The tour of the Zero Club, or, for fame and fortune

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The tour of the Zero Club, or, for fame and fortune

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The tour of the Zero Club, or, for fame and fortune
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Round the world library
Bonehill, Ralph
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New York
Street & Smith
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1 online resource (259 pages)


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Adventure stories ( lcsh )
Hunting stories ( lcsh )
Dime novel ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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031020002 ( ALEPH )
13130044 ( OCLC )
R20-00001 ( USFLDC DOI )
r20.1 ( USFLDC Handle )

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34 Round the World Library Stories of Jack Harkaway and His Comrades Every r eade r, young and old, has h eard of J ack Harkaway. His r e markable adventures in out-oft h e-way corne r s o f the globe are really classics, and e v ery on e should read the m Jack is a splendid, manly character, full of life and strength and curiosity. H e has a numbe r of very Interesting companio n s-Profe s sor Mole, for Instance, who is v ery funny. H e also has s om e v ery strange enemies, who are anything but funny. Get Intereste d in Jack. It will p a y you. ALL TITLBS ALWAYS IN P/?INT By BRACEBRIDGE HEMYNG 1-Jack Harkaway's School Days 21-Jack Harkaway Out West 2--Jack Harkaway's Friends 22-Jack Harkaway Among the 3-Jack Harkaway .[\.fter Schoel Indians Days 23 -Jack Harkaway's .Cade t Days 4-Jack Harkaway Afloat and 24-Jack Harkaway In the Black Ashore Hills 5-Jack Harkaway Among the 25-Jack Harkaway in the Tolls Pirates 26-Jack Harkaway' s Secret -Bllly Barlow 15-Jack Harkaway's Pluck 36-Larry O'Keefe 16-Jnck Harkaway in Australia 37-Sam Sawbone s 17-Jack Harkawny and the Bush-38-Too Fast to Last rangers 39-Home Base 18-Jack Harkawny' s Due l 40-Spider"nnd Stump J.9-Jack Harkaway and the 41-0ut for Foo Turks 42-Rob Rollalong, Sailor 20-Jack Harkaway in New York 43-Rob Rollalong In the Wilds 44--Phil, the Showman .......... ,, ... ...... By Stanle y Norris 45-Phil's Rivals ....... ..................... By Stanle y Norris 46-Phil's Pluck .............. .......... By Stanley Norris 47-Pbil's Triumph ... ............. ........ By Stanle y Norris 48-From Circus to Fortune ............. .. By Stanle y Norris 49-A Gentleman Born ...... ............. By Stanle y Norris 50-For Hi Friend's l'fonor .. .. ,., ..... By Stanley Norris 51-True His TruBt. ..................... By Stanley Norris 52--Facing' the Music ... .. .... By Stanley Norris


ROUND THE WORLD LIBRARY 3S 53---Jungles and Traitors ........... By William Murray Graydon 54-The Rockspur Eleven ................ By Burt L. Standish 55-Treasure Island ................ .' By Robert Louis SteY enson 56-In Fort and Frison ..... .' ... By William Murray Gray-The Silent City .............................. By Fred Thorpe 70-The Young Railroader's W:i:eck ........... J3y Stanley NEl"r:ie To b e published in September, 1927. 71---C::ast Awa' y in .......... ....... By Victor St. Clair 72--'l'he Young Railroader's Victory ........... By Stanley Norrie To be JlUIYlisbed in October, 1927. 73---The Unknown Island .................... Ry Xatthew J. lloyaJ 74-The Young Railroader's Long Run ........... By Stanley Norris To be published in November, 1927. 75--The Treasure of Star Island ............... By Weldon J. Cob& 76-The Young Railroader's Comrade ............ By Stanley Norris To be published in December, 1927. Unknown Worlds ...................... By John De Morgan 78--The Young Railroader's Promotion ............ By Stanley Norris Take Substitutes? S&S Novels i are the real thing!


/ The Tour of the Zero Club OR FOR FAME AND FORTUNE BY CAPTAIN RALPH BONEHILL A uthor o f "Ne ka, fue Boy Conjure r ." STREET & SMITH CORPORATION / PUBLISHERS 79-89 Seventh Avcmue, New York


Copyright, 1902 By STREET & SMITH The T our of the Zero Club All rights reserve d including that of translation Into torelgn languages. in<'lnding the S candinavian. Prl11tcd In the U. S. A..


TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. CHAPTER I. ON THE TOBOGGAN -SLIDE. "All ready?'' "All ready!" "Then here we go I Hold on, everybody, unless yoll want to be sent flying when we readi the curve!" As Harry Webb uttered the last words he gave his long; toboggan, the Buster, a final shove, and hopped on behind his three companions, and away they started on the trip down Doublehead Hill. It was a stirring sct!ne. The upper and lower hills. although light in the full moon, were made doubly bright by the scores of bonfires and pine torches which blazed on either side of the narrow toboggan-slide. Scores of boys and girls were out, and not a few ladies and gentlemen also, and all looked warm and happy in their gayly-colored toboggan suits. The long, low sleds were out by the dozens, and Jack Bascoe, who was steering the Buster as best he could, had a difficult time of it, keeping clear of dangerous colli &tons. "By jingo I but this is fine!" cried Andy Bascoe, Jack's


I 10 '.J:'OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. younger brother. "Who would want better sport than this?" "You're it's fine!" returned Boxy Woodruff, the rnost light-hearted boy in Rudskill. "A fellow would like to keep sailing like this forever, eh? Just spread out your arms and-wow!" Boxy's imitation of flying came to a sudden stop as the toboggan shot over a little hill and came down with a thump on the other side. He was thrown a bit to one side, and only saved himself by grasping Jack Bascoe around the middle with both arms. "Hold on, Boxy!" cried Jack, a little alarmed. "That's wnat I'm doing," returned Boxy. "I feel you," said Jack, grimly. "But don't pull me off, please. I've got to keep my eyes open for the other to boggans and sleds., you know.'' "I;m all right now, and I'll do my flying act" some other time, returned Boxy. "Here comes the. Whistler!" cried Harry. "We ought to be able to beat Pete Sully's toboggan." "Of course !" added Andy. "Everybody push!" put in Boxy, in a diy way that made laugh. "Maybe you would like me to get off and help pull," he added, in mock seriousness. As they Were going at a speed little less than a mile a minute down the long hill, the others laughed louder than ever. The WhisJler, with Pete Sully, the bully of the town, and several of his chums was creeping up by their side.


ON' THE TOBOGGAN-SLIDE. 11 It was a brand-new toboggan, and slid along as though greased. "You fellows ain t in it any more!" shouted Sully to Harry, as he came within speaking distance. "Here's where we leave you away behind I" "You've got more weight!" returned Harry. "Give me the same weight, and the Buster will walk away from you with ease." ''I'll bet you a dollar you can't!" shouted Sully. "I haven't got a dollar to bet, Pete," replied Harry, and he told the truth, for, although owned the Buster, Harry Webb was poor, and had not known it was to own a dollar for several years, ever' smce bis father had lost his money in an unfortunate real estate specula tioo. "Oh, you're afraid to bet," cried Sully; mockingly. 4'(;ood-by, slow boots!" "I'll bet my pocket-knife against yours we can beat !" said Harry, considerably nettled by Sully's taunts. "We will take the same number aboard and try our yelled Sully, for he was now several rods ahead. Down the last of the second hill and along the levet road shot the Busterr and presently came to a standstill just where the Rudskill turnpike branched off across tlie ... railroad tracks. The Whistler had gone on a couple of J hundred feet farther up the side of the trac1Ji. j "Told you we'd beat you!" Pete Sully, as lat! and his chums joined Harry and his friends. "You


12 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. had better not bet your pocket-knife unless you want to lose it. "I am not afraid to try against you, Sully, and per haps it will be you who will lose his pocket-knife." "Humph!" sneered Sully. "No fear. And if I did, I gue ss I could buy a;other easy enough, even if some body else couldn 't." This was a direct shot at Harry's poverty, and made the ears of the poor boy tingle, while his handsome face flu shed. "Come on and try your skill and quit your talking," exclaimed Jack Bascoe, rather s.harply, and he faced Sully as he spoke. "There is no use in wasting time here." Had it been any one else than Jack Bascoe who had spok en thus suggestively to him, Pete Sully might have pick ed a quarrel then and there. He was a very over hearing boy, and never allowed a chance of whippirrg some other boy go by him. Bat the truth of the matter was, that he had once run up against fist in a most surprising fashion. Bloo d had flowed and from that time on the bully of Rudski!I knew there were two boys in the town he dare not molest, Jack and his younger brother, Andy. So, muttering something under his breath which Harry and his friends could not hear, Sully and his cohorts began to drag their toboggan up the long hillside. They were followed by the other boys, with the Buster. The ;walk was a one, especially so to the two sides that [Wished to race each other. "Whom shall we get to add weight?" asked Harry, as l


ON THE TOBOGGAN-SLIDE. 13 they at last gained the starting-place. "I don't see any of our crowd here ; do you ?--" "I don't," returned Jack. "What's the matt e r with Pickles J ohnsing ?" put in Boxy. "He's got enough weight for two. Pickles Johnsing_ was a stout, round-faced colored boy, with big red lips and teeth which reminded one very forcibly of double-blank dominoes set in twin rows He was a very willing and decent sort of a young darky, and had many friends in the little river town in which my story for the present is located; "He'll do first-rate," said Harry. "Hello, Pickles!" he shouted. "Hullo, dar, Harry!" returned the colored boy. "Got ro' tobog out ag'in, l see." "Yes, Pickles, and we want you to ride down with us this trip. Put your bread-shovel out of the way." "T'anks, Harry, I'se like to ride down on de Buster fust-rate," grinned Pickles. "Wot yo' gwine ter do, race Pete Sully?" "Yes, Pickles, and we must beat him," replied Andy. "You know just how to help us along." "Humph! if he ain't going to take that coo n on the trip!" sneered Pete Sully "You ain t racing niggers, are you, Pete?" questioned one of his followers. "I don't know as I am," returned P e te Sull y s lowly. He walked over to where Harry sat on his t obogga n. "I expected to race white fellows!' he r e m a rked, sourl y


14 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Pickles is all right," said Jack Bascoe. "He' s the dark horse to win. If you are going to race, get ready, for Harry isn't going to wait a.II night for you. "Where' s that knife!" demanded Sully, thus changing the subject. "Here it is," replied Harry, producing it. "Four blades, and every one in good condition. Where is yours?" ., "Lt's just as good as that," retorted Sully, bringing forth his pocket-knife. "Four blades and a corkscrew "Who's going to hold them as stakes? questioned Bill Dixon, Sully s most intimate chum. The matter was talked over for several minutes, and finally a gentleman who had come to the hill to look at the sport agreed to become stakeholder. ,. Before the matter was decided, however, Sully did a good deal of whispering to Bill Dixon, who immediately left the crowd, which had moved over to the largest of the nearby camp-fires. At last all was in readiness for the start. Hearing of the race, many on the course left their toboggans and sleds to witness the contest "Now, remember, the first to reach the railroad track switch wins the race," shouted the "Are you ready?" "We are," said Sully. "Then-go !" With a great push, Sully sent the Whistler on the downward course in fine style. Harry likewise gave the 'Buster a good shove, and his toboggan also started. But


ON THE TOBOGGAN-SLIDE. be was a rod behind the other sled in the fraction of a second. "Something is draggirrg under us!" cried Andy, quickly. "I can feel it plainly." "What can it be?" exclaimed Harry, in alarm. "Any body's clothing caught?" "My clo' all hunky," replied Pickles. "Dat feels like it was a rope under dar. Did yo' tie a rope to de tobog, Harry?" "I took the rdpe off and left it with Mr. Bruley when we started," returned th_ e owner of the Buster. "Ifs no use," he groaned. "They'll reach the tracks before we are half-way down!" In the meanwhile Boxy Woodruff was feeling along the sicle of the toboggan. It was not long before his hand came in contact with an end of wash-line. "Here it is, tied around the toboggan!" he cried. I'll bet this is some of Pete Sully's underhanded work!" "Yank it loose, can't you?" exclaimed Harry, anxiouslv. "Cut it or break it-something." Boxy pulled with all of his strength, and the washline, which, luckily, was old and rotten, parted. An in stant later it was clear of the toboggan bottom, and streaming along behind like the thin tail of a kite. Freed from this hindrance, the Buster shot forward on hs conrse. Like a comet it passed over the brow of the second hill, with the Whistler over a hundred feet ahead. Could they regain the ground they had lost?


CHAPTER H. LOST OR WON? 'lt was one thing for the boys on the Buster to wish to range alongside of the Whistle: again, but it was quite a different thing to do it. Both toboggans were rushing along with furious speed, and now the end of the course was close at hand. Sit jess a little moah to de front," was Pickles' sug gestion, and it was immediately acted upon. "Didn t I tell you you wasn't in it?" shouted Pete derisively. There isn't a toboggan around Rudskill can beat the Whistler!" put in Bill Dixon. On and on went the two toboggans. The last rise was passed and the speed began to slacken. Suddenly the Whistler struck a snag-the dead liml> of a tree, which was half-hidden in the snow. It quickly swerved out of its course, directly in the path of the oncoming "Get out of the way!" shouted Jack Bascoe, who was, as usual, in the front. "Tum her around, Sully!" "Don't run into us!" shrieked several on board of the Whistler. "To the right! To the right!" Those on the Buster tried to do as advised, not only fol" the sake of their rivals, but also to save themselves. But


LOST OR WON? 17 it was too late to do much. The Buster swung around e trifle, and then came up sideways with a bang, and out into the snow flew every one of the boys on both to boggans. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, although sev eral faces and hands were scratched and Pickles got a bruise in the shin, his one weak spot All were soon on their feet, and the toboggans were dragged to one side, out of the way of any that 'might be following "What did you mean by running into us?" demanded Pete Sully, hotly, as he stalked up to Harry. "What could we do when you blocked up th._e course?" retotted the owner of the Buster. "We didn't block up the course !" "You certainly did," interposed Jack. "You ought to be thankful that we didn't run right over you." "It wasn't fair!" "It was fair," said Harry. "But I'll tell you what was not fair-tying that wash-line under my toboggan, and that's just what one of your crowd did." "What's that?" growled Bill Dixon. "We didn't touch yo ur bread-shovel." "Some one tied that rope on," said Andy, picking up the line in question. "It smells like your rope, Longman," !he went on, to a boy whose father was the captain of a schooner on the river. "It's a regular tarred line." "See here, because you lost the race, you needn't claim a foul!" growled Sully, wrathfully. "You maY, think---"


18 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Lose the race!" oame in a chorus from th@se who had rode upon the Buster. "We lost nc:> race !" added Jack, vigorously; "Yes, you did." "I certainly don't see it." I "You ran into us, and that gives us the race," said Bill Dixon. "Not by a jugful," exclaimed Harry. "We were on the left, where we belonged. Had you kept to the right--" "You'd have been all right," finished Boxy. "Come on up the hill and try it over again." \ "I won't do it," returned Sully, sourly. "H's my race." "He won't race because we've found out about that rope," saitl Harry, growing angry. "I'm going to tell the crowd it as soon as we get to the top of the hill." "Do you mean to say that I placed that rope under your toboggan?" blustered Sully, stepping up 'to him with clinched flsts. "One of your crowd did_." returned Harry. "It was put there for the sole purpose of keeping us back." "If you say r put it there, I'll hammer you!" "You heard what I said. I am not prepared to say more-just now. You may hear from me later." Thus talking, the two crowds maQ.e their way to the top of the hill. Here they found an excited group of boys waiting for them. "Did the Whistler win?" cried several. / "Certainly we won!" replied Sully. /.


L-OST OR WON? 19 "It was no race," explained Jack. "They struck a snag, and we ran into them while they were on our side of the course." "Somebody said that Dixon boy tied a under your toboggan," remarked the gentleman who held the two pocket-knives, to Harry. "Did you find anything wrong?" "We did!" cried the boy. "Here is the rope. Who saw Dixon do it?'' The question was passed around, and it finally leaked out that three boys in the crowd had seen the sneaking action performed. Dixem had taken the rope from Long man's sled, :and this Longman was finally forced to ad\ mit. "No race," said the stakeholder, promptly. "I' will give both boys their pocket-knives. Dixon, you ought to be ruled off t11e slide," he added to the bully's toady. "I don't care, I claim that race," said Sully, loudly. "I I don't care a rap about the pocket-knife. It's not half as good as my own." Harry wanted to try again, but the bully declined, say ing it was getting late, al\d he was expected home. IR reality, Sully was afraid to race fairly. "We'll try our good points a:t the skating races day after to-morrow," he said to Harry. "You musn't forget that I am in the five mile race you and Jack Bascoe, and Milne and the rest." "I have a goop memory," returned Harry, pointedly. "And you can rest assured that we'll look out for any, anore rope tricks," and with this parting shot he walked


20 TOUR-OF CLUB. off with his toboggan, accompanied by Jack and the others -"Dat dere,. Sully tnakes me mos' drefful sick," said Pickles. "He t'inks de hull town must bow to him. It would be de best t;ing in de world if da would jess git togedder and run him off de co's." "One of us must beat him in that race," said Jack, de cidedly. "If he wins, he won't stop crowing for a month "You can do it, Jack s aid Andy, who had great con fidence in his older brother's abilities. "He hasn't near the wind you have." "That may be, but he's got everlastingly long legs, Andy; don't forget that." "I'll bank on Harry," put in Boxy, who was 1Iarry's most intimate friend, having lived next door to him for years. "His legs are pretty long, and his wind is right there every time." "Well, I don't care if I do lose,' if Harry wins," said Jack. "So long as we keep the first prize away from the Sull y crowd." "I'm going to do my best to win that race,'' put' it11 Harry. "Not only for the litonor because I want the money." "Has Mr. Grimes decided to put up a purse?" askedi 1ack, quickly. "He told me he would put up a gold medal, but if anYJ one wanted it, he would buy the medal back for fifteen 1dollars. And if I had fifteen dollars I wouldn't have to ask father for a cent of spending money for a year."


LOST'OR WON? 21 "And you could go on that tour with us, couldn'.t !)'OU?" put in Boxy, quickly. "That is, if we go." "I suppose I could," returned Harry, thoughtfully The idea of a winter tour had been in the minds of this crowd of boys for several weeks. Rudskill was situated upon the banks of a well-known river in New York State, and their idea was to build an iceboat, and cruise up the river a distance of some forty miles, and then start on a trip among the mountains to a sheet of water, which I shall call Rock Island Lake. Once on the lake, they would cross it on skates, and then locate a winter camp iq the heart of the motmtains on the western side, where they could spend several weeks in hunting and fishing and other winter sports. The four boys had already formed themselves an organization which they called the Zero -' a most appropriate name for winter use. Jack Bascoe was the president, and also general director of the club, which held weekly meetings regularly in the harness room of Mr. Bascoe' s barn. It was Andy who had nrst proposed this trip, and he had found that idea taken up with avidity. A fire in the town schoolhouse had closed that institution six weeks for repairs, and so the time could be taken without losing any part of the school session. ..... On the following day the four boys gathered together on the river, which, during the past ten days of severe cold, had frozen completely over, to practice for the ing which were to be three in number. I The races were gotten up by a Mr. Grimes, a wealth.>j


22 TOUR OP Tm!' ZER& CLUB. and eecentrk residenf e1f the .to'Wtl, who personally offered the prizes, which were six in nomber, a first and' seeorrtf it for each race. As the boys skated around they talked over tbe mane pre cf leavmg h0me for a and' also of the expease such a "I Fia-ve reckoned it a11 out," saicll Arrdy. squeeze through on fiffy doffars.', .. "Thaf is, if we get t1l1ankets and' such stuff from frome;,. f> saicfRoxy. \. "Certainly. Fifty dollars wffl onfy cover the cost of .. provisions, ammunition and the We must ifurnish our own cfothing, guns, snowshQes, and' such things.'' "Well, that is twelve dollars and a half each," saiiN-t i lil Andy. "And 1 know Jade has it, too." "1 haven't but fifty cents," said Harry, with a light laugh to' cover uphis real feelings. "So, you see, it's race or nothing with me." "I've a g(1()(} mind to withdraw," suggested Jack.


LOST OR WON? 23 "Not for the world, Jack. You must stick, and win it-if you can." "But I would rather have you win it," persisted the president and general manager of the Zero Oub. "No, I won't have it that way. Promise me you'll try for the medal, and will do your best to win it." Jack demurred, but Har. ro/ would not listen, so finally be agreed to do as his friend wished. The ice on the river was as smooth as glass, and the pramises for some great races were very I \


CHAPTER III. THE RACES. ti p c ( ( The foll o wing day dawned clear and bright. The races were to come ofl' at ten, half-past ten and eleven o clock and long before this time the river in front of the town was alive with skaters. Harry had some work to do at home, and did not ai> pear until a little before ten. He found his fr.iends anxiously awaiting him "Thought you had given it up," said Boxy. "I know. you are fairly aching to Pete Sully win that five. miler "He won't win it unless Jack and I drop out," returned Harry. :'That' s so," put in Jack Bascoe. "We'll db our best to leave 'em all behind, eh, Harry?" The Zero Club gathered at one side of the river, while Pete Sully and his crowd gathered at the other. Milne, also a good skater, glided here and there by himself. He was a good deal of a dude, and on this account had but few friends among the young people of Rudskill. Sully w as .bragging about what he was going to do, and talked so loudly that disgusted many who would otherwise hav e t a k e n an interest in his endeavors. He i'l'as willing to b e t all in his pockets-which was not r"""


THE RACES. much-that he would easily outdistance those who were pitted against him. The first race, one of half-a-mile dash, was presently called, and six boys ranged up in line a( the starting point. Boxy was in the crowd, he preferring this sort of contest to one where staying powers were required. The boys started off like a flash at the signal, a loud shouting from the crowd following them. The short race was over almost before the spectators bad ceased to yell. A fellow named Tory had won, with Boxy a close second. "Good for you, Boxy!" cried Jack. "If I do as well I shall be satisfied." "It's a silver medal for my chest," replied Boxy, proudly. "And that's better than a leather on e." After a short intermission, the second race, two miles, straightaway, was called. Andy was in this, and also Bill Dixon and four others. "Look out for Dixon," whispered Jack to his brother. "He may try to trick you as he did the crowd on the to boggan." "I'll be on my guard," responded Andy. When the start was made, Andy did not catch his stroke as quicky as did the others, and as a consequence theyj gained several yards on him. "Go in, Andy !" cried Harry. "You can do it if you try!" "He can't get near Dixon!" sneered P e te S u lly. "Look; he's away behind alr"eady !"


TOU R OF THE ZERO CLUB, 'You must do it, Andy r cried Harry, paying 110 atte'llt tion to the bully's words "Strike out Encouraged by Harry's words, and also-f>y the callin g of his brother and Boxy, Arrdy did recrny make-an extra effort, and before half a mile was c-over.d passed the la two fellows in the race, thus becoming fotrrth. Bin Dixon was in the lead, and for a whi-I'e it looked' a s if he would stay there. He kept crawling away from alf of the others, and at length ldt them pretty muc h behind. But now Andy showed of what metal he was-made With a spurt he swept by tlie tw

THE RAGES. 27 of the day. It must be conie ssed that both Harry' s iieart and Jack's beat ra,pidly as th-r their places in line with Sully and Milne The race :.vas to be two and a half miles up the river, and the sam e distance back. A skater with a big white flag marked the turning point. "Are you all ready boys?" questioned old Mr. Grimes, who conducted the races personally. "Every skate in good order and properly fastened on?" "'es, sir," came first from one and tpen another. go! And good luck go with you!' They were off side by side, not a single one a foot ahead or behind. It was und0ubtedly the. best start of the day. "iN ow slaow 'em what you _can do, SuUy J'' s.Jna:ke 'em up, M.ilne1! "'Strike ou:t faster, Harry!" "There goes Jack Bascoe ahead!" T.he last cry pr.ove.d true. Jack had made a splurge, IM. was now nearly a yard abead GJf the 1:>tber at the end o.f the firs.t .mile, were still closely 'buncb_.ed. Then .Milne put .on steam and went ahead for fully a mile, with Jack behind him, and aad Su'lly sipped behmd Ind out -of the race entirely ...... "Only three now!" Jack Bascoe still in the lea-d!""Sully i s crawling up to him!"


28 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. It was true. Pete s ully's long legs were working witli rapidity, a'fid he was slowly forging ahead of Harry, despite the other's best efforts to keep up. "Jack's going to win that race!" cried And:y, with par aonable pride. "It certainly looks so," returned Boxy. "Well, he de serves it, although I kind of hoped Harry would get that prize and be able to turn it into money." "Jack said he would lend Harry the money if he won the medal,'' said Andy. "He said it just before they started." "Good for Jack," returned Boxy. "In that case I' cer tainly don't begrudge him the token." On and on went the skaters, until the turnillg point was reached, and Jack shot around it in as small a as he could make without slipping,_ and directly on his heels followed Sully. But the bully and Jack were both becoming winded, and they could not keep up the pace. Harry, on the con trary, had got his second wind, and now he put on a spurt that him up yard by yard to the o!hers. "Harry Webb is gaining on them!" "Sully is losing ground on Bascoe !" "Harry is up to Sully !" "What's the matter with Jack? Is he out of wind?" "He must be. See see Harry is right on Jack's lleels !" "Harry has passed them all!" yelled Boxy, in wild de light. "Didn't you he would do it?"


THE RACES, 29 "They've got half a mile to go yet I'' "Never mind, he s getting farther ahead each m1nute !" Boxy was right. Harry was now putting forth every effort. He had just forged ahead of Jack, and it cer tainly looked as if he would come in a winner. But Jack was picking up. He was determined to bea Sully, even if he could not on his friend. A couple of rods were passed, and J;;Iarry was almost sure of winning, when suddenly a wild, girlish cry rang out across the river. Harry fooked to his left and saw a sight that thrilled him with horror. Half-way between himself and the shore was a long, narrow spot where the ice was very thin. A girl, scarcely ten years of age, had ventured on this ice, and broken through, and was now struggling madly to save hersel from drowning. Evidently all the other people on the river were so inter e sted in th e race th a t they had not seen the accident nor h eard her cries for aid. "My gracious !" -burst from Harry's lips, and then for getting all about the race and the prize he wi s hed so much to win, he swept from the straight course in a semi circl e toward the hapless victim. Thinking something h a d gone wrong, perhaps, with Harry's skates, J a ck kept on, d e termin e d to win the medal from Sully, if he po s sibly could Sully saw what the real trouble was but, thoroughly s e lfish, kept on, hoP, ing to win by accident if not otherwise.


TOUR OP THB ZBBO CLUB. "Help me !" screamed the girl, as she saw Harry a proaching. Help me, Harry Webb!" "It's Boxy's sister, as sure as I live!" cried the boy, in horror. "Keep up, Minnie and I'll save you Catch hold of the ice, and don't let the current ca.Fey .)IOtl mider I" /


CHAPTER IV. A MOMENT OF PERIL. !twas a thrilling moment in Harry Webb's life wtien he taw his chum's sister in her atremely perilous situation. He well understood how hard it was to keep up one's courage in that freezing cold water, with the strong cur rent trying its best to drag one under the ice. "Don't let go, Minnie!" be shouted, and just then his own voice sounded strange to him. "Hold fast! I'll be there in another minute!" With powerful strokes he swept nearer and nearer. The somewhat thin ice bent and cracked beneath his 1Weight, but to this he paid scant heed. In his pocket, Harry had a couple of skate straps he had brought along in case anything should happen to his clamp skates. These straps be now buckled together, and l\Y()Und one end around his hand. Getting as close to the hole as he dared, he threw out the end of the straps. "Catch the buckle, Minnie!" he cried.. "Can you reach it, or shall I come closer?" The poor girl in the water tried to speak, but the words "1Quld not come, so benumbed and cold was she. But she put out one hand convulsively, and caught the l I ltrap just above the buckle.


TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Now put the other hand on the ice, and I'll pull yotl up," went on Harry. "Steady, now, or the ice will--" Crack crack crash The ice around the brave boy had suddenly given way, and on the instant he found himself plunged into the chilling water head first. He went down several feet, and then turned and came up The shock to his system all overheated from racing, was terrible, and for a few seconds he seemed fairly paralyzed But he retained his hold on the straps, and by their aid was quickly at Minnie Woodruffs side "Oh, Harry!" the girl burst out. She could not say more, but those two words just then meant a good deal. I'll save you yet, Minnie," he returned, as he caught her around the waist. "Hold fast to me "I-I can't! -I'm so co--cold !" "I'll hold you, then," he went on. "Help! help! help!'' His cry rang out loud and clear across the frozen river. Fortunately, several had seen him tum fr:om the race course, and watched where he had gone. These persons were now hurrying to the scene of the accident as fast as possible. "It's Harry Webb!" "He's trying to save Minnie Woodruff from drown ing!" a plucky boy to race and go in aftet! her I" ,. These and numerous other shouts went up. Then, at!


A MOMENT OF PERIL. 33 'the little crowd drew closer, they speculated upon how they should aid the struggling pair. "Somebody get a rope "We want a board worse than anything! You can't pull them out with a rope." In the meantime one bo y threw out the end of his long tippet to Harry, who caught one end of it and tied it about Minnie's wrist. Then, suddenly, a boy came skating toward the crowd, carrying a long board. It was Boxy Woodruff! "Here's a board to get 'em out with!" he cried. "Now. if-Minnie!" He had not previously recognized his sister, and now at the discovery he almost fainted. "Minnie! and Harry has gone in after her!" he murmured. "Oh, I hope they both get out safe I" Willing hands had taken the board and shoved out one end toward the big hole in the ir:e. "Get back!" shouted a cool-headed man. "Get back, every one, or there'll be a dozen more in together!" The warning came n one too soon, for already the ice was cracking in a dozen directions The crowd started back, only the man and Boxy remaining at the outer end of the board, to prevent it slippiflg around. Bringing every ounce of his youthful strength into play, Harry caught hold of the end of the board, and slowly pulled himself oi.1t of the water, Minn .ie haff clinging, half-held to his side. The ice groaned dismally, but did not break, and in a few seconds the two were safe once more.


TOUR OF THE ZERO Boxy caught :Y.Iinnie in his arms just as the exhausted girl was on the point of A crowd of admiring boys surrounded Harry. "Good for yon, Harry "That was well d one!" "My! but he's got nerve, hasn't he?" "I-I guess I had b etter g e t ho-home!" chattered the hero of the occasion. "I'm almost fro-frozen r "Here, take my overcoat!" It was Jack Bascoe w ho spoke. "You're a brick, H arry I n e v e r dreamed that you had turned out to save Minnie Woodruff." "Who won the ra-race ? questioned Harry, as he slid into tt1e overcoat in short order. "I did. But you w e re ahead and you deserve--'" J a ck broke off sh ort, as a s leigh drawn b y a p air 0 coal black horses dashed up on the ice If was old Mr. Grimes' turnout. G e t in h e re, and put the girl in, too cried the old fell ow who sat on the fr o n t seat be s ide the driver. "Be quick! The sooner y o u both get home the better. You'll catch your death of cold out here on the river." And Minnie Woodruff and Harry were bundled inta the back seat by Boxy and the o thers without delay; the rabes were piled over them, and then off they spun fol" the town. Luckily, the Woodruff and Webb homesteads were not far distant, and inside of ten minutes both the girl and the bo..y were in their homes, and being taken care of by their. mothers.


A MOMENT OF PERIL. 36 Mrs. Webb wished Harry to go bed, but be demurred at this. "I'm not so frail as all that, mother. I'll go up to your 'foom, where it's warm, and take a good rubbing down and change my clothing, and then I'll be all right. I t0nly hope Minnie gets it a11 right." Harry departed up the stairs, and after givtng him a complete change of raiment, Mrs. Webb hurried next coor to assist in making )Jfinnie comfortable, for she knew Mrs. Woodruff was rather sickly, and could not do as readily as most women. 'She. came back inside of half an hour, and found Harry sitting by the dining-room stove, and with him Jack a1..1d '.Andy Bascoe, who had followed Old Grimes' sleigh on foot. "I'm feeling just as well as ever, excepting that I'm awfully tired," said Harry. "How is Minnie?" "She is abed, but the doctor who was summoned thinks she wy1 recover in a

_.Ji TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "That medal ought to go to you, Harry," he said. "And, by rights, I ought to get the second prize, that Sully got. It isn't fair to do you out of your winnings in this way." "But you won the medal; I didn't," said Harry. "But you would have won it, though." "That's so," said Andy. "I don't care so much for the medal, but you know Jl was wishing for the money, so I could go with you fel lows on that tour--" began Harry. "Well, if that's all, I'm going to fix you up on thaf score," said Jack, decidedly. "I'll keep the medal and give you the trip money--" "No, sir!" cried Harry. "I'm going to get that money; myself-by earning it or otherwise, or else I don't go. That's settled." And all the talking the Bascoe brothers could do would not shake him from this determination. It was growing toward evening when Boxy's father, who had been on a trip to New York, came home. He was completely taken aback by the news that awaited him, and very solicitous concerning his only daughter's welfare. He remained by Minnie's side all of that evening, and it was not until well into the forenoon of the next da:v, that he ran over to the Webb house. "My dear Harry, how can I thank you for what you have done?'' he cried, as he grasped the young her

A MOMENT OF PERIL. 37 "Well, I'm downright glad of it," stammered Harry, 11ot finding anything else to say on the moment. "Mrs. Woodruff is also very grateful. I would have been over before, but I could not bring myself to leave Minnie's side." "How is she this questioned Mrs. Webb. "Very much better-in fact, completely out of danger," returned the happy father. "Harry, I do not know h o w to reward you," he went on, still wringing the boy's hand. "I am not looking for any reward, Mr. Woodruff. I only did wh I thought was my duty;." "Nevertheless, you played the part of a real hero, and you deserve a rich reward-more than I or any other man in Rudskill can afford." "I was glad to save Minnie for friendship's sake." "I believe you, my boy, but I not let it rest there, let me tell you that. In a few days I am going down to your fatht'{'s store and have a talk with him about you. Boxwell tells me you have said you would liketo attend college with him." "Indeed, 1fr. Woodruff, I would, but-but--" "Never mind the buts, Harry. I'm going to talk with your father about it. Boxwell says he wishes you to take the clerk,.s place in the store, so as to reduce expenses, but maybe I can fix that up. A bright, brave boy like you deserves a chance in life. Now I must go. By the way, here is a little trifle from 1::1;innie and Mrs. Wood ruff which you must not refuse. Boxwell put it irt their heads to send it to you." As Mr. Woodruff finished, he brought forth a sealed


38 WUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. and thru&t it into Harry's hand. Before die boy could utter any protest he was gone. With his mother looking over his shoulder, f{arry tore open the envelope. There were two things inside. One was a card, on which was written: "Pl<:_ase ccept the inclosed for your share of the ex pense o{ the coming tour of the Zero Oub." Accompanying the card was a crisp, new twenty-dollal! bill. I I I


I CHAPTER V. GETTING READY TO START. "Twenty dollars!" cried Harry, as he spread out the hi.ii "What do you fhink oI tfiat, mother?" "It is a very handsome present, Hany. But ought you to accept the money?" "I don't know. I d@n't like to, exactly, but the Wood ruffs are rich, and they can easily afford it. "Still, you had better ask your father about it "I will. .I'm going down to the store now. lvfr. Webb kept the only flour and feed store in Ruds kill. As we have said, he had been unfortunate in his speculations, and now had to live quite frugally to make both ends meet. The business was well established, and he employed a clerk f-nd also a man to drive the wagon. Harry often helped at the store, it being his duty to carry out small orders and clean up. During the school term he did this work early in the morning and after the school session, but now he did it whenever called upon by h ts parent. Mr. Webb had heard all about the proposed tour of the Zero Club, and, as Harry's heart seemed set on accom panying the other boys, he had good-naturedly determiried to let his son off for three or four weeks, feeling that the outing would make him more willing than ever to ltake OOld when he came back.


40 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB But nothing had been said about the expense, Harry knowing full well that his father could not afford to let him off and give him money besides. Mr. Webb smiled when his son showed him the card and the twenty..,dollar bill. "Well, I don't know," he said, slowly. "I helped Mr Woodruff out more than once when I felt rich and he felt poor. I guess you would better keep the money and go and thank them for the gift. It's just what you need for the trip, isn't it?" "Yes, twenty dollars will more than cover my ex penses,'' said Harry. "And if you say keep th:_ money, let me tell you what I propose to do, father-." "Well?" "We have reckoned it out, and I can getalong on fourteen easily. Now I prnpose to get Paul Lar kins to take my place here for thre weeks at two dollars per week and pay him myself. That help you out, and also give Paul the chance to help his mother, who is down sick." "But the money is for the trip, Harry,',' said Mr. yYebb, although well pleased at his son's generous proposal. "Well, I count that '.ln expense of the trip, getting a substitute I am away." ,, "Well, if you say so, let it be so," returned Mr. Webb, as he turned away to wait on a c.ustomer. When Harry was done work he went back home and fixed up, and then called on the Woodruffs. Blushing furiously, he took both Mrs. and Minnie by the hand, and thanked them for their gift. Someho!V he


GETTING READY TO START 41 was glad to escape the praise they showered upon him for what he had done. He left the house with Boxy, who linked _arms with him in the most brotherly fa s hion. "We ll be greater 'Chums than ever now," said Boxy. "I've talked it over with father, and you are to go to col lege with me when we -graduate at Rudskill Academy. But never mind that now. You'll go on th e tour, th en?" "Will I! Of course I will!" cried Harry. "I'm fairly bubbling over with enthusiasm on that point "Come on and hunt up the Bascoes, then, and we'll talk matters over.' It was not difficult to find Andy and Jack, and to them matters were quickly explained. The quartet composing the Zero Club at once their way to the meeting room, and here began an animatt:d discussion of plans re garding the proposed tour. Andy got out a long slip of and on this were put down the many articles to be taken along-blankets; skates, guns and ammunition, as well as flour, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, spices, canned goods, and half-a-dozen tin plates and various kitchen utensils. These goods were to be packed on a sled belonging to the sled to be tied to the iceboat on the way up the river. Then came the question of the iceboat. As they in tended to use the craft but a short portion of the way go ing and corning, it was decided to knock it together as cheaply as possible. "I have got an old sail or two," said J a ck. "And we can get some old lumber and iron runne rs from the ruins


42 !OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. of the old blacksmith-shop that stands on that property father bought last fall." "And I've got rope enough," said, Harry. "Father's mill giarret is full of it, so much comes around pac kages." Then came the question of when they should start, and ii was unanimously agreed that the following Monday ....._ rnorni1,g would be best. That would give them just enough time to build the iceboat and make other neces sary preparations. Andy was appointed treasurer of the club, and that afternoon each of the boys paid over to him exactly twelvtl dollars and a half, so that, wit!h his own money, he had fifty dollars to expend for the tour. The build ing of the iceboat was begun without delay at the old blacksmith-snop, the land t-0 which sloped down to the river's edge. The news that the four boys were going off for nearly a month's outing soon. spread and many came down to the black!'mi'th-shop to see what was going on. Among the crowd was Pete Sully, who turned up his nose at the boat the boys ere building. "If I couldn't build a better boat than that I'd drown myself he "I'll bet it won't sail a foot." "Build a boat and try your speed against her," said Jack, lightly. "Talk is well enough, but actions go fur ther." "Maybe you think I am't1 build a boat," retorted Sully, angrily. "I'm not thinking in that direction," returned Jack. "I am busy with my own affairs."


GETTING READY TO START. 43 "I'll build a boat and show you," growled Sully, and be went off with Dixon, his ever-present toady. "Do you think he'll build a boat?" '<}Uestioned Harry, who was hammering away on one of the of the skeleton craft. "No; he hasn't brains enough," put in Boxy. "I don't believe he could drive a nail without splitting the board, if he tried his best." "It's a case of sour grapes," remarked Andy. :'He is jealous because we are going off for a good time well, he and his crowd oan go off on their own ac count if they wish," said Jack. "We are not hindering them.'' "Maybe he will take it into his head to g.o off, after we ar e gone," said Andy. "He always was a great hand to imitate somebody else." It was fortunate that the b9ys had the old blacksmith shop to work in, for that day it began to snow furiously, and before the ground was covered to the depth of six or eight inches This, on top of the layer alreadYi pa cked down, made elegant sleighing "\Ve mus t have a few more rides on my toboggan be fore we leave," said Harry. 'Let's spend Saturday evening on the hill," suggested Andy. "We can go early, and still have time to make fin;i[ preparations for our tour before we go to bed." The new fall of snow caused plenty of snowballing to occnr il!. the tc; The Zero Club took full part in this., and had one battle which was not soon forgotten. It was started by Bill Dixon, who had been "laying to


44. TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. get. even" with Harry ever since the episode on the tcr boggan slide. Dixon hung around Harry's. corner on-the morning following the snowstorm, in company with half a-dozen lesser lights of the Sully crowd. Under his arms he held "soakers," almost as hard as flint. When Harry hurriea out of the gate on his way to do-. the morning work at his father's store, Dixon took care ful aim, and let drive with all of his might. The hard snowball took Harry in the left shoulder, hurting him not a little. -Had it landed in his face it might have put out his eye or broken liis nose. Harry staggered back, and Dixon, chuckling over the success of his shot, dodged behind a high board fence. "Give it to him, fellows!" he cried, excitedly. "Give it to him in the head !" Several more snowballs were thrown, but Harry was n6Won guard. He dodged them, and began to run across the up S

GETTING READY TO START. 4 5 him, and the principal qf the gang soon joined the forces a gainst the two members of the Zero Club. Two to sev e n was an uneven contest, and it was J?-Ot l ong before Harry and. Boxy felt they were getting the w o r st of it "1 only Jack and Andy were here!' panted Boxy "Unless they come, we ll have to turn tail and run ." I shan't run," said Harry, firmly. "Let's direct all o f our shots at Sull y and Dixon. They are the lead e rs o f th e crowd, and if we can frighten them back the others will 9uick l y follow Boxy caught the suggestion, and it was carried out immedi ate l y The result was that inside of two minutes Sull y got s110. wballs in his face and neck, and Dixo n half a dozen all over him. "Hi thaf ain't fa ir !" Dixon. "They're throwing at me and nobody else!" "Another volley on Dixon," whispered Harry. "That's th e weak point now." And out flew the hard, white balls, and the bully's t oady received t w o more thi s tim e both in the neck. The snow went down inside of his collar causing h i m to y ell from the cold. "l-1 can't stand this!" he sputtered. "Why don't you fellows do something? "Let's charge on cried Sully, angril y Come on-everybody take all the snowballs he can <;arry." The seven loaded up with amunition at on ce, and they sallied forth But, their di s may Jac k and Andy B ascoc had jus t arriv e d o n the s cene, followed up by


' 46 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB Pickles Johns ing, colored y outh. These three were not s low t o take in the situaition, and the y in "' Dis am m os t lubl y sport!" cri e d P i c kles. H ow yo' lik e dat, Sull y ? Ki! hi! Ain't da t j ess e legant, Dixon? An' heah s o ne fo you, Len Spencer, fo callin me a coon! And Pickl es rush e d to the fr o nt, followed b y Andy and Jack, and compellVig Sull y and his crowd to retreat in spit e of themselves. Aided b y Boxy and Harry, they fought so vigorously that ins ide of ten minutes the bully and his chums were put completely to rout. Sully iand Dixon, and also Len Spencer, Pickles' ticular enemy, were greatl y enraged over e way they had been used. They threatened vengeance on the mem bers of the Zero Club. How carried outtheir threat will be seen later on.


CHAPTER VI. LAST RIDE ON THE BUSftR. By Satl,lrday noon the iceboat was finished. It was aearl y thirty feet long, and boasted of a mainsail only. It was by no means a craft, and the boys did not doubt but vhat there were many crafts on the river that could outspeed her. "But she'll be safe and sure," remarked Jack, "and tlrat is what we want." "We must christen Her before we make a trial trip this afternoon," said Andy. "We have a hundred names, a!Jd not chosen any." ''Let us put each name on a slip of papfr, and put all the slips in a hat," suggested Boxy. "Then draw one, that shall be the name." This was at once agreed to, an

r 48 TOUR OF ZERO CLUB, the nver and back and two miles up the shore. The Icicle behaved very well, and Jack declared that they would have no trouble in reaching their destination on her As soon as the trial trip was over they separated to get their various things, for they were determined that all should be in readiness for the start Monday morning at sunrise, and that nothing was to be done on the Sab bath. Blankets, skates, and other thi?gs were taken down to the meeting-room in the Bascoe 'barn. Andy and Jack had shotguns of their own, and Boxy had a rifle. Harry; had no firearms, but borrowed from his father a smal l shotgun. Each of the boys also provided himself witli fishing lines, and Jack took along a spear for spearing through a hole in the ice. "The sled will be pretty well heaped up, I'm remarked Boxy, who was doing the packing. -"Won't it tip over if ifs too highly packed?" asked! '.Andy. "We'll put a bent stick across the top," said Jiack. "That w ill keep it from tippin g only so far." "We want to make sure that nothing is forgotten," said Harry. "It would be fine to get miles from any, house, and then find that you had forgdtten something: you wanted the worst way." "I've got the lis1, and I've checked off the articles," re turned Andy. "I've even got the forks and knives and spoons down."


LAST RIDE ON THE BUSTER. 49 "Have you got a big carvingkn l fe? We can t do with out that." "By gracious! 1 never thought of that!" exclaimed 'Andy, his face reddening. "We wouldn't be able to cut up a bear even if we shot him." .,, "I've brought a hunting-knife, put in Boxy See liere-a regular Mohawk scalping Wah! wah I Me take white man s scalp and dry him hair for smoking tobac !" he went on, dancing around and flourishing the knife in true Indian fashion-according to adime novel lie had once had the patience to wade through:_ "Beware of Bloody Ben of Digger's Gulch! shrieked in reply, and he up his gun. "He is out to penge the murder of his twenty-f.J-o-ur bro-o-thers !" "Here, Andy, don't point that any one," put in Jack, sternly. "It isn't loaded, Jack." r "Never mind, put it down. There are too many accidents of that sort, where somebody didn't think the gun 'tias loaded." Andy put down the firearm, and packing was Jack going into the to obtain a carving-knife for. the trip. At last the sled wa s loaded and rnvered over with an Gld rubber horse-blanket which Mr. Woodruff gave to y. The load was s trapped on as tightly as possible, over it was placed the stick Jack had mentioned, the o ends sticking out and downward nearly two feet on er side .. Now we are all ready for the s tart, ob s erved Andy,


50 Towt OF THE ZERO CLUB. as he surveyed what had been done. "How I wish' it Monday morning, so that we wouldn't have to wait." "You mustn't forget the rides to-nrght on the Buster," said Harry. "It may be the last time we can use the .toboggan this winter." "Oh, I guess the snow will keep until we get back," said Andy. "But I am right ready for the sport to night, nevertheless." The packed sled was locked up in the barn, and the boys repaired to their various hotnes for supper. "Well, Harry, all ready?" smiled Mrs. Webb, who took a k een intt ::rest in her son's doings. "All ready, mother," he returned. "Is supper ready?, We a-re going tobogganing for the last time to-night." "Yes, you can h_pve supper at once, Harry/ But D 1Want so me wood brought in first." "That's so! I didn't mean to forget it!" he cried, and, (lashing out into the woodshed, which he had piled highl :with split wood read y for the stove, the boy brought in an armful. "Paul Larkins has promised to bring in woodi and do errands for vou I am away," he said. "So 1 .h,, i)'OU won t miss me so very muc "Yes, I will miss you, Harry," returned Mrs. Webb, affectionately. "Oh, yes, I know. And I'll miss you, too," he replied, throwing his arms about her neck and kissing her. "It will seem awfully quee r-to be away from home." "You must take good care of yourself." "I'll try to do that, mother." Harry did not spend much time at the supper table,


...... LAST RIDE ON THE BUSTER. 51 and, his hasty meal finished, he brought out the Buster, and examined the toboggan to see if it was in good trim for the evening's sport. Little did he dream of the fearful peril a ride on the long, low sled was to bring him and the others. Boxy came over a moment later, and together they dragged the Buster off toward the coasting hills. They had to pass the Bascoe homestead, and here Boxy let out the peculiar whistle of the club for Andy and Jack. "They say the Doublehill course is as smooth as glass," said Andy, as he came out with a piece of cake in his hand. "Some of the folks don't dare go down it." ''I'm not afraid," cried Harry. "Atf'you ?" All of the boys agreed that they were not. Each took hold of the rope, and they sodn reached the top of the Jong double hill, where a bright bonfire was already burning, although it was still almost daylight. "We ought to have a brake of some s t ort, I _J;uppose," mused Jack, as he surveyed the shining course,. "It does look awfully slippery." "Oh, go ahead!" put in Boxy, impatiently. "I guess if we 'tumble off it won't kill us." He sprang upon the toboggan, and, seeing this, Andy and Jack followed. Harry gave the customary push and clung fast, and away they started down the first of the two hills. Whiz went the Buster over the smooth surface, rush ing along with a speed that fairly took away breath.


52 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Talk about cannon-ball speed!" cried Boxy. A ca non-ball couldn't catch us! "Hark!" cried Jack. "What was that whistle?" "It's a train on the railroad, replied Harry. "It's the extra Saturday night express! I forgot all about jt," he went on, with a little gasp. "We'll have to turn off at the tracks," put in Andy, nervously. "If we can," said Jack. etwe are going so fast that perhaps it can't be done." "We must do it!" cried Boxy, in alarm. "Yes! yes I we !" It was easy e1tugh to say they must, but how could !they? The toboggan was rushing on faster than ever. Over the brow of the second hill it went, and down the slope toward 'the tracks. Jack tried to steer to the side, and so did the others, but all in vain. And now they saw the train rounding the side of the hill, and coming on at full speed, the bell ringing and the whistle blowing to warn everybody off the Jack, who was in front, made another desperate effort change their course. It was useless. Andy, who was next to him, tried to scream out, but the sound stuck in his throat. It looked as if all four of the boys were go ing to certain destruction. ..


CHAPTER VII. BY A HAIR'S BREADTH. Harry, who half stood up on the end of the flyingi id>oggan, was the only member of the Zero Club who re. He saw at a glance that they and the oncoming express train must reach the crossing at about the same time, and in that case the grim locomotive and heavy cars would deal to them certain death. ')ump for your lives!" he cried out, hoarsely. "Jump. every one of you!" His tone was so decisive that the other three acted on it almost mechanically. Jack, who was in front, leaped frst, and after him came all the others in a heap. Over and 9ver they rolled, each trying to shield himself as much as he could by the ov e rcoat he w o re. Jack went down to the bol'tom of the hill on his head and poor Andy came over him, striking his for e head on a tie, the blow rendering h i m unconscious. Boxy slid along on his chest to one s ide, and cra s h e d into a mass of brush with such force that his cloth ing was torn to ribb o ns, and his face and hands w er e scratched in a dozen places / Harry struck on his back, and turnedhalf-a-dozen different ways before he could st o p him s elf. When


TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. finally he did c o m e to a halt, it was within two feet o{ the railroad tracks. The powerful locomotive rushed past, followed by the tender and two cars. Then there was a series .of sharp jerks as the lever was reversed by the engineer, the tracks were sanc\ed, and the long train came to a sudden halt. The conductor and several brakemen were out almost instantly, demanding to know what was the matter. "Come pretty near running over that crowd!" cried.' out the engineer. "If they had not jumped, I reck

.. BY A HAIR'S BREADTH. 55 "We can't wait," said the contluctor. "You want to be more careful how you coast down this hill," he went on, to the crowd that was beginning to collect. "If you don't, we'11 have the worst kind of an accident here some day.'' Ile motioned to the engineer, and hurried to one of the c ars, followed by the other train hands. In a few sec onds the express was once more on its way The crowd around the boys kept growing, as it spread t hat an accident had occurred. "Harry Webb's toboggan was smashed by the ex-p ress 1" "Andy Bascoe was almost killed!" "Every one of them was shaken up badly!" Under the tender care of Jack and the others, AndY1 soon came to himself. But his head ached fearfully, and' h e could hardly stand on his feet. "Yo' sit on my bread-shubble, and I'll ride yo' h6tne," said Pickles J ohnsing, who happened to be on hand. Yo' can sit on an' hole him, Jack, if yo' wants to," he c ontinued. So Jack got on and made it comfortable for Andy, whose head he had bound up with his own handkerchief and several others. Although they felt sore in every j o i nt, Harry and Boxy insisted on helping Pickles dragi the sled to its destination. "The Buster is smash.eel to bits," said Boxy on the way. "I know it," returned Harry. "But I don't care ad

66 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Nor I. My! I ain't done trembling yet," was Boxy's confession, in a low tone. The news of the accident had preceded them, and theYi found Mr. and Mrs. Bascoe anxiously awaiting their ap pearance. "My boy!" cried J:he mother, as she caught Andy in her arms. "And you were killed?" "Oh, no, mother; I struck my head, that's all," replied !Andy, putting on a bold front. "I'll be all right by tomorrow." Andy limped into the house, and a servant was dis patched for a doctor. When the physician arrived he de clared that the bruise was not serious. The shock to the boy's system was worse, and he must remain quiet for a day or two. "We won't be able 'to go away on Monday morning," said Jack to the others. "Father says we had better wait until T. esday or Wednesday "I don't care/' said Harry. "I am thankful .we es caped being kiUed "So am I," put in Boxy. "And I just as lief wait, for I'm too stiff t9 start on a tour just yet." "How is Minnie?" "Oh, she' s as well as ever." Sunday passed quietly, although the escape of the four boys was the talk of the town. On Monday Andy was found to be greatly improved, and it was decided that the up the river should be made on the following morn ing at sunrise. "It won't do to delay much longer," said Jack, "for it


BY A HAIR'S BREADTH. 5'1 looks as if we might have a heavy snowstorm before long, and that would block our chances of using the 'Icicle." "Oh, I hope it doesn't snow until we are settled iri ou! camp!" cried Boxy .. "I was just longing for that ice boat ride !" Even at the last moment, the boys found several things to do which had previously escaped their notice. S ome stores h

' 68 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. They found the other two members of the club waiting for them. Jack had the well-packed sled out of t\e barn, and Andy stood beside him, a trifle pale, but otherwise as ;well as ever. "Just a fine morning!" cried Jack. "And the wind blowing exactly in the right direction." "But snow isn't far off-my father said so," returned Harry. "He said we would be lucky to reach Rock Island Lake without catching a downell." "We won't lose another minute!" burst in Boxy. "Come on, boys! Good-by, -everybody, and three cheers for the tour of the Zero Club!" The backyard rang with the cheers, and then, with caps waving, the four boys moved off, dragging the sled behind them. It certainly was a fit;e morning, the rising sun sending long glittering rays over the crust of the frozen snow. 1 Th'e wind was a trifle cold, but this the quartet did not mi11d. them, just now, it was much better than no wind at all. "I calculate that we can reach Hammerstone by o'clock," said Jack. "And that will be half the journey up the river." "And W can reach Rudd's Landing by nightfall put in Boxy. "And start across country for the lake the first thing to-morrow. Did you send word to Barton Coils about taking care of the iceboat for us?" "Yes, and he said we could stay at his place all night if (We wished. I reckon it will be better than trying to put tlp a hut just for one night."


BY A HAIR'S BREADTH. 59 Boxy demurred a little at this. He wished to go to camping just as quickly as possible. But the others over ruled him. "We'll get camping enough, never fear," remarked !Andy "Remember, we'll have to put in one night on this side of the shore b efore we strike a plaee to camp." As soon as they reached the vicinity of the river; Harry ran ahead f.:o unfasten iceboat, and get the craft -in readiness for the start. -. A few seconds later the others him give a cry" of wild alarm. He soon reappeared among them. "The Icicle is gone !" was the startling intelligence be brought. (


CHAPTER VII!. THE STOLEN ICEBOAT. The other members of the Zer0-(:Iub came to a dead halt. "' "Gone!" burst out Andy and Boxy in a breath, while Jack looked as if he had not heard aright. "Yes, gone!" repeated Harry. "But I loGked it fast to the piling!" exclaimed Jack. "You have the key." "I don't care I she's and I can't see anything of her." / Without another word, the quartet hurried down to the edge of the ice It was just as Harry had announced, the iceboat. was nowhere in sight. Each of the boys looked at his comrades. "What_ does it mean?" asked Boxy. "It means that the Icicle has been stolen!" cried Jack. "Stolen?" "Ye s It was Jocked up tight enough Somebody has com e h e re and eithei:. broken the lock or else had a key to fit it. B oys, we are in a hole!" The faces of the Zero Club fell. Without th eir ice boat, with which to make the journey up the river1 what .wa:s to be d one? 1 .Who \j.Ould ha_ve taken her?" questioned Boxy aftct;


THE STOLEN ICEBOAT. 61 running out on the froezn river and lookingup and down anxiously. "Maybe tramQ!l," suggested Andy. ''I saw sev eral of them hdnging around yesterday." "I saw those tramps, too," returned Harry:' "It would be just like them, if they wanted to go to some other place on the river." "It's a real shame!" muttered Jack. "Our trip spoiled at the very start." "If we only knew in what direction the oat 41ad gone we might go after her," said Andy. "Our skates are on "That's the ticket!" burst out Boxy. "Give me my kates without delay. It's ten to one they went off this morning, and so they can't be very far away." "I have a:r:i idea," said Jack. "Supposing two of us skate up the river, and two down, on the lookout? We'll go, say three or four miles, and ii we don't see any thing we can return here." "All right," returned Harry. "We ca'n't afford to let anybody run off with the 1 cicle." While the boys were over r this plan in an ex cited way, and getting out their skates and putting them on, the well-known figure of Pickles Johnsing appeared in sight. The colored youth was running as fast as his short, fat legs would permit. "Mos' dun missed yo'!" he gasped. "An' I made up tny mind to see yo' off, suah !" 'We're not off just yet, said Jack.


62 TOUR OF 'I'HE ZERO CLlJB. "No? I t'ought yo wuz gwine soon as de sun sh up?" "Our iceboat has been stolen. We jll,,'>t it out," said Boxy. "Do you know anything about it?,. "Wot? De Isti cl e gone? ejaculated the colored youth, with his big eye s rolling in wonder "Yo' dort't sayl Who dun tuk her?" T.hat's what we want to know," said Andy. 1 Pickles began to blink his e y es, as if in deep thought. sudd* he slapped his thigh with his broad hand. "J?y de boots! I fink I know who dun tuk de I sticle !" he roared You do?" came in con9ert from the of the Zero Oub. -"Yes, sah !" "Who?" "Sully, Dixon and dat low-down Lenj)pencer !" The boys started. 'What makes you think so?" asked Jack, catching the colored youth by the arm. "I heered dem a-talkin' 'bout it las' night on de to boggan-slide Sullr said he would like ter break up yo'r gwine away, and Dixon said de /sticle was tied up down heah an' da could git hold ob it easy enought an' put yo' in de ho1e.' i "That settles it!" cried Harry, angrily. "Our old ene mies are at work against us. They took the iceboat just to break up our tour." "But they sha'n't break it up I" cried Boxy. "I'll go Oii foot first I"


THN ST(TLEN ICEBOAT. .,So will I," joined m Andy. / / -.,If we onfy knew where they had taken the Icicle :we might go after them," said Jack "I' don't believe in let ting them have their own way." "Nor I-after working so hard on the iceboat," added lloxy. "Pickfes, did they say anything-abopt where they_, might go r .. "No, da didn't," repljed the colored youth, slowly. "But, hol' on-Len Spencer said he was gwine 0down to Lumberton to-day fo' his father--" "Then that's where they have gone!"' put irrjack, hurrie dly. "Of course, they wouldn t go up the river, knowing we were bound that way. I ll bet a dollar tl / y are on the way to Lumberton this minute!" "I believe you," said Harry. "Shall we go after th em?" t "Of course!" "Certa. inly "Can we catch them?" "We ought to be able to do so on our skates. Jbe ;wind is alulost full against them, so they will have to do a bit of tacking, while we can skate straight ahead." With frantic haste, the four boys completed the task of puttin g on their skates. Pickle s had his pair along him, and put them on also. "I'se gwine. wid yo', if you lets said. "Maybe JO'll want help if yo' gits in a muss." "Certainly, come on, Pickles," Jack. The sled was left in a safe place, and then, without fm'-


64 TOUR OF THE ZERO CJ,UB. ther delay, the five boys started down the river toward Lumberton, a small settlement ten miles distant. At first but slow progress was made, owing to the stiffness felt by the members of the Zero Club from the toboggan accident. But gradually they warmed up to the wefrk, and then they glided ever the smooth ice rapidly. Pickles, who was a good skater, despite the shortness of his legs, kept close to Jack's side. "I wish we \:ere provided with clubs," said Boxy. "We may have a rough time of it Sully and his gang. He hasn't forgotten how we got the best of him at snowballing, and most likely he's prepared to fight us off." "He'll give up the iceboat fast enough, never fear," returned Jack. "You must rem ember, I can have h m artested for stealing our property if I want to." "But you wouldq't do that, would you?" asked Harry. "Not unless he got positively ugly. But he must be taught to remember that we intend to stand no non sense." r On and on down the frozen river swept the fi;e boys, until Rudskill was left far behind. The sun mounted higher in the sky, te. mpering the wind and making skating more agreeable. -. "We'll soon be up to Thompson's Bend, and then iwe'll have a straigl;t course before us," said Andy. "If I'd thought, I would have taken the field-glassea from the pack," said Boxy. "Then we could have seen the Icicle even if she was miles off." "I kin see

THE STOLEN ICEBOAT Pickles. "My eyes hab been trained since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper." The bend Jack had mentioned was reached five min utes later, and in a bunch the boys swept around the Jast projecting' headland. A straight course for twelve miles lay before them. "There's the Icicle f' cried Andy, "Where? whei"e ?" came from the others. _., "Over to the east shore! See, they are tacking this :way!" "You are right!" returned Harry. "And there is Bill !Dixon standing the bow." "An' dat low-down Len Spencer in de back, alongside :uh Pete Sully !'' added Pickles. "Didn't I dun tole yo? C1a was com in' dis way?". "They have discovered us!" exclaimed Boxy, a later. "See, they intend to turn on the other :1ack. Come on, fellows, we mustn't give them a chance 1o get away!'' He started off at full speed on his skates, and the ers qu.ickly followed. The iceboat was all of an eighth off, and speed1ng over the river as fast as the wind would carry her. J'hose on board had discovered the owners as quickly -as they themselves had been revealed, and were now aking frantic efforts to get out of the reach of their


CHAPTER ;rHE TOUJi BEGINS. "I wonder if they will attenll>t to fight?" asked Harrf as he swept -0n beside Jack. I hardly think so," was the reply. "But if they d o, we are five to three." "l own

THE TOUR BEGINS. "We must put1 o more steam t'' urged Harry. ..If 'they once catch the wind fafrly they will give us a nice chase across to the Lights." "Never mind, we'll catch them on the next tack!" said !And y. Nevertheless, the five boys put 9n a burst of speed which brought them to within a couple of hundred feet of the Icicle. "They are going to tack back t'' cried Harry. "Now ii we try--" "They are going to turn round sail right with the wind!" burst in Jack. "Hurry up, or we'll lose them and have o follow them to Rudskill, and goodness only knows how much farther!" Jack was right. Sully had given the order, and all bands on the Icicle were aiding in turning her bow up the river. The clumsy craft swung a Jound in the wind while they were still just out of reach. Then the mainsail again caught the breeze, and off moved the ice-boat at I a livelier speed than ever. "We're gasped Andy. "No we are not!" shouted Jack. "Come on, fellows! rl'hey have got to steer to the right to avoid that open Bow over there !" Awa y he went, with Harry, Boxy and Pickles at Iris I eels. Andy could not keep up the pace, and dropped little behind. more in the five-mile and put forth every ounce of muscle that was in


68 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. his sturdy limbs. Gradually he drew ahead of his com"': panions and closer to the iceboat !hose on the Icicle saw him gaining on them, and endeavored to increase their speed. But it was of no avail, the wind subsiding just a trifle when most needed by them. In another Harry :vas alongside of the iceboat. He attempted to jump on board, 'but Sully; sprang at him and pushed him off. "Keep away, or I'll crack you in the head!" shouted the bully of Rudskill, roughly. "This is our iceb9at, and I am bound to on board!" returned Harry. "Don't you dare to touch me again, or you'll get the worst of it." Once more he skated up and caught hold. Sully again tried to push him back. Harry g 'rabbed his arm, and an instant later the bully went sliding down on hi s back on the hard ice. "Oh! oh! my back!" howled Sully, in combined fright and pain. "Serve s him right!" returned Harry. "Come on, boys, I've got rid of one of them!" he shouted to his companions. To av.oicl the open flow before mentioned, Dixon and Spencer were now tacking once more. allowed Harry to reac h the iceboat a and now he sprang saf e ly aboard. "Lower the mainsail!" he cried, in a determined ivoice "Do you hear, Dixon?" "But-but--" stammered the bully's toady.


j THE TOUR BEGINS. 69 "No buts about it; lower the sail, I tell you, unless rou want to be off after Sully !" Seeing Sully's fate, Dixon was thoroughly cowed, and he hastened to do as Harry had ordered. Hardly bad the sail come down than Jack and the others swept up and boarded the Icicle in a body. "Don't-don't kill us!" cried Spencer, who was even a worse coward than D "Yo' is a fine fellah to run off wid other fo1keses property! put in Pickles. "I dun reckon Jack an' de rest will send yo' all to priso.n fo' ten or twelve yeahs!" "It wasn't my-my fault!" whined Spencer. "Sully put up the job." "You get rightoff the boat!" commanded jack. "And you, too, Dixon!" "Here, in the middle of the river?" questioned the lat -ter, anxiously. "Yes, right here." "You don't mean to leave us way out here, four miles from home, do you?" demanded Sully, as he limped up. "Yes, leave them here," put in Boxy. "They deserve it." "It won't hurt them to walk home," said Harry. "Oat's jess right," added Pickles. "Let dem walk ebery step ub de way." He and the others sprang on board of the iceboat and began to hoist the mainsail. They had hardly done so when Sully rushed up and tried to hit Jack in e head with his fist. Pickles sprang forward and pushed the bully's arm


.70 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. aside; Then he let out with his own fist, and doW11 :went Sully flat on his back, while the Icicle sailed off, leaving Dixon and Spencer starii;ig at the fate of their leader in dumb amazement. "That's the time you did it, Vickles!" cried Boxy, ap provi gly. "My! just look how mad Sully is!" They looked back and saw that the bully had arisen to his feet and was shaking his fist at them in rage. .N. moment later they swept around Thompson's Bend, and the trio of defeated ones was lost to view. "I owe you one for yur aid, Pickles," said Jack, with a; kindly look at the colored boy, who grinned with pleasure "I shan't forget you." Pickles cleared his throat several times and looked Clown at the ice for a moment in silence. The boys saw at once that something was on his mind. "Say, why can't yo' fellahs take me along!" he burst out suddenly. "Ebery fust-class camp hab got to hab a cook an' general util'ty man around, pap sez, an' he sez I kin go along if youse will hab me. I don't want no pay fo' gwine along, an' I'll do wot I kin to help fill up de larder. I ain't much wid a gun, but I kin trap fings, and yo' all knows wot I kin do fishin' an' spearin'. It an't fo' de likes of yo' to wash de dishes and sech an'-an', to tell de truf, I wants to go powerful bad!" And Pickles' big, round eyes told very plainly that he spoke the truth. He had had that suggestion on his mind a long while, but he had hesitated to speak for fear of being refused.


THE BEGINS. 71 The boys looked at each other. They had not thought to include any one but themselvesin the pro posed outing. But it would be a shame to disappoint Pickles, who had always stood by them and done them more thari one favor. "An' I kin take my banjo and mouf harmonica along," went on the colored youth. "Da will come in mighty handy-like to help kill de long evenings." "That' s so," said BQxy. "And you can give me those lessons you promised me." "And you can show how to build those traps you sp oke about," added Harry. "Yes, I want to learn how to trap, too," put in Andy. "I guess you can go, Pickles," finished up Jack, and1 it was settled that the colored youth should become one of the party. Pickles was so delighted that he hardly contain hi mself. As soon as Rudskill was reached he ran off to tell his folks and for the trip. He was gone but a short half-hom, and came back with a spear on ) his shoulder and an old army knapsack strapped on his b ack. The sled was brought out and tied _on behind the Icicle, and therr, without further delay, the long-talked o f tour was begun. "We have lost about two hours," said Jack. "But as. the breeze is stronger than ever, perhaps we can m ake up the lbst time before nightfall." The wind was indeed stronger, and soon Rudskill and the surrounding settlement was left far behind.


) 72 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Now that the Icicle had been recovered and' they were at last on the way, all of the boys felt in high spirits. Boxy began to whistle merrily, and soon ai er Pickles broke out into a comic negro ditty that set the m all to roarin It was after one o'clock when Hammerstone was reached. It being an hour later than they had anticipated, it was deaided that they should procure a lunch to eat on the iceboat instead of stopping off for a meal. Jack procured the stuff-sandwiches and a big mince pie-and soon they were on the way to Rudd's Landing, their stopping place for the night. By four o'clock Jack calculated that they had trav eled three-quarters of the distance from Rudskill. "And if the wind holds out, we'll be in Rudd's Land ing by seven or half-past," he said. By five it began to grow both darker and colder. A little later the wind died clown somewhat, although it still blew sufficiently strong to keep them spinning on their course. "Gosh! a cup of coffee wouldn 0t go bad!" exclaimed Andy, who was taking it eas y b e side Harry, in the stern. "I'm pretty well chilled "It won't be long before w e're now," replied his brother. "You can see the lights away ahead of us." On they went through the semi -darkness, for another half mile. They were now approaching a spot where a side creek of considerable dimensions flowed into the river.


THE TOUR BEGINS. 7_3 Suddenly Pickles, who was in the bow on watch, utt e red cry of terror. "Turn de boat around!" he screamed. "We is run:.. i n' into de open watah !" The other__ sprang up and gazeCt ahead. It was true; th e Icicle was making directly for a wide in t he ice, a hundred yards ahead! 1 l I


CHAPTER X. CLOSE QUARTERS. Every one of the nve boys on the iceboat was filled with terror over the danger which confronted them. At the rate of speed they were going, the Icicle would soon reach the edge of the great opening before them, and they well knew that the onward rush would carry them far out into the icy waters. "Stop her, somebody!" cried Andy. "We .will all be drowned !" "Everybody on the right side!" yelled Jack. "Down with the sail!" All on board made a rush to the right, and bore heavily on the steering iron on that side. Harry caught hold of the ropes attached to the sail and un!ied them. Down came the sheet in a lump, falling partly over the crowd and dragging on the ice beside them. The I cfrle began to swing around, and also slowed up. "" The semi-circular motion caused the sail to get under the steering-iron, and this helped to stay their onward progress "We'll have to jump!" cried Boxy. "Look how close we are getting!" "No; we'll stop before we get there," returned Jack. ''Hard on the iron, everybody !"


CLOSE QUARTERS. 75 There was a sharp, rasping sound as the Icicle struck a bit of 1umpy ice, and the clumsy craft trembled from stem to stern. She swung completely around, and came to a halt when within twenty feet of where the dark waters from the side creek rushed along silently. "My gracious! but that was a shave!" murmured Boxy, as he wiped the cold sweat from his forehead. "Dat am de werry closest shabe wot I ever 'spe ri enced," returned Pickles. "An I don't want no moali ubdem '"We are not yet out of danger," urged Harry. "An extra heavy puff of wind may come along at any time and carry us over -." "That's so," returned Jack. "Come, on boys, let's get off and push 'the boat over to the west shore, where I guess we will find a solid strip to pass along on." His companions were not slow to follow his ad:vice. They lost no time in moving the iceboat back a distance of forty or fifty yards, and, feeling comparatively safe here, they stopped long enough to get out their skates and put them 011. Thus et[uipped, it was easy to haul the craft around, and, getting behind her, they took turns in pushing her over toward the west shore, where, as Jack had sup posed, there was a strip of ice all of fifty yards wide, leading to the solidly river beyond. I "We want lo oe on the lookout for such places as this,"! remarked Harry, as they boarded the T cicle once more, d hoist ed the sail, which was now sadly torn in


'/6 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. dozen places. "If it hadn't been for Pickles we might all be at the.bottom of the river this minute." And he gave the colored youth a grateful look, which caused Pickles to grin from ear to ear. After that two ?f the boys remained at the bow, straining their eyes to see ahead. But this extra caution was now hardly needed. Owing to 1he torn condition of the mainsail, the Icicle did not move as rapidly as before, and presently, when the. wind died clown a trifle more the clumsy craft came to a com plete standstill. "Humph! Here's a state of things!" muttered Andy, impatiently. "And we are still two or three miles 'from Rudq's Landing. What's to do?" "Get on our skates again and _push the Icicle along," suggested Jack. "Boxy, you whistle for a wind, yo'tl are such a whistler," laughed Harry, who, as there was no danger attached, was disposed to view the condition of affairs lightly. "I'm afraid I'd have to whistle a pretty long while," returned Boxy. "My idea is that the wind has gone oown for the night, as it frequently does." "Dat's it, p e rsackly," put in Pickles. "But I jess as Jief shobe de Jsticle-I'se all cold to de marrer ub my bones." "So am I," cried Jack. "I'm going to push just to get warm. You had better stay on board if you feel plaved out," he added, to his brother. "No, I'll get off, too," replied Andy. "But I don't


CLOSE QUARTERS 77 beli eve I can shove very much; my head hurts a bit again ." Once more all hands sprang down and

78 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. over-hanging bank of the stream was .fringed with bushes and trees and they skirted along just outside of these, keeping a sharp lookout for air-holes and thin spots. "Don't want a batl) just now," shivered Boxy. "No; a bath would just do us up," returned Andy "As it is, I can hardly move along." "We'll be all right when we get to Barton Coils' place," called back Jack. "So don't get faint-hearted, Andy ." On they went, with no sound .breaking the stillness of the cold night save the grinding of the iceboat runners and their skates on the ice. Suddenly from out of the darkness among the trees which lined the farthest shore came a dismal howl that caused nearly every one to jump in alarm. "My gracious! what was that?" exclaimed Andy. "Dat mut be a gh, ost, suah !" cried Pickles, as he sprang away from the voice. It's the most unearthly sound I ever heard," put in Harry. "And don't you know what it is?" asked Jack, with a merry laugh. "No," said Boxy. "\Vhat is it?" "Nothing more nor less than the bark of a fox. There it goes again." "Goodness I never "knew a fox would get up such a dismal noise," exclaimed Boxy. "Why, it's. enough to give one the creeps." "Wait till you get into the woods on the other side of Rock Island Lake, and you'll hear sounds to make youri hair stand on end. I'll warrant."


CLOSE QUARTERS. 79 The barking continued for some time, and then came answering calls from several other locations. "They are tuning up to descend on some hen roost, I imagine, said Jack. "It's a good way to get up their courage." "I'd like to get a shot at one of them," said Harry. "So would I," .burst out' Boxy. "Can't we ge't at them, Jack?" "It would take too long I'm afraid. Andy couldn't stand the waiting in the cold." "Boxy-and I might wait, and you fellows go on," sug gested Harry. ''We will soon catch up with you." "Yes, let's do that," burst in Boxy. The matter was talked over for a minute, and then it was agreed that Harry and Boxy should t ake the guns and remain behind a quarter of an hour, while the others pressed on for Rudd's Landing, keeping close to the river bank they were now skirting. Seeing to it that the two guns were ready for use, the two would-be fox hunte rs set out across the river in the direction from which the first barks of the animals h ad proceeded. Meanwhile those on the Icicle and the sled went ahead, and were speedily lost to view around a broad bend beyond. "It would be fine if we could get a fox apiece," said Boxy as they skated along close to one another. "We could keep the brushes as trophies." "I guess we'll be lucky if we get a good shot at one of them ," his companion. "Foxes are very sly chaps.


80. TOUR OF THE CLUB, "Oh, I know that." "Let us go up the river a bit, so as to get out of that: wind. They Can smell your scent if the wind is blowing: from you to them." They moved up the river about twenty yards, and then' made a semi-circle toward the shore. Here they found a: small creek, and up this they moved as silently as possible: '-'.'We must be getting close to one of the ... whisper ed Boxy. "That sound came from this vicinity." "Hush, Boxy, he may-" Harry did not finish, for at that insta'!t a bark sounded! so to them that both sprang back in alarm. A little open glade was before them, and dtrectly in the cen ter of it both boys discovered a silver gray fox, standing with one forefoot raised, listening for an answer to his call.


.. -CHAPTER XI. 'A LUCKY SHOT. Boxy was about to say something, but Harry quickly placed his hand over his companion's mouth and motioned him to remain silent. Then he raised his gun, and pointed to Boxy to do the same A brief interval of silence followed, and then, bang! went Boxy's gun, before he had had time to ta!

82 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. His gun went off as he tumbled and the shot grazed the fox's neck, causing a painful wound. The animal let out a yelp of rage and turned to leap down into the very hollow into which Boxy had tumb led. "Shoot him, Harry!" cried the boy, in sudden "He' s coming after me!" Boxy was partly right. As the fox reached the bottom of the opening he spied Boxy, and, feeling ugly, he did not attempt to get away, but sprang directly for Boxy's face. It was a thrilling moment, for, though small, a fox is exceedingly savage when aroused, and with his long, sharp teeth can do serious damage. Boxy squirmed to one side, and the animal landed on his shoulder. He buried his teeth into the boy's over coat, snapping and snarling as he did so. Then a loud rePQrt rang out, as Harry fired. He was not over three yards away, and his aim was true. The fox received the greater part of the shot in his side, and, with a backward leap he tumbled over dead. It was several seconds before Boxy managed to scram ble to his feet He was as white as a ghost, and trembling in every limb. "Is he-he dead?" he gasped, as he surveyed the fox from a slight distance. I guess he is, but there is nothing like making sure, he is suc!1 a sly creature,\'. responded Harry, and, going up, he struck the head of the animal a resounding blow with the butt of his gun. "Yes, he's dead enough." "It was lucky you hit him," went on Boxy, gratefullY. "If you hadn't he would have chewed me up."


A LUCKY SHOT. 83 "He was a tough customer and no mistake," rejoined Harry. "See what a splendid white tail!" "He's a pretty big one. Will you take him along as he is?" "I'll have to; I can't skm him here very well. Do you :Want to go after another?" Boxy gave a shiver. "Not to-night," he returned. "I've had enough hunting for the presen t. It's something a fellow has got to get used to." "I doubt very much if we could get another," remarked Harry. "The shots have probably scattered them from the neighborhood. They know what a gun will do just as well as we." Harry brought outa string from his pocket, and with this tied the dead fox to the barrel of his gun, which he slung over his shoulder. "Our quarter of an hour is up and more," remarked Boxy, as they turned to go back to the river. "The others must be close to Rudd's Landing by this time." "I guess you are not as cold as you were," laughed Harry. "I feel as warm as toast now." "Yes, such an adventure is enougt to stir up any one's blood," rejoined Boxy, dubiously. "But I'd just as lief' remain a bit cold hereafter." "You may expect greater adventures than this when we get to our winter camp. Boxy. Supposing that fox had be en a bear, or even a big wolf?" Boxy did not reply to this. Somehow, just then the campin g out drc! not seem so much sport after all.


TOUR OF THE ZERO C LUB. They were soon on the river, and, crossing to the other shore, started after their companions. It was growing colder every moment, and the breeze on the ice, little as it was, went through them like a .They 'Yere glad enough when they saw numerous lights ahead, which they knew must be the town for which they were bound. Presently they came upon a party of skaters, and from them learned that the I ciclc had passed on but a few min utes before. They kept on, and just before Barton Coils' boathouse was reached, they overtook their companions. "Got a fox, sui:e enough!" cried Andy. "Who shot it?" "Harry, and he saved my life doing it," replied Boxy, and, hardly waiting to catch his breath, he told his story, to which those who had gone on ahead listened with keen interest. By the time Boxy had finished, the boathouse, at whicii the Icicle was to be left, was reached, and, leaving the iceboat and the sled in a safe place, all hands rushed into the building to warm up around the red-hot stove, which to them looked to be just then the most inviting thing in the world. Barton Coils, a jolly man of forty, received them cor dially, and soon made them feel at home. "I'll bet ye had a most uncommon cold run of it," he said "And a cup of hot coffee will be just the thing to warm your inwards, eh?" and he straightway set about preparing, not only coffee, but a whole hot supper for. them in his tiny kitchen in the rear.


A LUCKY SHOT. 85 By the time supper was ready, they were somewhat rested : They crowded around his small table like so many famished wolves ; and it was astonishing to see how rapidly the food disappeared. Luckily, he had sufficient on hand, so no one went short. Barton Coils took a lively interest in th e proposed ex pedition, and declared he almost wished he was one of the party. "It would make me feel ten years younger," he said. "Why can't you go?'' asked Jack. "I am sure we :would all be pleased to have you along." "I can't leave here, that's the trouhle, '' returned the boathouse keeper. "Otherwise, 1 woul1l accept your kind offer in a minute, I would, indeed." He asked them about their traps, and told them of sev eral additional things it would be best to take along. made a note of the articles, and before retiring went up into the town and procured them. "You'll find your Icicle all right when you come back: for her, never fear," said Coils to Jack. ''I know we shall," Said Jack. Then he began to talk to the others, and they all nodded in the affirmative. "See here, we have a proposition to make," he went on. "There is no use allowing the iceboat to remain idle Ciuring our absence, and we have decided to let you hire her out to the town folks if you will. Whatever you can get that way will be ?Ottrs." "Well, boys, I didn't expect this." And Barton Coils Jllliled his gratitude. "It will be better to keep the runners scoured up thatt


86 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Jet them grow rusty. But the sail will have to be mended." ''I'll fix that all right; and much obliged to you an, replied the boatkeep e r. There was a large spare room over the boathouse, and in this the boys spent the night, l y in,g on the flo or in their blankets in true camping st y le. Barton Coils would have given them a,,couple of old cots, but they declined these; for the reason, as Pickles put it, "

A LUCKY SHOT. 87 them were ready. to be eaten, along with some maple syrup fresh from the grove back of the landing. "Here's where I am struck right in my soft spot!" cried Andy. "I'll miss the buckwheat cakes, if nothing else!" "Then you had better fill up well," laughed Barton Coils. "Here you are, smoking hot! Who'll have the next?" Forks and knives were clattering right merrily for the next ten minutes. The buckwheat cakes were washed down with ho.t coffee and cream, and soon all were ,.more than satisfied. Then came a farewell shake of the hand with the boat bouse keeper, and a final inspection of their traps. "Now we're off!" cried Jack. "Hurrah for the tour Df the Zero Club !" "Hurrah! hurrah!" cried the others, and Barton Coils joined in, waving his towel over his head as he did so. Off they started, through the little town. The last laouse was soon left behind. Before them lay nothing but hills, woods and a frozen lake. Their outing in the ice and snow had truly begun.


CHAPTER XII. JACK BECOMES LOST. "Dis am de most glorious trip wot ever was, by golly!" cried Pickles, as he shoved on ahead of the rest, dragging the sled behind him. "Dis coon is werry glad he is alibe jess about now, boys!" And in the exuberance of his spirits, Pickles broke out into an old darky refrain about the history and death of a wonderful "Blue-tail Fly," the chgrus to which was so catchy that they were soon every one of them singing it. "I'm glad he came along," whispered Jack to Harry. "He'll make days we can't go out seem shorter." "So am 1, Jack, Pickles is just the fellow for this crowd." The boys had received close concerning the best route to pursue to reach the lake, and they were careful that no mistake should be made. They foJlowed a road almost half through what was called Jackson's Run, and then struck off across a number of open fields to when a tiny stream ran at the foot of a long hill. "That creek empties into Rock Island Lake," sai d Boxy. "I know, for I was up here once in the sum ;;ier, and my uncle told me so." "Then why can't we follow the stream until \.Ve reacli the lake," suggested Andy.


JACK BECOMES LOST. 89 "We could do that if it w'asn 't that the stream winds around so much," put in Jack. "In a direct line the lake is not over twelve miles from here, but like as not !hat stream would take us thirty or forty miles." "Not quite as far as that, but still a pretty good way," said Harry. I know these creeks around here twist and turn in all directions." We'll stick by the original Intention, and be guided by the sun," said Boxy. "Come on, Harry, I'll race you to the top of the next hill!" and off he sped, with Harry at his heels. When th6 top of the hill was reached both boys were well-n igh exhausted, and ready enough to sit down on a fallen tree and wait for the others to come up. "You shouldn't do that," remonstrated Jack. "You'll tire yourselves out before you have covered half the day's journey." "And you'll get sweated and take cold," put in Andy. "If you feel so frisky, help Pickles with the sled," eni: on Jack. "We will," cried both Harry and Boxy, and th. ey at once relieved Pickles, much to his satisfaction, for the pull up the hill had been by no means an easy one. And so, "cutting up like wild Indians," as Jack expressed it, they continued on tramp, up one hill and down another, crossing half a dozen tiny streams, and making their way through dense woods and thick ptches of brush and heaps of rocks. Occasionally they used up a squirrel or a rabbit, and once the loud mming told them that partridges were not far off


90 'J'.OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Just befor t h e n oon hour Jack took his gun, and ke pt eyes open for rabbits. It was not long 'before h e shot two, and w h en they came to a halt for dinner the se were quickly skinned and broiled over the fire Pickle s kindled. "We want to be as saving as possible with our stores, observed Harry, as he sat, sucking the meat from a rab bit leg. "We may get snowed in so that we can't get opt toshoot a thing." "The fir s t thing to do will be to lay in a supply of r.ab bits and squirrels," returned Jack. "Then, if we get nothing better, we won t starve, no matter what happens." "That's a good idea!" cried Andy. "Rabbit meat i s better than even if you have it three times a day." The meal finished the things were quickly put away once more, and the onward march was resumed The character of the counlf:ry now changed somewhat. The hills b e came hig h e r and ha r d e r t o climb, and th e undergro wth more rugged., More th a n once they had to turn back and seek another path because they could not g e t through without carry ing the sled and its load. Once they came to a deep ravine, all of ten feet wide, with no crossing pJace in sight. "Stumped!" cried Boxy. "Now what's to be done?" "Let's walk along this side for a few hundred feet," suggested Harry. "It may grow narrower further up." "I'll stay here with the sled until you find out," re plied Jack, who had just taken hold "It's n o use to pull


JACK BECOMES LOST. 91 it along, and then have to drag it back. If you find a place, yell out, and I'll come." Harry and Boxy went on, accompanied by Pickles. It 1 was no easy w_prk to follow the edge of the ravine, for in several places the ice and snow were treacherous, and r eady to let them slide down should they venture too close At last they reached a spot where the opening was scarcely five feet wide. "We ought to be able to cross here," said Boxy. "Dat a m so," put in Pickles. "Why, I kin jump it, suah See here!" And he made a wild leap over, and disappeared inm a hollow filled with snow on the other side. "He's gone!" shouted Boxy. "He's all right," returned Harry, as he saw Pickles' 11roolly head slowly emerging from the drift. "By golly, I didn't fink clat was so slopy heah !" sput tered 'the colored youth, as he stood up in snow to his waist. "If I hadn't jumped so fah I'se dun reckon I would hab gone an' rolled to de bottom ob de crack suah !" "That settles -it; we cross here," said Harry. "Let us go on a bit further." They continued along the edge of the ravine, Pickles ping up with them on the other side. Fifty feet further on the cut closed up almost entirely, and they ''This beats running any risk jumping," said Harry5 readily agreed with him.


92 TOUR OF THE ZERO CL1JB. All three -of the boys set up a shout for the oth ers, and it was not long before Jack and Andy appeared with the sled. The latter was lifted over the narrow opening, and then the club continued on its way, Pickles again bursting out into a song, this time singing about "Forms in White, a-Floating in de Sky." "Just now it was a case "of a form in black a-fl.ounder ing in the snow," remarked Boxy to Harry, and the lat ter laughed heartily over the joke. "We ought to be getting near to the lake now," sai d Jack, about four o'clock in the afternoon "That's so," said Andy. "If we get there much later than this there will be no time left to build a shelter fo r the night." On and on they went, taking turns at dragging the sled with its heavy load. The sun was pretty well dow n, and it began to grow colder. "The lake, last!" suddenl:r burst from Boxy's lips and he ran ahead, quickly followed by the others. Boxy was right. A short dash through a clump o f trees, and they stood on the shore of Rock.. Island Lake Before them was a broad expanse of glass-like ice, dotte d here and with long drifts of snow. "Hurrah!" they all shouted, and Pickles added: "An dis ends de day's trabbels ob de Zero Club." "Now for a good spot to pitch camp,'' cried Jack. can't say that I like it right here." "No; it's too cold," returned Harry. "Let's go ba


, JACK BECOM:ES LOST. 93 a little, say a hundred feet or so, and find some sort of shelter behind some rocks." This was readily agreed upon, and the b oy s scattered in various directions, each trying to find a more suitable spot than the others Harry struck out up the lake shore a bit, and pre s ently can;ie to a spot where two immerise rocks l e aned against each dther over a little gully, scarcely a yard deep and two yards wide. The gully was dry and fille,d with leaves, and he thought that if the snow was cleared out and banked up in front, it would be just the place they desired. The opening under the rocks was about ten feet deep, and the rear was choked up with fallen branches, brush, an d dirt. He called to the others, and soon all but Jack were by, "That's ticket!" cried Boxy. "We couldn't find a better place made to order." "We can spread the rubber blankets over the leav6s, and it will make good bedding," said Andy. ''An' dat dar snow will keep out all de cold put in Pickles. "Yes, de prize goes to Harry fo' findin' de right ::tpot." "Where is Jack?" asked Harry, anxious to have all of the members of the club satisfied before it was settled to y. "Maybe he has discovered a better spot." They all set up a shout, and waited for an answer. Then they shouted again, wi1th the same That's queer!" murmured Andy, somewhat dis-


9' TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. turbed. "Give him another call, boys, as loud as yod can." They did so willingly, and Boxy added his imitation locomotive whistle as well. It brought forth no reply. was lost tG them. !What could have become of him?


CHAPTER XIII. 'JACK' S EXPERIENCE. When Jack left the other members of the Zero Club to look for a suitable camping-place for the night, he had intention of walking any great distance away. He struck down the lake shore, in a direction diFectly. opposite to that taken by Harry, and at almost right angles to that pursued by the others. Jack walked probably fifty yards before coming to anything but a flat surface of snow and ice, with here and there a tree or a bush. "This is no good," he mmmur ed to himself. "I've a good mind to go back and try in the other direction." Had he done so, he might have saved himself all the trouble that followed, and likewise saved the others from a deal of anxiety concerning his welfare. But Jack remembered that Harry had gone off in the opposite direction, and so he kept on until he reached a small rise of ground, beyond which was a: dense thicket pf great trees, some all of a hundred in heighl "There ought to be a first-rate place among those trees," be thought. "I'll investigate a bit and see." Jack walked in among the trees and soon Jocated a spot between several tall maples that he thought would be just the thing. Five trees were in a semi-circle, and


96 T OUR O F TH E Z ERO CLUB li e c a lc u la ted t hat by heapi n g t h e bru s h aro un d the m a: te mporary she lter tha t w oul d b e b o t h safe a nd warm w o uld b e secure d H e w al ked aro u nd th e t r ees, and t he n to a spo t a f e w ya r d s aw ay, w h e r e b ru s h g rew thic k l y H e r e both t he snow a nd t h e l ea v es we r e t hi c k, and without warni n g h e s ud de nly found himself sinking down in the midst o f b o th He tried to scrambl e t o a pla ce o f sa f ety, but it was too late and down he went into an 015 ening that wa s all of ten feet deep The l e av e s and snow tumbled with him, and he was all but s moth e r e d When at-1ast he manag e d to get his head clear of what was around him he found himself up to his armpits in the mass, and almost powerless to move the lower por tion of his body. Jack was not" one to cry for help, so, for a while, he re mained silent, doing his best to extricate himself from his difficulty. It was very cold down at the bottom of the hole, and, despite his exertions, he found himself gradually chilled to the bone. It was also dark, and this made his situation worse than had it been daylight. At last, 'in desperation, he wrenched himself away fro01 the snow and rubbish, and freed himself as far as the waist. But higher than this he could not get, for everYl time he attempted it he only slipped back again. A half-hour was passed in trying to extricate himself, and by that time he was so worn out he was unable tQ make further effort.


JACK'S EXPERIENCE. 9'1 "This is the worst fix yet," he muttered, to himself. "If I stay here 1'11 be frozen to death before morning," and he gave a shiver which was not altogether from cold. It was then that he began to shout for help. His voice iwas weak, and it is doubtful if it cotild have been heard t hirty feet from hi prison. A quarter of an hour more went by, and Jack was :almost stiff. His feet were like two cakes of ice, and his ears pained him fearfully "Where can the others be? \Vhy don't they come and h elp me out?" He asked himself these questions over and over again; !But no answer was vouschafed It was as if the other m embers of the Zero Club had forgotten his existence Presently Jack heard a rustle in the bushes in front of h im. Was it one of the other boys on the hunt? Then a low growl made him start and strain his eyes in the direction What was it, a fox, wolf or bear? He lo oked up at the entrance to the hole, but, no aninial sh owed itself. Again he yelled, this time not only to summon assist..: ance, but also to away the beast, whatever it was'. rA_ crashing in the brush followed, and then dead silence; ''He's gone away," he muttered, with a sigh of relief. "But who knows but what he'll come back, or some other an imal will meander this way. Oh, ii I was only out of lhi s hole I'd take precious good care tliat I didn't gi!t int o another." Ten minutes more-an age to poor Jack-and another tustle in the brush was heard. Then followed a shout:


TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Hullo, Jack I Where are you?" It was Harry's voice, and it thrilled him with joy. "Here I am, in a hole," he replied. But, alas! his voice was so faint that Harry did not hear it, and passed to his left and continued the search in that direction. "Help! he1p1" cried Jack, frantically. "This way! fa a. hole l Help !" Harry did not hear, but Andy, who was also close at hand, did, and shouted to the others : "He' s here, fellows! Come this way!" "Where?" asked Boxy and Pickles, in a breath, while Harry quickly retraced his steps. } "Somewhere around here. Listen." Again Jack called out, and now they were able... to lcr cate him. Andy was in advance, and his companions were amazed to see him disappear as &uddenly as if he had taken a plunge in the water "There's a hole there. Be careful!" shouted Harry. "Dat mus' be a b 'ar hol e !" put in Pickles. Pooli rA.ndy's dun gone in it, too! "Help us out!" yelled Andy, from beside Jack. "This is a sort of a cave-in, and Jack is half buried under the dirt and snow." "We'll have to get the rope and haul them out," re marked Boxy. "Run back for it, Pickles." The colored boy skipped off at top speed. While he was gone, Boxy and Harry skirted the opening with great care, and found the most available standing place. When Pickles returned, he brought with him the sled


JACK'S EXPERIENCE. 99 1ope, and also the one used for tying on the load. These were twisted together, and, not without some difficlt_lty, Andy was raised up. Then came the work of raising Jack. This was no easy task, for the poor fellow was almost too exhausted to even catch hold of the rope. "We' ll make a loop, and he can slip it under his asms suggested his younger brot h e r, and this was done presently Jack stood be. side the others, sup ported by Boxy and Pickles. "Take me to some place where 1 can get warm!" he gasped "We' ll run you back to the place where the sled' is and cover .up with blankets," replied Boxy. "Come on, it's the best thing for you." And off he and Pickles starte d, with the half-frozen boy bet ween the m. Harry and Andy ran ahea d and worked like lightning to gathe r dry brush and start a fir e in the sh e lt e r of several trees. It was n o t l o n g before t h ey had a big blaz e and Jack w as seat ed o n t h e s l ed in fr ont of this with s everal bl anke t s thrown o ver h is b ack.. I 'll b e all ri ght i n a litt l e w h i l e he sa id. "So you f e llows h a d b ette r tur!1 your attenti o n to loc a tin g a camp for toni ght: "Harry has found a p lace," s ai d Boxy. "It's jus t the thing, b e twe e n a c o u p l e of b i g rocks. "' While Andy r e main ed b e hind t o kee p up t h e fire and epar e suppe r Harry, Boxy and the colore d youth ent off to pr epare the camp.


100 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Vv'e'll take all the snow out first," said Harry. "Then we'll make a wall in front, with only a narrow to get in, and shut up the back as tightly as we can." The three boys went to work with a will, and inside of half an hour the temporary camp was ready for cupancy. The sled was drawn inside, and the rubber blankets spread around, and then the fire was trans ferred to a-spot directly in front of the opening. "That will keep us warm, and also keep wild animal$ from bothering us," said Harry. "Yes; we want no wolf or bear to wake us up bYJ biting off an ear or a foot," laughed Boxy. "Gee, shoo, no!" put in Pickles. "Dat .,vould makei dis yere coon turn white, 'deed it would!" Just before they had reached the lake, Boxy, anxious to pro ye that he wasn't such a poor shot that he couldn't shoot anything; had gone off in search of a part ridge, anrl succeeded).n bringing down one of fair size. This Andy had prepared as nicely as possible, and, with bread and tea, made a most appetizing supper for the hungry boys. "This is the last of the fresh bread," remarked Andy, as he dealt it out. "After this we'll have crackers instead." "Just asgood, returned Boxy, but before the tour :was over he was compelled to change his mind. The supper qyer, the boys found it growing late They gathered some wood and heaped it upon the fire


JACK'S EXPERIENCE. 101 In such a way that it might burn the greater part of th e night, and then sought to retire. "We want to be up earlyin the morning," remarked W ack, who now felt quite recovered. "It looks a little like snow, and we want to strike a permanent camp b efore it lets down too heavily." "Well, I'm ready to go to sleep," returned Boxy. And I won't even ask Pickles to sing a lullaby for me." One after another the boys crawled into the cave-like sleeping place, and selected .their various corners. Andy brought in a pine knot, all ablaze from the fire, and held it aloft so that they might see if all was right. A second later Pickles gave a yell, which was followed by a cry of fright from every one of the others. :I'hen.a hasty sci:a.mhle was made for the outside, the "boys fairly over each other in their efforts to escape. ..And small wonder, for the interior of the cave-hut was alive with snakes I


CHAPTER XIV. 'A FIGHT WITH REPTILES. "Snakes!" yelled Pickles. "Fo' de land sakes, let dis chil e gi t out!" "Snakes!" echoed each of the others. "We can't stay in h ere!" And in less than half a minute every one was outside and several yards away from the entrance to the temporary camp. "Whoever. dreamed of the reptiles being there!" burst out Box y. v Ve might have known it," put in HarFy. "Snakes alw ays l i ve around r o cks "Bu t why didn't we see them first?" questioned Andy. "Th ey were out of sight and half fro zen responded J ack. I suppose our moving around and the heat from the ca m p fire roused them up. "Wot we gwine to do?" asked Pickles, dolefully. "I w ouldn' t go back dar fo' a billion dollars in cash, by golly, I wo uldn 't!" "The b l an k e ts and the sled are in there," put in Andy. "We must get them." "Yes, we can't even locate anoth e r camp until we have them," sai d Harry. "We' d freeze to death without co ve rs.

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A FIGHT WITH REPTILES. 103 "I move we fight the snakes and kill them," remarked Jack : "I don't believe they are very bannful." ''They may be rattlers!" said Boxy, with a shiver. "And I don't want to 'climb the golden stair' just yet." "I doubt if they are rattlers," returned Jack. "And even so, they are riot yet warm enough to show much tight. The likelihood is that we can kill them off with out much trouble." The boys talked the matter over, and at length decided to make an attack on the snakes, and thus at l east gain pos session of their traps. Then if the cave-hut still looked "snaky" they would hunt up a new spot in which to spend the night. Each of the boys provided himself with a torch and a club, and then the opening to the place was enlarged to twice its size. Jack was the first to enter, and the others came closely; behind him. The leader quickly killed the first snake to raise its head, and Harry followed with the death of the larg' est of all of the reptiles. Then t9rches were stuck up in con venient places and the battle began. At fi'rst the snakes were easy victims, but soon the noise and the deaths of their fellows roused up those that re mained, and a loud hissing and a lively squirming told that they were angry. They darted to one side and another, and more than one attempted to strike the boys with its fangs. Harry had the most startling experience of all. A anake dropped from a crevice overhead and landed directl)'.i -

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104 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. > on his neck. The sensation shocked the boy, but he was quick to act. He caught the snake by the tail swung it around, and dashed its head with all his force against the solid walls of the hut-cave. The reptile was instantlY, killed. Andy also had a thrilling experience, a snake winding itself arourid his ankle, and refusing to loosen Itself e ven when caught back of the neck by the courageous boy. "Hop out and hold him over the fi're a second," cried Out on one foot went Andy, still holding tight to the When close to the fire, he let go, and thrust the foot over the flames. On the instant the snake straight ened out and fell ihto the fire, before either the boy's boot or his trousers were very much injured At lastt the snakes were all either killed or driven off, and the boys took a breathing spell. They counted up the slain, and with the one consumed by fire, found they; numbere q Jpurteen "That's a pretty good many in one dose," remarked ]; "especially when some of them are pretty nearly; three feet long "I never want to run across such nest again!" shud dered Harry; and all agreed with him. "There were at least half a dozen that got away ,re marked Boxy: "I saw three crawl in between the rocks." "So did I returned Andy. "We don't want to put in any night in this place." "By golly, no!" cried Pickles; "I dun radder tie Ill).

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A FIGHT WITH REP:rlLES. 105 self up on de limb ob a tree and risk gittin' freezed to deaf!" The sled and the blankets were hauled out of the hut cave, and examined to see that no live nake was any where in hiding among them. Then they gathered around the fire to talk matters over. Jack mentioned the spat he had found among the tall maple trees just before he had fallen into the hole, an4 they decided that they would locate there for the night. Once more the traps, and a large portion of the burning brush, were removed, and they set to work with all speed to furnish themselves a resting-place. "Now, if this doesn't turn out all right, we'll bunk around the fire in the open," said Jack, and the others said ; so, too. The extra blankets were tied up around the trees, and against these were heaped br_ ush and le. aves_:_ Then the interior was cleaned up, and the rubber blankets put down once more. The work tpok less than half an liour, and when it was completed the boys had a camp that if not quite as warm as the other might have beeoi still dry and sheltered. "Y'f e'll build an extra large fire, and that will keep us. warm," said Andy. "Yes, but we don't want to wake up an' find ourselves burnt to deaf," cautioned Pickles. "That's so," put in Jack. "Be careful that the leaves are cleaned away around the brush before you build the fire too high.'' .... Once again brush was gathered, and the fire fixed to

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106 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. everybody's satisfaction, an
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,. A FIGHT WITH REPTILF,S. 10'1 to sleeping in heated bedrooms, and the cold seemed to pierce them to the very mafrow of their bones. "Hustle around to start up the fire, and that will warm you up," suggested Harry. "Come, everybody; pitch in, for it's half-ast seven, and we want -to be on our way by eight o clock, or a little after." They did pitch in with a will. While Pickles, Boxy, and Andy started up a big, lively blaze, and got together something to eat, Jack and Harry t o ok down the blankets and packed the things on the sled.' Presently Pickles slipped off down to the lake, taking the ax and a spear with him. "He's gone to spear a pickerel or some other fish,!:! said Boxy, and he was right, for it was not long before the colored boy returned with a beaut y weighing all of a pound and a half, which was soon troiling over the flames It was st.ill snowing, and the boy s had to fairly brush the flakes from what the y were eatin g during the meal. Jarcalculated that alread y three in c hes had fallen on the level. "And before night we'll have a foot or two of it unless it clears off," he add e d S o be liv e ly, fellows!" Can we s kate over th e lake?" questioned Andy. "That would be much easier than walking "Yo' can skat e ob e r all right, r e plied Pickles. "De wind ftas dun kept mos' ob it cl'ar, 'ceptin' in spots." "Oh but this is fine fish!'' cried Boxy. ; 'Pickles, you ustn't forget that you promised to show me how to ar them

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108 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "So I will, when we gits ober to de reg'lar camp re pli e d the colored youth smiling broadly at the praise bestowed. By quarte r past eight they put out the fire pl a ce d the last of the things _on the sle and set out. Down on th e surface of the lake they found a cold wind blow ing from the northwest, and the snowflakes appearec;l to be thicker than ever. -

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CHAPTER XV. LOST IN THE SNOW. 'As they had done the day previous, they took turns in drawing the sled, which, fortunately, rode over the surface of the ice easily. Pickles was the first to try a hand. Jack and Harry went on ahead, while Andy and Boxy came close behind the traps. All of the boys had their collars turned high up and their caps pulled well down. Yet the snow crept in, and more than once they could scarcely see ahead of them. "It's not going to be such a bang-up, pleasant trip across to_my way of thinking," remarked Jack. "The snow is coming down heavier every minute." "\Vell, we'll make a beeline for the opposite shore," returned Harry. "If we keep .on .pushing like this, we ought to make it by -a little after noon, and that will give us plenty of time to select a spot for a permanent camp before night comes." "That's true." "There is one thing we must guard against, and that is airholes. This drifting snow is apt to them so a fellow can't see them until it is too late "We'll keep our eyes peeled," returned Jack, and he calle d out instructi o n s for those b e hind to do the same.

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110 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. cm and on they went, keeping the straightest line they could without anything to aid their eyesight. lt was still colder as they got farther from the shore, and occa s ion ally a blast of wind would nearly take them from their feet. "There is one thing we forgot to bring along, and that : s a compass," said Harry. "It's a pity, too! If we 1ha
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LOST IN THE SNOW. 111 fought his way back, and helped tie the tr"aps fast, this time making sure that not a single thing was left loose. "It won't do to lose even a plate," said Andy. "For there are just enough for the crowd and no more." "If this keeps on, we'll have a ]Jlizzard !"gasped Harry. "It fairly takes one's breath away!" "Have to keep you r mouth shut or you'll swallow a lot of snow, too!" put in Boxy. "By the looks of things around us, one would imagine we were out on the plains of :vlontaifa !" "The b es t thing we can do is to stop talking and fight our way to tk e shore," remarked Jack, seriously. "The first thing you know, we'll be turned around, and we [Won't know in what direction the shore is." Once again they moved forward. The snow beat on the right sides of their faces and filled their righ t ears, and, unc onscious l y they turned a littl e away, and thus took a course which led them partly up the lake in stead of directly across. By twelve o'clock they were nowhere near the woods they knew beyond the edge of the lake. All around them were ice and snow The wind had l et up a bit, but the snow was whirling down thicker than ever. "I'm get:ting played out," said Andy. "And I'm hungry," added Boxy. "And I'm a bit of both," put in Harry. "Let us rest a few minutes and have a bite to eat." Pickles was more than willing, and at once went to work to get out crackers and cheese. Jack looked on twith a doubtful face.

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112 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "We'll have a bite but don't waste time resting, he said "We must go on, or night will overtake us while we are still on the lake." Why, it's only twelve o'clock I" cried Andy. "That's so, but the shore is still a good way off, and if we get lost--" Oh, we won t get lost, put in Boxy "We all know: just where the shore is." "And where is it?" questioned Jack, still more seriously. "Right over there," and Boxy pointed with his arm. "\Vhy, no, it's over in that direction," crie
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LOST IN THE SNOW. 113 :They aJI agreed to this, but in what airection should they turn? 1 t was finally decided to try the course Harry and advocated, as they were looked on as natural leaders of the party. The remainder of the crackers and cheese brought out by Pickles was quickly eaten, and they set off. It was growing cooler again, and the wind blew the snow in blinding masses into their Onward they skated, until the drifts became almost impassable. "I can't skate through this!" cried Andy, at last. "Let us take our skates off an
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114 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. we strike a camp," declared Boxy, breathing heavily, tQ keep up with the others. "Oh, it will be all right if it stops snowing and the sun comes out," returned Jack, as cheerfully as he could. "By golly I it looks like it would snow-fo' a week!" cried Pickles. "Jess look how thick it am comin' down now I Jess like somebody was a-shakin' out a fedder-bed 'ober our heads!" Pickles was right. The snow was now. coming down so thickly that it seemed to fill every inch of the air. Their vision in every direction was cut off to but a few: feet in front of them. "Stick close together," urged Harry. "If we become separated we'll never find each other again." His timely advice was heeded and they bunched up so dosely that they frequently took hold of each other's arms. It was hard work to drag the sled now, and two had to take hold instead of only one. Finally they came to a long, solid drift of snow, all of six feet high, and two or three yards wide. Jack and Harry mounted to the top, and, despite the swirling snow and cutting wind, essayed to pierce the gathering darkness around them. J.t was useless. Nothing but snow and ice was to be seen. Night was coming on, and they were In th
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...... CHAPTER XVI. SETTLING DOWN IN CAMP. It certainly was a dismal outlook, lost on the lake in a: howling snowstorm, and night coming on. Small won der that all of the members of the Zero Club were filled with fear as to the outcome of the unexpected situation. The wind blew sharper than ever, cutting like a knife, and causing their teeth to chatter in spite of themselves. The snowflakes settled on their faces and. had to be brushed off their eyebrows that they might see. "Here's a state of things, and no error," remarked Boxy, as he joined Harry and Jack in front of the big snowdrift. "Have we got to go through this?" "We' ve gut to do something," returned Jack, with a certain sort of desperateness in his voice. "If stay out here much longer we'll be frozen to death and buried in the snow !" "We must push on ahead-it's our only salvation," added Harry. "If we keep on in a straight line we are bound to fetch up somewhere sooner or later." "We may walk clean up to the upper end of the lake," said Andy, in a low voice. He was too exhausted to speak louder. "Well, that would be better than remaining here," replied his big brother. "Come, fellows, brace up and put

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116 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. your best leg forward," he went on, in an effort to cheer up their lagging spirits. Pulling and pushing the sled as best they could, they; attacked the huge drift before them. In a couple of minutes they were on the other side All had had tum bles, but to these they paid no attention. "By golly! but I would give all I kin rake an' scrape togedder to be in a warm kitchen jess about now!" puffed Pickles. "My two feet dun got froze as stiff as two chunks ob ice!" "We're all in the same boat," replied Boxy. "I can scarcely drag one foot after the other "And I feel like sitting down and going to sieep," put in Andy. "Let us rest." "No! no!" rejoined his elder brother, quickly. "If you rested and went off into a doze you would never wake up again. We must keep on by all means!" And on they pressed, slowly and painfully, growing. more weary at every step The snow and wind con tinued, and it grew steadily darker. Would that awful trip across the lake never come to an end? At last, when they were about ready to give up in liespair, Harry, in advance of all the rest, gave a joyous 1ittle shout. "The shore, boys!" "Where? where?" they cried out in chorus, and clus tered around him. "Just off to our right. We have been walking along. ;within fifty feet of it." *'Gracious, you don't mean it!" exclaimed Boxy

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SETTLING DOWN IN CAMP. 117 "True enough, boys; come on to land and get a started!" Boxy set off as fast as he could on skates through the snow. The others followed, Jack and Pickles dragging the sled. They were soon off the lake and huddled in a group behind a number of trees and bushes, which afforded a fair shelter from the wind and snow. Here they paused to catch their breaths and gaze around them. "I. imagine we are at least a mile above the spot we struck out for," observed Jack. ':But that doesn't matter, so long as we have crossed the lake in safety. What shall y.-:e do, light a or hunt a place .to camp for the night first?" "Let's light a fire and get warmed up," answeredAndy. "I am sure none of us can do much in our present tion." His idea was warmly seconded by the others, and soon a heap of brush was collected in a convenient spot and set cm fire. They drew up to it as close as they dared, and warmed their chilled bodies. The sled load was again attacked, and crackers and cut-up smoked beef passed around. It was wonderful what appetites all hands had whenever the least sign of a meal appeared. It seemed the y could eat all the time. Down in their hearts all were deeply grateful that the perils of a possible night on the lake were passed. They were certain that, had they been compelled to re main in that wind and snow, some of them would have perished.

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118 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Jack and Harry were the fi'rst to declare themselves warm. and comfortable once more, and, allowing the others to remain seated around the fire, they started off to locate some suitable spot where they might settle down for the balance of the outing. "We don't want any more snakes' nests," remarked Harry, with a laugh. "On. e is a-plenty." "Right you are," replied Jack. "What do you say if we find a circle of trees and build a sort of hut? We can cut down a number of small trees with the ax and fill up the openings by twining in brush and then heaping up snow on the outside." "Boxy was speaking of that sort of place. We will see what we can find." They passed along the shore of the lake until they came to a small creek. They walked up the bank of this for a distance of a hundred feet, and suddenly Harry to a halt. "How is that spot over to the other side?" he cried. "] ust the cheese!" responded Jack. The place to which Harry had called attention was one where four trees stood in almost a square. Between the two trees farthest back and those to one side there was a mass of thick bmsh, while between the two trees on the other side were several large rocks, which had rolled down from a hill beyond. ''We can build a hut th without difficulty," said Harry. "That's so. First we can clear out the square and pile it up on the rocks to the right Then we can cut a fewi

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SETTLING DOWN IN CAMP. 119 slender trees and brace up tha1 brush in the rear and on the left. But how about a roof?" "We can half-a-dozen poles in the lowest branches of the four corner trees and pile brush and leaves on top. That ought to make a good enough roof for the time we want to stay. The brush can be twisted pretty tight, you knpw." They looked the spot over carefully fer snakes, and, fuiding none, returned to the fire. "That ought to do first-rate," said Boxy, when he had heard their report. "But we can never build that hut tonight." "We can fix it up enough to sleep in," returned Jack. Come on. We will start another fire 'On the bank of the creek." "It's good it's on the creek," said Andy. "If a thaw comes up the water will have a chance to flow away." "I dun racken we won't hab no thaw jess yet!" put in Pickles. "It's gwine to on ':J.-snowin' fo' a month or moah !" Everybody laughed at this, and they pulled the sled off to the spot beside the creek. Here a second fire was built, and Pickles vowed that he was going to do all in his power to keep it going until they left for home. "To-morrow I'll git some big knots ob wood an' a log or two, an' da'll burn a week," he said. It was now six o'clock in the evening, and they set to work with a will to clear out the space between the four trees selected to become the corners of the hut. The rush taken out was piled the other bushes be-

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120 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. tween the tree s and more cut from a distance away was also added Thi s w o rk wa s p e rformed by .A'ndy Boxy and Pickles. fo th e meantim e Jack and Harry cut twenty-odd saplings, and trimmed them a s much a s necessar y The young trees w e re t h e n taken to the cleared square, and four of them w e r e put up to rest frbm corner to corn e r, about ten feet from th e ground. Wh'en the y were secure, ten of the p oles w e re placed across the opening .Then brush was handed up and piled on, and a pole or two was fastened over the top to keep it from blbwirig away. "Now we ve got a good enough roof for anyl)ody," said Jack, the job was finished. "It' s not very ing, but it will keep out the snow and a good bit of the cbld, anc!' that's what we want. Two of the remaining saplings were placed at angles to make a small s:Joorway alongside of one of the trees, and the others were taken inside to brace up the several walls of brush and stone. By the time all this was accomplished, it was after eight o clock, and every one of the boy.> was completely fagged out "Fix up th e fire for the night and we'll go to bed," Harry "We hav e more than earned a night's rest." "You're right, added Boxy. "And don't any one dare to wake me until eight or nine o'clock to-morrow morn ing. "We haven't nani e d the camp yet," said Andy. "Let's (lo that b e for e we:. r e tire ."

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SETTLING DOWN IN CAMP 121 "It's Camp Rest as much as anything," replied his brother, and then and there the spot was so christened. Pickles lost no time in replenishing the fire. 'I'hen the sled, with all of the other traps, was dragged into the hut an d a heavy blanket was fastened up over the doorway. It took the boys some little time to arrange themselves to their satisfaction, but, being so tired, they were not as particular as they otherwise might have been. Harry
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CHAPTER XVII. HUNTING FOR FOOD. It was Jack who was the first awake on the following morning. H e lay for some time without moving, and then unrolled himself from his blanket and sprang up, just as Harry opened his eyes with a start. "Hullo, Jack! up already?" "I just got up, Harry. I guess it's rather late." Jack Jooked at his watch. "Great guns! quarter to nine I Rouse up, boys, day has broke, and more!" he cried. Soon every one in the hut was awake,' and one after another they arose. Severa: had a light sprinkling of snow on their blankets, but the little that had sifted in had done no harm. "We'll fix that to-day so not a spoonful shall come in hereafter," said Jack. Pickles was the first to attempt to step outside. He uttered an exclamation of comical dismay. "By golly! de snow's dun covered up de fiah most!" he cried. The colored youth was right. All about the fire, and also the hut, the soft covering of white lay to the depth of a foot and a half, and the cleared spot where the flick embers lay had been narrowed down to a tiny circle. "We'll clear the snow away between the hut and the

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HUNTING FOR FOOD. 123 ice fi'rst," said Harry. "Pickles, you can start to get breakfast.'' "Dat's so, hut what is we gwine to hab dis morn in'?" questioned the colored youth, sob e rly. "We must hunt up our breakfast, said Boxy. "Let's try to get a squirrel or two," suggested Andy. "I saw a hole on one of the ti:ees ye s terday, close to where we built the first fire." "All right; you and Boxy take the guns and see what y-0u can scare up," replied his brother. "Harry and I will go for rabbits, birds or whatever we can find Leaving Pickles t? heap more brush and wood on the fire and set the water to b o iling for coffee, the four boys split into two parties and set off. "We won't be able to do much in this deep snow," observed Harry to Jack, as the two pushed up the stream. "There won't be much stirring." "We might run across a hungry fox," returned his com panion. "They come out if they are hungry enough." "Are the y good to eat?" "Some say they are. I have never tried them, but I eat fox meat in preference to starving, every time." "Oh, so would I. But we are not s larving "No, but there is no telling what may happen. It 1s true it has stopped snowing, but' there is no telling how soon it may start up again." "Well, I move we lay in as much as we can to-day," said Harry, after a pause. "We' ll feel safer if we have something in the larder to fall back on. Besides, I ge't tired of crackers, cheese and smoked beef."

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124 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Walking through the snow was by no means a u mat ter, and the two boys had not gone far wh e n they found the exercise beginning to tell on them. Suddenly Jack touched Harry on arm and moti o ned him to be silent. Both boys came to a halt, and the elder pointed over to his left. F o r full y ten seconds n othing was to be seen Then from over a fallen log appeared a pair of long gray ears, followed by the head and body of a fat bunny. Bang! went Jack's gun, and the old fellow leaped up in the air, ran a few steps and then fell dead. "Hurrah! you've the first one!" <;_ried Harry, as both ,ran forward. "My! but he's a whopper I" he added, as he took up the prize by the hind legs. "Yes, he'll do very well," returned Jack, with a smile of pardonable pride. "A few more like this and--" He broke off short. The discharge of the gun and their approach had started up two more rabbits less than a rod off They were scampering througth the snow at top spe ed. Harry took .steady aim and fired. One of the bunnies.. was. and the other seriously injured A ft e r him or he'll get away !" yelled Jack referring to th e wounded rabbit, which was doing its best to drag itself out o f sight in some brushwood. With a bound Harry ran forward and caught the animat when it was still a y ard from cover. A blow from the gun s tock s ettled its career forever. "That be a t s m e said Jack. "Three rabbits is not bad. Sh:i.11 w e g o b ac k with them?"

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HUNTING FOR FOOD. 125 "We seem to have struck a good spot. Let us get w4at we can before the bunnies skip elsewhere." So they went on, around the brushwood, and in among the trees in the vicinity. At first they saw nothing, but soon scared up three rabbits in a bunch. Bang! bang! went Jack's and .Harry's guns simulta neously, and two more rabbits were added to their list. The third animal escaped unharmed. "That makes five," said Jack. "We are doing famously, to my way of thinking." "Let us continue," returned Harry, with a good deal of excitement. This was outing sport and no mistake So they went on, but no more rabbits appeared, nor did any other animals put in sight. They bagged half-a dozen small birds, however, ;nd then, their game bags well filled, returned to the camp. Andy and Boxy had just arrived. Each of them had shot a squirrel, and An. dy had killed a third with a stick of wood. They had also secured nearly two quarts 0 hickory nuts from one of the squirrel's nests. "Now we are fixed for several days," declared Jack. "Let us save the rabbits and have a little squirrel on toast for breakfast." "That's it," laughed Boxy. "Think of it, squirrel on Delmonico's an't in it, eh?" and every one joined in the laugh. Pickles had not been idle. Water was boiling over the fire, and exactly five big potatoes-portion of the -small mess brought along-were roasting in the ashes beneath.

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126 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. It was not long before the smell of newly made coffee and broiling squirrel filled the air. A portion of the flre was dragged directly in front of the entrance to the hut, making the interior as warm as the kitchen of a house, and then the five sat down to a well-earned breakfast and dinner combined. That they enjoyed every mouthful goes without saying. "Now, what's the programme for to-day?'' questioned Boxy, when he was about full. "At first let us give Pickles a chance to clean up, while we finish work on the hut and build a regular fireplace," returned Harry. "That's it," added Jack. "Pickles can also tend to the animals we have killed, so they won't spoil. The hut must be put into shape, so it will stand the wind and any storm that may come along." "I don't think we'll get any more snow," said Andy, but the otheys shook the_ir heads. It was no easy matter to start work in the deep snow which lay on all sides of the hut, but they went at it with a will, Boxy whistling cheerfully, and Pickles singing merrily as he washed the dishes and pots. More poles and brush were cut, and Jack, who had seen the thing done by hunters along the coast, showed how the brush could be twisted, one branch into another, until the sides of the hut were as tight as a wicker basket. They were braced by the poles, and then banked up on the outside, nrst by more brush and leaves, and then by snow. After the sides were finished, the roof was overhauled and made much tighter than before. The number ot

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HUNTING FOR FOOD. 127 poles on the top were increased, until all was as solid as a city h o use. "Now we've got a hut worth living in cried Harry; as h e surveyed the wot: done. "That will stay there for sever a l s easons if not tom down by human hands "Jt's a pity we are not going to stay longer," grumbled Box y "Three days gone already!" "But three days are not two weeks," said Andy, cheer full y The hut finished, they tackled the fireplace. A dozen flat were s ought for and found, and Jack showed them how a regular oven could be con structed. The uprights and the cross pole which had been used previously were allowed to remain, with the pot suspended over them, full of water. "It's a good thing to have hot water any time you want it observed Andy, and the others agreed wit1i' him. B y t h is time it was two o 'clock, and they lost no time in prep arin g to go on the hunt. H ow Pete Sully and the others would envy us if they kne w how nicely wewere situated ob s erved B o xy. "I'll bet they were mad when we left them to shift for t h e m s elves on the ice," put ih Andy. "We'll have an account to settle with them when we get home." "That's so, but I'm not going to worry, returned Harry. "Come on, fellows let us see what we can start up be twe en now and sundown." And all together they started off on a hunt that was to be on e of the most perilous of the whole outing.

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CHAPTER XVIII. CHASED BY WOLVES. After some discussion it was decided to follow the course of the creek upon which they had pitched their This would aid them in several ways It would pre vent them from going astray and getting lost, and travel ing was easier there than in among the trees and brush. Moreover, Jack was of the opinion that they would find more game along the creek side than elsewhere Every one was in excellent spirits, and had it not been for a '*arning from Harry, Boxy and Pickles would have started to sing and whistle. "We wiH never get anything unless you remain quiet," he said. "It is hard enough t<> stalk anything without a. dog." "Oh, I ought to have brought Leo," burst out Boxy. "But Minnie wouldn't hear of it. She said it was bad enough for me to go, without taking him." "Leo isn't a hunting dog, is he?" questioned Andy. "A kind of one. l:Ie hasn't been trained very well." "Then he would have been worse than none," put in Jack. "A dog is no good unless he is thoroughly broken." "My ole man's dun got de dorg," put in Pickles. "But radder gib me his suit of clo's dan let me take

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CHASED BY WOLVES. 1Woppy away. He t'inks moah ob
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TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Next time sure to fire off the gun before you load again." "You kin bet I will," returned Pickles, and he spok e the truth. All of his charges after that were somewh at light. A little distance farther on they came across several more rabbits. Jack brought down one and his brother another. All the other boys fired and missed. "We'll have rabbits if nothing else," observed Jack. "But I am in hopes we'll strike bigger game." "A bear, for instance," said Boxy. "Well, no, not exactly. But a deer wouldn't go bad." "There ought to be deer around here," said Harry. "Barton Coils said we would find some sure ." "I suppose they are getting sca rcer every year. :Maybe we will have to go away back in the mountains for them." On and on they trudged, without another sign of a. rab b it. But presently Harry drew attention to a squirrel hole, and a halt was made to see what it might col!tain. They all loaded up, and then Boxy threw a snowball into the hole. Nothing followed, and then another snow ball and a stick of wood were launched at the hole Instantly a squirrel's head appeared; hi s lordship looked out to see what was the cause of the disturbance. Jack took quick aim and fired. The head disappeared, but whether the animal had been hit or not they could not tell. "I'll climb up and investigate," said Boxy. "I have an idea there is more than one squirrel in that tree,"

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CHASED BY WOLVES. 131 "Yes, it looks hollow," returned Harry. "Let me give rou a boost up." "Don't you shoot me for a squirrel while I'm up there," l aughed Boxy, and up he started. "Humph! you don't climb like a squirrel," commented Andy, as Boxy gripped and twisted to gain the lower b ranches of the tree. It was a struggle to gain those lower limbs, but Boxy finally accompl' hed it, and to poke into the hole with a stick. Almost instantly a couple of squirrels sprang out and darted past him, and out to where the b fanches of another tree close. One of the frisky animals made the leap in safety, and d arted out of sight before those below could take aim at h im. The second was not so fortunate. He hesitated for an in stant, and that proved fatal. Harry's gun spoke, and down he dropped at the young hunter's feet The shot, scattering through the branches behind him, fr ightened Boxy, who imagined that he was in danger of being hit, although such was not the case, as Harry was careful of what he was doing The boy up at the squirrel h ole shrunk backward, and then, to the amazement of his c ompanions disappeared entirely! "Hullo! what does that mean?" cried Jack. "Where in de world is dat feller gwine ?" queptioned P ickles, with his mouth wide open. "Who?" asked Harry, who had been paying attention to1ely to the

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132 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. has gone into a hole the tree," explained !Andy. "Hullo, Boxy, crawl out of that!" he shouted. There was no reply. The boys stared at the tree and each other in wonder. "Ma ybe he has gone clear to the bottom," suggested Jack. "I'll climb up and see," returned Harry. ".Give me a leg up, quick! He may be smothering!" Jack assisted him, and Harry was soon up to where I Boxy had been standing. Sure enough, there was a hole, and Boxy was wedged into it at least seven or eigh t f eet below the opening. "Help me!" gasped the unfortunate boy, in a thick voice. "Throw up a rope or a strap," shouted Harry, to those below. "He is way down, and can t help himself." Several skate-straps, buckled together, were at onc:e thrown up. Winding one end around his hand, Harry; low ered the other. "Got it tight?" he asked. "Yes,'' returned Boxy. "But I'm afraid you can't haul me up--I'm wedged in that firm!" "I'll see." Bracing himself as best he could, Harry hauled .a.war, on the strap. The leather cut his hand a good deal, but to this he paid small attention. At first Boxy did not budge. Then, with a groan, he came up a few inches. A tearing sound, as of clothing, follow ed, and finally he was raised so that he could get his hands on the edge of the hole. Then he helped him

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CHASED BY WOLVES. 133 eetf; and soon both he and Harry were down among the Dthers again. Boxy s coat was torn in half-a-dozen places, but he gave scant attention to that. He was very thankful that he had been puJ!ed out of the tree-trunk alive. "Supposing I'd been alone wh e n that happened?" he shuddered. "I was worse off than Jack in that pjt on the other side of the lake." "That shbws the wisdom of keeping togetner," said Jack. "After this we will make it a point to go out to gether, or, at least, in pairs-never alone." The journey up the creek was. resumed, and they kept on until at least a mile and a half had been covered "Now I move we go back," said Jack. "It is getting late. To-morrow we can start out early, for there will be nothing to do around the camp after breakfast, which we ought to have by seven o'clock." The others were tired and readily agreed. They had not s e en any deer, but had found a run, and they were certain that, soon e r or later, they would strike one or more of the much-prized beasts. About a quarter of the distance to camp was covered, when, without warning, a doleful sound reached their ears coming from directly in front of them. "What's that?" asked Andy, as he came to a halt. "Wo lv es cried Jack. "I did not think there were any, in this section!" "The h e avy snow has driven them out to look for food," "We may have trouble with them."

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134 "'OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. ( "We can shoot them," said Boxy. "And they-here they come now I" Boxy had hardly uttered the words when rpm a thicket rushed five lean and savage-looking wolves, snapping and snarling as they came toward the boys. All fired their guns, and two of the wolves went down, mortally wounded. The others kept on, yelping and barking with increased savageness. "Run for it!" yelled Jack. "They will tear us to pieces if they once get at us !" And run they did, trying to load their firearms as 19rent. Soon the wolves were close at their heels 1 /

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CHAPTER XIX. THE LAST OF THE WOLVES. It certainly looked as if mat:._ters would turn out seri ously for the fi've boys. The three remaining wolves were close at their .+-!eels, and so far no one but Jack had suc c eeded in reloading his gun. The ooys thought it odd that the three wolves did not stop to devour their dead companions. The truth was that every one of th<: savage beasts had received a portion o f the scattering shot and was so enraged that it thought onl ; of attack. As soon as he had ?is firearm ready for use, Jack w heeled about and took hasty aim. Bang! went the gun, aqd the foremost of the wolves keeled over shot throu gh the head. "Good for you, Jack!" panted his brother. "I wish I could knock another (;f them !" ''Sling your guns over your shoulders and jumQ for the tree limbs!" called out Boxy, and an instant later he made a leap and drew himself up into a tree, where he was safe for the time being. Andy quickly followed his example, and Jack did the same Harry was just finishing loading, and kept on running. The two wolves did not stop but went after H arry, snarling and yelping directly at his heels.

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136 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB, Then, with a lightninglike m_ovement, the brave boy swung around, and, without bringing his gun to his shoulder, fired almost directly into the open mouth of the leading beast. With hardly a sonnd, the wolf toppled over, knocking: his companion down as he f e ll. This gave Harry a moment's respite, of which the ex hausted boy w;is not slow to take advantage. He to a tree whose branches were -Scarcely seven feet from the ground, and, with a jump, landed in several qf them. He managed to haul himself up just as the re maining wolf made an unsuccessful attempt to bury his gleaming teeth his leg. But, alas! as Harry reached the branches in safety, his gun slipped from his hand, and went down into the snow under the wolf's feet! He was now practically defenseless. And the worst of it was every one of his chums with their guns were at least a hundred feet or more aw;iy. "Here's a fine mess!" he muttered to himself, as he looked down and surveyed the situation. "If I had that gun I could easily settle that fellow, but without it I can do practically nothing." "Hullo, Harry! where are you?" sang out the voi:e of from a tree which was out of sight. "I'm up a tree and I've dropped my gun I" was the (lismal response. "How about the wolve s ?" "They are all d,ead but one, and he is sitting under the tree waiting to make a meal of me."

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THE LAST OF THE WOLVES. 137 "If there's only one left I'll soon fi'nish him!" responded Jack, qickly. "Just wait till I load up again Look out there!" suddenl y shouted Boxy, fro m an other direction. "Here comes an o th e r w olf!" A y e lping from the woods left b e hind t o ld that h e was right The bea s t sto pped under the tree s B o x y and Andy had climbed for s a fety Presently both boys fired on him, and he was mortally wounded. With a y elp of pain human he dragged himself out of sight through the brush. "He's cooked! cried Andy. "Any more coming?" questioned his big brother, an.?Ciously ... "Not that we can hear, replied Boxy, after a pause. "By the way, where is Pickles?" That was a puzzling question In their excitem ent all of the members of the Zero Club had forgotten the negro youth. But they now had no time to think ?ver the matter. Jack was determined to kill the wolf under Harr_ y s tree, He saw to it that his gun was ready for use, and then aropped down into the snow. He had hardly gone a dozen steps when the wolf saw him and made a rush forward. Taking hasty aim, Jack fired. The shot struck the wolf in the side, wounding him just sufficie ntly to make him still more ugly. He flew at Jack wit:h w o nderful ferocity, knocking the .boy off his feet and sending him flat on his back. Through the tree branches Harry saw the disaster an.di

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138 'TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. his companion's great peril. With a half-suppress:d cry; of horror he leaped to the ground and caught up his own gun. The wolf paused for a moment when he saw that he / was to be attacked in the rear. Then he again turned and flew at Jack's leg. But ere he could bury his teeth into the flesh Harry hit him a resounding crack on the side with the stock of his gun. The blow delivered with all st'rength knocked the wolf away several feet. Jack turned over and leaped to hiS>feet. Then the wolf came at both boys. For about ten seconds it looked n.s if the boys would have a hard time of it The wolf was wary and to o k no chances. He was watching for an opportunity to leap at the throat of one or the o ther. Finally he sprang at Jack but just then came an tmex pected shot fro m o ne s i de It was so close it caused the wolf to drop almost at the boy 's feet. He gave a y elp, turned over once or twice, and was dead. They looked around and saw Pickles standing there, a smoking shotgun in his }lands, and grinning from ear to ear. "Dat's de time dat wolf got duri up fo keeps," remarked the colored youth. "Good for you, Pickles!" cried Jack, gratefully. "You saved my life!" "Not as much as dat I rackon," returned Pickles. "Is
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THE LAST OF THE W O LVES. 139 be on our guard. There may be more of the pack that haven't yet arrived." They followed this advice, and then walked back to where Boxy and Andy had been left. They were joined b y the others, and then all five of the boys walked around to view their dead enemies. "Six wolves isn't bad," observed Jack, grimly. "That's so," returned Boxy "But .it isn't exactly the lcind of hunting we are looking for." "The deep snow drove them out for food," remarked Harry. "No doubt they followed up the trail of the dead rabbits and squirrels we are carrying." It was decided to let the dead bodies lay where theYi w ere, Pickles cutting off their tails to the bounty, o ffered by the authorities for the wolves' extermination. It was long past daylight when the camp was reached. W hile the colored youth prepared the animals shot the o thers got supper ready. "Maybe you don't know whar I was when dem wolves gl) t after us," observed Pickles, while they were working. _.. "Where was you?" questioned Andy. "I hid in de stump ob a dead tree. I had my gun ready fo' de fust wolf dat showed himself, but dat wolf didn't cu m. Dp. all knowed better dan to monkey wid de end o f m y old paralyzer." "Pickles would have pickled him," remarked Boxy, and th en they all laughed. The boys were tired, but not sleepy, and as it was a clear, moonlight night, they sat around the campfire long after supper, talking and singing. Pickles got out his

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140 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. banjo, and made the woods ring with jigs and break downs, and the accompaniment to a ditty called "When the Cotton Am a-Bloomin'." All joined in the chorus o f the sof!g, and they kept it up until ten o'clock. "Now, it's turn in without delay," ordered Harry. "Remember, we start off early to-morrow." "If it don't snow like fury," put in Andy. "No more snow for a week,'' said Boxy "Just look, the sky is as clear as a bell!" ''I wonder how things a1"'e at home?" went on Andy suddenly. "Why,-;,hat put that into your head?" questioned Jack, turning to him quickly_ "Humph! I was wondering the same thing," remarke d H arry "Maybe somebody is getting homesick," observed Boxy an d although he meant it for a joke, there was a litt .le truth in the remark nevertheless, although not one _of th e boys would have admitted it for the world. Not that they wished to leave camp, o nly that they would like t o have seen the family faces, if only for a brief They soon forgot fhe idea, however, in the preparation s to retire. They helped Pickles haul a log and some brus h to the fire, and then carried the various traps to the hut. "Supposing a wolf comes here during the night?" sai d Boxy, suddenly, with a slight shudder. "Not likely," rejoined Jack. "But. you can sleep wit h cme ear open if you wish." "I will," returned Boxy, and he did. Quarter of an hour later every one of the boys ha.di

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THE LAST OF THE WOLVES. 14 } sought his corner an made himself comfortable. Soon all of them but Boxy were asleep. Boxy t,ried his best to close his eyes, but in vain. He turned and twisted, counted :i. hundred, made himself a dead weight, and did numerous other things _to induce sleep, but without success. He had a wakeful streak on, and when he dozed off it was not-alone with one ear open, but with eye also. Presently he started up and sprang to his feet. Was he mistaken, or had he heard something moving around -Outside? He listened intently, but no sound but the crackling of the fire reached his ears. "I would be willing tobet anything I heard a st range noise," he said to himself. "I'm going to investigate, though, before I wake up the other fellows." And W'ith his blanket still around him, he stepped out side of the hut. A second later Boxy heard a Jong, low moan from the other side of the creek. He looked acmss in the direction, and then gave a yell of alarm that brought every one of his companions to his feet-with a bound

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CHAPTER XX'. WHAT COULD IT, HAVE BEEN? When the others the outside of the hut they _found Boxy staring wi'.dly, his eyes .fairly bulging from their sockets. His face was a deadly white. "What is it, Boxy?" "What do you see ?" "Some wild animal, or what?" "A ghost!''" gasp'8d Boxy. "A ghost, as sure as fate!,. "Where? where?" "Across the ice-it just disappeared behind the trees I,. "There are no ghosts," returned Jack, in disgust. "Certainly not," put in Harry. "What did
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WHAT COULD IT HAVE BEEN? 143 "It wasn't anything of the sort," retorted Boxy, half angrily. "It was a ghost, or something like it. The moon was shining right on it." 'Maybe it was a man dressed in white," said Harry. /,'One of the old deer-hunters from up in the mountains." "A hunter wouldn't go around moaning like a cow with the toothache," returned Boxy. "Well, y ou don't mean to say that you believe in ghosts?" asked Jack, plumply. n e ver did before," replied Boxy, evasively. "Well, let me tell you that there are no such things, never were, and never will be. Either you were dreaming, or the object was some man or some animal." I "May be you want to go after it and find out?" cried Boxy, quickly. -"That's just what I'm going to do." "So am I," added Harry. "We'll take our guns and compel his ghostship to give an account of himself." "You had better look out!" cried Pickles, nearly terrorstricken at the idea. "Dat ghost dun cotch you an' you nebber be hurd ob no moah !" "Nonsense!" laughed Jack. "Which way did the thing go, Boxy?" "It moved up the creek and then back." "Do you want to go along and show us the way?" Boxy hesitated, but to refuse would look too much like cowardice, ;ind somewhat against his will, he finally con sented to accompany them. Andy said he would go, too, and, not to b e left behind alone, Pickles the

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144 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. but on the lookout to run for life at the first sight of a: ghost Not a minute was lost by Harry and Jack, and once started, they set off on a run, uetween them. They were soon across the creek and hunting around the heavy brush and thicket of trees. But though they searched for the best part of natf-an h.our, they discovered com2_aratively There were a few large tracks in the snow, but these were dragged so none could tell what sort of a walking object had made them. "\i\Tell, we might as well give up," said Andy, at last "I am mighty cold, r9using up out of a warm. sleep." They searched around a little while longer, and then one after another returned to the camp. Pickles repleri ished the fire, and signified his intention to sit up for the balance of the night. It was then a little after three o'clock. "I wonder what it could have been?" queried Harry, as he threw himself on his resting-place once more. "Boxy certainly saw something." "Perhaps time will ?Olve the mystery," responded Jack, sleepily, and he was right. The near future solved it in a most unexpected manner Boxy could not sleep at all after the excitement through which he had passed, and at five o'clock he left the hut to join Pickles by the side of the fire. He found the ored youth dozing away over the oven that had been built, and in great danger of having his woolly locks singed bJi the flickering flames.

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WHAT COULD IT HA VE BEEN? 145 He roused up Pickles, and by a little after six both had a fine breakfast ready. Then the others got up, one after another, and soon daylight broke, and Camp Rest once more a stir. "Now for nothing less than two or three deer!" cried Harry, enthusiastically the talk," returned Jack. "And we 'll get them, too, if we go far enough up in the mountains. ''That is if we don't all get buck-fever and forget to shoot when we have the chance," laughed Andy. "Da is lots ob fellers wot gits dat fever," remarked Pickles. "I reckerlect my dad a-speakin' ob a party ob six gen'i:nen from city gwine up in de mountains to shoot and when day had de chance to knock ober fooll of dem, not a single gen'.meil t'ought to pull trigger, de consekences was
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146 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. many spots, and they found traveling not as difficult as some of them bad imagined. .'I trust we meet no more wolves," said Jack, as he and Harry trudged along side by side. "One experience with those chaps is enough." "Especially such an experience as we had," was the r_eply. "When will w e get to th e deer territory?" called out Andy, from behind "We ought to strike a run by eleven or twelve o'clock," replied Harry. "Not habing a dorg is gwine to bodder us considerbul," remarked Pickles. "It takes a good dorg to stir up de animiles." "Well; we'll do the best we can withou t," returned Jack. "Come on, for we have still several miles to go." On they went, over half-a-dozen hills and creeks and uv steep rocks and across d e ep ravines. Sometim es they traveled rapidly, and at others with extreme caution "Don't fall into so ne hollow or hol e and break a leg." was Boxy's caution, and it a timely one. Overhead the sun had been shining, but now it went under a bank of light clouds, and, as a consequence, it grew colder. "I don't like the cold," remarked Jack. "But we can hunt better now than when the sun is too bright, to my way of thinking." Twelve o'clock found them ascending the side of a long hill, the last before the mountains should be reached.

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WHAT COULD IT HAVE BEEN? 147 The thickets were almost impassable, and they looked in vain for some kind of a pathway. "Don't make too much noise," cautioned Harry, as they proceeded. "Beyond this hill, I imagine, there is a wide valley, and if so, that ought to make a good spot for deer. 'i'Ne don't want tO frighten any possible game." "I'm most played out,'' muttered Andy. "We'll have to rest a bit when we reach the top." "Unless we see something, we can stop and have din ner there," answered his brother. "Quiet now, for the top is not far off, and the wind will carry our voices down into the valley as soon as we reach the ridge." They went on after this in silence, all following Harry and Jack in Indian file. Five minutes later the crest of the long hill was before them With the greatest pos sible caution they crept forward and peered over into the :valley on the other side. At first they saw nothing. Then Harry motioned them to silence, and pointed to a little opening among the bushes far away to the south. Four animals were bunched together there, and a second look convinced all of the boys thal they were deer.

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CHAPTER XXI. DEER HUNTING. Every one of the bo)'s tqok a good look, to make sure that he was not mistaken, and then they drew back several yards from the crest hill. and four of them!" whispeted Andy, excitedly. "We can't shoot them so far off," added Boxy. "No, we have to get closer and on the other side of them," replied Harry. '"Why on the other side?" questioned Ai1dy, impa tiently. "Deer always sce'nt a person if he is to the wind ward." "Oh, I see. vVell, shall we cross the valley here?" "No, we will have to go up to the north and make a: wide detour behind that bit of woods," said Jack. "Come on, there is no time to lose. The deer may shift their position at any moment." In the excitement of the moment all thoughts of the midday meal were forgotten. And they likewise forgot that they were tired. With such game in view they would have tramped five miles without a murmur. Harry led the way along the ridge, taking care that they should not expose themselves to the view of the deer below. It was a tedious walk, especially to Andy,,,'

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DEER HUNTING. 149 who wanted half-a-dozen times to try a shot at long range. At last they reached the crest of the hill and began to. climb down the other side This was hard work, for fear of striking an icy surface and going down-no one could t e ll where. It was half an hour before they stood in the vall ey. Here it w a s warmer, on account of the shelter from the wind. "Now come on and we 'll get to some spot directly be hind the deer," said Harry. "Then we will spread out in a semi-circle and do our best to bag the lot." Without another word, and scarcely daring to breathe, they along in the snow, their guns, and the rifle carried by Jack, ready for imme_ diate use. Luckily, there was a small rise of rocks between the game and the boys, and using this as a shelter, they approached closer and closer to the deer. N o w all fire when I give the signal, a sharp whistle," said Jack. "Don' t fire before, and don't forget to have a second charge ready for your guns." With these instructions, he 'stationed Andy and Boxy in one s pot, Pickles in another, and then went on with Harry. Fifty f eet farth e r Jack and Harry came to a halt, and select e d places not over two yards apart. "I'll take the one by the tree," whispered Jack. "Yoll take any of the others you please. All ready?" "Ye6."

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lM TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. that instant one of the deer raised his head anCI sniffed the air. Something had alarmed him. Jack gave a sharp whistle, and up came the other deer heads. Bang! bang! bang! went the rifle and the guns in a running One of the deer leaped up into the air and fell mortally wounded. A second staggered off shot !_n the fore legs. The others were apparently un:. harmed, and bounded off dt'>wn the valley on the wings of the wind. "Go for the wounded one !" shouted Harry, as he rammed another load into his gun. "I'm :going after those other deer !" And away he went, before Jack could utter a single protest. Harry knew enough to keep out of sight, and to move along. silently. He covered the ground with all the speed at his command. nevertheless, forcing his way through the woods and over r.ocks for nearly a quarter of a mile. At this point the valley narrowed, and he was forced by the lay of the land to come out into the open. As he had hoped, the two unwounded deer had come to a halt, and were standing on a rocky slope, looking back curiously, to learn what manner of fate had overtaken their companions. They soon spied the young hunter, however, and turned to run on. It was then that Harry fired at the hindmost. L!lis aim was true1. and the entire charge r .. __

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DEER HUNTING. 151 creature's back. He stumbled into the snow and rolled over and over. Thinking him about done for, the boy ran forward to view his prize. Scarcely had he come within five yards, when the deer, a small but strong-built buck, scrambled up and charged upon him, Harry leaped to one side in the nick of time. Had it be en otherwise, those sharp prongs would have pierced him through and through. The buck staggered on several yards, and then turned and made a second assault., Again Harrr sprang out of the way. Then he started to run, but had gone scarcely thirty feet when he stum bled on an icy rock, slipped along a yard or two and fell forward The poor boy gave himself up as lost. But help was : clo se at hand. The sharp report of Jack's rifle rang out, and over tumbled the buck, shot through the eye, and qui te dead. "Are you hurt, Harry? Did he buck you?" ques tion ed Jack, quickly. "No, I'm all right," panted Harry. you for killing him." "You wounded didn't you?" "And thanks to "Yes, his back is full of buckshot. But it only made him ugly. What of that deer that was wounded first?" "Andy, Box..y and Pickles took care of him. This makes three out of four, and that is not bad." Getting some branches, the boys made a rough a nd placed the buck upon it. Luckily, there :was a little!

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152 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. creek running through the middle of the and on the ice covering they slid their game down to the spot where the sport had first begun. The others were waiting for them, and they set up a yell of delight when they saw a third deer had been brought down. "Dis am sumfing to be proud ob, an' no mistake," observed Pickles. "My dad won't most beliebe me when I dun tell him ob it." "We'll take along, the horns and skins, and that will certify to our story," sai>l Jack. "The question is, what's to be done with all of this meat?" "It's a pity, but most of. it will have to be left l suppose," returned Harry. "Let us carry as much of choice pieces as we can." They -set to work with a will to skin the deer, saving the heads just as they were. They were at work M>hen a loud, drawling voice disturbed them. "Wall, neow, jess tew look at thet !' exclaimed the i\'pice. "Dew yeou boys mean tew say thet killed the three of 'em?" around, and standing on the rocks beheld a tall, slim-built farm er, evidently of Yankee extraction, surveying the scei:!e in wonder and admiration. "Yes, we killed them," replied Harry. "Pretty good for one morning's h unt, eh?" "Most etarnally good, young man-in fact, the best Josh Higginson hez seed in many a year. It does yeou proud, boys, take my word on it!' "'Yl e are proud/' returned Andy, honestly. ,,,..

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DEER HUNTING. 153 "I came Cleown. here tew see if I could git a shot my self, but I guess it's tew late neow. Too bad, tew, for the old woman wuz calkerlatin' on a bit o' vension fer tew-morrow's dinner.' "You can have some and wekome," returned Jack, quickly. "We do not wish it all, and cannot carry it to our carip on Rock Island Lake." "Yes, he might as well take all that is left," added Harry. "It will only spoil here." "That's so," put in Andy and Boxy. Josh Higginson was greatly pleased. In truth, he wa..s not much of a hunter, and it is doubtful if he could have brought down a deer even if given the chance. He thanked them over and over again, and said would go home and bring a sled and horse down to carry away the meat He asked the boys about tliem selves, and said he hoped that they would have the oest possible time during the balance of their outing in the woods. "I have a tid,Y little place up tew the end o' the valley," he said; "an' if yeou come up thet way drap in, a!T' I'll treat yeou the best I know heow." Not to get back to camp too late, they rushed mat ters, and half an hour later were on their way. Each was loaded heayily: but no one grumbled, for was it not the prize of the day they were carrying? "Won't folks in Rudskill be astonished when they learn of all we shot!" exclaimed Boxy. "I guess they'll think we are regular hunters, true enough!" "This meat will last us the balance of the outing," said

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1 5 4 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Harry. "So we won;t have to w orry about food a ny more." On and on they went, over the hills, until, when it was growing quite dark, they came in sight of the camp. "Home again!" sang out Andy, I am not sorry. '.Another mile would have done me--" "Somebody has been here!" interrupted Harry, quickly. "See, the fire has been scattereQ. right and left, and the oven torn to pieces !" "Who could have been mean enough-to do this?" put in Jack, angrily. Then he stopped short, and both he and Harry made a rush for the hut. A single glarrce aro\1rid showed that their sudden fea r wa s realized The hut had been looted. Every one of their traps, including the sled, was gone!

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CHAPTER XXII. TRACK OF THE MARAUDERS.. For the moment both Jack and Harry were dumfounded b y their discovery. They stared around the hut, and the n s tared at each other. 'What's the trouble?"' asked Boxby, pushing his wa y in side behind them, and by Andy and Pick l es. "They have stolen the sled and all of our things!" burs t O tit Jack, wrathfully. A shout of dismay went u p "Who did it?" "Where have they gone?" "Can't we go after them?'' "I can't cook no supper widou t a pot o r a kettle," added P ickles dubi o u s ly "And we won t have supper until we have our things b a c k.'' returned Harry, quickly. "I'm not going t o sit st ill and have my blankets and the rest stolen "Nor I! Nor I!" shouted the others "Most likel y it was tramps," commented Boxby "I wonder how many of th em." "Light up some t o rches and we'll take a l o ok around," ordered Harry, and the suggestion was carried out with all possible haste But the s earch, minute as it was, r eveale d but little.

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156 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Every article of value had been carried off, the oven de stroyed, and evidence was not wanting to show that the marauders had tried in several places to ruin the hut. "It's a burning shame!" burst out Andy. "It was bad enough to steal the things, without ruining what wa s left." a piece of maliciousness, that's just what it is," re turned Boxby. "It looks like the work of a personal enemy." "But we any personal enemies up here, sai d "We left them behind in Rudskill." "Ain't it mos' too dark to go aftah dem fellers?" asked !Pickles. "It is dark," replied Jack, "but by taking torches w e tan follow the footprints, I think. There is nothing else to do. We can't go to bed without our blankets very ;well." "Come on, there is no time to lose/' urged Harry, an d hanging up their deer meat and the heads and antlers they started off, each with a blazing pine knot held alof t (>f his head. The track of the heavily-laden sled led across the creek, and off along the shore of Rock Island Lake. They counted the footsteps of three persons who had dragge d the sled along In several places the footsteps showed all around the sled. "That is where they had to stop to secure the load ," re marked Harry. "I suppose they loaded so hastil y that i t kept slipping off. See : here is one of the tin plates." And, he picked up the article from where it lay, hal f buried in the snow.

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TRACK 01" THE MARAUDERS. 157 The plate was turned over to Pickles, and a sharp out was kept for more of their belongings which resulted in the finding of another plate, two knives, a fork, c.nd one small tin kettle. "At this rate, we'll find all of the stuff at the end of twG or three miles," observed Harry. "The care! ss, good for-nothing fellows! how I would like to face them ju5t now! And the look on his face showed that he was far from being in a pleasant humor. About a mile from the creek the track turned directly tow:ffd the lake, and a hundred feet farther on was lost on. the clear ice, the snow having been blown in patches by the high wind. "Here's a state of things!" grumbled Boxy. "We can't follow that trail on the ice very well." "Let us take a look ahead suggested Jack. "They. might have turned on the ice for a short di s tance merelYi to destroy the trail." The y looked on and also all about them, and even ran out on the lake for a short distance, but it was useless. The trail was lost and could not be picked up again At last the boys ceased their search, and gathered in a crestfallen group to discuss the situation. "It's the worst thi?g that could happen, said Boxy. "We can't cqntinue to camp without our things." "No ; unless we can get cooking utensils and blankets,, ave'll have to go home." "It's too dark to do more to-night," saiq Jack. "Lef

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158 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. us make ourselves as comfortable as possible and take the search again as soon as day breaks." "That's the talk!" cried Harry. "We won't give up till we catch those rascals and recover our belongings." This proposition suited every one, and, thoroughly tired out from their extra tra:np, they returned to the hut. Pickles set to work with a will to build up a :roaring fire, and to protect them from the cold :vhile they slept without blankets this was placed as closely to the opening of the hut as they dared to put ii:. The small kettle came in handy for heating water, and a: haunch of venison was soon spitted over the fire. Despite their downcast spirits, the boys all ate heartily. When they had finished, everything was left in readiness for au early breakfast in the morning. Luckily, it was not extra cold, and the wind came in1 such a direction that the hut was greatly sheltered. So, although somewhat cold, the boys still managed to put in a fairly comfortable night, as they did, in theit o vercoats, with the fire just outside of the door. At the first streak of dawn in the east, Harry was up, and he quickly a!=Oused the others. Ten minutes later, they were eating breakfast. "We'll have to take some provisions along for dinner, .. said Jack. "There is nothing else to take but deer meat," grumbled !Andy. "Those chaps took everything, even our squirrels and rabbits." I "Well, we won't starve on deer meat," returned Harry, as cheerfully as he could; "but, nevertheless, we'll hav1 I

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TRACK OF THE MARAUDERS. 159 an account to settle with those fellows when we catch them." "Maybe they'll defy us," said Boxy. "Some tramps are mighty nasty." "What of that? We are all armed," said Jack, and the look on his face told that he was willing to fight for bis OWn every time. Pickles' haversack was soon packed with cooked deer meat, the fire was banked up for the day, and then off \ they sat in quest of their belongings. The sun was just rising over the hiUs, and it promised to be a fair day, with but little wind. Through the brush and trees the ice and snow glittered like silver and pearls, making the prettiest of pictures. I' The boys had their guns loaded, and before they came to where the trail moved down to the lake, Andy caught sight of a squirrel, and shot the pretty animal. "There; that will give us a taste of something else be sides deer meat," he said, with some satisfaction, as he hung the game over his shoulder. When the lake was reached, they halted as they had the night before, and gazed around in hopes of seeing something which might have them in the sem1-darkne ss But not a clew came to view in the vicinity. All 51round wa1' the glittering ice, that was all. I "Let us divide up into two parties," said Harry. "One party to go along the lake, and the other to go part of the 'I/lay keeping an eye on the various drifts on ice. r!he trail is boun
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160 TOUR OF THE ZERO Cl.iUB. "Supposing we get separated?" asked Boxy. "Fire a gun if you want to find the others, and fire twice if the trail is found, suggested Jack, and so it was set tled Boxy, Andy and Pickles started off across the ice, while Jack and Harry along the 1ake. "It's my opinion they came this way," observed Jack. "It's a long journey across th e ice on foot." "That's just my opinion, too Jack. Besides, if they were going to cross the lake they would have done it from the mouth of the creek, instead of picking a way through the and brush so far." "I've been wondering if that ghost, as Boxy calls it, had anything to do with this," went on Jack, slowly "Perhaps. The plunderers might have thought to scare us away from camp. When they saw that wouldn't work; they waited for us to go off on a hunt." 1 "It looks natural, doesn't it? Well, let us hope we'll l clear up the whole affair before night." On the two went along the lake, moving close to the shore, and every little cove that presented it1 self. Presently they came to another creek, about the same size as that upon which the camp was situated. It was comparatively free fro1v. snow. They might have gone up this," said Harry. "What do you think?" "Perhaps. But. leJ .us continue p the lake/' returned Jack.

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TRACK OF THE MARAUDERS. 1 .61 "Supposing you keep on, while I run up the creek a few hYndred feet. If I see nothing, I'll soon join you." "All right." Jaek turned to shore once more, and was soon out of sight. Harry proceeded up the stream, keeping his eyes open on both sides for anything that might look like th<:: trail. He had scarcely moved onward a hundred feet when a l?w cry escaped him. Stooping, he picked up the top of a coffee pot. He recognized it as belonging to the outfit ofthe Zero Club. He had found the trail again l

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CHAPTER XXIII. THE COTTAGE IN THE WOODS. To make sure that he was not mistaken, Harry continued to search in the vicinity of the sp
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THE COTTAGE TN THE WOODS. 163 Presently th e y came t o a d ee p ravin e and saw that the marauders had walked along this in both directions, looking for a place to cross B eing unable to find it, they had continued along the ravin e until it s upper end was reached, and then struck out through the thick woods between two hills. They must have visited tli e camp earl y in the morning," said Boxy. "Otherwise, th e y couldn t have c o me so far before nightfall. "" "It's my opinion they came in right after we went away," said Andy. "Maybe they were watching for .our (leparture. "Dat's de ghost did it!" burst out Pickles. "I'll bet my ole hat on it !" "I guess the ghost was one riJ the party," said Jaill<, 'dryly, and Boxy started and suddenly tnrned red. No more was said just then, Harry at that moment catching sight of a partridge and firing. He caught the bird just as it was going up with a whirr, and brought-it Clown almost at the party's f e et. "There, Andy, now we can have three kinds of meat instead of two, he laughed, and put the bird in his game bag. "It must be nearly noon," s aid Jack, a few minutes later. "Wait till I look at my watch He unbuttoned his over coat and his jacket. "Quarter to twelve "I knowed it was about dat, kas e I'm so hungry,' replied Pickles. "We can stop for dinner if you say so," said Harry. It was so agreed, and, coming to se veral fallen trees,

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164 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. they rested and ate their venison. An
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THE COTT AGE IN THE WOODS. 165 'And Jack shudder_ed ovex:._ his narrow escape. They were about to turn back to the trail when Harry: gave an exclamation of surprise, and pointed through the trees to their left. "A cottage!" "It is true enough!'' exclaimed Andy. "And right in the middle of the woods! How queer!" "I wonder who lives there?" asked Boxy. "He must be a regular hermit, whoever it be," vouch safed Harry. "He couldn't choose a more lonely spot!" "Maybe the fellows who robbed us live there!" cried Boxy, suddenly. "That's so," returned Jack. "Go slow, boys, apd be on your guard!" With extreme cau.tion they approached the cottage, which was a long, one-story affair, very much dilapi dated. The door and the windows were tightly dosed. There was no smoke coming from the crumbling chim ney, arid nowhere about the place were there the first signs of life. -. "It's deserted, ... said Harry, and he kicked open the front door with his foot. The banging of the door startled a number of birds up among the eaves, and th ey flew out of the cottage -in a bunch before any of the club members could fire at them. "Hullo, in there!" caJied out Boxy, but no answer was and the five boys stepped inside "Deserted, true enough," remarked Jack, as he and the others gazed around.

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166 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Yes, and for a good number of years," rejoined Harry. "Just look how thick the cobwebs hang every where. dare say no one has been here for years." "You are right, for even the fireplace is falling said Andy. "I wonder who ever built away out here in tnis lonely spot?" "Some chap who was tired of the world, most likely," laughed Jack. "Say, boys," he went on, suddenly, do you know what I think that animal I killed was?" "What?" "'A house cat, or a house cat's offspring, gone wild. Didn't it look like it?" "Dat's so," put in Pickles. "Like as not
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THE COTTAGE IN THE WOODS. 167 "Let u s take them a lo ng!" said Andy. "Eviden tl y the original owner is d ead, o r has given up all claim t o them." He and his brother continued to sort over the stuff in the pantry, while and Pickles took down several arti cles from the wide, old-fashioned mantelpiece. "Here'7 a candlestick from revolutionary times," said Boxy. .going to take that along and put it in father's war c01lection." "An' dar is an o l e tinder box," crled Pickles. "We k in use dat if we run out ob matches." "Here's a bean pot half full of moldy beans," called out Andy,yresently. "Shouldn't wonder if the fello \'l who once l ived here was a Yankee." "And here's a book on money!" shouted Jack. "Here i s a name: John Applegate, his book, January I, 1824'P hew! over seventy years ago! He must be dead by this time if he was, say twenty, when he got the volume." "He was more than that," returne d Boxy, "for here i s his name over the door: John Applegate, 1814 He b uilt this cottage eighty years ago. Would you believe it I should think it would tumble down in that time." "It was strongly built, and has probably been-repaired from time to time," said Jack. "But, whoever. he John Applegate is probably dead and gone now, so w e ca n take what we please from here." "I'm g lad to hear that!" shouted Har ry from the next r oom. "For I have found something that is indeed a

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168 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "What is it? What is it ? t fried the others, and theYJ rushed to where he was kneeling in front of a worm eaten chest. A s tocking full of old coins!" he returned, and hd held it up for their inspection ... ..

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r.. I' CHAPTER XXIV. t s HARRY'S PRIZE. 1 "Is it gold?" queried Jack, as he and the others tered around their kneeling companion. "Not quite, but there is some silver there," replied Harry. "Wait till I spread the coins out on the bench over there." He walked to a bench beneath one of the windows, and; up the stocking, which was covered with mold, and ready to fall apart, he allowed some forty; coins of all sizes to roll out. "Not a gold coin in the lot!" sighed Boxy. "And 1l was thinking you might have struck a fortune!" ''Here are half a dozen silver coins, worth at leasti t wenty-five cents to a dollar," said Jack, as he 11andled t hem one after another. "Just see how old they ard Some of them date back to sixteen and seventeen hundred!" "I have an idea they are worth a neat sum," saiJ Harry, with sparkling eyes. "You must remember that coin collectors pay pretty good prices for some coins." "By creation! I never thought of that!" cried Andy. Maybe there is a fortune after "The collection is certainly worth something," said J ack, slowly. "And I hope, for Harry's sake, that p roves valuable, for the find belongs to him."

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170 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB, "We'll share and share alike," began Harry, but the others cut him short. They all loved their companion, and were o,nly tpo glad to throw a chance of making son1ething in his way. The coins were carefully sorted over, and then Har,ry tied them in his hCM'!dkerchief and put them in a safe place inside of his clothes. He calculated that the co l lection ought to bring him in at least fifty or a hundred dollars, and to a person in his reduced circumstances this was worth obtaining. After this, the remainder of the contents of the ches t, consisting of some clothing and a few boo?, which fell apart as soon as removed; was taken out. There wa s nothing more of value On the walls of the cottage were found several o ld I I engravings representing a naval battle and several re ligious executions. Jack took and placed them flat in his game bag. "It's about time now that we got back to the trai l," he said. "'0/e lost an hour here.'' "Well, I for one don't begrudge the time," said Boxy, and all, especially Harry, said the same. With a last look around, they left the cottage, shutting the door behind them. It was the first time that the place had been visited for years, and perhaps i t would be even longer before it would be visited again. They were soon on the trail again, and hurrying along a s fast as the roughness of the country woul d permit. Up one hill and down another they went, around g r eat r ocks and across numerous tiny streams, u nti l at last

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HARRY'S PRIZE. 171 they struck the end of the valley in which they had shot the deer the day previous. "I must confess I am tired," remarked Andy, with an effort. "We must have covered a good many miles -since we started." "We have," returned Jack. "But I-hold on, what is that ahead?" As he uttered the last words, Jack mtitioned the others to stop. At' the same time he pointed towhere a rough lean-to rested against a wall of rocks all of twenty feet high. "That's, some kind of a ranch," returned Harry. "And, my gracious! there is our sled standing outside!" he burst out. "Boys, we have found those fellows at last!" "Bettah be cahful," warned Pickles. "Da may be mighty tough customahs to de'*wid !" that your guns are ready," ordered Jack, sternly, "We 'll lay down the law to them, no matter who they are Every member of the Zero Oub at once complied. Boxy was a trifle nervous, but he did his best to hide it. Jack and Harry, as the leaders of the crowd, .. went to the front. Before the lean-to ran a small mountain stream, now fro zen solid. Between that and the shelter smolder.ed a fire, and around this were scattered a large quantity of chicken ieathers and the heads of two of the barn ,ard fowls. "They have evidently been having a chicken dinner,,.

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. 172 TOUR OF THE ZERp CLUB. ,murmured Harry. "W ex claimed Jack. "Had it been otherwise, our tour would have come to a most inglorious end." "These fellows have blankets and cooking utensils of their own," remarked Harry "Now, what could pos sess them to steal our stuff?" ''They expected to cart it off and sell it, most likely," Andy. "Those blankets would bring ten or twelve dollars at least, and the other articles several dollars more." "Shall we wait here till they come back?" asked Boxy.

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BARRY'S PRIZE. 173 '"; "Certainly we'll wait," returned Jack. "We'll give tqem a piece of our_ mind if nothing else." "Dar is only t'ree of dem," said Pickles. "An' we is five ag'in dem." "Besides, we'll Jay for them and take them by surprise," added Harry. "Ah! there are our rabbits and squirrels tied up in a tree." And he started at once to cut down the game. "That proves they must have had those chickens be fore they struck our camp," said Andy. "I wonder how soon they will be back." "Here come four men on horseback!" suddenly cried iHarry, with a glance down the valley. "Four men!" cried Jack. "Sure enough! They can't be the fellows that belong to this place." "Maybe they do." "But-there are only outfits for three here." "They may have found a C<{mpanion," suggested Boxy. ''.And what of the horses?" questioned Jack. "If they would steal our stuff, they would steal horses, too," returned Harry. "Perhaps they are a _.:egular set of backwoods outlaws." "We'll be on our guard!" cried Boxy. "Those fel iows have discovered us, and are riding for this place just as fast as they can." Boxy wa.s right. The four horsemen had been .pro ceeding somewhat slowly, but now they started on a gallop, the forem?st pointing with extended arm toward the lean-to.

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174 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. ''I don't like the looks of that crowd," said Harry, as they drew closer. "Every one of them has a shotgun over his saddle." "Sec! see! they are aiming at us!" cried Andy. "They evidently imagine we are going to run away!" "Hold on, you fellows!" roared the leading horseman, as he drew within hearing distance. "Don't you dare to stir unle ss you want to get a dose of buckshot into you! The boys gathered into a group near the fire, and a few seconds later the horsemen surrounded them, eac h with his shotgun ready for use. "There be them chickens, Jim, ez sure ez you air born!" cried one of the men. "I told yeou them rascals cum this way!" "Will rob an honest farmM's hen-roost, will yeou !,. burst out another of the men. "Four o' 'cm an' a coon! Put down yeour guns, yeou scamps, or we'fl fill yeour hid es so full o' shot y ou can't stand!" Simultaneously, the four men sprang down into the snow, and came forward. At a glance it was plain to see that they were a quartet of hard-working anel honest farmers. 'We'll march the lot o' 'em over to Bagsville, and have Squire Riggins_ sit on the case," said the lead er. "We'll teach 'em how to come up here an' steal our lawful property !"

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CHAPTER XXV. FRIEND IN NEED. The boys listened in silence to what the farmers had to say. They realized at once the natural mistake the men were making. The chickens the owners of the camp had cooked had been stolen, and these four tiners of the soil supposed th members of the Zero Club guilty of the crime which had been committed. Jack was the first to speak, and a faint smile showed itself around the corners of his mouth as he lowered his shotgun and began to explain the case. "You are making a great mistake," h e said. "We know nothing of your chickens. We do not belong at this camp." "Tell thet to yeour grandmother!" retorted the fore most farmer. "I know better." "My friend speaks the truth," put in Harry. "Our camp is away off on the shore of Rock Island Lake." "None o ; yeour darn yarns now!" grci'wled another of the farmers. "If I an't mistaken, yeou be the very feller I seed around the barn tudder evenin' !" "You are mistaken. But I don't wonder your chick ens were stolen. We had all our traps taken, and we came here to get them back." "Gee shoo! Can't thet boy tell a yarn, though?"

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TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. chuckled the tallest of the farmers. "He must hev been a-makin' it up fer fear we would cotch him!" "It is no yarn!" retorted Harry, flushing up. "I am telling the plain truth. We are not the owners of this camp, and we know positively nothing of your "We are above taking chickens!'' burst in Boxy. "We can shoot all the game we wish, and more." "So we can," added Andy "Do we look like chicket'l thiev es?" "Wall, I reckon a coon makes a good hen lifter t laughed the smallest of the farmers, with a nod toward Pickles, which made the colored youth mad clear to his heels. "Look heah !" he cried out, shaking his gun threateningly; "yo' can't coHsult me
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A FRIEND IN NEED. 177 have no right to come here and threaten us," added Andy. ''We'll see," growled the farmer. "What do you say?" he went on to his companions. "Shall we take 'em to Bagsville and have 'em up before Squire Rig gins?" "Thet's the talk!" "It will be a good to other chicken thieves!" "Sure, Seth; take 'em up!" "Thet settles it, then, along yeou go, every one. Y eou kin do with yeour traps ez yeou please." "I'll not budge a step!" replied Harry, firmly. "Nor I Nor I!" burst out the other boys. "We'll see!" how led the leading farmer, his face growing dark with ill-suppressed wrath. "You can't defy the laws of the country, see if you tan!" "If you'll only listen to reason," put in Jack. "Per haps we can prove--" "Them air chicken heads ez enough for us," burst out of the farmers. "Thar's the head o' the best Leghorn I had!". "You'll come along with us, and right neow put in "No more plaguety foolin' about it!" J:he farmers came closer, and it looked as if there would be a struggle and possibly bloodshed But just then a call was received from up the valley, -and looking in the direction, all saw a man, striding along through the snow, a horsewhip in his hand. As he drew c!oser, the boys saw that the new-

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178 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. comer was Josh Higginson, the man to whom they; had given the deer meat. "Have yeou got the fellers, boys?" he called out, td the other farmers. "Yeou jess bet we hev !" replied the leader of the men on f1orseback. "Why, by gum! ef it an 't the fellers thet give me the venison!" roared Josh Higginson, in amazement. "Oh, Mr. Higginson, perhaps you can help us out here," burst in Harry, quickly. "Yes, you evidently know these men," added Jack. "Wall, I guess I do know 'em, seein' ez how they are all neighbors o' mine." "Say, Josh, do yeou know these 'ere fellers?" asked the leader on horseback. "They air the fellers thet give me all thet venison yesterday-the boys ez shot them three deer in one lick." "They claim we are chicken thieves," said Harry. "They believe we belong to this camp, while I told them our camping place is away off on the shore of Rocle Island Lake." "They told me their camp w,uz over tew the lake," said Josh Higginson. "An' they air such good shots thet it an't likely they stole' the chickens at all." "We have a squirrel and a partridge with us," went on Harry. "And here are a number of rabbits, too." "And get all the chicken meat we want when we are home," finished Boxy. "'Ne didn't come out here for that at all, and I wouldn't touch either chicken or

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l........ ... A FRIEND IN NEED. 1'19 turkey just now, unless I was forced to. We are out solely to hunt and live on game." "I believe the boys. speak the trntb," said Josh Higginson. "They look like an honest set ;f fellows." One after another the faces of the horsemen fell. They whispered for a while among themseI:res and finally the leader turned to Harry. "What's this you tried to tell us about yeour traps bein' stolen?" he asked. In return Harry told their story, to which the others added such details as they saw fit. The tale took some little time, and the boys now found that they had five close listeners. "Wall, thet's the worst yet, ef it's true," said the leading farmer. "An' I guess _it ez true," burst out Josh Higginson. "Fer I saw them three feller's skulkin' around my farm. only this noon!" "These are all our traps," said Jack, pointing to the loaded sled. "Their traps are in the shelter yonder." "Then it's likely they be coming back," said the stout farmer. "Supposin' we stay here an' lay low for 'emr "Thet' s !:]1e talk, put in another of the farmers. "An' if those boys are they'll stay with us." "V.fe expected to get back to camp before dark," replied Jack, slowly. "But I'm willing to stay if the others are. I would like to meet those three chaps." "So would I," added Harry. "Let us stay.'' "We'll stay and help you give them a warm recep-

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180 TOUR Ol!' THE ZERO CLUB. tion," said Boxy, with a look that made every one of the farmers laugh. Josh Higginson had come out looking for a sheep that had from his pen, and after a bit he left the crowd. It was now growing dusk, and Harry suggested they leave the vicinity of the lean-to and hide behind some brush that was not far distant. ''.lf we remain here the owners of the camp may see us before they get very close and turn tail and run," he said. "Rut their things be here," said 01'le of the farmers. "Perhaps they would rather Jose those than be locked up for chicken stealing," said Jack, and subse-quent events proved that he was right. / A f e w minutes later the entire party withdrew to the bushes Harry had mentioned. Here the horses were tied to several trees, and a fire was built, at which those that felt cold proceeded to warm themselves. An hour wen t by and s till no one came near the lean-to. By this time it was quite dark, and the boys wondered what they should do if they were compelled to remain in vicinity all night. "I have it!" cried Andy. "We have our traps and can bunk in the lean-to "That's the idea!" said Boxy. "Won't they l:>e mad they find we have taken possession?" Jack was on guard at the edge of the brush, with one of the farmers, watching for the return of the

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A FRIEND IN NEED. 181 camp's owriers. Presently a shout went up, followed by the discharge of a gun. "Something is up!" cried Harry, as he hurried to the front, followed by the others. "We seen one o' the rascals," cried the farmer, who held a smoking gun in his hand. "He was beyond yonder rocks!" '\ "And who do you suppose it was, boys?" exclaimid almost breathlessly. "Pete Sullyl" /

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CHAPTER XXVI. THE UNSUCCESSFUL PURSUIT. The other members of the Zero Club could hardly believe their ears. "Pete Sully!" they cried in unison. "You must be mistaken." "No; I saw him as plain as day," returned Jack, wit h a decided nod of his head. "Then the three must be Sully, Bill Dixon and Len Spencer!" cried Harry, quickly. "What wilt you bet they haven't followed us from Rudskilt to start up a rival camp? I knew they envied our going away." "Harry has dun struck it," put in Pickles. "Didn't I hear dat Pete Sully sayin' to Spencer dat he wasn't gwine to be beat by dat Harry Webb's crowd?" "And I'll bet that explains the ghost, too," put i n Andy. "They were trying to scare us away from ou r camp." "But they must have come up here first," commented Harry; slowly. "They could do that. Perhaps they took the train to Rudd's Landing, or maybe they came direct to Bags ville instead of up the river. That would give them plenty of time to settle down here before finding our camp." "\iVho is these air boys yeou be talkin' about?" put in one of the farmers, impatiently.

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THE UNSUCCESSFUL PURSUIT. 183 In a few words Harry explained. about the bully of the town and his friends. The farmers listened to as much as they wished to hear, and then one of them sud denly cut him short. "Ain't no more time tew talk ; let's go arfter 'em," he said. "Come on!" He grabbed his gun and made off through the snow, and one after another the boys and men followed, only one farmer and Pickles remaining behind, to watch the horses and the traps. The pursuing party were soon at the rocks behind which Pete Sully had been seen Here not only one set of tracks, but three, wcr"e visible, showing that the trio were together. The tracks led in a zigzag fashion through the woods, testifying to the fact that in their alarm and fright the plunderers had dashed a way without knowing what direction to pursue. Evidently, they had in some man ner learned what had happened, and were complete!Yj demoralized by their discovery. After leaving the woods, the tracks l ed across a ravine, and then down to a large pond at the lower end of which was a creek, which the farmers said emptied into Rock Island Lake. Here on the clear ice the trail was lost in "the darkness, apd could notbe found again. "No use to hunt further," said one of the farmers. "Let us go back." The boys were willing, and the return to the brusij

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184 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. near the lean-to was at once begun. It was now quite dark, and the were in a hurry to get home. "Folks be a-worryin' abeout us," said one of them to Harry. "\Ve didn't c
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THE UNSUCCESSFUL PURSUIT. 185 _."Maybe dey will cum down on us d:ir'in' de night,'' suggested Pickles I hardly think so returned Jack. "However, perhaps we had better stand guard. We can take turns of <1;n .h<;>ur and a half each, from nine o'clock on." This was agreed to, and a little later they had made themselves at home in the lean-to and were busy preparing supper. Pickles cooked the partridge to pe rfection, and this, with tea and crackers, made a very acceptable '.All of the boys were worn out, and they did not re awake 1ong after they had finished and the dishes had been cleared away. Jack took the first watch, with Pickles next. came Andy, who, in .order to keep awake, walked side and replenished the fire, and then kept on his feet. Andy's watch was nearly finished when he heard a crackling in the brush some distance to the left of the lean-to. looked intently in the direction, and pres ently saw a pair of gleaming eyes bent full upon him. The eyes were those of some wild animal, which had been attracted to the spot doubtless by the scent 0 the game. The animal uttered no sound, but con tinued to glare at Andy in a manner that caused the young boy's blood to run cold The fascination of that look was so intense that Andy was for the time being transfixed to the spot. He stood motionless; making no movement his gun or arousing his sleeping companions. The animal, apparently satisfied that there was not

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186 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. canger to be encountered, moved forward slowly, until its entire body was exposed in the glare of the camp fire. Then it again paused, and it's short, powerful tail began to sweep quickly from side to side, as it pre pared for a spring. It was at this critical moment that Andy came to himself, and he let out a shriek that could have been heard for a quarter of a mile. Whizz! the animal's sailed past the lad, who, as he shrieked, sprang back a pace or tw_q, and landed close to the front of the lean-to, where hung several of the dead rabbits. The long, white teeth were snapped together over the backs of two of the dead game, and then, with a leap to one side, the wild and half-famished animal ishcd into the gloom behind the neighboring rocks, just as Jack and Harry, gi:ns in hand, tumbled out to see what wasthe matter. They found Andy leaning up beside the shelter, too faint to stand alone. For fully half a minute he could not speak, hut pointed excitedly towa.i:d the rocks. "A tiger, or wildcat, or something!" he gasped, at last. "Gone with the rabbits!" "Can't be a tiger!" returned Harry. "I thought I saw a when we were in pursuit of Pete Sully and his crowd," said Jack, quickly. ''-Let's take a look." "Be careful!" exclaimed Andy, in wild alarm. "It:.

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THE UNSUCCESSFUL PURSUIT. 187 the worst creature you ever saw! It nearly paralyzed me by a look!" "They are awful!" put in Boxy, making his appearance, followed by Pickles. "I don't want to have any thing to do with it." But despite the protests of the others Jack and Harry insisted on going after the marauder. They looked to. their guns and provided themselves with torches. Their hunt lasted for nearly half an hour without suc cess Evidently the wildcat had taken itself off to its lair with its prey. After that the boys slept with one eye open, and the one on guard held his gun in readiness for immediate u se should the wildcat, or any other animal, put in an appearance. But_ _this precaution was unnecessary, for the balance of the night passed without further inter ruption. After breakfast the things were packed once more, and they started on the return to their own hut by the lake "I suppose if we wanted to be mean we could tear down their lean-to," said Jack. "Don't touch it," returned Harry. "The loss of thelr traps is punishment enough for them, to my way of thinking." So the shelter was left undisturbed, 1d soon the vall ey in which it was situated was left far behind. It was no easy matter to find the way back to the Jak e, and dragging the heavily-laden sled over the i1n even ground and the rocks was the hardest kind of

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188 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. work. They took turns at the job, and frequently stopped to rest. "This shows how anxious those fellows were t o spoil our outing," remarked Jack, during a breathing spell. "The three must have had an everlasting har d Jime of it getting the traps to the lean-to." "I wonder what they will do, now their own things have been taken/' said Harry. "Like as not they'll have to go home in said Boxy. "And that's just what I hope they will do.' "An' we kin crow ober when we gits back! .,chuckled Pickles. And then the walk to the camp was resumei.

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CHAPTER XXVII. A HE.A.VY STORM. On Sunday of the week the boys remained about the camp, doing very little of anything. Early in the morning Pickles took Boxy with him and showed him how to spear fish through a hole in the ice. The fish made an excellent dinner. Toward evening it began to cloud and blow up from the northwest. Half an hour later it was snowing furi ously. "This is going to be a storm, and no mistake," said Jack, as he went out toward the lake shore to tak:e a look around. "It is a good thing we have plenty of meat and other stuff on hand." "Do you think we will be snowed in?" asked Boxy. "I do, and it may last for clays The best thing we can do is to gather together all the firewood we can and stack, it up just outside of the hut. Then when the snow gets too deep we can build a snow-hut and !}ave the campfire inside." Jack's suggestion was followed out, and by bedtime they haq a pile of wooa stacked against the hut that was nearly as high as the hut itself. The oven was rebuilt closer than ever to the doorway, and a projecting top was built over the latter, so that the S!J.OW might not drift too rapidly into the interior of the hut.

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190 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Nothing had been seen or heard of Pete Sully and his companions, and all of the boys were inclined to believe tbat the bully and his followers had been forced to return to Rudskill. Despite the fact that the snow was coming down thickly, the wind increased in violence until, as Pickles put it, "dar was about de nearest approach tb a bliz zard wot could well strike dat paht ob de country." The whistling of the wind through the trees was music to the boys' ears, however, and after building up the fire in the best manner they could devise, they rolled themselves in their blankets, and gave them selves up to their It was after eight o'clock when Harry awoke and aroused the others. The sled, which had been placed upright in the doorway, was. taken down, and in tumbled a great mass of ::.n. ow. "My gracious, boys, just look at this!" cried Harry. "The snow has drifted up against the hut until it is over our heads!" What he said was strictly true. Outside of the doorway all was a mass of white. Even the campfire bad been completely snowed under. "\Ve are in for it now, and no mistake," murmured Boxy. "V./ e v.:on't be able to get out for a month!" "Nonsense!" cried Jack, cheerily. "Come, boys, we must shovel the snow away and get the_ fire started up, for breakfast.'' "Aud how are ,\ e going to shovel without shovels?., queried Andy, dubiously.

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A HEAVY STORM. 191 For a moment a look of comical dismay went around the little group. Then Harry partly solved the prob l em. "Let's take the tin plates for a starter," he said. "After breakfast we'll try to cut out some wooden sh ovels with the ax and our pocket-knives." Fortunately, the tin plates made very i;-espectable sh ovels, although using them nearly broke their backs. However, in the course of half an hour a space about six feet squarf in front of the hut W'as {!eared, t he snow being ban'ked up all around, with the idea of later on bui lding a snowhouse. "The heat from the fire will make the snow iYack better," said Harry. "Now for breakfast. I am as hungry as a bear!" "I'm as hungry as two bears, and I can'.t bear my hunger any longer," said Boxy. "That's a bare 1cind of a joke," grinned Andy. There was a general laugh. Pickles lit the fire, which roared and leaped in the wind. The smell of broiling venison soon put every one in good humor. It had ceased snowing, but the sky was still dar_k and threatening. "\Ve'll have more by night, mark my words," said Jack. "It has real1y just started." After breakfast the boys hunted up some long sticks, and to one end of each they either nailed a flat board y,hittled from a split-up log or bound a mass of stout twi gs. "Now we have both shovels and brooms," cried Jack.

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192 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. uwhoop,_ now, it's workin' on de corporation, Oi am, do ye moind !" he went on, strutting around with one of the brooms on his shoulder. "Well, I hope you work a bit faster than street men usually do," returned Harry. "If you don't, we won't have much done by nightfall." "Oi'll outdo yez alf, so Oi will," exclaimed Jack, and he sailed in with a vigor that left no doubt that he meant what he said. The first work was to enlarge the ci;cle outside of the doorway. This accomplished, Harry, Jack and Andy started to build the snowhouse, while Boxy and Pickles climbed up to get the snow from the roof of the hut, thus r.elieving them of any anxiety concerning the top oi their domicile caving in. It was no easy matter to build a snowhouse about the fire, but the boys worked with a will, and by three o'clock in the afternoon the task was finished. The walls of the new structure rose nearly ten feet, and were three feet thick. The entrance to it waSi from the hut, and a narrow passage-way which led toward the creek. The top was roofed over, except in the center, which was left open to let the smoke 1 from the fire escape. "I don't know if that is going to last or not," saidl Harry. "But we can try it anyway." i "It will last if it remains cold," returned Jack. "But. if it gets milder, and the fire blazes up too hotly we'll have to 'stand from under,' as the saying is." "I don't believe it is going to get any milder

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A .BEA VY STORM. i93 yet. If anything, the thermometer is going down steadily." "That is because it is going toward evening. But we'll kn?w more about it in the morning. One thing is certain: hunting is knocked endways for a day or two." After the work outside was finished, they had another meal, a dinner and supper combined, and then withdrew into the hut, where Pickles tried to liven up mat-. ters by playing his banjo and mouth harmonica and half-a-dozen songs. The boys joined in the chorus of the songs, and soon they were as gay as if the elements were perfect for the furtherance of their outing. ''If we have to stay in to-morrow, I am going to try my hand at making some traps," said Andy. "I want to trap something before we g-0 back." "So do I!" cried Boxy. "Pickles, you must put us in the way of this." "I will, !" responded the colored youth. "My dad learned me a 'JJ about traps when I was knee-high to a mosquito." "I! "I don't know what you can trap here,". said Jack. '"But it will no to try your luck." Before they went to bed they looked out, and found it snowing again, harder than ever. The wind was ris ing, too, causing the branches of the trees to creak omi nously. "Supposing some of those branches should break off

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194 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB, and come down on the top of the hut?" asked Boxy. "Wouldn't we catch it?" "It would have to a pretty big branch to do much damage," replied "Jack and I saw to it that the poles were put up quite firmly." 1 "We don't want to get smashed to bits while we are asleep." "I doubt ij the wind is yet high enough to break doW111 very much. You must remember these trees very; tough, and, standing together, one protects another." "But if the wind should blow stronger--" insisted Boxy. "It will wake us up, and we can be on our guard," re plied Harry, and there the subject was dropped. On account of the extreme cold, Pickles was very par ticular to keep a good fire, and for that purpose placedl several small log on the brush. "Yo' see we don't want for to wake up in de moahnin' all froze to deth !" he explained. "Or so stiff that we'll have to set each other up the fire to thaw out," laughed Boxy. "My! but it's cold .. t!h ?'' "With" so much snow it ought to get warmer," grum bled Andy. "It will be warmer by to'-morrow, I think," said Jack. "We can thank our stars that we have such a comfortable shelter." With a last look at the fire, P ,ic.kles retired to his corner of the hut. Soon the colored youth was snoring peace ifully, and the sound made all of the others sleepy. One

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A BEA VY STORM. 196 by one they lay down and rolled themselves in their blankets, Jack being the last to retire. How long he slept he never knew. He awakened with a sneeze and a cough, which did not come from the cold. He sat up and rubbed his eyes in a dazed way. What was the matter? Suddenly a puff of smoke nea.rly strangled him. The smoke was followed from the outside by a streak of flame! Then he realized what was the matter. The campfire had set fire to the hut

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CHAPTER XXVIII. FIGHTING THE. FLAMES, The instant that Jack realized that the hut was on "fire he let out a cry that brought an of his companions to their. feet at a bound. "What's the matter?" "Where does all this smoke come from?" "The camp is on fire, boys!" "We must get out or we'll be burnt to death!" There was a wild scramble for the doorway, but held every one of them back. "You can't get out that way!" he exclaimed. "The fire is all around there. See there, now!" A fierce gust of wind at that moment caused the flames to shift about, and the doorway, which had been almost black before, now became a sheet of living fire! "V.f e are p e nned in!" groaned Andy. "What in the world shall we do?" "We'll be roasted like so many pigs, suah !" howled Pickles. "Heaben have mussy on us!" "We must cut a way through one of the sides!" cried Harry. "Where is the ax?'' In a trice he had the implement m his hands and was working madly to cut away enough of the matted branch es ancl twigs to afford them an opening sufficient to allow of the passage of their bodies.

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FIGHTING THE FLAMES. 197 In the meantime, the smoke kept growing thicker and thicker. The wood was :ill damp from the quantity of snow upon it, and smoked much more than it burned. "Hurry, or I'll-bc--choked !" gasped Boxy '"I-I can't-breathe-any longer!" "Lie down on the gi:ound and you'll breathe easier!'' returned Jack. He threw himself down, and all the others but HarrY, followed his example. In a minute more Harry had a small opening. This he enlarged as rapidly as possible. Soon he was able to crawl through, and he did so, calling on the others to follow. "That was a narrow escape!" cried Andy, as he took a deep breath of the cold, pure air that was sweeping up the creek and through the woods. "The hut's a regular smokehouse, isn't it?" "We must do something to save it," put in Jack, hurriedly. "All our things are in there, and we can't afford to lose them." "What shall we do, we have water?" returned Boxy. "I kin cut a hole in de ice an' fill de bucket," said Pickles. "You do that, Pickles, and we'll do what we can with snow," said Harry. "Come on, boys, snow is as good 0as water, if we use enough of it Spurred on by the necessity of the occasion, and also by the novelty, the members of the Zero Club set to work with a will. Standing as close as they dared, they shoveled and threw great lumps of snow on the hissing flames,

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198 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. jWorking first upon th a t portion of the fire nearest to the door of the hut. They wer e pleased to. see that the flames were confined principally to the large fuel pile leaning against the hut, not to the hut itself. "I think we are getting the best of it," cried Jack, after five minutes of hard work. "We are, returned Harry. "But it is by no mean s ou t yet. Keep up the good work, aJl hands!" Pickles had succeeded in chopping a hole in the ice o n the creek and now came back with a bucket of water. "Give it to me, and I'll run through the doorway and p lant it on any blaze inside!" cried Jack, and bm:ket in hand, he disappeared into the hut. "It's all right in there, so far," he said, on reappearing. "Go on with the snow They continued torfting the huge chunks of snow on the flames until all that remained was a small fire s e vera l yards away from the hut entrance. "Might as well leave that for a camp-fire," sugge ted / Harry. "\Ve want something to keep us warm and t o see b y." "Phew! but I am warm enough just now!" exclaime d Boxy, wiping the smut and perspiration from his face. "That's the hardest work I have done 1n some time." "Be careful that you don t catch eold," warned Harry. w i nd cuts like a k!life to-night." "What time is it?" Jack consulted his watch. It was four o'clock in the morning. By a general vote the boys decided that n o more sleep would be indulged in for that night.

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Fl;GHTING THE FLAMES. 1 $9 _We can't rest in the hut anyway, said Andy. "All is in disorder, and some of the blankets are wet "We will hang all the wet things around the campfire to dry," said Jack. "And then we will see what we can do to repair damages "And in the future we'll be careful how we build our fires," added Boxy. "Not so close to the hut, please, Pickles, afte r this." "Dat's it!" cried the colored youth. I dun reckon I'se 'sponsible fo dis muss," he went on, soberly. "We ought all of us to have better," said Harry, frankly. "In the future we must either keep the fire farther off or else somebody must sit up and watch it." The conflagration had destroyed the greater part of the snowhouse, and after the blankets had been hung up to dry, and the hut put in shape once more they workto rebuild the tumbled-down walls. This was hard work, but it had to be done so no one grumbled. By daylight the camp WjlS once more in shape, and the only evidence left of the fire was a few charred sticks and the long icicles which hung from the top o f the hut and the branches of the trees. "We can thank Providence for escaping with our lives," remarked Jac1', earnestly, as they sat down to a hastily-gotten breakf'!st. "If somethi'ng hadn't woke me up we might all of us been burnt to death while we slept." "It was truly a fortunate escape!" returned Harry. "And one I shall never forget," added Andy.

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TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "We are having enough adventures for one outing," laughed "I wonder what will happen next?" "Nothing much to-day, I imagine," said Jack. "See, it is snowing again." He was right. While they had been fighting the flames it had ceased, but now the white flakes began once more to drift downward, at first sparingly> but thick and fast by the time the morning meal was over. "This means a day in camp, I suppose," grumbled Boxy. "My! when will it stop?" ."When the clouds are empty," laughed Harry. ''Boxy, make the best of it, and be thankful we have en()ugh to eat." "We'll set to work making traps," suggested Jack. "Pickles, come on and give us a lesson." They withdrew into the hut, leaving the fire to take care of its!'!lf. They brought several pine torches with them, and these, along with a sperm candle, made the interior of the place tolerably light. For several hours they sat grouped around the colored youth, while he, with a jack-knife, half-a-dozen thin of wood, some stout twine and several pliable switches, showed them how to construct a squirrel trap, a rabpit trap, and also traps for various birds. "But we can't do nuthin' wid de!il jess now," remarked Pi<;kles. 'Cos we'can't find no runs in dis snow." "Do traps have to be set in runs for wild animals?" asked Boxy "Da don't hab to be, but it's generally best; yo' ketches dem quicker."

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FIGHTING THE FLAMES. 201 Afte r making traps, the boys b egan to play various games, such as throwing the knife, and who's got the / bean, and the lik e In this manner time went by until it was nearly three o clock in the dte rnoon. They had had a lunch at noon of cr.ackers and cheese, expecting to wait until evening before getting another regularly cooked meal, but now both Andy and Boxy de clared that they were hungry again, and it was voted that they should go out, stir up the waning fire and get ready to cook a bit of venison in the pot with several onions Pickles had been thoughtful enough to bring along. "You see, we needn't be afraid of the onions, because we are not going out in company this evening," s aid Boxy, in imitation of a young society miss. "So, Mr. DeBrown won t have a chance of catching my breath "I wonder how things are at Rudskill," remarked Harry. "I suppose our folks keep thinking about us," said Andy. "They'll imagine we are completely snowed under and starving." "Yes, it's a pity they don't know we are so com fortable," put in Jack. "A good shelter, and plenty to eat are big things out here just now." "Hark!" cried Pickles, who stood by the doorway, ready to go out. "What am dat ?" "I .don't hear anything," said Andy, after a brief pause. "I heard a scratching," put in Harry, in a whisper. "It's some wild animal after food," returned Jack, in; an equ a lly low tone of voice "What can it be?' questioned Andy.

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TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. They were silent after this, and soon the scratching could be heard quite plainly. Then, oefore they could realize it, something sprang upon the 1:op of the hjlt. "The deer meat!" cried Harry. "It is all outside, hanging on the tree limb!" "And so are the rest of the rabbits! put in Jack. "We must go outside and shoot that creature, whatever it is !" Jack caught up his gun, as did also Harry, and together they sallied forth in the howling snowstorm. At first amid the swirling snow they could see nothing .Then Harry caught sight of an immense wildcat off with the venison in its mouth. He took hasty aim and lired. None of the shot reached its mark, and an instant later the was gone, be fore Jack could get any show at it. ..

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CHAPTER XXIX. BLUE TIMES IN CAMP. "Well, I'll be blowed !" exclaimed Harry, in deep dis gust. "It's too bad!" returned Jack. "And he had the last of our venison, too!" The other boys now came out of the hut, and matters were speedily explained to them. "Never mind; we nave the rabbits left," said Boxy, with a sigh of relief, as he saw that two of the dead bun nies still hung on the tree limb. "That's so," returned Harry. "But two rabbits won't last five boys very long, to my way of thinking." "An' de crackers an' cheese is most gone, too," put in Pickles. "We dun got to shoot or trap soriethin' soon, or starve." "Or live on fish," saicrAndy, hopefully. "De trouble is, yo' can't always git de fish when yo' wants dem." It was useless to think of going off after the wildcat, and after a look around, to make sure that no more marauders were about, the boys set to to prepare a meal of rabbits stewed with onions-a most palatable dish, and one which all hands enjoyed. "Let us see if we can't set a trap for the wildcat," sug-

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204 TOUR OF THE ZElW CLlJB. gested Boxy while they were eating Pickles, couldn' t you fix something strong enough to hold him?" I might, wid de sled rope an' a limbery young tree," replied the colored yduth. "Catching the wildcat now would be like locking the barn door after the 1orse has been stolen," grumble d "However, catch him if you can, and then he won't be able to worry us any more." So, after the meal was finished, and all that \Vas lef t was carefully stowed away, they set to work to build the trap, which when finished, was baited with bits of such meat as remained uncooked. By fiveo'clock it was dark, and again they sought the hut, which now had the appearance of a regular home to them. The blankets were dry, and Jack took the: largest pot and brought it in filled with live embers from the fire. This warmed up the place, and the ruddy gl ow pleased them besides. Tfiey tried to be cheerful during the long evening, bu t were not as successful as they wished. They could not help thinking of the almost empty larder,...and wonderin g how they should restock it. The night passed without interruption. The wind ble w strongly, sometimes causing the trees composing the co rner posts of the hut to bend slightly, and the snow cam e down steadily. At eight o'clock in the morni_ng the si t uation remained unchanged. "Deeper than ever," muttered Harry, as he gazed out o f the doorway. "Boys, this is getting serious." "It is, when we arc running low on food," said

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BLUE TIMES IN CAMP. 205 JtWe've got about enough left for one square meal, and that's all." "Anything in the trap?" asked Andy. "You would have heard of it before this, if there was," laughed Harry. "It's just as you fellows left it last night." "I suppose that confounded wildcat knows we haven't anything worth coming for," grumbled Boxy, gloomily. "What's to be done, anyway?" "We'll have breakfast and.then hold a council of replied Jack. limited meal was soon over, and then they commenced to discuss the situation. "It won't do to stay in the hut and wait for it to clear ,,. off," remarked Harry. "For it may snow two or three days yet." "Supposing I tries fo' anodder fish or two?" suggested Pickles. "Yes, go and get all the fish you can," said Jack, and the colored boy hurried off without delay, taking his spear with him. "Somebody ought to go out on a hunt," said Andy. "I'll go if no one else will." -"You had better stay home," replied Jack. "If any body goes it will be myself." "And I'll go with you," said Harry. "What do you say if we start at once?" "Let us wait till ten o'clock. It will be a bit warmer then and also lighter." The two at once began their preparations for leaving \.

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TOUR OF THE ZERO cr,UB the hut. They wished they had snowshoes, but no one of the party had the least idea how a home-made pair could be constructed so as to be of real value. "I guess we had better follow the creek," said Harry. "If we go right into the woods we may get lost in the snow and be unable to find our way back through the storm." "You are right," returned Jack. "Hullo, here comes Pickles on a run!" "Something is wro'rtg !' cried Box:y. "He looks scared. "What's the trouble, Pickles?" called out Harry. "Jess tny luck, when we needed dem fish de worst way," groaned the colored youth. "I oughter be kicked full ob holes, dat's a fack !" "What is it?" "I dun strike at a big fish, an' lost de spead" "Lost the spear?" cried Andy, in dismay. "Dat's it." "Did h<\ pull it away from you?" questioned Jack. "No, de cord broke ; an'
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BLUE TIMES IN CAMP. "And we'll help you, while Jack and Harry go gun ning," put in Andy. As Jack had predicted, by ten o clock it was both warmer and brighter, and h e and Harry-set off in fairly high spirits despite the snow which lay in their path. On one side of the creek tlre snow was swept away for the greater part, and along this clear e d track they made their way, keeping a sharp lookout ahead for pos s i ble game. "We ought to strike a few rabbits or squirrels if ing else," said Jack. "Unless the heavy storm keeps them from venturing out. It's hard to find mnch in weat1ier iike this." "But rabbits must come out for food even if the squir rels stay in." "They have their runs, and it's hard to find them in the open. But come 011 w e n do our best toward gaining something for the larder." On and on they went, now over a cleared spot, and then again through a drift several feet high. It was tough walking, and before a mile had been covered both were puffing and blowing like a couple of porpoises. "Let's rest for a few minutes!" gasped Harry. "This takes the wind out of a f ellow !" "So it does. Come on behind the brush, where it is sheltered." They found a cleared spot where some thick bushes would protect them from the keen wind and here sat down on a pile of rocks to rest. They had been out just an hour without catching sizht of the first thing to shoot.

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208 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "How I would love to stumble into a lot of partridges or wild turkeys!" exclaimed Jack. "Wouldn't we just blaze into them, though?" "Even a flock of birds wouldn't be bad, Jack. Anything for food when the pot is empty." "You're right. We mustn't rest here any more than is necessary." They were about to proceed on their wayi when Jade suddenly caught his companion by the arm. "Look! look! A screech owl!" he whispered And the next moment he had his gun to his shoulder a!_ld was blazing away at. a mass of red and white feathers, perched high up in ft neighboring tree. There was a terrific screech, and then down tumbled the big bird almost at their feet. He was not quite dead, but a blow from Harry's gun soon settled him, and he lay still in the snow. "Is he any good for food?" asked Harry, as he sur veyed the game. "He's better than nothing, that's certain," said Jack. "I'll take him a'long. If we don't strike anything' else, we'll eat him, and if we do, I'll cart him home and have! him stuffed."

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CHAPTER XXX. FOUND STARVING. With the screech-owl in Jack's game-bag, the two boys continued on their. way up the creek. It was something to have bagged even the carniverous bird, and they felt elated to think that at last something had appeared to be shot at. By twelve o'clock they calculated that they were close on to two miles from camp. Each was hungry, and an other halt was called for the purpose of eating the scanty lunch with which they had provided themselves before starting off. "We must not go too far off," said "For it wiJ.l never do to attempt to remain away over night in this fearful storm." "That's true," returned Jack. "By three o'clock, game or no game, we will turn our faces homeward again." "I( it would only stop snowing,. it be s ba d. But th is storm is the worst I've seen in years!" "It's a corker, truly! But come on. Every' mintite counts now !" Once more they pushed on, the snow swirling around their heads. Their legs ached, and it was an effort to make the smallest kind of progress. The cold, too, was intense, and at times seemed to strike into the very marrow of their bones.

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21() TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. By the time they had covered another mile they grew discouraged. Not the first sign of game of any kind had appeared. I move we leave the creek," said Harry, at last. "We won't go very far off, and we'll locome ho l e and out of sight I"

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FOUND STARVING. 211 "My! but it's awful!" cried Jack. "Here, give me your hand, or we will be separated and won't be able to Wind each other again." They took hold of hands, and the next instant the wind threw them down on the li.illside and ro11ed them over and over to the bottom. They landed in a doubled-up mass in the midst of a large drift. Jack went in head first, with Harry behind him. For a moment there was nothing to do but to flounder around until the y could regain their feet .. Ugh! but that was a cold dose!" cried Jack, as he scraped the snow from around his neck and wrists. "We came down with a rush, didn t we?" "Yes, we did that," returned Harry. "It's a good thing our guns didn't go off in the tumble." It was no easy matter to extricate themselves fr m the big drift. The snow was all around them, and at the very first step forward, they went down to their pits. "Hold on!" cried Harry, in alarm. "Turn up the hill, or we'll be over our heads!" So they turned about and half walked half crawled up to solid ground. Here they could hardly keep their feet, so strong was the wind. "There is a space to our left," said Jack. C ome on! We will soon be under the cliff! Away he went, with Harry close behind him. The shelter under the trees and bushes was not less th
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212 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. ears. Jack heard it first, and called .. Harry's attention to it. "What can .it be?" he said. "Sounds like some sort of a bird," replied Harry. "Let us have our guns ready. We do not wish to lose any game, now we have come so far for it." On they went, with caution now, and their shotguns ready for instant use. They were within a hundred feet of the shelter, and could se the dim outline through the driving snow. "Wild !" suddenly called Harry. "Be careful, w e must get as many of them as we can!" He motioned to a little cleared space just. ahead. Then, with guns pointed, they ran forward. Bang! bang Both of the firearms spoke in rapid suc cession. There was a rush and a strange squawking sound, and then the greater part of a flock of wild turkeys had disappeared in the storm. But the heavy charges had hit three of them, and they were now floundering around in their death struggles. The boys ran forward and soon put them out of their misery. "That's a good haul!" cried Jack, enthusiastically. "Now we won't starve for a day or two at least." "Right you are," returnedfI.p.rry, as he picked the game up, placed...two in his own bag and one in nis compan ions, and hurried to reload. "But we mustn't miss anY. other game; that may be here." "Certainly not," said Jack, and he reloaded also, away they went along the bottom of the cliff. In a few minutes they stirred up a whole flock of wild

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FOUND STARVING. 213 birds of several kinds from the brus h under the rocks. They fired in the midst of them, bringing down several woodcock and three sparrows. "That isn't bad," said Jack, as he picked up the wood cock and allowed the sparrows to remain where they were. '"It was a good idea of yours to come here> "I was in hopes we might strike a deer," returned Harry. "But we have now about as much as we can con veniently carry through such traveling as this." "There ought to be some or hares here, under the old brush. Let us waik t:o the end of the shelter and--" "There's something _now!" shouted Harry, raising his gun. "Ha.If-a-dozen hares, as sure as you're born I .Quick,) ack !" Once more the two shotguns spoke, and two of the hares were seen to leap into yhe air and turn in a heap. When the two boys reached the spot they found their prizes stone dead, each shot through the head. AU the other hares had disappeared behind a thick mass of brush, where they could not follow them. "Now we've got enough, surely," said Harry, as the)'j divided the game between them. "Wild turkeys, hares, woodcock and an owl, not t? mention those sparrows. Who could ask for more?" Jack did not reply, as he was busy getting out his :watch. "Phew! How late do you suppose it is?" he cried "Three o'clock?"

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214 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Quarter-past four we must start oack at once!" "I should say so!" exclaimed Harry. "It's going to be a job to g
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' CHAPTER XXXI. '.IMMEDIATE WANTS SUPPLIED. It is no wonder that Harry and Jack were for the moment so dumfounded that they could do little else than stare at the sight of the three haggard and pinched faces which gazed imploringly into their own. :: "Dori't say you won' t give us anything," cried Pete Sully, seeing they did not reply. "We are starved-we haven't had a mouthful to eat since yesterday mon:iing !" "My gracious!': It was Jack who uttered the ex clamation. "Nothing toeat since yesterday morning I" "It's too bad, Sully," put in Harry. "We'll cook you something just as quick as we can." "Never mind cooking it; give us one--of those birds raw!" cried Dixon. "vVe can't wait "Here is a bit left of our lunch," said Jack. _!'Eat that whlle are building a fire What's' the troublecouldn't y .ou shoot anything?" he went on "And why haven't you a fire?" "We lost our matches-they were in our traps; which were taken fro m us ; apd the snow kept us from going for game: said Sully. "We did try to shoot some, but we couldn't hit any. thing," chimed in Len Spencer .The three starved youths were too assist in

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IMMEDIATE WANTS SUPPLIED. 217 gathering fuel for a campfire, so Jack and Harry let them sit still while the two of them bustled around with all speed. Soon a big blaie of brush was soaring skyward, around which the half-frozen trio crouched. Three of the birds were cleaned and spitted, and it was not long before the smell of the broiling meat filled the air. "Oh, but that smells good !" exclaimed Dixon, taking in a long whiff. "Don't keep it the fire too long, please!" "Here you are," returned Harry, passing the bird over whole. "Take my advice, and don't down it too fast, or your stomach won't stand it." Sully and Spencer were also supplied with a bird each, and it was a sight worth seeing to behold them tearing and chewing the meat like a starved dog does a longsought borie. While the trio ate, Jack and Harry said nothing. They broilt!d one of the hares, and of this took a small portion, passing the remainder over to the unfortunates. But the two young hunters kept up a big hinking. How. had their enemies been humbled! Here they cravif!g" in the most abject fashion known. Neither Jack nor Harry could find it in his heart to upbraid them for their former misdoings. "This makes me feel like myself once more," said Sully at length, after he had finished his bird, and was attacking a bit of the other meat. "If you fellows hadn't come along we would have been corpses. night!"'

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2U TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Where were you bound?" asked Jack. ".;Ve were trying to get to Rudd's Landing, but the heavy snowstorm overtook us, and we got lost and finally wandered here." "Vv'here are we now?" asked Dixon. "You are several miles from the lake," returned Harry. "You can never go across it in this storm." "We've got to go somewhere," put in Spencer, dis mally. "Oh, I wish I was home 1 You'll never catch me trying to go camping in the woods in the winter again!" "When did you leave Rudskill ?"asked.Harry of Sully. The bully of the town hung his head. For once he felt thoroughly ashamed of himself. ''We left the same day we had the trouble with you about the iceboat,", he replied, in a low voice. "We made up our minds to have a rival camp." "Did you come up by the way of Rudd's Landing?" "No, we took the cars to Bagsvi1le." "And then went down into the valley and bu' ilt the lean-to?" "Yes, after we-we came to your ,camp," faltered Sully. <1 And played ghost and took our traps, eh?" said Jack, a little bitterly. "Yes; but .13ascoe, I hope you-you'll forgive us," faltered Sully. "It was awful mean to do, and now you are treating us so good-better than we deserve," put in Spencer, ia a choking tone.

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, IIDLhDIATE WANTS SUPPLIED "It got us into a lot of trouble," remarked Harry. "We came near being arrested for the chickens you stole." "We didn't steal any chickens," cried Dixon. "You didn't! Well, those farmers thought so. That's the reason theytook your traps." "We bought those chickens from some men on the road," said Spencer. "But we only paid fifteen cents apiece for them, and after the men were gone we came to the conclusion that the fowls must have been stolen, and we were sure of it when those farmers took our things-." "Then why did you run away-why didn't you come out boldly and explain matters?'' "\Ve knew it would do no good, for the evidence was all against us, as we bad been hunting near one of the farmer's places, and he had seen us. Besides, we didn't want to meet you fellows after we had taken yourtraps." A silence followed, and then Spencer came and placed his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Say, won't you forgive us, Webb? I'm sorr\)", and I know Pete and Bill are, too." "Well, let it pass," returned Harry, briefly. "I guess you have suffered enough," added Jack. "But, mind you, .no J:?Ore funny work in the future." "'I'll never do any harm to you fellows again!'' cried Pete Sully. "Nor I," exclaimed Billy Dixon. "You fellows have been kind when we didn't deserve it." The fire 11ad burned a trifle low during the talk, but

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220 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB now Jack and Harry replenished it, and soon the cave. like shelter was as warm as toast. In the meantime the snow came down as thickly as ever outside, and the wind whistled merrily through the brush and trees around and above them. A doubtful look came into Harry's face as he listened to it. "What time is it, Jack?" he asked. "Nearly five o'clock. "Can we make camp before it gets too park?" "It will be hard work. But once on the creek the darkness ought not to bother us. But what, of these fellows?" Jack continued, in a low tone. "We can't leave them behind." ''.And we can't very well take them along," said Harry. "If it wasn't for t)le others wo11dering what had be come of us, we might stay here over night and go back in the morning," Jack went on, after a thoughtful pause. "This seems a very good place to roost." "But the others would think we had missed our way in the snow and got lost, and they would worry them-.. selves sick-We said nothing about remaining awa y over night," replied Harry. "'vVe might leave these fellows here until to-morrow, and tlien come back and show them the way," Jack sug gested. ''Don't leave us alone, please don't!" cried Spencer who was the greatest coward of the party. with you!" "You are not strong enough to walk to our camp,

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IMMEDIATE WANTS SUPPLIED. 221 said Harry. "You would pli!Y out before you got half way." "Well, don't leave us, that':; good fellows," said Dixon. "One of us might stay and the other might go back," suggested Harry. "And then in the morning the party from here could start down _the creek." "That's so," put in Sully, eagerly. "One of you stay, and leave some of the grub behind." The matter was talked over a few minutes longer, and then it was decided that this plan should be followed. A was tossed up to see who should undertake the immediate return to the camp on the creek, and the lot fell to Harry. He left all the game behind but two of the wild turkeys, and five minutes later had disappeared in the swirling snow beyond the shelter of the cliff. I

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. / CHAPTER XXXII. LAST OF THE WllLDCAT. Harry knew that he had no easy task before him, yet he started out with a brave heart, resolved to cover the dis tance to the camp as quickly as possible. Knowing how great was the force of the wind, he but toned his overcoat tightly about him and strapped his game bag and gun to his person in such a way that they; could not be lost, no matter how many tumbles an d p lunges in the immense snowdrifts were taken. "If I move yght along I ought to strike camp by seve n o r half-past," he murmured to himself, as he struck out for the cre ek. "Ugh! but this is beastly!" The first blast around the edge of the shelter nearly threw him flat on his back, so strong was it. The ard snow was dashed into his face as if it was sand throw n b y a shovel in the hands of a laborer He gasped in spi te o f himself. "It's getting wilder instead of moderating, he though t. "This must be something like a Western blizzard. How: b leak and desolate it look s o n all s id e s !" Fortunate ly, Harry found a stre ak of land almost clea r o f snow, and stretching away toward where the .creek ran \.-\long this stretch he now pursued his course, stoppin g o nly occasionally, to catch his breath and prepare for the c oming o f an extra heavy blast. '---

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MST OF THE WILDCAT. The snow was blinding, and it was a wonder that he (lid not become turned -around. But he kept on in a straight Hne from the cliff, and this was bound, sooner or later, to bring him to the watercourse he was seeking. Presently the bared streak was passed, and now he was compelled to force his way along through snow that )Vas from two inches to two feet deep. The deep places tired him little, and by the time the vicinity of the creek ;was reached he could carcely drag one foot after the other. "Thank fortune I am this far!" he exclaimed, half aloud, as the trees which lined the watercourse came into sight through the driving snow. "Now, there i_s at least no danger of getting lost no matter what other peril con 'fronts me." The thought had hardly passed through his mind when he stepped into a snowdrift and sank down to his waist. He str ggled to get out, but only went the deeper. "MJgracious! this won't do," he cried, in alarm. ''There must be a hollow below me that has been filled iUp." He struggled on for a st e p or two, and then went down to his armpits, and saved himself from going down still farther by putting out his arms and hands flatly on the snow around him. J He now thoroughly scared, expecting every in stant to be smothered to death in the snow. There was no use in trying to go ahead farther. He must get back I lo i::::'!:.d wecariou truggle the lad load ..

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224 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. leaye the deep snow. But at last he wormed hia wai around, and half-stepped, half-rolled back to where he had stood a few minutes before. The loose snow had gotten into his sleeves and his collar, and this chilled him, de spite the exertions he had made. After this experience, he was cautious in his further forward movements. He walked along the edge of the hollow for several hundred feet, and did not to gain the creek until a pathway that wali nearly bare sented itself. Then he passed the thin belt of timber, and finally found himself on the ice of the watercourse. Here he stopped for a rest, crouching behind a number of trees and rocks for protection. He had covered about one-tl1ird of the distance to camp ; and it had taken nearly a n hour to do it. At this rate it would be long after dark. ere his journey came to an end. Harry did not dare to rest too long, fearing that the cold would make him drowsy and cause him to go to sleep, from which he would probably never awaken. He remained behind the trees rocks just long enough to "catch his wind," and then set off as rapidly as he could down the creek. One-half of th distance down the watercourse was completed, and the boy was just congratulating himself on the fine progress he was making when a sound reached his ear that literally made his hair stand on end. It was _the cry of a wildcat, and it came from the brush: immediately on his left! The cry lasted only a short while, but Harry had heard: it before, and he at once recognized it.

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LAST OF THE WILDCAT. He knew the creature was out seeking food. Most likely it was in a half-starved condition, and beyond expression. The boy did not know what to do. To flee was out of the question. The creature could easily reach hin1 if it so wished. ::-.Jor would it avail to climb a tree He must prepareto defend himself should the wildcat attack him, and he unslung his gun with all the haste pos sible, and got it ready for immediate use. The cry of the creature was repeated after a short in terval of silence, but the wildcat did not as yet show itself. With his heart thumping violently in his breast, Harry continued on his way, but with his glance over his shoulder in the direction from which the sound had proceeded; A hundred feet farther on, the creek made a bend, and here it grew narrower. He kept in the middle of the frozen stream, but the trees on either side were not ten feet away. Suddenly the cry broke out aitin, so close to him that Harry sprang back and hoisted his gun to his shoulder. Then the wildca t appeared from over the top of a flat rock artd made a leap directly for the throat of the boy. Bang! went the gun, and the shot flew for the greater part under the creature's body. Several pierced its front legs, and, with a snarl that was tigerish in its intensity, it fell directly at Harry's feet. Hardly had it landed on the ice when, with its hind legs, it made another leap at the boy, who endeavored to it off by thrusting the point of the gun barrel at it.

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TOUR_ OF THE tERO CLUB. The muzzle enterea the wildcat's open mouth, .and once more it was forced to drop back upon its haunches Harry turned to fle e and gaine d several yards before the beast could steady itself on its wounded legs and make after him. But soon the wildcat was close at his heels, and, with a screech, it fasten e d itself on his back. Whirling about Harry shoo k off the dreaded creature with such force that the wildcat went over on its back on the ice. Before it could recover, he dealt it a blow on the side with the gu11 that sent it spinning over the ice for a distance of several yards. Harry wished he had time to reload the gun, but this was out of the question. The wildcat was wounded and dazed, but m less than five seconds it was up again, and, with added fierceness, it came at the boy a third time. Harry knew it as now a fight to the .finish, and his courage was aroused to its highest pitch. As the wildcat leaped for him, he sprang to one side, and once again brought his gun down, this time flat on the creature's hea
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LAST OF THE WILDCAT. I lime and get the skin for its fur, and then he continued on his journey. -The excitement attending the journey was nothing com pared' to what he had just passed through, and he thought no more of the hardships of the walk through wind and snow. He pressed steadily qn, and at a little before eight o'clock reached the outskirts of the well-knownrspot for !Which he was pound. Coming in sight of the campfire be let out a shout to 11otify the others of his approach. There was no answer. "Must be in the hut asleep," he muttered, and pressed lorward until the opro doorway was reached. iiiut the hut was empty The camp was deserted! --

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CHAPTER XXXIII. THE SNOW SIEGE ENDED. For the moment Harry was alarmed .. What could have become ol those left behind in charge of Camp Rest? "Perhaps they grew anxious about Jack and me and have gone out to hunt us up," he reasoned. "I'll call them again." He went out and yelled at the top of his lungs. At first there was no reply, but presentl,Ycame a call from some distance down the lake. Ten minutes later Andy and Boxy appeared side by side, with Pickles behind them, carrying a heavy string of fish. "We've been spearing and snaring fish all afternoon," explained Andy. "See, we have caught nine, and none of them less than a pound in weight! Where is J ?" "I left him behind in another camp," returned Harry. "He isn't sick or hurt, is he?" cried Andy, quickly. "No, but he's in charge of three sick young fellows," and Harry smiled quizzically. "Three sick young feUows,'' repeated Boxy. do you mean ?" "Pete Sully, Dixon and Spencer." ":;-.Jo!" roared both Andy and Boxy. "Yo' doan' say," added Pickles. "If dat ain't de wu yit !"

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THE SNOW SIEGE ENDED. They were soon about the campfire, and here, while Pickles cleaned the wild turkeys and fish, Harry told them of what hadhappened since Jack and he had started out on th_ e search for game. The others listened with deep interest. They were all affected when they learned how the bully and his com panions had been found literally starving, and were glad to hear that Jack and Harry had treated them kindly. "It ought to h1ake Sully and the others mend their ways," said Andy. "It will, if I am not greatly mistaken,., returned Harry. "Certainly, they will never try to harm us again." Harry was thoroughly tired out, and was the first to roll up and go to sleep. One after another the others followed, and by nine o'clock Camp Rest was as silent as the grave, for the wiii.d died out utterly. In the morning a welcome surprise awaited the boys. The snow had ceased falling, and the sun was coming up as clear as a disc of gold over the hills. "Hurrah! the snow siege is ended!" shouted Boxy. "And right glad am I of it!" guess we all are," said Andy. "I was sick of beingi snowed in. Now, if it remains clear, we may have a chance to go out by to-morrow." "Yes; I hope it stays clear for th e rest oLthe outing," put in Harry. "It is no fmi to be out in a snowstorm witli the wind blowing a perfect gale in your face." After breakfast the camp was put in order in anticipa tion of Jack's return with the unfortunate trio. Fresh: pine boughs were placed in one corner of t11e hut, in case

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TOUR OF THE ZERO CLllli. any of the unfortunates should be exhausted by the trip and wish to lie down. Harry had told of his adventure with the wildcat, and Andy said he hoped his brother and the others would not encounter such a beast. They w"aited around the campfire until noon. Then one after another began to grow uneasy. "He ought to be here by this time," murmured Andy, for-at least the tenth time. "That's so," said Boxy. "He's had four hours of day light and more." "I dun racken he waited fo' de sun to git wahmer," said Pickles, and this proved to be the case. The dinner was cooking over the stone oven wh n a shout was heard. up the creek, and there appeared Jack, carryi11g on his strong young shoulders Len Spencer, while beside him walked Pete Sully with the game bag and Bill Dixon with the guns. Every one of the crowd lo oked th o roughly tired out. The boyll aroufld the campfire gave a cheer, to which Jack responded rather feebly. Sull y and the others were too ashamed to utter a sonnet Andy and Boxy saw at a glance how mean they felt, and did what they could to make matters easy for tbem. They realized that the spirits of their enemies were broken, ana they had no to do any heartless "crowing''. be c ause of this. Sully and Dixon were able to take care of themselves, but Spencer had collapsed when almost 'n sight of camp, and had now to be given every possible care. He waa

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THE SNOW SIEGE ENDED. 231 f.aid in the hut, and Pickles made the boy who had been hi s own individual enemy a cup of broth which Spencer stowe away gratefully. During the afternoon was persuaded to tell his story, to which Dixon added his own experiences. We will not go into the details. Suffice it to say that the out-ing of the three had been a dismal failure from the st:trt, a'nd they were now anxious for but one thing-to get home again. "I don't see how you can get back, excepting you cross the lake and find a road to Rudd's Landing," said Harry. "Isn't there a railroad station down the lake on" this side?" asked Dixon. "Why, yes-Andrewsville !" cried Boxy. "It must be about three miles from here." ..... "Then we'll try to get to that place," said Sully. "We can 'take the cars from there to Bagsville, where we can try to get our traps back, and then go from Bagsvil.le to Rudskill. I don't want any more tramping through the woods-at least not during the winter." During the remainder of that day all hands took it ea sy. The sun shone brightly, anQ. on every side the snow went down as if by magic. Early next morning all hands were stirring around the fire Spencer felt once more like himself, and the un fortunate trio determined to set out for Andrewsville without delay. A good breakfast was had, and then Sully, Dixon and Spencer bid the members of the Zero Oub good-by.

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232 TOUR OF THE ZERO Cl,UB. It was a trying moment when the bully and his cotlf. panions offered to shake hands all around. "I-I hope you fellows have the best kind of a time," he said, in a low voice. "As for ourselves, we--we didn't deserve it, and that's all there is to it," and off he strode; and a moment later the trio were gQ!!e out of sight, be yor.d the bend that led down the lake. A long breath of relief went around. Every6ody wanted to say something about the departed ones, but, somehow, the right words wouldn't just come, and all were silent. The sun was shining as it had the day previous, but it was colder. Jack and Andy had tried the snow about the camp, and _found it everywhere cQ.vere;
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THE SNOW SIEGE ENDED. 233 "No," returned Jack. "Sometimes the times have been a bit too lively. However, we are all safe and well, so we have no cause to complain." On and on over the frozen lake they went until fullYi four miles had been covered. They then came to a large cove, beyond which was a most attractive opening amongi a cluster of giant oaks and walnuts. "How: will that do?" asked Andy, and they decided on the spot that it would answer very well. A sheltered nook between three great trees was soon selected for a temporary camp, and Pickles at once set to work to build a fire and put the pot on to boil. "Kase it always smells moah like home when de meat's cookin'," he said, with a full show of his ivories. Before starting to build a hut or find a shelter under the rocks back of the cluster of trees, the ri1embers of the Zero Club decided to make a short trip around the place. They set off through the snow, and in a few minutes were surprised to strike a regula_r country road, alongi both sides of which ran a barbed-wire fence. "Hullo! this is too near civilization to suit me!" cried! Harry. "We may be squatting on private property." "That's so," returned Boxy. "We'll have to move on a mile or two." They passed down the road for a few hundred yards and then came in sight of a large farmhouse, directly be hind which was a stable and barn and half-a-dozen out buildings. "I wouldn't mind going to the house and buying some bread and crackers and a pie, if they had them," said!

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234 '!'OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Andy. "Pumpkin pie would go mighty good for a change." "So it ould !" exclaimed Boxy. "Let us see what we can strike. We can pay--Hullo! what's the meaning of that?" Boxy came to a sudden halt, and so did the others. They had just seen a man run from the back of the ham and disappear in a patch of woods. Hardly had he gone when a thick cloud of smoke rolled out of one of the open doors of the barn l "He has set that barn on fire!" gasped Andy. "My! just look at the smoke." "Come on, boys! we must put that fire out!" cried Harry, springing ahead. And away they dashed at top speed toward the burningi structure .,..... I /

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I' CHAPTER XXXIV. A LIVELY TIME. 'It took the members of the Zero Club less than two to reach the burning barn. As. they neared it they saw a man rush, out of the kitchen of the farmhouse. He was bareheaded and screaming at the top of his "Help! fire! help!" "We'll hefp you!" cried Jack. "Are your pbs handy? i\Vhere's the well?" 'The well is here by the back door! Samanthy, get the milk pails an' all the buckets you can find! The barn's afire!" From out of the kitchen came a woman's scream. Ten seconds late r an elderl y f e male appeared, carrying half-a-dozen milk p;:tils, a s inall wooden tub and a slop bucket. In the m eantime, Boxy was turning the well handle just as fa s t as h e could and filling the tig half-cask that stoo d beneath the spout. By the ti-me it was half full others had the pail s and dipping lhem in ""' Harry and Jack and the farmet=were the first to dash down to the barn. The fire was in a mass of hay near the f eed box, and on this they dashed. the water carried.

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236 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "I'd like to know who sot this afire?" growled the 'farmer, wrathfully. "We saw a man leave the barn and jump the rear fence," replied Jack "Wot kind of a looking man?" "A tall fellow, with a soft, light hat and a ?lue_ overcoat." "Jim Lemkins, sure as fate! howled the farmer. "He'.11 have to be locked up again; commencin' his old tricks.." "Who is Jim Lem kins?" asked Harry, as they went for more water. "A half-crazy chap from the village. Be has caused no end of fires around here. But he won't cause any more-not if I have the say of it!" Nothing more was said just then, all hands paying attention to the fire. The big barn doors were closed to keep out the draught, and in five minutes what had promised to be a serious conflagration was completely put out. "Phew! but that was warm work!" exclaimed the farmer, after the. last of the sparks were stamped out. "You can be thankful that it is no worse," remarked Harry. "So I be. You fellers worked like you understood what you was about." "We've had one experience at putting out a fire," returned Jack, dryly. "We are out camping, a11cl our hut caught and nearly bur, netl us up_." "Gee shoo! Well, the damage here ain't much, thanka

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A LIVELY TIME. 237 to your comin' along an' giving a hand. V/on't you come into the house?" "Thank you, we were going to stop just as the fire broke out," replied Harry "Is that so?" returned the farmer, questioningly. "Yes," added Boxy. "We wanted to see if we couldn J:iuy some fresh bread, crackers and pie from you. We've run out of everything but mea,t and coffee a-tour camp." "Well, maybe Samanthy can fix you up. Come on m. Seeing to it that none of the live sparks had escaped their notice, the party left the barn and entered the kitchen of the farmhouse, where all was cozy and warm. The farmer's wife had preceded them, and now thanked them as her husband had done for their help. "They want to buy some fresh bread, cake and pie, Samanthy. They are out campin', and run ou of that kind of stuff." "They can't buy n011e, Job, but they can have all I can spare, an' w !come replied the wife, warmly. The matter was talked over for a few minutes and then the good lady visited her pantry and brought forth two loaves of ,, a currant jelly layer cake and a large apple pie. "Here you)e, an welcome," she said. "Now, if you want any vegetables, say the word, and they be yours," said the farmer. "The cellar an' the barn are more'n full." Once again the matter was talked over, and when the

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TOUR OF THE ZERO CL Uil boys were ready to leave, they had, in addition to the bread, cake and pastry, a large basket completely filled with potatoes, turnips, onions, beans and cabbage, enough to last them until the end of their outing. When they were thanking the country folks for their kindness, a cutter drove up to the horse-block, and a young and buxom countrywoman rus h e d into the house. She proceeded to hug and kis s the old couple. "Such news, ma!" she burst out. "Uncle Ben and tlU'ee sleigh loads are coming over to-night for a dance! The y are going to bring old Fiddler Dick and an Italian harp player along. Henry and I want you to come over sure !" "Humph! I'm most too old for a shin-dig like that,'' said the farmer, but, nevertheless, he smiled broadly. "So be I," added the wife, but she, too, looked pleased. "Oh, you must come, both of you!" insisted the young country wife, impulsively. '1And you--" and then she broke off short and gazed at the four boys who had stepped to crfrn side out of the way. "My daughter," said the o ld farmer, tresenting her to the boys. "Sarah, these young fellows just helped rrie put a fire out in the barn-one that crazy Jim Lemkins had started. I don't know their names, but they are from Rudskill and are out camping. With all the polish at his command, Harry stepped forward and introduce d his chums and then himself. The young woman shook hands and then asked numerous questions about the affair.

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A LIVELY TIME. 239 Quite a friendly conversation ensued, and then it transpired that the farmer, whose name was Brodhead, knew Jack and Andy's father. He asked the boys how their parent was, and while he was doing this the daughter of the house began a whispered conversation with her mother. "So many girls, you know, ma," Harry heard her say "And they look like real nice chaps, too." "Well, do as you see fit, Sarah," replied the mother. "They certainly deserve any good t,ime we car;. give 'em." Then the young woman blushed and stammered, but finally invited the boys to attend the sleigh-ride party at her home, a mile up the lake shore. "There will be lots of girls to dance with," she added, :with a little laugh. "And we shall have a great number of games, too." "You are very kind," began Harry, and then he looked at companions. One glance was sufficient. IE very one wanted to go; and so it was settled that they would attend a regular country dance that night at eight o 'clock. Ten minutes later they were on their way back to the lake shore, where they found Pickles wondering what had become of them. A dinner of meat was ready, but they kept it waiting long enough to add some roast potatoes, and when they ate the meal they topped off with the pie, which, as Boxy put it, "struck home every, time."

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CHAPTER XXXV. AT THE COUNTRY DANCE. For the balance of the day nothing was talked of but the party they were going to attend. Pickles had not been forgotten, and he was to join in a hoe-down in the barn, where the farm hands were going to have their jollification. Boxy and Andy spent a good bit of the time over their toilet, and it must be confessed that Jack and Harry did the same. "We are not fit for a city party, but I guess we look well enough for this country aff.;iir," remarked Jack. ''Our clothing is clean, and when w'e wash and comb UP, iWe'JI pass in a crowd." It was decided not to move camp until the following: Clay, and a rude shelter was constructed under the tfees, ;where the traps were hidden. It was not likely that they would return. to the spot until nearly sunrise. The party was expected to arrive at the farmhouse up: the Jake at about.eight o'clock, and at half-past seven the boys set ot'tt for the place, without taking the trouble to: replenish the campfire. They had been given minute directions concerning; the road, and had no difficulty in reaching their destina .. ti on.

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AT THE COUNTRY DANCE. 241 'As they came in sight of the farmhouse, which was lit up from cellar to garret, they saw that the sleigh loads bf relatives and neighbors had just ar:rived. They hurried in, and a few minutes later were introduced all around. "Make yourselves at home," .said Henry Akers, Sarah's husband: 'Tve heard o' the service you did my 'f!lther-in-law, and I am as thankful as he is that his b-:irn wasn't burnt down." The fiddler and the harpist were stationed in a corner Qf the broad hallway, and the sitting-room and the kitchen had been cleared for dancing. Soon the lively of a Virginia reel broke the ice all around and set everybody to talking_ and laughing. "Choose partners fer the reel !" shouted the master of a village dandy, who had a chrysanth mum as large as a saucer stuck in hi s buttonhole. "Good gracious, I can't dance!" y.rhispered Andy, and off he ran to a corner and was soon talking and laugh h1g with a crowd of boys a:nd girls. Boxy joined him, they managed to have a real good time until supper. Harry and Jack found two pretty countryr. girls of about their own age willing to dance, and joined the two lines that were forming at the head of the. sitting roo111'. Soon nearly everybody in the house was in line, old Job Brodhead and his wife leading off. Once again the fiddler (!nd the harp player tuned .1:1P and started the reel, and away the dancers went, one couple after the other, forw;:trd and back, forward and around, forward and join hands, and all the rest of it. ,/

PAGE 239

242 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. Some mistakes were made, and it grew mighty warm: toward the end. But nobody minded this, and all laughed and cracked jokes, and when, ne rly an hour late r, the reel was e nded, every one was on the best poss ible terms with every one else. "I'll slip to the barn and see how Pickles is making out," whispered Harry, and off he ent, leaving Jack to entertain the girls they had danced with. Harry found the colored youth in his glory. Pickles had brought is banio alon g, and was entertaining the othe r colore d people and the hands with plantation song s and tunes. It was not long before word was s ent from the farmhouse to come up and entertain the others. And Pickles had to go. In the meantime cider was flowing, and apples and nuts ere around on all sides. About elev e n o'clock the kitchen w a s clea red, and the older women went to work to set the tabl e s for supper. After .the r ee 1 came othe r dances in the sitting-room and hall-w altzes, quadrill e s and the like a n d Harry, and Jack and t w o o f the young ladi e s who had been to dancing school dance d the latest two step, while the old e r folk s l ooked on. At last supper was announced and such a feast as that was! There wa s enoug h three times over, and everything of the best. All of the boys were urged to eat, until Boxy whispered to Andy that every button was ready to burst off. It was a country supper never. to be forgotten! They finished off with mince pie, and

PAGE 240

AT THE COUNTRY DANCE. nuts, and raisins, and it was after one o'clock when the feast was declared at an end. Then came several toasts. First old Job Brodhead made a little speech, and then his son-in-law, and after this half-a-dozen neighbors. "Maybe young friends from Rudskill kin speak pieces," said Mother Brodhead, and then half a dozen clustered around Harry and Jack and th e others, demanding something from them. Luckily, Andy and Boxy knew a funny dialogue which they got off amid much laughter. Then Jack recited "The Sword of Bunker Hill." "Now it's your turn, Harry," they said, after he had finished. Harry had been thinking of what to recite, and a few scraps of an original song floated into his mind. He gave it in his own sweet tenor voice, and it fairly took th e country folk by storm. He was encored so much that he had to follow with several others "You're the hero of the evening," whispered Jack, and Harry flushed furiously when the pretty girl besiqe him said the same thing. Then Pickles was called in, and soon the colored boy had every one j oining in the chorus of "Sweet Times Comin' By and By," and "\Vho's Dat A-nockin' at De Doah ?" Then Pickles gave a breakdown, and got sev eral of the old countrymen so warmed up that they took off their coats and joined in. Following the singing came half-a-dozen games, hunt the slipper, pillows and keys, fortune-telling, f rfeits

PAGE 241

244 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. and the like. Perhaps some kissing was done, too, but in telling the story to me the boys whose fortunes I am relating did not mention this, for reasons purely their own "It's the best party I ever attended in my life!" cried Boxy to Har'ry, as they pass ed each other in the hall. "Beats a stiff town party all to bits!" And Harry agreed wifllhim. It was after five o'clock when some one suggested that they break up. Then clock and watche; were consulted, and a raid was made on the closets where ___.. hats, bonnets, overcoats and tippets were stored. Fif-teen minutes later the sleighs w _ere .brought around, good-bys were said, and off went the merry revelers, leaving the five boys to return to their camp in the early dawn, completely tired out, but happier than they had been for many a day. "I never expect to attend another party like it," said Jack. "It is one of the brightest spots in the tour of the_ Zero Club, to my way of thinking." "Y ?u are right, Jack. They treated us as if we were their warmest friends. It's a pity city folks cannot do as well by their country cousins when they come to town." After all that dancing and romping around, it was a :weary walk back to the temporary camp, but finally it was finished, and, lighting a big fire of brushwood, they sat around it to rest. Andy and Boxy fell asleep, and the others dozed until nearly noon. "Now we will continue on our way up the lake front

PAGE 242

AT THE COUNTRY DANCE. 245 until we get away from the neighborhood of these farm houses," said Harry. "I don't believe any one wants dinner." "Not just yet for me!' groaned Boxy. filled me up as full as a tick." "Last night put in Andy. "Let us walk ourselves hungry, first." And so they set off on their skates up the lake, keeping as closely to the shore as the snowdrifts would permit. -'C By sundown they calculated that they had covered six miles. They were now in a very wild neighborhood, full of rocks and cHffs and a heavy growth of timber. "This ought to be just the thing," said Harry, as they tur_ ned in to shore and came to a halt. ought to be plenty of game back of that rocky ground." ..... "That is true," said Jack. "What do you think, fellows, we look for a camping spot here?" They agreed that no better place could be found. Ten minutes later they were behind the shelter of a clump of bushes, and then Jack and Boxy went off to find a suitable location for a permanent camp for the balance of the outing.

PAGE 243

CHAPTER XXXVI. THE BLACK BEAR. What Boxy and Jack thought would be a splendid shelter was found under a large, shelving series of rocks, flearly a hundred feet from the lake front. .Here was an opening six feet wide by fifteen feet deep. The flooring was of smooth stone, covered with a great mass of leaves, which had been blown in by the wind. Of course, the snow had likewise entered, but this was soon deaned out. \ "Now, all we will have to do is to J'e-cover the greater part of the front with brush, and it will make the warm est kind of a shelter," said Jack. '"And the best part of it all is that there is a crevice in the rear with a good upward said Boxy. "So we can build a fire inside. our house, so to speak, which will be more pleasant than having it outside." "No snakes, are there?" asked Andy, cautiously. "Not a one. We were careful to make a thorougJ! search around:-'' "Then that's the spot," put in Harry, "and the sooner we get settled the better. It promises to be very col d to-night, and we want to be where we can keep warm." The sled was dragged to the spot selected, and the a1' gotten out. While two of the boys cleaned out the

PAGE 244

THE BLACK B'"'Art. 247 cave-like place, the others cut clown poles and brush with which to shelter the front, and also collected wood for a fire. 1'he dr:iught inside toward the rear was perfect, and when a fire was started on a number of stones, it blaze up merrily without letting out any of the smoke into the cave proper. "This is fine!" cried Andy, as he sat down to rest in front of the blaze. "We ought to have had a place like this from the start." "Unfortunately, we didn't know there was this cave to occupy," laughed Harry. "But I must confess I lik ed the hut." "So did I," said Jack. "It is only the change that pl eases Andy. Nowadays m life, change is everything. We are constantly craving something new and dif ferent." I:efore nightfall the poles were up in front of the' opening and thickly entwined with brush. Only a small doorway was left, and this was closed at night by set/ tin g the sled over it. Soon the fire in the rear made the cave-like shelter as warm as toast, so that the boys took off their overcoats and gloves-something they had seldom done in the hut. I Harry was right about it getting colder. After sun-set the thermometer fell steadily. Pickles went clown to the lake for a pail of water, and came back with his hands and ears half-frozen. "De coldest night yit, suah !" he exclaimed, as he knocked his feet against the rocks and slapped his hands

PAGE 245

248 TOUR OF THE ZERO'CLUB. over his chest to warm them. "We want lots ob fire .wood to-night, oi we'll all be froze stiff as pokers bJ; moahnin' !" They were now hung r y enough, and Jack set to work, whil e Pickles got extra wood, to cook a real stew of m eat, potatoes and onions. The frost in tbe air made th e concoction smell good, and when the stew was dealt out all ate their full portion. Being sleepy, they retired early, and every one slept like ; a "log" until long after sunrise By gracious, but it s cold!" howled Boxy, the first' to rise. "And .the fire almost out! Pile on some wood, Pickles!" ''I should say it was cold!" put in Andy, as he got up and stretched himself. "The coldest yet, without a doubt," said Harry. "But stir up, all of you! We mustn't e:x;pect summer weather at this time in the year." Piping hot coffee soon warmed therri up somewhat, and inside of half an hour they wer_ e arranging to go out on a hunt'. It was resolved that they should the !fire in first-class shape and all go together, that being so much nicer than dividing up. This plan carried out, and before evening they' had shot six rabbits three partridges or grouse, and over a score of woodcock and other birds. "That's sport and no error!" cried Boxy. we can only get at some more deer to-morrow--" "Oh, you want the earth!" cried Andy. "DeeJ_" 11ot so plentiful as all that."

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THE BLACK BEAR. 249 Nevertheless Boxy's head was set on bringing down a deer, and the next day he went off with none but Pickles. The two were gone until dark, and, true enough, they came back with a small deer, which / Pickles had wounded in the foreleg and Boxy had shot through the neck. On that same day ti{e others shot half-a-dozen rabbits and partridge, and also brought down two silver-wfiite foxes, which they resolved to take home to have stuffed. That night they had an unexpected experience which at first .gave them a great scare. They were all seated near the fire relating their various experiences, when, without a warning, there came a crash from overhead that caused all of the1n to spring to th 'eir feet in alarm. "What's that?" cried Boxy. "Evidently something is giving way!" exclaimed Jack. ...__ "Suah de roof's comi'n'down!" howled Pickles. "That like it, certainly," said Harry, who was th e calmest of the crowd. "Rush for outside!" yelled Andy, as he made forrhe do.orway. A ndy, come. back!" called Jack, catching hold oe h im. "That's all right, but I don't want to get crushed," re torted his younger brother. "Each of us had better stay here," put in Harry. "The trouble is all outside of the cave "Might be better in the open air than here--" began Boxy.

PAGE 247

"'OUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "Especially when the roof seems to be giving way,,. added Andy. "Yes, but you can't pass the doorway without peri1," returned Jack. "Either it is a snowslide or a landslide," cried Harry. ''Wait and listen!" ) "Rocks comin' down sumwhar !" grumbled Pickles. "Oh, my!" Ro-o-u-m crash Down in front of the cave-like shelter came a perfect avalanche of snow and loose I stones, completely filling the doorway and bending in the brush wall until the poles that held it in place gave ;way at the top. "Back, all of you!" shouted Harry, and they retreated just in time to prevent themselves from being com buried. Aft e r the first slide came several others, and for the time being the boys were afraid they would be buried alive under the cliff. The y waited with wiiaiy beating hearts for fully quarter of an hour after the last fall, and then began an examination of the situation. The entire front of the shelter was blocked with snow and loose stones, which la y over it to the depth of eight / .or ten feet. "Now the question is, how are we to get out?" said Jack, in dismay. "We are caught like rats in a trap." "We must dig our way out, and that quickly," re.5pondcd Harry. "We must have fresh air to breathe ... "Set to work with anything you can find!" cried Andy: "A bit of board, or a tin plate, or anything!"

PAGE 248

THE BLACK BEAR. 2.51 All hands went at the wall of snow and loose stones with a will. The stuff was thrown to one side of the cave, and while Harry and Jack threw it back the others packed it away. At the end of half an hour a passageway all of eight feet had been made, when suddenly Jack gave a shout: "Hurrah!/ I have struck an open place at last!" "Good!" returned Harry. "Now let us all get out and seefhow much damage has really been done." The small opening Jack had found was enlarged witli alt possible haste, and then one after another the ooys crawled out into the open air. It was found that the entire top portion of the cliff, loaded down with ice and snow, had given way, and was lying all along the bottom, a distance of fully fifty feet. "Well, there is one satisfaction,' : remarked Boxy, as he gazed at the wreck. "If we clear this away we need not be in fear of another such slide, for the top of the cliff is now as bare as a bald man's head." "That's so," replied Harry. "Come, fellows, we must make that entrance larger and get the snow out of the cave before we can hope to retire for the .!_light\" With improvised shovels and brooms they set tp work to clear the snow and stones from in front of the shelter. It was hard work, but after such a scare they did not mind it. They were thankful that matters were I not worse. Supposing the top of the cave had come down, what then? Most likely every one of them would .,. have been killed.

PAGE 249

252 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. At last Jack declared they had done enough for that night. "We can finish up in the morning," he said. "Let us start up the fire afresh and go to ped. "I' m willing," returned Andy. "My back is nearly broken from handling thrs home-made shovel." The boys started to go back into the cav e when, sud denl y Pickles was looking up at top of the cliff, let out an une<1:rthly yell .and clutched Harry's arm "Fo' de sake ob goodness!" "What's it, Pickles?" questioned Harry, quickly. "What has frightened you?" There was no need for the colored youth to answer. A loud growl rang in the of all the boys, and the next instant down from the top of the cliff leaped a big .. brown bear into very midst ..

PAGE 250

CHA;PTER XXXVII. END OF THE TOUR. lt was quite likely that the big brown bear which had thrust itself among the members of the Zero Oub so un ceremoniously had had its winter habitation somewhere along the top of the cliff, and that the snow, ice and land slide had brought it forth to see the cause of the disturb ance Evidently, it imagined that the boys had brought about the ruin, for it was thoroughly enraged, and, as soon as it landed, stood up on its hind legs to embrace Harry, who happened to be a trifle closer than the others. Harry lost no time in leaping out of reach, and then the great bear turned upon Jack, almost knocking him down with a savage blow from one paw. "Run! run!" screamed Andy. "Run, Jack, or he will kill you!" With an effort, Jack regained his balance, and then he took Andy'.s advice, as did indeed all of the others. They ran in every direction, and in less than half a minute the bear had the field entirely to himself. At first b_ruin appeared on the_ point of following them into the woods, but he stopped short and sniffed the air. The smell of the cooked meat in the cave reached him, and, turning, he disappeared inside of the

PAGE 251

254 TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. "He has gone into the cave!'' exclaimed Boxy to Harry, breathlessly. "Good-by to all our meat!" "If he only takes the meat and gets out I won't care," put in Anrly. "My, but he nearly scared me out of my; wits!" "I
PAGE 252

END QF THE TOUR. 255 "Where did you drop it?" "About three or four yards from the doorway to the "Humph l A fe;low might crawl ip and grab it," (:ave." mused Harry. "No! no l doan' yo' go fo' to do nuffn' so foQlish !"cried Pickles. "Dat b'ar will come out an'
PAGE 253

256 'MUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. The echo had hardly died away when the bear made it& appearance at the mouth of the cave. He came out al most all of the way and looked around fiercely Clatter crash down came the big stone, pushed off at just the right moment. It took the bear in the neck, and caused him to fall down with a loud roar of pain. In great excitement, Harry caught up two of t\;ie smaller stones. The first, when hurled downward, missed its mark; but the second caught the beast in the top of the head, directly over his right eye, inflicting an uglYJ M'OUnd. "Hurrah I you have knocked Him!" cried Jack, from the M
PAGE 254

END OF rHE TOUR. one side, waiting for a chance to dash in and secure the rifle. The three boys scrambled to get out of the way, and a second later Jac:k managed to gain possession of the much coveted firearm. The bear went a dozen paces or more and then stopped and turned to the boy with the rifle. He rushed up and sto?d on his hind legs, and at that moment Jack pulled the trigger. "The bullet passed through bruin's shoulder, mflicting a dangerous but not fatal wound. The beas was now all but beaten, and yet there was Jots of fight in him. Could he have reached one of the boys he would killed him on the spot. Seeing the bear so far away from the ;:liff, Harry slid down to the bottom, and as Jack ran off with bruin at his heels, he slipped into the cave, and brought out all of the .shotguns, each of which was luckily loaded with coarse buckshot. As Jack ran in on e direction, Harry took another, and soon joined Andy, Boxy and Pickles. "Come with me," he said, as he dealt out the guns. ; ; ... "We can get the best of that bear now if we only half try. He's dreadfully." l" Off he dashed, and the -others at his heels. The..y; caught up to the bear at the instant that Jack yelled to them to come to his assistance. Bang! bang! went the shotguns" in rapid succession four doses were too for bruin. He uttereEl

PAGE 255

TOUR OF THE ZERO CLUB. one growl, sharp and shrill, and then tumbled over. dead. -At first the boys could not realize that their dreadful enemy was de
PAGE 256

END OF THE TOUR. 259 A crowd df friends and curious strangeis greeted them when the Icicle ran up to the town front of Rudskill and the boys left the iceboat; the bear skin and head were much admired, as were also the other trophies. "Had a good deal better luck than Sully and his crowd," said one of the town boys, and the members of the Zero Clu..b_and Pickles rather guessed that they had. The boys were received at their various homes with open arms. It was found that Minnie Woodruff had quite recovered from the effects of her involuntary bath in the river, from which Harry had so bravely rescued her. The things the boys had brought back from the de serted cottage in the woods were sold before the winter was over. For his old coins Harry received nearly four hundred dollars, while his companions obtained for_!he other things from sixty to a hundred dollars each. This grand outing of the Zero Club took place several winters ago. Pickles has now a steady place in Mr. Woodruff's employ, and the four boys are now in high school and college, and there we will leave them, trusting to meet them again in the near future, and in the meantime wishing them as much success as they had when braving perils by ice and snow. THE END. No. 68, of the RouND THE WORLD LIBRARY, entitled "The Young Railroader's Flyer," by Stanley Norris, is ::: story that every boy will enjoy.

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6 RATTLING GOOD ADVENTURE SPORT STORIES Price, Fifteen Cents Stories of the Big Outdoors There has been a big for outdoor stories, and a very considerable portion of it has been1:tor the Maxwell Stevens stories about Jack Lightfoot, the athlete These stories are not, strictly speaking, stories for boys, but boys everywhere will find a great deal in them to interest them. ALL TITLES ALWAYS IN PRINT I-Jack Lightfoot, the Athl ete ........... By Maxwell Stevens 2-Jack Light foot's Crack Nine ............ By Ma xwell Stevens 3-Jack Lightfoot Trapped ............... By Maxwell Stevens 4-Jack Light foot's Rival ................. By Maxwell Stevens 5 J ac k Lightfoot in Cam p ................ By Maxwell Stev ens 6-] ack Light foot's Canoe Trip ........ By Maxwell Stevens 7-Jack Light foot's Iron Arm ....... ..... By Maxwell Stevens 8-ack Lightfoot's H oodoo .............. By Maxwe ll Stevens 9-Jack Lightfoot's Decision ........ B y Maxwell Steve n s 10-Jack Lightfoot's Gun C lu b ......... By Maxwell Stevens I I J a ck Lightfoot's Blind ..... .... By Maxwell Stevens 12J a ck Lightfoot s Capture .......... .. By Maxwell Stc\lens 13-Ja ck Li ghlfoot's Head Work .......... By Maxwell Stevens 14-Jack Lightfoot's Wis dom .... ...... By Maxwell Stevens

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...... The is a man worth patronizing. The fact that he does handle our books proves that he has considered the merits of paper-covered lines, and has decided that the STREET & SMITH NOVELS are superior to all others. He has looked into the question of the moral-ity of the paper-covered book, for instance, and feels that he is perfectly safe in handing one of our novels to any one, because he has our as surance that nothing except dean, wholesome literature finds its way into our lines. Therefore, the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer is a careful and wise tradesman, and it is fair to assume selects the other articles he has for sale with the same degree of intelligence as he does his paper-covered books. Deal wi t h the STREET & SMITH NOVEL dealer. STREET & SMITH CORPORATIO N 79 Seventh A venue New York City @ i i


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