
shouldn’t be a bit surprised if it just stopped entirely to-morrow.”

“Get out! You haven’t had it going for days!” said Roy. “How do you
know?”

“Feel it,” answered Dick, gravely. “I–I have a premonition.”

“And how long do you think it will be before the engine gets to working
again?” asked the doctor, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Probably about a week, sir,” replied Dick, slyly.

“A very intelligent engine,” said the doctor, with a smile. “You have
a talk with it to-night, Dick, and explain to it that I am obliged to
be at home to-morrow. Maybe it will decide to go on with us. You might
say, that if I can’t get home on the _Slow Poke_ I’ll have to ferry
across and take the train.”

“In that case,” said Dick, regretfully, “it–it might postpone its
breakdown until later. But I feel sure that it won’t last longer than
it takes to reach Ferry Hill.”

“Goody!” cried Harry. “Then you can stay and pay us a visit, can’t
they, papa?”

“They’re going to,” he answered. “They’re going to stay with us at
least a week, aren’t you, boys?”

The boys looked at each other questioningly. Finally:

“I’d like to,” said Chub, “if the others–”

“We’d all like to,” said Roy. “And we will if you’re sure you don’t
mind, doctor.”

“Mind! Of course I won’t mind! Why, Mrs. Emery wouldn’t forgive me if I
let you go back without a real visit.”

“If they don’t come,” said Harry, “I won’t speak to them again ever!”

“Oh, we’re coming,” said Chub. “We’ll sleep aboard the boat, doctor, so
that Mrs. Emery won’t have to bother about us much.”

“Just as you like about that, boys, but you’ll take your meals at the
cottage; that’s understood. How much longer is your cruise going to
last, Chub?”

Chub looked doubtfully at the others.

“Well,” he replied, finally, “this is the seventh, and if we stay at
the school a week that will bring it to about the middle, won’t it?
Then if we went back to New York slowly we could make the trip last to
about the twentieth. And, as far as I’m concerned, I think I’d be ready
to quit by that time.”

“That’s long enough,” said Dick.

Roy agreed with him. “We’ll have been gone over six weeks by that
time,” he said. “And there’s no use prolonging a good time till you
begin to get tired of it.”

“And there’s no use staying up all night,” said Dick, with a yawn. “I
wager you’ll dream the Gipsies have got you to-night, Chub.”

“If I do,” answered Chub, “you’ll hear me!”

Continue Reading

MR. EWING IS SUSPICIOUS

Dick looked eagerly at Roy, but Roy shook his head. So far they had
done nothing to merit punishment, but if they set on the farmer he
would have good cause for complaint against them. Besides, as Roy
realized, it was doubtful if they could overcome Mr. Ewing in a tussle.
Roy perched himself on the counter again and shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re making a fool of yourself,” he said, “just as I begged you not
to do.” The farmer paid no heed to him.

“You get your things off, Amanda,” he said, “and look around and see
just what’s gone. I reckon if these fellers own up to nine dollars’
worth you’ll find a heap more than that missing!”

“You’re a horrid, ugly, suspicious old man!” cried Harry, hotly. “And
just as soon as I get back to the boat I’m going to tell my father on
you!”

Mr. Ewing regarded her thoughtfully.

“Father’s with you, is he?”

“Yes, he is!”

“Guess you and your father wasn’t with these fellers a while back, was
you? When they stopped and paid me a visit?”

“No, but we know all about it. The boys only stopped at your place to
buy some milk, and your dog got after them and drove them into the
house.”

“Well, I ain’t saying you’ve got anything to do with this,” said the
farmer, quite kindly. “And if you want to run along home I ain’t got no
objections, Miss.”

“I sha’n’t go until you let Roy and Dick go,” replied Harry,
spiritedly. “You haven’t any right to keep us here.”

“I ain’t keeping you, Miss. I offered to let you out. You run along,
Amanda, and do as I tell you to. The sooner we find out what’s missing,
the better.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Peel, arising with a sigh, “I don’t know what to
say, James. It don’t seem to me as you’re doing right.”

“Don’t you worry about me, Amanda. I’ll stand good for my actions.”

With another sigh and a troubled, doubtful look about her, the little
woman went toward the door into the living-rooms.

“You’ll find the key on the third shelf at the right,” said Harry. “We
locked the door yesterday.”

“Might as well have a look around in there, too,” advised Mr. Ewing.
“Maybe they’ve been collectin’ silverware again.”

Dick groaned loudly, and the farmer cast a baleful look at him as
Mrs. Peel disappeared. Harry joined the boys, and they discussed the
situation in whispers, while Mr. Ewing stood guard near the front door.

“What’s the good of being huffy?” asked Roy. “It’s nothing but a lark,
anyway.”

“But look at the time,” said Dick. “Six o’clock already, and I’m as
hungry as a bear. And the doctor will wonder what’s become of us.”

“That’s so. I say, Harry, you’d better run along to the boat and bring
the doctor and Chub with you. There’s no use in missing our supper just
to please this old galoot.”

“Well, I will,” answered Harry. “I guess when papa comes he will
have something to say to this man!” She shot a vindictive look at
the unperturbed Mr. Ewing. “If you’ll kindly unlock the door,” she
announced, haughtily, “I’ll go.”

“Very well,” said the farmer, “but you fellers just stay where you be;
understand?”

“Yes, we understand,” replied Roy. “We won’t try to rush you. Don’t you
suppose we could get out of here if we wanted to try?”

“Maybe; maybe not,” answered Mr. Ewing, as he unlocked the door.
“Anyhow, you’d better not try it.”

“Good-by,” called Harry. “I’ll bring papa right back.”

“Oh, take your time,” replied Roy, with a wave of his hand. “We’re
quite comfortable. Besides, we have the inestimable pleasure of Mr.
Ewing’s society.”

The door closed again, and the farmer returned the key grimly to his
pocket. After a few minutes Mrs. Peel returned.

“Not a thing’s gone from the house, James,” she announced.

“Are you certain sure?” asked Mr. Ewing.

“Of course I am,” she replied, tartly.

“Well, now you take a look around the store.”

Mrs. Peel proceeded to do so. When she came to the money-drawer she
found the check which Harry had placed there. She brought it to Mr.
Ewing, and the latter looked it all over carefully.

“It looks perfectly good, don’t it, James?” she asked, anxiously.

“Yes, it _looks_ all right,” he acknowledged, grudgingly, “but it’s the
best-lookin’ checks that’s the worthlessest. Horace Collins, over to
Highwood, took a check like this from a stranger once, and it wa’n’t a
bit of good. Came back to him marked right across the face of it, ‘No
funds.’ You can’t ever tell by _lookin’_ at a check what it’s _worth_,
Amanda.”

Roy and Dick sat on the edge of the counter and swung their heels and
grinned.

Mrs. Peel continued her investigation, and when she was through she
did some figuring, dipping the little stump of a pencil at frequent
intervals into the corner of her mouth. Finally:

“It’s just as they said, James,” she announced. “I can’t see as
anything’s missing except the canned things and the bacon. And that
foots up to just eight dollars and forty cents.”

“Glad to hear it,” said Mr. Ewing, in tones which belied his assertion.
“It might have been a heap worse.” He turned to the boys. “If Amanda’s
willing to take that money in cash instead of paper and let you off,
I ain’t got anything more to say. If I was her I’d have ye all put in
jail, but women-folks are soft-hearted and easy-goin’, and it’s for her
to say.”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Peel, hurriedly, “this check may be all right. I
don’t get many of them, you see, and don’t pretend to be able to tell
the good ones from the bad. But James says it’s risky, and so if you
gentlemen wouldn’t mind just giving me the money instead–”

“We’d do it in a minute for you, ma’am,” Roy answered, “but this
gentleman here has got on my nerves. So I guess that, seeing we aren’t
liable for that money anyway, it’ll have to be the check or nothing.”

“Didn’t you agree–” began the farmer, angrily.





“There, there, James,” Mrs. Peel soothed. “There ain’t any cause to
pursue the subject. They’re right, I guess; they ain’t bound to pay
back what the burglars took, and I don’t know as I ought to take the
money from them.” She laid the check on the edge of the counter and
observed it dubiously.

“That’s all right, ma’am,” said Dick. “We want you to have it. We’ve
made it up between us. It wasn’t our fault that the store was broken
into, but still we were left in charge, after a fashion, and we’d feel
better about it if you let us pay.”

Farmer Ewing laughed sarcastically.

“Gettin’ out of it pretty cheap at that, I guess,” he sneered. “If it
was my store–”

“Oh, see here, now, if it was your store you’d have had no customers!”
broke out Roy.

Further hostilities were interrupted by a knock at the door. Mr. Ewing
turned the key and looked out. Then the door swung open, and the
doctor and Harry appeared.

“Well,” said the doctor, gravely and quietly, “what’s going on here,
pray?”

“Is he your father?” asked the farmer of Harry. She nodded.

“Then I’ll explain to him,” said Mr. Ewing. He started in and had
reached the robbery of his farm in June, when his silverware had been
taken, when the doctor smiled and held up his hand.

“One moment, sir,” said the doctor. “I happen to know exactly where all
three of these young gentlemen were during the first three weeks of
June, and it is quite impossible that they could have had anything to
do with taking your silver. As for the time they visited your farm and
were found by you in your house, their explanation is quite truthful.
I’ve known them all for periods of from three to five years, sir, and I
assure you that you can believe what they tell you. As for attempting
to connect them with the recent burglary here, why, that is quite
absurd. I think, Mr. Ewing, that you have allowed your imagination to
run away with you.”

“Sounds mighty fine,” growled Mr. Ewing, “but how do I know who you
are?”

“My name is Emery, sir, and I’m principal of the Ferry Hill School at
Ferry Hill, which, as you probably know, is only a short distance down
the river from here. These boys have all been my pupils, and this young
lady is my daughter. Now, boys, I guess we’d better get back to supper.”

Dick and Roy followed the doctor to the door, Mr. Ewing offering no
objection. At that moment there was the sound of an automobile horn,
and a big gray car swept down the road and stopped with a jarring
of brakes in front of the store. In the front seat sat Chub and Joe
Whiting; in the back of the car were the sheriff and three chaps of
about Whiting’s age.

“Hello, there!” cried Chub, cheerily. “Mrs. Peel in? Tell her we’ve got
pretty nearly all her stuff, and what we couldn’t find we’ve brought
the money for!”

Continue Reading

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE APPEARS

When Roy and Dick and Harry reached the store they found, to their
satisfaction, that the village inhabitants had gazed their fill and
gone. Roy and Dick amused themselves for a while in discovering clues
and evolving theories, but that amusement finally palled, and they
joined Harry at the front of the store and awaited the advent of Mrs.
Peel. With the doors open front and back it was fairly cool, although
outside the sun was baking hot. Two hours wore themselves away to the
slow ticking of the old clock, and Dick became restless.

“My!” he exclaimed, “I wish the old lady would come if she’s coming!”

“So do I,” said Roy, heartily. “And I wish I could get a drink of cold
water somewhere.”

“Why not use the watering-trough?” asked Dick. “Come on. I’m thirsty,
too. Have some, Harry?”

But Harry declined, and the boys went out and held their mouths to the
little iron pipe. And while they were drinking a two-seated carriage
turned the corner and drew up in front of the store. On the back seat
were Mrs. Peel and a tall man who, in spite of the heat, wore a long
black frock-coat buttoned tightly about his lank form.

“That’s Mrs. Peel!” whispered Roy. “Come on!”

Mrs. Peel climbed nimbly out of the carriage and entered the store,
while her companion remained to haggle with the driver over the amount
to be paid for the drive from the station. Roy and Dick entered close
behind Mrs. Peel.

“How do you do?” asked Harry, in a small voice.

“Why, bless me, my dear,” exclaimed Mrs. Peel, “I didn’t think to find
you here!” She looked about the store. “Where’s Jennie?”

“She didn’t come,” answered Harry, gaining courage, “and so we’ve
been keeping store for you. And we sold over twelve dollars’ worth of
things–”

“I want to know!” said Mrs. Peel, beamingly.

“Yes’m, but last night some one broke into the store and stole the
money and a lot of things!”

The little woman paled and glanced apprehensively about her.

“Burglars!” she whispered. “But who–”

“I guess we don’t have to look very far for ’em,” said a voice at the
doorway. Roy and Dick started and looked up. It was the man in the
black frock-coat.

“Thunder!” muttered Roy, softly. “_It’s Jim Ewing!_”

“This is my brother-in-law, Mr. Ewing,” faltered Mrs. Peel. “This
young lady is the one I was telling you about, James, and these
gentlemen–they are friends of yours, my dear?”

“Yes,” answered Harry, “we’re all together with my father and Chub–you
saw him the other day–on a house-boat.”

Roy and Dick were gazing fascinatedly at the farmer, and Mr. Ewing was
staring malevolently back at them.

“James, there’s been thieves here,” said Mrs. Peel, “and they
stole–how much did they take, Miss?”

“They took all the money in the drawer,” said Harry, “and we reckoned
up that they’d taken about nine dollars’ worth of bacon and canned
goods. They broke in the back door–”

“Up to your old tricks again, are ye?” asked Mr. Ewing, harshly. “Ain’t
content with robbing farms, eh? Have to take the bread out of the
mouths of the widows and orphans, too, do ye?”

“Why, James!” ejaculated Mrs. Peel, bewilderedly. “You don’t
understand! These aren’t the thieves! These gentlemen are–”

“Don’t need to tell me anything about ’em,” grunted the farmer. “We’ve
met before, ain’t we?”

“We have,” replied Roy, dryly.

“Didn’t think you’d dare deny it,” was the triumphant response. “Well,
I guess we’ve met once too frequent for your good, you young rascals! I
guess–”

“Why, what do you mean, James?” cried Mrs. Peel, nervously.

“Mean? Mean that these folks is a parcel of thieves, that’s what
I mean, Amanda! Travel around country, they do, in some sort of a
floatin’ robbers’ den. They broke into my house early in the spring
and stole more’n thirty dollars worth of silverware. And then here a
while ago, when Millie was up visiting you, they come around again, and
I found ’em at their tricks and pretty nigh got ’em. But this time I’ll
wager they’ll get what they deserve. You go out, Amanda, and send some
one for the constable.”

But Mrs. Peel was beyond running errands. She subsided into a chair and
fanned herself with her bonnet, looking dazed and frightened.

“You said they was friends of yours,” she whispered weakly to Harry.

“They are,” replied Harry, stoutly and indignantly, “and this gentleman
is quite mistaken. The store was robbed last night, while we were all
asleep on the boat or in the tent.”

“Of course, of course,” chuckled the farmer. “You didn’t know anything
about it, young lady; I don’t say _you_ did. But I guess these fellers
here can pretty nigh put their hands on the things if they want to.
Where’s the other chap?” he demanded of Roy.

“He’s–he’s fishing,” answered Roy.





“Fishin’, eh? Carried a bag along with him, didn’t he? To bring
the fish home in, eh? Yes, he’s fishin’, I’ll be bound–fishin’ in
hen-coops, likely! Got a room where we can lock ’em in, Amanda, till
the constable comes?”

“Why, James, I–I–don’t know what to think! I’m sure these young
gentlemen wouldn’t do such a thing! And–and even if there is a few
things missing,” she continued, nervously, “I–I wouldn’t want to make
any trouble, James.”

“You don’t need to,” he replied, grimly. “I’ll make the trouble. Now
you get up and march into the house, right through that side door
there.” This to Roy and Dick.

“Look here, Mr. Ewing,” said Roy, calmly, “you’ve made a fool of
yourself once before, and it’s time to quit. We weren’t robbing your
house that other time, and we don’t know any more about this affair
than we’ve told you. And if you think we’re going to let you lock us up
in a stuffy old room just so you can make a goose of yourself, you’re
mightily mistaken. Come on, Harry, and leave this crazy man to himself.”

“No, you don’t!” cried the farmer. “You stay where you are! I’m going
to have the law on you, I say! Don’t you defy the law now! Don’t you
do it! If you do it’ll go hard with you, I tell you that! I’ve warned
ye!”

“James,” gasped Mrs. Peel, “don’t be violent! Just–just let’s hear
what they have to say. You tell me, my dear, all about it.”

“Then he mustn’t call Roy and Dick thieves,” answered Harry, angrily.
“He’s a horrid old man, whoever he is.”

“Tell Mrs. Peel all about it, Harry,” said Roy, in a bored tone. “See
if you can make her understand.”

“Well,” said Harry, pausing a moment to collect her thoughts, “it was
like this.” And she told the story of the burglary from the time of
Mrs. Peel’s departure to the station to her return. Mr. Ewing sniffed
and snorted at intervals, and Dick looked several times as though he
was having hard work to refrain from pitching into him, but Mrs. Peel
listened attentively to every word, and when the narrative was finished
turned in triumph to her brother-in-law.

“There, James,” she said. “I told you you were mistaken. And these
young gentlemen have put the money back in the drawer–which I’m sure
they aren’t beholden to do–and it’s there now.”

[Illustration: “You stay where you are!”]

“A check!” scoffed the farmer. “I reckon I wouldn’t count too much on
any piece of paper they give you.” But it was to be seen, nevertheless,
that Mr. Ewing was somewhat shaken in mind, for it would have been very
difficult for any one to have disbelieved Harry’s story.

“Oh, if that’s all that’s troubling you,” said Roy, “we’ll give you the
cash instead.”

“And how about the other things you stole?”

“We didn’t steal them. And I guess you’ll have to look for them
yourself,” said Roy, wearily.

“And how about my silverware?”

“Oh, bother your silverware!” exploded Dick. “I don’t believe you ever
owned any! Anyhow, I’m sick of hearing about it. Come on, Roy, let’s
mosey along.”

But the farmer strode to the door, closed it, turned the key in the
lock, and dropped the key into his pocket.

“You’ll stay where you are a bit longer,” he snarled. “I ain’t decided
yet what to do with you.” Then, before either Roy or Dick remembered
the back door, he had headed them off in that direction as well, and,
with both keys in his pocket, was master of the situation.

Continue Reading

IN THE GIPSY CAMP

After luncheon Dr. Emery remained in charge of the boat, Harry and
Roy and Dick returned to the store, and Chub wandered nonchalantly
away with his fishing-pole. Harry declared that he was as mean as he
could be to desert them now, just when Mrs. Peel was coming back,
but Chub was quite heartless and went off whistling. At the parting
of the roads he waved them good-by, but Harry refused to notice him.
With a resentful toss of her head she walked straight on, her little
tip-tilted nose held high in air.

Chub smiled as he turned and took up his journey. It was the hottest
sort of a hot day, and the road wound on without a speck of shade for
the better part of a mile. He crossed the railroad and after a while
found himself at the summit of a hill, with the river valley stretching
along beneath him north and south for as far as the eye could reach.
There was a small group of sumac-bushes beside the road here, and he
threw himself down in the scanty shade it afforded and rested for a
few minutes. Then he climbed a stone wall, crossed an upland meadow,
and so came to a stream. It was rather a good-sized affair and very
noisy, for it was hurrying down-hill over a bed of boulders. Pools
were few and far between here, but he followed the stream up as it
wound around the side of the hill, and eventually found a place where
a big lichen-covered rock backed the water up into a shallow basin.
The place didn’t look as though it held many trout, but he selected a
fly and made his cast. At the end of ten minutes or so he had landed
a miserable little fish, not much more than a fingerling, which
under ordinary circumstances he would have disdained to keep. But it
was already approaching mid-afternoon, and he couldn’t afford to be
particular. Two more youngsters were added to his string during the
next quarter of an hour, and then Chub decided that he had enough for
his purpose, for he only wanted to convince the Gipsies that he was a
bona fide trout-fisher and not an emissary of the sheriff’s office.
Stringing his catch on a willow twig, he disjointed his rod and slipped
it back into its case, dropped his fly-book into his pocket, and took
up his journey again.

He kept on around the side of the hill and presently was back on the
road, which had begun to dip into a narrow valley which divided it
from the higher range of hills to the westward. He proceeded slowly
and cautiously now, for he didn’t know how near the Gipsy encampment
might be, and he wanted to look it over before he decided on a course
of action. He met no one on the road save a farmer jogging along half
asleep on top of a load of hay. Presently a speck of grayish white
caught his eye. Surmising it to be one of the Gipsy tents, he left the
road and plunged into the woods to the right. It was very still and
warm. Once he thought he heard voices in the direction of the tent, and
presently, as he went softly through the trees and undergrowth, the
gurgling of a stream reached him. He kept on until he had found it, and
then followed along the bank, feeling pretty certain that it would lead
him to the encampment. Nor was he mistaken, for fifty yards farther on
the tents came into view between the trees. He dropped to his hands
and knees and worked cautiously forward until the undergrowth stopped.
There, lying behind a bush, he reconnoitered.

The spot which the Gipsies had selected for their camp was an ideal
one. On one side lay the road, on the other the brook. It is probable
that the band had camped there each summer for a number of years and
that their occupancy of the spot had denuded it of underbrush. At all
events, it was quite clear of bushes and was just such a place as one
would have picked out for a picnic. The trees were scattered, but gave
plenty of shade; there was a fine turf underfoot; the road was at their
front door and water at their back.

There were two big, gaily painted vans and five tents, the latter
scattered about apparently at haphazard. One tent, a circular one and
the largest of the lot, was set in the center of the grove, and this
Chub guessed to be the queen’s apartment. Here and there clothes hung
drying or airing from the branches, some bales of hay were piled beside
one of the wagons, there was a pungent odor of smoke from a smoldering
fire. Chub counted eight horses tethered about where they could crop
the grass. Outside one of the tents hung a string of baskets, and in
the air, mingling with the odor of the wood-smoke, was a faint perfume
of sweet-grass. Each tent appeared to have its own fireplace and
commissary. Kettles and pans littered the ground about the piles of
ashes, and here and there dried branches were heaped for fuel. It was
all rather interesting, and for a moment Chub quite forgot his errand.

There were three men, perhaps twice as many women, and several
children, the children ranging in age all the way from that of the
baby, who kicked and crowed in his mother’s arms, to that of the lad of
apparently twelve, who was lazily breaking up fire-wood with an ax at
the far side of the camp. The men were frankly idle, sitting with pipes
in mouth outside one of the tents.

The women, all save the one with the baby, were busy. One was mixing
something for supper in a flat tin pan, others were weaving baskets,
and another was sewing. Chub had always imagined Gipsies to be rather
picturesque folks, with earrings and brightly hued costumes. But there
was little of the picturesque about these. The women wore calico
dresses of blue or brown, the men were clad in things that would have
disgraced a tramp, and the children came into, apparently, whatever was
left. Chub, looking them over, decided that the doctor was quite right;
they certainly were an evil-looking lot, and he wondered what their
course would be if they suddenly discovered him lying here behind the
bush. They looked as though they would hesitate at nothing. And just
when he had reached that decision, one of the men broke into laughter,
the others joined him, and the women smiled in sympathy, the swarthy
faces falling into soft lines and the dark eyes glinting merrily.
Perhaps, Chub reflected, they were human, after all. This, under the
circumstances in which he found himself, was an encouraging thought.

He had come there with the idea that possibly he might catch sight of
something which would prove that the burglary had been performed by
one of their number. He had scarcely expected to find them seated in
a circle dividing the spoils, but it had not seemed impossible that
he might discover a telltale can of peaches or a side of bacon. But
now, search as he did, not one speck of incriminating evidence could he
see. The only course remaining, then, was to retrace his steps through
the woods and approach the camp openly by the road. Perhaps, if he
made believe that he had lost his way and asked them to set him right,
he might get an opportunity to look around the camp and possibly see
inside one or two of the tents. He might even buy a basket or two. But,
on the point of creeping away, a new plan occurred to him, a plan which
engaged his ardor because of its sheer recklessness.




The nearest tent was about thirty feet from where he lay, its back
toward him. No sounds came from it, but he couldn’t be sure that it
was unoccupied, for all of that. Yet, somehow, he believed that it
was. It seemed fair to assume that the three men in sight were the
only ones left in camp; that the others were away, peddling, dickering
for horses, fishing. Surely no one would remain in a stuffy tent a
hot day like this, he thought. By creeping a few yards to the left he
would have the tent between him and the Gipsies, unless some of the
children, who were fairly quiet under the effects of the heat, should
take it into their heads to roam his way. But that was a risk he could
afford to take, he decided. Once at the back of the tent, he could
easily raise the canvas and look in. It might be that he would discover
nothing for his pains, but, on the other hand, he might find a good
deal.

Leaving his rod and the fish under the bush and mentally locating
it so that he could recover them later on, he crept back and made a
detour of a dozen yards toward the road. When he again reached the
edge of the clearing, the tent was in front of him and the Gipsies out
of sight. Pausing a moment to rest, for creeping on hands and knees
is breath-taking work, he slid stealthily from cover and crept toward
the tent. He didn’t pause to listen, for the sooner he was behind the
tent the sooner he would be well hidden. But when he crouched against
the soiled canvas he paused and harkened intently, his heart pounding
against his ribs like a hammer. Only the murmuring of voices reached
him, however, and he breathed easier.

Putting his head down, he peered under the edge of the canvas, and his
heart gave a throb of triumph, for there, not a foot from his nose,
were a dozen or more of the stolen cans!

They were piled on the ground at the back of the tent, the corner of
a yellow horse-blanket half covering them. Chub squirmed until his
head and shoulders were inside the tent, and reached forward. Beyond
the cans were two of the strips of bacon, wedged in between them and a
bale of hay. Not a sound came from the tent. Noiselessly Chub drew the
rest of his body inside and peered around the corner of the bale. The
tent was empty. Three beds composed of narrow straw-filled ticks were
in sight, a small old-fashioned trunk, cooking utensils, some clothes
swinging from the ridge-pole, a couple of empty boxes on top of one of
which lay a pack of dirty playing-cards and a pile of harness. Chub
smiled his satisfaction and then pondered his next step. If the stolen
groceries were here it was plausible to suppose that the money was
here, too. Of course it might be in the thief’s pocket, but Chub didn’t
believe that Gipsies were in the habit of carrying much money around
with them. If only he knew where to look!

The flap of the tent was open, and through the opening he could see
the woman with the baby, and two of the children rolling about on the
grass. If, he thought, he could only close the flap! Then he saw a way
of accomplishing that result. By keeping close to the side of the tent
on the right he would be out of sight of the Gipsies and could creep
around and loosen the flap. So he dodged back behind the bale of hay to
the farther wall of the tent, and crept along it until he could reach
the flap. It fell into place, cutting off the shaft of hot sunlight
that had flooded the front of the tent. As it fell, he dropped to the
ground and peeked out under the bottom to see if it had been noticed.
But, save that one of the men had got to his feet and was standing
yawning and stretching, the inhabitants of the camp were much as he
had seen them last. He waited and watched until the yawning man had
stretched himself out in the shade and pillowed his face in his arms.

[Illustration: Two men entered the tent]

Then he began his search. As rapidly and as quietly as he could he
began at one corner of the tent and worked around to it again, lifting
blankets, boxes, beds, cooking-utensils, and whatever else he found.
He searched the ticking of the mattresses for slits through which the
money might have been thrust, and he tipped the bale of hay up and
looked under it. But when he had completed the circuit of the tent
he was forced to acknowledge defeat, for not a penny of money had
he found. It was hot and stifling since he had closed the flap, and
the perspiration was pouring from his face, when he finally paused
nonplussed and sought about in vain for some hiding-place he had
overlooked. At that moment footsteps sounded close beside the tent,
shadows passed across the sloping canvas, and Chub’s heart jumped into
his mouth. With a bound he reached the bale of hay and tumbled himself
behind it just as the flap was lifted and two men entered the tent.

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