The Houseboat Boys Chapter 1 The Excursion Planned

Read the entire story by following the links at the end of each chapter or simply click the tag Houseboat Boys and they will all show up.  Edited from original text to make the story easier to read by todays understandings.

The Houseboat Boys
by Allyn Draper

 

Original Cover ArtThere were five of them.  And they all belonged to the great house of Barnes and Co. of the City of New York.  They were all bright, plucky, active and lucky drummers, who had done splendid work for the house during the season just past.  The head of the house had just told them that , as a recognition of their good work, they were to have the entire summer to themselves on full pay.  Of course they were happy.  There were jubilant, for on full pay for three months with freedom to go where they wished they could have no end of fun and adventure.  Tom Owens and Joe Smith walked arm in arm to their boarding house when they left the store, congratulating each other on their good fortune.

“We never got but two weeks before,” remarked Tom.

“No, nor did we ever do so much business before.  I tell you man, we have employers who appreciate good work.”

“That is so.  I am going to do my best to earn three months off again next summer.”

“So will I.  But where shall we go this summer?  That’s the most important question just now.”

“Yes.  Well, I don’t know.  I have not made up my mind where I shall go.  But I am going to make the most of it, you may depend on that”

“Ditto,  man.  I am going to do my best to get the worth of my ninety days’ time out of it.”

Ben Allen, Arthur Beam, and Charlie Swayne were the other three lucky drummers.  They were all mere youths, none of them being over twenty one years of age except Tom Owens who was twenty two.  Swayne was only nineteen but his work on the road had been as effective as the best of them.  Barnes and Co believed in the ambition and enthusiasm of youth, and backed up their belief in a very practical way.  Ben Allen and Tom Owens were cousins, and it was through Tom Owens that Ben secured his position with the house.  Yet, strange to say, they were not good friends.  Tom had discovered a lack of good principe in his cousin which had caused him to regret that he had introduced him to the house.

Ben’s father was a brother of Tom’s mother.  The two families had lost sight of each other for years.  Allen moved West when Ben was a small boy, and when Ben came to New York he reported to Tom that his mother was dead- and his father traveling.  Both of Tom’s parent were dead, and he had been supporting himself since he was sixteen years of age.  Somehow or other he never could get Ben to tell him anything about his father or family, though he was extremely anxious to learn all he could about them.  The other drummers of the house- and there were nearly a score of them- had noticed his reticence in regard to himself and his family.  All of them frequently spoke in endearing terms of their parents, brothers, and sisters.  But not a word from Ben.  A day or two later Joe Smith said to Tom, and they walked home together.

“The boys are arranging to go off together to spend the summer, and they are counting on us to go with them.”

“Where are they going?”

“Somewhere up on Lake Superior, I believe.”

“Who proposed it?”

“Your cousin Ben.”

“Then I won’t go.  ben and I can’t get along amicably together somehow.”

“Oh pshaw!  We can’t go without you, Tom.  There’ll be enough of us for you if you and Ben can’t agree.”

“What is the plan laid out?”

“Why, it is this:  Ben was traveling for the house out there last year, you know, and at Mackinaw he saw a boat which he thinks would be the very thing for us to spend the summer in, and, to tell you the truth, I think so too.”

“Something int eh shape of a houseboat?”

“Yes, a boat of very light draft, forty feet long by twelve wide on which is built a house of three rooms with a front and rear piazza to it, fitted up with all the conveniences of a cottage.  It is run by a small electric engine, and is also lighted by electricity.”

“Well, that is an odd sort of a boat, I must say.  Who owns it?”

“Ben says that a rich old fellow had it built for his own use, intending to take a party of friends up some of the many rivers which empty into Lake Superior from the North.  But the rheumatism struck him just as it was finished, and it has been lying idle ever since.  It can be bought or hired for the summer very cheap, Ben thinks, and if it can I think it would be the best thing we could do.  It draws less than two feet of water, which will enable us to go hundreds of miles up into the northern wilds of Canada where no tourists have ever been, for the country above Lake Nipigon is almost a wild unexplored country.”

“I would like very much to go, Joe,”  said Tom, “but I don’t care to go with a party of which Ben Allen is a member.

Joe could not move him, and the next day he told the others, except Allen, why Tom would not go.  By accident Ben heard of it, though he did not say anything about it.  Charlie Swayne and Arthur Beam added their persuasive powers to the pressure that was brought to bear on the tall, good looking young drummer, and finally he was persuaded to give his consent to go.  Ben telegraphed to Griggs, one of his customers in Mackinaw, to see if the houseboat he had seen there the year before could be hired furnished for the summer for a party of five on a vacation cruise and on what terms.  Quite late in the day the reply came that it could be hired, and the terms were so reasonable that a telegram was sent asking Griggs to secure it for the party, who would take possession on the second day of June.  That matter being attended to, the party of five made preparations for the summer’s trip.  Some bought rifles and some shotguns, while no end of fishing tackle was bought up.  Ben Allen, as the one who had suggested the excursion and pushed it through, was the busiest one of the party during the ten days left them.

The morning of the first day of June came, and the party of five made their way to the depot to take a west bound train.  Quite a party of their friends had assembled to see them off.  There was quite a noisy time there when the train moved out.  Two days later they arrived at the city of Machinaw.  Mr. Griggs, the merchant, et them at the train and conducted them to the boat which he had secured for them.  Ben introduced the party to the merchant, who in turn introduced the party to the merchant, who in turn introduced them to the pilot and steward of the houseboat.  The pilot was French Canadian, who was a fine electrician and one of the best guides in the Northwest.  The steward was a great big caterer who understood his business thoroughly.

“I am glad to be able to say you, you gentlemen” said Griggs, after the introductions had been made, “that no better pilot than Pierre Lacombe can be found in the lake region, not a better steward than Scipio.  We all call him Scip.  I’ve known them both for years, and if anything is lost through any fault of theirs you may charge it up to me.”

“That’s recommendation enough, I am sure,” remarked Tom, as he looked at the two men.  “Who is to be our captain?”

“Oh, you must elect one of your own party to that position,” said the merchant.

Ben Allen sounded three of the party as to their choice of captain, and found that they were big in favor of Tom Owens, his cousin.

“I think it unjust to me,” he said to them, “because I got up this excursion and —”

“Oh, you are too hot headed to be captain,” said Joe to him.  “Besides, you know, Tom wouldn’t go if you were captain.”

Ben said no more.  But in the evening he went on shore and made his way along the water front till me met a tall man in a cloak in the gateway of a lumber yard.  the man in the cloak coughed slightly and Ben turned to him quickly, saying: “Father!”

“Ben!” replied the man, grasping his hand.

They retired behind a huge pile of lumber where the man in the cloak, who was no other than Ben’s father, asked:

“Did they all come?”

“Yes, and are on board the boat,” Ben replied.

“When do you start, and where do you go?”

“We may start tomorrow afternoon, or the next morning.  We have got to buy our supplies tomorrow.  I don’t know where we shall go, but think well go up the Nepigon river to the lake and beyond.”

“Who is to be in charge of the boat?”

“They have secured a French Canadian of the name Lacombe to be pilot, and Tome will be the captain.”

“Tom Owens!  Why don’t you be captain?”

“Because they all want Tom.”

“Well that makes it bad for us, but we can work it all the same.  You can learn how to run the electric engine if you work the pilot right.  Just as soon as you’ve mastered it, we’ll throw ‘em into the lake and take the boat.  Once in our hands we can do our work without hindrance, and move from one locality to another without danger of discovery.”

“Where will me meet you?” Ben asked.

“Up on Nepigon Lake.  We have a rendezvous up there.  Tom won’t know me, and you and I will meet as strangers.”

“Well, good-bye till then,” and the precious pair shook hands and parted.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 2 Joe Makes a Discovery

The next day the steward and Joe Smith made out a list of what supplies would be needed for a three months’ cruise, and by noon they were purchased and delivered on board.  Then they elected Tom Owens captain- even Ben Allen voting for him when he saw that he was to be the choice, and signed the agreement to obey orders.  Everything being thus arranged, Tom gave the order to start.  The pilot pressed a knob in the circular board on the wall of the front room, near the window, and held to a small wheel to guide by, and the houseboat moved gracefully away from her mooring, where she had rested so long.  She turned eastward to make for the Sault Ste. Marie, through which they would have to go to get into Lake Superior.

The houseboat was not very fast, making only about ten miles an hour, which was fast enough for them, however.  They reached the narrows and went through it my moonlight, the party sitting in rocking chairs and smoking cigars.  A big lake steamer came along, and the boys hailed it with cheers, which were answered by the steamers’ crew.  Ben was seated in his chair, leaning back, with his feet on another.  The rollers made by the steamer caused the boat to make a plunge, and ere, he could recover his balance he and the chair went overboard.

“Man overboard!” yelled Joe.

crip, the steward, had just stepped out on the rear deck, when he heard the alarm.  In another moment the chair was almost at his feet in the water.  He reached down and grabbed it.  Ben had hold of it, too, and in a flash he was drawn up on the deck.

“Good for you, steward,” he said to Scip.  “I’d have been left but for you.”

“What for you falling in the water, sir?” scip asked.

“Handed if I know.  Ugh!  The water is confoundedly cold.”

Ben went to bed.  The others soon followed his example, leaving the pilot in charge, who ran into a small cove near the shore when they had passed through the narrows, and dropped anchor til morning.  They were all up with the sun the next morning, and started off for a whole days’ run along within sight of the shore.  it took them three days to make Nipigon Bay, into which the Nepigon River pours its waters.  Night came on as they were crossing the bay, and Ben lit up the great electric lamp on the roof of the forward part.  As soon as it was dark, for the moon did not rise till ten o’clock, the ducks began to strike the light, blinded by it’s glare.  Whack! came a big duck with the force of a cannon ball, and hit him on the left side of the head, knocking him into the water as neatly as a pugilist could have done it.  Charlie happened to be out there and saw the accident.  The duck fell dead at his feet as Ben went overboard.

“Great Scott!  Stop the boat!” he yelled, and the next moment he went over after him.

The others came running out an looked around.  They could not see either of them.

“Throw us a line!” cried Charlie from the water in the rear.

He had found Ben insensible and was trying to hold his head above the water as best he could till help could reach him.

“Lower the rowboat!” cried the pilot, and in a flash Scipio, the steward, had dropped the rowboat into the water and leaped into it himself.

A few strokes of the oars brought him to them.  He dropped the oars and lifted Ben into the boat, leaning Charlie to climb in.  Ben was bleeding from the nose and ears from the effect of the blow, and was still unconscious when he was taken on board the houseboat.

“How did it happen?” Tom asked, as he looked at Charlie.

“He stood up on the stool to place the screen over the light, when a duck struck him on the side of the head and knocked him into the water,” and Charlie went to the front and found the duck lying there on the floor.

“Here it is,” he said.

Ben came to after a while, and wondered what had happened to him.  He was told, and then realized that Charlie Swayne had really saved his life.  Dry clothes were placed on him , and he was lifted to his berth to sleep off the effects of the blow.  When he awoke the next morning the houseboat was anchored at the mouth of the Nepigon river.  He had a “head on him,” and no mistake.  The left side of his head and face was swelled and discolored to a marked degree.

“I am the unlucky one of the party,” he said to the pilot, as he surveyed himself in the mirror on the wall of the room.

“It seems so,” admitted the pilot, “or else you have a penchant for falling into the water.”

The day was spent winding along up the channel, and later in the afternoon they entered Lake Nepigon, a magnificent sheet of water seventy miles long by fifty wide, with many beautiful islands scattered about in it.

“What a splendid body of water!” cried Charlie, as he gazed over the lake toward several little islands.

“Just the place to start out for a little hunt to see what we can scare up.”

“I think we better go over to yonder white beach and make fast to a stake in the sand,” said the pilot, and they made for that point.

The bow of the houseboat soon struck the white sandy beach, and the pilot sprang ashore and proceeded to drive a stake deep down into the sand, to which he tied the boat.  Next day Tom asked Scip to place an armchair out on the beach under the shade of a tree for him, and he took a book and went there to read.  All had left the boat for their hunt on shore save Scrip.  Tom had been reading about two hours when he heard something behind him.  He was just going to look around to see what it was when the great hairy arms of a black bear encircled him and the chair, accompanied by a growl.  He yelled:

“Help! Help! Scip! Oh, mercy!”

The bear held him in the chair, but the chair saved him from having his ribs crushed.  Tom struggled hard to get away and the bear struggled harder to hold him.  In the struggle the chair was overturned and all rolled on the sand together.  The bear released his hold to get a better one, perhaps, when he saw Scrip coming with a carving knife in his hand.  He rose on his hind feet to receive him.

“Go away there!  Shoo!” yelled Scrip, who appeared to be more anxious to see him run away than attack him.

“Kill him, Scip!” cried Tom, getting on his feet.

The bear made for Tom, and Scip rushed up and gave him about ten inches of cold steel between the ribs.  Then with a fierce growl, bruin turned on the steward and tried to hug him in his rib-crushing arms.  The last thrust touched him in a vital spot, and the effect was instantaneous.  He turned and tried to make his escape to the woods, but fell dead ere he had made two paces.

“Whoop!  That bears my meat!” cried Scip, in great glee, for he had not received a single scratch.  As for Tom, he had been worse scared than hurt.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 3 The Villains of the Woods

When the others came back a few hours later they were surprised to see a dead bear on the beach.  It was a species of game that each had been wanting to lay claim to as the first to secure it, and now the steward had won the prize.  Joe went on board and sat down to write in his notebook whilst the others were washing up after the hunt.  He was in the habit of doing so, hence no one thought anything of it at the time.  But when he had finished writing he tore out the leaf and put it in his pocket.  When he got the chance to do so he slipped it into Tom’s hand, with the whispered injunction to:

“Read and say nothing.”

Tom was surprised, and when he found himself alone, he read what Joe had written.

“Whilst going through the woods I heard a  signal,” he read, “and at once hid in a clump of bushes.  I saw Ben Allen going in the direction of the signal, but don’t know that he heard it.  But in a few minutes I saw him meet a tall man in hunter’s garb partly behind a tree, and shake hands with him.  They exchanged a few words, and then parted.  The man hurried away, and Ben seemed to be intent on getting a shot at a squirrel up in a tree.  When I joined him I remarked that somebody had been there, and pointed to the tracks on the ground.  ‘No,’ he said, ‘those are my tracks, I guess.’  I knew they were not, and he said nothing to me about having met anybody in the woods.  What does it mean?”

Tom was dumbfounded.

“I can’t imagine what it means,” he said to himself as he crushed the paper in his hand.  “I know that he is capable of any villainy, but can’t imagine how he can plotting any villainy away up here in the woods.  Yet he has met and shaken hands with a man he knew up here.  Did he know anybody up here before?  He is a strange sort of a fellow and thoroughly dishonest.  But who was the man?  I must try to find out, though I’d never be able to get anyting out of him.  But hereafter I shall order the houseboat to anchor in deep water every night so as to prevent any surprise of any kind.”

That evening he whispered to the pilot:

“Anchor out in deep water two hundred yards from shore for the night and keep watch till midnight.  I”ll relieve you then.”

The pilot was surprised and asked:

“Is anything wrong?”

“Yes,” said Tom.  “But don’t say a word.”

The move was made much to the surprise of the others.

“Why, what’s this for?” Joe asked.

“We have been anchored here to the shore al the time.” replied Tom, “and bears, wildcats, or robbers could have come aboard without any trouble.”

That night about one o’clock a party of men, six in number, armed to the teeth, came softly through the woods to the beach where the houseboat had been anchored.

“By all that’s holy!” gasped the leader in low tones.  “They have moved out from the shore.”

“We might get our boats and go out to them,” suggested one of the six.

“And every man of us get shot down.  They suspect something, and would have a watch set.  There are five Winchesters on board that craft.”

“Then our game is up.”

“Yes, for tonight, at least.”

A few muttered curses escaped them, and they turned away into the deep black shadow of the woods again.  They marched in a single file for some distance, and then a dark lantern was produced by one of them, who led the way for a mile or so to a camp in the deep recesses of the woods.

“Well, what’s t be done now?” one of the men asked as he sat down under a rude shelter which had been made of cut bushes.

“Well, the first thing is to find out what caused them to move out to deep water.  I can find out all about it when I see the boy again.”

“But when can you see him?”

“I guess he’ll come ashore some time tomorrow.  He says that they have nearly a thousand dollars cash between them, and that the furniture and supplies on board are wroth another thousand, and the boat itself would bring at least $5,000.  We’ve got to get this boat, as we can’t find any hiding place in the States now where we can do out work with any degree of safety.”

The men seemed, to all intents and purposes, to be a party of hunters up there in the woods for the game to be found there.  But they were, in fact, a band of counterfeiters, and Ben Allen’s father was the head of the gang.

They rolled in their blankets under the temporary shelter which had been erected near the fire, and courted sleep for the rest of the night.  Let us know return to the houseboat and note occurrences there the next morning after the discovery made by Joe in the woods.  When they were seated at the breakfast table the next morning, Ben Allen proposed that they go out on a bear hunt that day.

“Where shall we go?” Charlie Swayne asked.

“Why in the woods out there.  Bears go in pairs at this season of the year and the one Scip killed left a mate somewhere you may depend.”

They finally agreed to go on shore for a grand bear hunt.  Only Tom would remain on board with Scip and the pilot.  He was not feeling well enough yet to go out gunning.  The houseboat moved up to the beach again and let Ben, Charlie, and Arthur go ashore with their rifles.  Tom had whispered to Joe to keep an eye on Ben.  Out in the woods Ben proposed that they scatter and beat about till the bear should be flushed.  A yell would bring the others to the spot.  Joe, however, instead of beating about for bear kept an eye on Ben Allen, and dodged about the bushes to keep Ben from seeing him.  By that means he kept him in sight, but lost sight of Charlie and Arthur.  The two latter went deep into the woods, and hunted about in quest of bear, believing that one was lurking about somewhere in the vicinity.  Suddenly they saw a fine buck bounding by, as if excited over something.  They both leveled their guns at him and fired.  The buck fell in his tracks and the two boys gave a shout triumph over their good luck.  Running forward to see the prize, they both remembered Tom’s experience with one of the species, and to make sure that he could do no mischief they each gave him another bullet in his head.

“That settles him!” cried Charlie.

“Hey!  Why did you shoot our deer?” asked an Indian, stepping out of a clump of bushes with a smoking rifle in his hand.

They were both taken aback by his sudden and unexpected appearance.  But Charlie was a game boy, so he answered:

“He is our deer.  We both shot him.”

“Hmm!  It’s our deer.  You can’t have the deer,” said the Native.

“We are going to have have our share of him,” said Charlie in a determined sort of way.

“Yes,” said Arthur, “we have as much right to him as you have, and we think but just to divide him.”

“You’re a big liar,” said the Indian, giving a signal which was answered from the depths of the woods.

A minute or two later four other Indians appeared and attempted to surround the two boys.

“Halt!” cried Charlie, leveling his rifle at one of them.  “Get back or I’ll fire!”

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 4 Charlie and Arthur are Captured

The Indians recoiled from before the Winchesters.  But they were two to one, and the dark looks on their faces showed that they were not going to give up their claim to the deer.  Indeed, it looked as if they were going to begin shooting when two strangers, looking like border hunters, came through the bushes.

“Hello!” exclaimed one of them, as if greatly astonished at the situation.  “What’s the matter?  Say lower your arms, partners, and don’t go to shooting, or there won’t be anyone else let in this region in a week.  They’ll kill us all.  What’s the trouble, anyhow?”

The Indians grunted, but made no answer.

“The trouble is this,” said Charlie, lowering his rifle.  “My comrade and I shot this deer as he came by us.  It seems that one of the Indians shot him, too, at the same time, from the other side, though we did not hear the report of his gun.  We found a bullet wound on the side that was to him, however, and were willing to divide the deer with him, and -’

“That’s fair enough,” said the other stranger.

“Yes, but he claimed the whole carcass.  I never saw an Indian before in my life, but am not afraid of all them in the woods.  I am going to have my share of that deer or fight.”

“See here, friend,” said the hunter, going up to Charlie and speaking to him in low tones.  “These natives are portions of old Spotted Tail’s tribe of Sioux who took refuge in Canada a few years ago when the boys in blue crowded them too close.  They are putting up their winter’s supply of meat, so their hunting parties are scattered all over this section.  To raise a row with them would cause the loss of our scalps.  Let them have the carcass and you take the antlers as your share.”

Charlie thought he would do it as it would be a trophy- and he knew that the meat was not needed in the houseboat.

“Alright,” he said.  “Tell ‘em to leave the horns.”

“That’s all right, Sioux,” said the hunter turning to the Indians, “the young hunter says you can have the meat if you will leave him the horns.”

“Yeah!  He is wise,” said one of the Indians.

“Yes, he is wise and brave, too,” remarked the hunter.

The head was cut off and left on the ground for him.  The Indians scowled at him and Arthur as they went away with the carcass.

Charlie then asked: “How long have you been here?”

“Some two or three weeks.  How long have you been here?”

“About two weeks. There’s five of us, with pilot and steward to take care of our boat.  We live on the boat, which is now on the lake.  What luck have you had in hunting?”

“Best in the world- have shot more deer and bear this season then ever before.”

Just then they heard footsteps coming toward them, and a moment or two after Ben Allen and another hunter appeared.

Ben seemed utterly dumbfounded at seeing Charlie and Arthur there.

“I- I- I got lost!” he said, by way of explanation.

“The heck you did!” said Charlie

“Yes, and happened to meet this gentleman in the woods.  He is showing me the way back to the lake.”

“Well, these two gentlemen have done us a good service, too,” said Charlie.  “We were going to have a fight with four Indians when he interfered to prevent it,” and he then explained the whole affair to him.

“Where is Joe?” asked Ben looking around for him.

“We haven’t seen him since we separated up by the lake,” said Arthur.  “We supposed he was with you.”

“I became separated from him soon after I left you.”

“He must have gone back to the boat if he did not get lost,” remarked Charlie.  “I think we had better go back there, too,”  and he took hold of the deer’s horns to take them along with him.

They were too heavy for him, and Arthur too helped to assist him.

“Let me carry your rifles for you,” said Ben, taking Charlie’s and Arthur’s guns, as if to carry them with his own.

“Thanks,” said Charlie.  “We’ll get on very well now.”

“Let me have them,” said the tall hunter, taking them from Ben.

“Now hold up your hands!” cried one of the hunters in stern tones.

Charlie wheeled around and found that the rifles were leveled at himself and Arthur.  Ben held up his hands, though no weapon was aimed at him, and cried out:

“Don’t shoot!”

“Hold up your hands! hissed the tall hunter to Charlie again, “or I’ll send a bullet through you.”

He held up his hands.  So did Arthur.  They were searched, robbed, and disarmed- all three.

“What does this mean?” Arthur asked.

The leader laughed and said “What do you think it means, young man?”

“I think it means you are a villainous set of cowardly robbers! blurted out Charlie.

“Hush Charlie!” said Ben.  “We are in their power, and it does no good to provoke them.”

“Just let me get the chance, and I’ll give them provocation enough!” retorted Charlie.  “It’s bad enough t be robbed of the deer by the Indians.  That was bad enough, but to be thus robbed is more than I can forgive.”

“Well, don’t forgive us till we beg pardon,” said the tall leader of the gang.  “But if  you want to keep your head from being cracked you’d better keep a civil tongue”

Their hands were bound behind them, and then connected by one cord by which they were led through the woods a mile or two to a rude camp, where there were three hunters- or robbers as Charlie knew them to be.  There they were told to sit down in a log if they wished to, and they did so.  The three men at the camp were told what had been done, and then a whispered conversation took place among them.

“Yes,” said the leader.  “We’ll go a little before dark.  Dan can take care of them till we come back.”

Charlie heard the remark and looked at the man he heard them call by that name.  He thought he saw some sort of a signal pass between him and Ben, but was not sure.  By and by as the day waned he saw that they were making preparations to move from the camp.  They took Ben and bound him more securely than before.

“See here, young man,” the leader said to him as he tied cords that bound his arms to his sides, “you are going with us, and if you try to escape or give us any trouble, we’ll fill you full of holes.”

They all left save Dan and the two prisoners.  Ben was taken along as a prisoner, and in a few minutes they were out of sight and hearing of Charlie and Arthur.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 5 Joe Goes to the Rescue

Let us return to Joe Smith, who had taken upon himself the task of keeping an eye on the movements of Ben Allen.  The reader will recollect that soon after leaving the beach the little party of four decided to beat about through the woods in hopes of flushing the mate of the bear which had been killed the day before.  Each was anxious to kill a bear and take the skin home with him as a trophy.  Charlie and Arthur went in one direction, and Ben and Joe in another.  Ben soon moved away with Joe, telling him he would make a circle and meet him further off in the woods.  Joe agreed, and as soon as Ben was well started he began to dodge about in the bushes so as to keep him in sight.

It was not a difficult thing  to by any means and he managed to keep him in sight, and as he made a straight line through the woods he heard him making signals, as if to attract the attention of someone.  By and by he heard an answering signal, and Ben came to a full stop under a big tree.  Joe stopped, too, in a clump of bushes and waited to see what would next happen.  In a few minutes he saw the hunter with him.  They were too far off for him to hear what passed between them; for he judged that Ben was making some sort of an explanation to the hunter.  They talked there some time and then moved off through the woods in the direction of the three or four shots, which seemed away on on the right.

Joe was now keen to follow and keep an eye on them, and he never lost sight of them for a single moment.  They trudged along through the woods till somewhere about a mile had been traveled, when they suddenly came upon the Indians and Charlie, who were disputing about the deer which had been shot.  He was strongly tempted to level his Winchester at the Indians and fire on them.  He finally decide to wait and see the end of it.  He saw the Indians cut off the buck’s head and go away with the carcass, leaving the antlers with Charlie and Arthur.  Then when he saw the hunters turn upon and seize them, he was almost tempted to fire.  But again he desisted, only to follow them to the camp and watch them from a clump of bushes.  Nothing they did escaped him, and when he saw all but one go off, taking Ben along with them, he suspected that they were going to make an attack on the houseboat.

He waited half an hour and was about to cover Dan with his rifle and march on him when two Natives appeared.

“What are you doing with prisoners?’ one of them asked of Dan.

“They are bad boys,” said Dan.

“Bad boys make bad men,” said one of them, going up to Charlie and laying a hand on his head.

“Nice scalp!” said the other, placing his hand on Arthur’s head, taking a good grip on his hair, and pulling his head around roughly.

Bound as he was Arthur gave him a kick on the shin that made the man jump aside as if a rattlesnake had struck him.  Then he went at him again and got a handful of hair.  The other was amusing himself with Charlie in the same way.

“Don’t cry,” said one of them.  “I won’t hurt the little boy,” and he gave a savage jerk that caused Charlie to leap to his feet and kick with all his power.

That was too much for Joe.  he couldn’t stand there and see that go on.  He raised his rifle and took deliberate aim at the villain who had his hand in Charlie’s hair, and pulled the trigger.  The villainous man sank down to the ground without knowing what hurt him.  Just three seconds later the other one followed his example.  Dan the robber sprang for a tree but caught a bullet in the neck, and down he went.  Joe sprang forward, and when they saw him they both exclaimed:

“It’s Joe!”

“Yes- come quick”  We must get away from here!” and he cut them loose.

Dan was groaning in an agony of pain.

“Serves you right,” said Charlie as he stood over him.

“Come, we must get away from here as quick as we can!” said Joe, and they hurried away, leaving Dan to die where he had fallen.

But after they had gone a mile or so, Charlie asked:

“Where have the others gone, do you think?”

“They have gone to see if they can’t capture the houseboat.”

“Ah!  I was suspicious of that myself!” said Charlie.  “But I guess Tom is on the lookout .”

“He is.  He suspects Ben.  That’s why he anchored out in deep water last night, and for the same reason I followed him today.  But we must keep quiet now.  It won’t do to run upon them unexpectedly.”

“Do you know where we are?” Arthur asked, looking around.

“No, but I know we are going in the right way to strike the lake.”

In half an hour they struck it and saw the houseboat riding peacefully at anchor some hundred yards out from the beach, a half a mile below them.

“Tom is alright,” said Joe, as he glanced at the boat.

“Yes, so he is,” said Charlie.  “But if we get Ben in our power again we ought to hang him on shore and leave him there for the crows to pick.”

“Don’t let him suspect that you know anything, or he may set the boat on fire, or do something else equally as dangerous.  But keep silent now, and follow me in the bushes down the shore.  Maybe we can get sight of them somewhere.”

They crept along the shore, keeping well in the bushes, peering about in every direction for Ben and the five men with him.  After a while they saw Ben Allen on the beach in full view of the houseboat and sing out:

“Hello, Tom!  Come ashore and let me go on board!”

Tom appeared on deck and answered him:

“Where are the others?”

“They are coming!”

“Well, wait till they come.  There’s no use in making two trips.”

“What in thunder is the matter with you, Tom Owens?  You act as if you had a bad dream and were afraid of your shadow.”

“No, but I want to see Joe and Charlie and Arthur there before I order the boat ashore.”

“The heck?  Do you mean to keep me waiting here till they show up?”

“Yes.  You should all have kept together for safety and mutual protection.”

Knowing that the five robbers were hidden back there in the woods somewhere, Joe set himself to the task of locating them.  It didn’t take him very long to find them.  They were hidden where they could fire on Tom and the pilot the moment the boat should touch the sand on the beach.  By and by Ben went back into the woods to consult with them.  They talked in whispers for some time and were about to make a move of some kind, when a new enemy came upon the field in the person of a band of Indians, who had followed their trail from the camp when they found two of their warriors dead.  By some mistake they had struck the trail of Ben and the robbers instead of that of Charlie and his two comrades, and had followed it like sleuth hounds.  When they saw them they made a rush, and, their fierce yells making the welkin ring, captured Ben and the five robbers.

They marched them away into the woods, and Joe followed them at least a quarter mile to make sure that they were going away from the locality.  When he returned to Charlie and Arthur he said to them:

“We have made a narrow escape; they might have struck our trail instead of theirs.  Let’s get on board as quick as we can; they may find out their mistake and come back.”

They left the bushes and went down to the water’s edge and hailed the houseboat.  Tom answered them.

“I’ll send the small boat for you!” and a minute or so later they saw Scip rowing toward them in the workboat.

“Where those Indians?” Scip asked as the boat struck sand.

“Back in the woods here,” said Joe, “and they are laying for you scalp, old man.”

Scip felt of his hair and and shook his head.

“This hair grew right here,” he said, and then pulled away with all his might, and in a few minutes they were once more on board the houseboat.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 6 The Reward of Treachery

“What’s the trouble out there?” Tom asked, as soon as they were on board.

“Why, old Nick is loose, and slinging hot pitch around with a vengeance,” replied Charlie.

During the evening Joe told them all what he had seen Ben do, and they knew then that he was a traitor from the beginning.  Scip gave them a good supper, and they ate like men who were hungry enough to eat anything.  Joe was the hero of the hour.  Charlie and Arthur took an account of the hair that was still left on their heads, and decided that Joe had interfered just in time to save them from premature baldness.

Let us now return to Ben Allen, and follow him as a prisoner in the hands of the Indians.  Of course soon after he left the camp with the robbers he was released by them and given his own rifle again.  His own father, the famous counterfeiter, was the leader of the gang, and as they marched under the trees they planned how they would proceed to get control of the boat.

Ben was to go to the water’s edge and call for the boat to come for him.  The robbers were then to make a rush from the bushes and capture it, killing anyone resisting.  But we have seen how Tom was too suspicious of him, and when the villains were consulting over the situation the Indians pounced upon them and made them prisoners, but how they came to be mixed up in it he could not understand.  The Indians took them back to the camp and showed them the dead warriors.  Runners were sent out to call in the other hunting parties, in order to decide what should be done with the prisoners.  All night long the six men remained under a strong guard, and the Indians looked as if a very slight provocation would suffice to make them burn the whole batch of them at the stake.

The night passed, and when the morning came most of the hunting parties came in.  Every Indian seemed to have a scowl on his face as he glared at the prisoners.  At noon the council was held.  It was a short one, for it did not take them long to decide that two of the prisoners must die for the two braves who had been killed.  But they  decided that they should be taken to the village home of the two dead warriors that their friends and relatives should see that justice had been done.  The chief informed Demas Allen of the decision.

“You only want two of us,” said Allen.  “Which of the six will you take home with you?”

“Take all of you.  Council will say who must die when we get there.”

Again he protested, but the old chief was not to be moved.  A strong guard was placed over them and they were marched to a camp several miles father up the lake.  When evening came on again a summer thunderstorm came up.  The heavy peals of thunder and weird flashes of lightning, coupled with the fierce wind that blew through the forest, awed the Indians, who sat with bowed heads in their tents.  Suddenly the lightening struck a big tree near the tent in which sat the chief and several of his braves, stunning them and greatly demoralizing the others.  A few moments later a limb came flying though the air and struck the two guards at the prisoner’s tent, knocking them down.  The tent was blown from it’s fastenings, and left the prisoners exposed to the pitiless storm.  Ben saw a chance to escape and made a break for the nearest clump of bushes, followed by his father.  The moment a yell from one of the braves told that they were discovered, and they dashed away all the speed they could command.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 7 The Strange Sail and the Rescue

On board the houseboat Tom Owens and the others waited and watched, knowing that vigilance was the one thing necessary to their safety.

“It won’t do for us to go near the shore just at present,” he said to Joe just after supper.  “They might make a rush upon us when we would not quite be ready to receive them.”

“Those are my sentiments!” cried Charlie, slapping him on the back.  “I’ve had  trouble with a guy already, but he’s dead.  I think we can take care of ourselves if we don’t let ‘em catch us napping.”

The day passed, during which time they did not see or hear anyone on shore.  Night came on again, and Tom fearing that some kind of an attempt might be made to board the boat during the night, ordered the pilot to run up the lake about ten miles.  A storm came up a little later.  The pilot ran her up the lake, and dropped anchor behind a little island about a mile from the shore.  The dense growth of trees on the island broke the force of the wind, enabling the boat to anchor safely through the storm.  It raged all night and was very destructive.  Hundreds of trees were broken and the waves lashed the other side of the island with savage fury.

But when morning came the bosom of the lake was like a sea of glass, and the sun rose bright and clear.  Charlie and Joe went ashore on the island and found it to be only a few acres in extent, with a great abundance of berries growing on it.

“Hello! Cried Joe, stopping and shading his eyes with is hands.  “There’s two men on the shore over there.”

“So there are,” and Charlie also shaded his eyes with his hands and gazed at them.

“Run back to the boat and get the spyglass.”

Charlie did as asked, and Joe waved a handkerchief at the two strangers as he stood there on the beach and waited.  They waved their hands at him, and ran up and down the shore as if excited.  In a little while Charlie came back accompanied by Arthur and Tom.  The latter had the boat’s spyglass, and he leveled it at them.

“Great Scott!” he exclaimed.  “It’s Ben and a tall man in hunter’s garb!”

“Let me look at em,” said Joe, taking the glass and looking through it.

One, two, three minutes passed, and then he said:

“The other man is the one I saw Ben talking with in the woods.”

“Sure of that?”

“Yes.”

“Let me look,” and Charlie took a squint at them.

“Yes- he’s the leader of the gang who captured us,” he said.  “I can see his face plainly.”

“They are calling to us with their hands, as if they dared not raise their voices,” said Tom.

“Well, we don’t want ‘em on board the houseboat,” Tom remarked, with a good deal of emphasis.

“No.  Ben is treacherous as any hyena I ever heard of.”

“Hello!  Here comes a small sailboat!” cried Arthur, who was looking up the lake.

Tom turned the glass in that direction, and found four men in it.  The two men on the beach saw the sailboat at the same time, and ran up the shore to get within hailing distance of it as soon as possible.

“Hanged if I don’t think they know that boat!”

“Yes, it looks like it.  Great Scott!  Look there!  There go a dozen Indians after them!  They have taken to the water!  So have the Indians!  Oh say, Tom!  Let’s get those two and put a beating anthem ourselves!”

“Pilot!” said Tom to Lacombe, “there’s a dozen Indians pursuing two men and they are all in the lake swimming.  We must take ‘em up.”

“Ay, sir,” and in another minute the houseboat was moving up to the northern point of the island to make for the two men in the water.

The boat hastened forward and Tom stood on the forward deck and kept the glass leveled at them.  They were more than a mile away, but that distance was soon cut down and they came within hailing distance of them.

“Is that you Ben?” Tom asked.

“Yes,” came back from the water.  “For mercy’s sake kill them!”

“Who is that man with you?”

“A hunter I met in the woods.  He saved my life.”

By this time the boat had reached them, and they were pulled on board- Ben and his father.  The Indians were not more than fifty yards away.  The two foremost ones had stopped swimming to let the others come up with him.

“Shoot ‘em!” cried Ben.  “Shoot ‘em  They tried to kill me,” and he seized a gun to fire at them.

“Put down that gun!” ordered Tom.  “I am not going to provoke them into any acts of violence.”

“Who are you, sir?” and Tom turned to the tall hunter who had come on board with Ben.

That individual looked around at Charlie and Arthur and said:

“I am a hunter.  I have always been on good terms with the Indians.  I saw two of your friends here the other day on the point of provoking a fight with them over the carcass of a deer which both sides claimed, and had to interfere to prevent trouble and-“

“Hold on!” said Tom.  “I must see that they have nothing to complain of on our part,” and he turned toward the Indians in the water, and asked:

“Will your come on board my boat and let us take him ashore?”

“Nah!  You are all bad!” said one of them, looking back at him.

“We are friends, and we would shake hands with you.”

“All of you are bad,” said the Indian.

Tom told the pilot to run up alongside of them, and when he had done so, he said:

“If you will come on board we will give you food and drink, and show you that we are friends and not your enemies.”

“We will swim,” was all the reply they would give him, and they swam away, leaving the two men they had pursued so tenaciously to the mercies of the houseboat people.

“Who are those parties in that sailboat?” Tom asked of the tall hunter as the strange boat bore down upon them.

“They are friends of mine who have been hunting at the upper end of the lake.”

“Well, I don’t want  any friends of your on board this boat.  They must stand off or we’ll fire on them.”

“Why, what’s the matter with you, Tome Owens?” exclaimed Ben.  “This man saved my life.”

“Ben Allen, you treacherous hound!” said Tom, “we understand your game from the beginning.  You betrayed Charlie and Arthur to your friends, the robbers, and you can blame yourself for what is to follow.”

Ben turned pale.  Tom kicked Ben square in the face and spat on him as blood trickled out his nose.  Tom continued:

“You will leave this boat and go with this stranger on board that sailboat, or on shore again.  You can’t remain with us.”

“You mean to rob me, and-“

“Don’t you say a word about robbery.  You were seen to meet this man in the woods twice, shake hands with him, and then went away with him, only to turn up in time to see him and his friends capture Charlie and Arthur.  We trailed you each time, and it was him who rescued them.  You’re lucky I don’t beat you within an inch f your life like I planned.”

Ben was crushed.  He could make no reply.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 8 The Traitor Driven Out

The sailboat had now come up to within hailing distance of the houseboat, when the leader of the robbers hailed it with:  “Stop where you are, and we’ll come on board!”

“Is that you, Allen?” came from the sailboat.

“Yes.  We are coming aboard in a few minutes.”

“What boat is that?”

“A pleasure party from the United States.”

The rowboat was lowered and Demas Allen got into it.  “I won’t go,” said Ben.  “They have no right to-“

“You get into that boat!” hissed Tom, drawing his revolver, “or I’ll send a bullet through you!”

Ben glared at him a moment or two, and then decided to go.  He saw murder in Tom’s eyes, and thought it would be safer to take chances with the other party, so he got into the boat, saying:

“You’ll see me again, Tom Owens, before you leave this lake.”

In a few minutes they were with the party in the sailboat.  The rowboat was then pushed off and left adrift for the houseboat to pick up again.  In the meantime the Indians were on the beach watching the proceedings on the water.  They seemed to be not a little excited over something, and, after giving a yell, which the pilot declared to be a warwhoop, disappeared into the woods.  The sailboat went down the lake, and was soon hidden from view behind an island,

“Well, we have gotten rid of that crowd at last,” said Tom.

“Yes,” put in Joe, “and somehow it seems to me as if we had escaped a great peril.”

The houseboat made it’s way up through the most beautiful lake in the world, winding around numerous islands, till they struck the extreme northern point.  There they stopped, and made a survey of the scenery.  On the left, a couple of miles away, was an island, one side of which seemed to rise out of the water perpendicularly more than one hundred feet.

“That’s a strange island,” said Joe; gazing at it in deep interest for some minutes.

“Yes, so I think,” added Charlie.  “Let’s go over there and see it Tom.”

Tom ordered the pilot to go over there, and a near approach to the island revealed the fact that the perpendicular side they had noticed was a wall of solid rock.

“Go round it,” ordered Tom, and the boat kept on it’s course.

“It was nearly a mile in circumference.  On the south side was a beach of white sand for a quarter mile, with heavy timber back of it.  Tom was looking at the island very closely, as he was quite well pleased with it, when he saw a small cove, covering a few acres in extent.

“What a beautiful little harbor,” he exclaimed.

“Just what I was going to say,” said Charlie.

“Let’s go in there and try our luck at fishing.”

They moved in and cast anchor in fifteen feet of water, not fifty feet from the shore.  But ere they cast a hook they saw tracks on shore and other evidence of habitation.

“Look out boys!  We may be running into somebody’s den.”

“If anyone will go with me,” said Joe, “I’ll go all over the island and find out if anybody is living on it.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Charlie.

“You stay here and be captain, Charlie,” said Tom.  “I want to take a little exercise myself.”

“All right.”

They shouldered their rifles and went ashore following the well beaten path up the incline toward the center of the island.  Up near the center was a depression of nearly thirty feet, making a basin of some two or more acres in extent.  In the center of the basin stood a log cabin- a double log cabin- and under a big beech tree near the door were rude rustic seats.

“That is the work of some homesteader,” said Tom.

“I don’t think thats an Indians’ cabin.”

They went down the path till they came to the door.  It was locked with a padlock.

“Nobody at home.”

“No, but the occupants left here this very morning.” Said Joe.

“Then it must be that sailboat we met carried them away.”

“Yes, I think so.”

“So do I.  Now, what are they secreted away up here for?”

“That’s more than I know, but I am going to find out, though my own uncle is one of them.”

“How will you do that?” Joe asked.

“I don’t know, but I am going to find out at all hazards.  Let’s go back to the boat.  I want to think up a plan.”

They made their way back to the boat, when Tom immediately ordered a move to an island a half mile off- opposite the cove.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 9 Tom Saves a Life

When they reached the little island opposite the cove the houseboat went round behind it and cast anchor.

“Now, Charlie, go up to the highest point there and make you a good seat, or take a chair with you and watch for two hours for any kind of a boat that lands on the island we have just left.  At the end of two hours I’ll relieve you.  I’m going to stop here till I find out who is using that log cabin over there, and find out what they are doing.”

Charlie took a chair along with him, and soon found a shady place where he settled himself down to watch the island in front of him.  He had not been there a half hour ere Lacombe, the pilot said to Tom:

“I hear a moose calling his mate, on the main island over there.”

“Indeed!  That’s the biggest game in America.  Do you know the voice of the moose?”

“Yes.  Don’t you hear it?”

Tom listened a few minutes.

“Yes, it’s a bull calling it’s mate.  They call to each other even five miles apart.”

“I am going to have a moose hunt,” said Tom.

“Joe, run up and tell Charlie he can have undisputed command of this island the balance of the day- that we will come back at sunset.”

Joe ran off, and was gone about twenty minutes, when he came back, and said that it was all right.

“Come aboard then, and we’ll be off for the mainland at once.”

They started for the mainland, which was some three miles away, and reached it near where a creek emptied into the lake.  The place was marshy and the growth very dense.  But they made  landing.

“Keep very quiet,” said the pilot, “and try to put a bullet in his brain.  Otherwise he is very hard to kill.”

Tome, Joe, and Arthur went into the woods together, and followed the creek guided by the strange noises made by the moose.  In a little while they heard similar noises on their left.  Then they stopped and listened.  They soon saw that they were between the pair, and that they were coming together.

“Keep quiet, and we may get them both,” whispered Tom.

A fully grown moose, fully eight feet high, came suddenly upon them.  His size was so enormous that they were almost paralyzed with fear.  But they all three raised their Winchesters and fired.  The bull gave a tremendous bellow and wheeled to run.  But the bullets stopped him, and he went down.  He was so close to them when they fired that two bullets went clear through his head.  They ran up to get a nearer view of the monster beast, and saw him kicking in his death agonies.  That he might not spring up and attack them, as the deer with Tom on one occasion, they gave him another volley which settled him forever.

“He is a monster,” cried Tom.

“What shall we do with him.  We can’t carry his horns back to the boat, for they weigh a hundred and fifty pounds if an ounce.”

Crack!  A rifle shot on their left startled them, followed by a fierce growl and evidence of a combat.

“What in thunder does that mean?” Joe asked.

Tom did not stop to listen or ask questions.  He dashed forward, and ere he had gone one hundred yards saw a young Indian engaged in a life and death struggle with a big black bear.  The bear had got the hug on the Indian and was rushing the life out of him when Tom ran up placed the muzzle of his gun against the bear’s head and pulled the trigger.  The bear tumbled over and the young Indian hunter was saved.

“That bear almost killed me,” said the Indian, unable to stand on his feet.

“The bear is dead and you have been saved,” said Tom, kneeling by him and holding his head up.

It was some minutes before he spoke again, and not till Arthur produced a small flask of brandy and poured some down his throat.  They spent a half an hour with him and then had to take him with them to the boat, where they laid him on the deck with a pillow under his head.  The promise of a five dollar bill stimulated Scip to such a degree that he accompanied Joe and Arthur back to where the dead moose lay, and brought in the immense antlers.  They they went back to the island where Charlie had been left on watch.  Joe went up to relieve him as soon as the boat reached the shore.

Joe sat down in the chair and prepared to rest and take it easy, whilst Charlie went down to the shore where Tom and the others were.  The young Indian whose life Tom had saved was very grateful to them.  He said he was the son of the chief of the tribe, and that his name was Elk Horn.  He was about twenty four years of age, and finely formed, active, and athletic.  He spoke English very well, and seemed very much pleased at the way they treated him.  On the third day he said he would return to the mainland and go back to his camp.  At the same time Arthur came running down the hill to say that a sailboat with six men in it had entered the little cove opposite.

“Bad, bad men,” said the young chief.

“Do you know them, Elk Horn?” Tom asked.

“Yes.  They live in a cabin over an island, and won’t let anyone come there.”

“What do they do there?”

He shook his head as if he did not know.  They then shook hands with him, gave him presents and sent him ashore in the rowboat with Joe and Scip.  That evening Tom, Joe, and Scip went over to the island to make an inspection of the place under cover of darkness.  Scip was to remain in the boat till Tom and Joe should go up to the cabin and see what they could find out.  Tome and Joe crept up to the rear of the cabin and listened.  They heard the voices of several men talking inside.  It took them but a few minutes to learn that they were counterfeiters of American money.  They were talking about how Ben, as a traveling salesman, could flood the country with the bills, which were so near perfect that none of the banks had, as yet, dropped to it.

“When we get that houseboat we can move the shop on board of it, and not have to come away up here to get a supply of the stuff.”

It was Demas Allen who spoke.

“When we get it make Cousin Tom walk the plank, father,” said Ben.

“I shall not fail to do that,” said the father.

Tom and Joe came away, confident that they had at last got at the bottom of Ben Allen’s treachery to the party.  His father was the head of a gang of counterfeiters, and he was to act as engineer of the boat till he could teach another how to do so, and then go on the road as a drummer and flood the country with the bills.

On reaching the boat they told the others what they had found out.  They were very much surprised, but glad that they had for at the motives that had prompted such deeds.  When morning came hey moved boldly out in full view of the island, but did not pretend to notice them.  But they knew the counterfeiters were watching them.

They entered the river that was the source of the lake, and proceeded upstream in search of game.  One evening while they were at supper they heard noises, as of somebody springing on board.  But ere they could rise up and look at their arms, the front room was half filled with Indians, who leveled rifles at them.

“Ugh!  Indians will kill you if you fight!” said the chief of the band.

“We won’t fight, chief,” said Tom, very cooly.

“We didn’t know you had declared war against us.”

“White man make war first,” said the Indian stalking forward, raising a murderous looking knife as if to stab Tom Owens.

The Houseboat Boys Chapter 10 A Night of Suspense

It was a capture without the firing of a shot, and that, too, after all the vigilance of the past two or three weeks.  Tom was almost overcome with regret that he didn’t fight and died in defense of the boat, as he really would as soon be killed as turned adrift way up there in that wild region.  They quickly made discovery that they had been surprised and by six Indians.

“And there are six of us!” he thought to himself.

It was now too late.  They were disarmed, and any attempt at resistance would result in slaughter and nothing more.

“Ugh! White mans must be tied,” said the chief, a big ferocious looking fellow.

They were tied and made to lie down on the floor in the rear room, where a guard with a revolver was stationed to keep watch over them.  Scip was the maddest man of the lot, when he saw them plundering the boat.  One of the Indians seemed to know where everything was, much to the surprise of the prisoners.  They got at the brandy, which had been brought along for use in case of need, and drank freely of it.  Then they found the cigars and made free with them, as well as the money each man had.

“They’ll clean us out,” said Joe with a sigh.

“Ain’t that a fact,” said Scip.  “Good Lord, if I get up there and butt some I’ll kill one for sure.”

“Keep quiet,” said Tom.  “What can a man do with his hands tied behind his back?”

“True,” and Scip heaved a big sigh as he rolled over on his side.

By and by the chief came in where they were and said:

“Big man, git up an’ cook us supper.”

“Get away from me!” said Scip.  “I ain’t gonna cook you no supper.”

The chief drew a murderous looking knife and cut the cords that bound Scip’s hands behind him, saying:

“Cook supper for Indians or your scalp come off.”

“Go on and cook supper for them, Scip.” Said Tom.  “What’s the use of bringing more trouble to yourself?”

Scip got up and went into the kitchen where an Indian stood around with a revolver watching every movement he made.  The Indians were drinking brandy all the time and some of them now began to grow quite boisterous.  One of them went to the pilot’s post and began to examine the arrangements as if he knew something about them.  Suddenly the boat started up the stream.

“Where are we going?” the chief asked, in a very sudden manner.

“Up the river a bit.”

“Better turn around and do down to the island.”

Tom and Joe glared at each other.  There was something familiar to them in the voices of the two Indians, which they could not account for.  The brandy was working on them, and they began to get more noisy.  Suddenly the Indian at the pilot’s place said the river was too narrow for him to turn round in.

“Then tie up to the bank till morning,” said the chief.

It was done soon, and then the six sat down to the table and ate a hearty supper.  Tom and his three mates and the pilot in the rear room could hear them, but could not make out what they were saying.  The supper over the chief came into the room where the prisoners were and said:

“White man must go-  Indians want boat.”

“Do you mean to say that we must go on shore?” Tom asked.

“You will give us weapons so we can kill game to live on?”

“Ugh!  Indians no fool.  White mans shoot us.”

Tom was too honest to deny that he would shoot him if he got but half a chance.  There were made to get up and go ashore- all save the steward, whom they wanted to keep it seems.  Out in the woods, not fifty feet from where the boat lay, they were each tied to a tree and left there.  But an hour later one of them came out and brought a lantern, so he could see their faces.  He held it up to their faces and looked at them closely till he came to Tom.

“Blast your hide!” hissed Tom, raising his foot and giving him a terrific kick in the stomach.

“If my hands were loose I’d break every bone in your body!”

The kick was a hard one, and had landed on a spot that made the captor sick.  He groaned as he pulled himself together and rose to his feet.

“Ugh!  I will kill you!” and he drew a knife and lunged at Tom’s breast till the hilt pressed against his bosom.

Then he turned and hurried away to the boat, taking the lantern with him.

“My goodness, Tom!” exclaimed Joe, “did he stab you?”

“Yes, but it’s only a flesh wound.  I twisted to the right and the blade grazed my rib.  He thought he had done me in.”

“It’s painful though?” queried Tom.

“Yes, but I am not dead, yet.  Oh, goodness!  Why do such wretches live?”

“They’ll do us all in before they leave us,” said Charlie.

“Yes,” said Arthur.  “They have tied us here to burn us,” and he groaned way down to his shoes.

“Tom, I don’t believe they are Indians,” said Joe, after a pause.

“Why not?”

“Because their voices sound like white men’s to me.”

“I thought so too, when we were in the boat.”

“No Indian living way up here knows anything about that electric machinery, and yet one of them seems to know all about it.  That fellow who stabbed you is Ben Allen.”

“By Jove!” exclaimed Tom, “I believe you are right.”

“It can’t be,” said Arthur.

“That chief is very tall,” said Tom.  “He is Demas Allen, as sure as we are tied here.”

“Oh, if I could just get loose and get at them!”

Charlie was dumbfounded.

He could scarcely believe what he had heard.  “White men dressed as Indians,” he said, after a pause.

“Yes, worse than the tigers of the jungle or sharks of the sea,” said Tom.

The hours passed and midnight came.  The revelers on board the houseboat kept up the debauchery, and Tom, who was weak from loss of blood, said to Joe:

“This thing may kill me before daylight.  I have hopes, though, that Scip may be able to come and cut us loose after a while.”

“He will if he can,” said Lacombe, the pilot.  “He is true as steel.  But I hope it is not so bad with you, captain.”

“I am hurt and bleeding.  My shoes is full of blood, and I feel myself growing weak all the time.”

“Don’t give up Tom,” said Joe.  “Scip will come to us if he gets the chance.”

“I don’t think he knows what they have done with us.”

Time passed on, and when daylight came they were all quiet on the boat.  The Indians- if such they were- had tied Scip hands and feet again, and lay down to sleep.  Tom had become insensible and fallen against the root of the tree.

“My goodness!” groaned Joe.  “Tom is dead!”

Charlie called him several times.

“Tom!  Tom!  Tom!”

He did not answer.

“The wretch has killed him!” he exclaimed.  “If I escape alive I’ll avenge him even if I have to follow this murderer around the world!”

“So will I!” put in Arthur, bursting into tears.

“Hush! Said Joe.  “Don’t talk so loud.  They may hear you.”

In the gray dawn they saw a solitary Indian coming through the forest.  He was going toward the boat.  Joe recognized him at once as Elk Horn, the young chief whose life Tom had saved the day the moose was killed.

“Elk Horn!” he called in low tones and the young Indian stopped and looked around.  “Come here, Elk Horn!”

He went up to Joe and recognized him at a glance.

“Hey!  Who tied my brothers up?” he asked.

“Cut us loose and I’ll tell you all!”

He cut them loose quickly.  Then Joe ran to Tom, and found that he was not dead.  He cut him loose, and laid him in a more comfortable position, after which he explained to the young chief what had happened, and who they were who had captured the houseboat.  The young brave’s eyes flashed, and he wanted to go on board and kill them all in their sleep.

“They have a guard, perhaps,” said Joe, “and he would shoot you down the moment he saw you.  Have you any of your people near by?”

“Yes, a mile away.”

“Go and bring them here.  Quick!”

The young chief darted away like a deer, and then Joe and the pilot took Tom and bore him away from the dangerous locality, to a safer place deeper in the woods.  A half hour later a band of ten Indians came back with Elk Horn, and stood ready to go at any moment to fight for the friends of their young chief.  But Joe and Lacombe were too busy then in attending to Tom.  The pilot was really a good physician.  He seemed to know just what to do, and lost no time in doing it, and asked for a drink of water.  It was given to him, and he then said he felt better.

“Arthur you stay here with him till we come back,” said Joe, as he rose to his feet and looked around at the Indians.

One of them had a brace of revolvers and he let him have one.  They they started off to the boat.  On the way Joe cautioned them not to hurt the big man.  When they reached the boat they were challenged by the man on guard.  Joe fired at him.  He fell on the deck, and then the rush was made.  The others were in bed.  But they sprang up and showed fight, and in a moment or two a death struggle was going on in the front of the boat.

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