A SAIL ON THE LAKE

GUY DID not know how to begin the conversation. He wanted to approach
the subject gradually, for he believed that some little strategy would
be necessary in order to bring Henry to his way of thinking, but somehow
the words he wanted would not come, and seeing that his friend was
getting impatient, he plunged into it blindly:

“How would you like to be a hunter and trapper?” he asked.

“I don’t know anything about trapping, but I like hunting as well as any
boy in the world,” said Henry.

“I mean how would you like to make a business of it, and spend your life
in the woods or on the prairie?”

“I don’t know, but I am going to try it a little while this fall. Father
owns some land in Michigan that he has never seen, and about the first
of September he and I are going up to take a look at it. His agent
writes that game is abundant, and I am going to buy a rifle before we
start.”

“Well, if I had a chance like that I’d never come back again. I’d stay
in the woods.”

“Oh, my father wouldn’t let me.”

“I don’t suppose he would, but you could do as I intend to do—run away.”

Henry straightened up and looked at his companion without speaking.

“Oh, I mean it,” said Guy with a decided nod of his head. “I am tired of
staying here. I am weary of this continual scolding and fault-finding,
and am going to get away where I can take a little comfort. I have
always wanted to be a hunter. I have got my plans all laid, and I want
some good fellow for a companion, for I should be lonely if I were to go
by myself. I’d rather have you than anybody else, and if you will go
we’ll take the ‘Boy Trappers’ with us. That book will tell us just what
we will have to do. It tells how to build wigwams, how to trap beaver
and otter, and catch fish through the ice; how to make moccasins,
leggings and hunting-shirts; how to catch wild horses; how to preserve
the skins of wild animals—in fact, everything we want to know we will
find there.”

“Where do you want to go?” asked Henry.

“Out to the Rocky Mountains.”

“What will you do when you get there?”

“We’ll hunt and trap during the spring and fall, and when summer comes
we’ll jump on our horses, take our furs to the trading-posts and sell
them.”

“And what will we do during the winter?”

“We’ll have a nice little cabin in some pleasant valley among the
mountains, such as the boy trapper had, and we’ll pass the time in
curing our furs and fighting the Indians. That is what they did, you
know. I tell you, Hank,” said Guy with great enthusiasm, “it wouldn’t be
long before we would become as famous as either Kit Carson or Captain
Bridges! What’s the matter with you?” he added, looking suspiciously at
his friend, who seemed on the point of strangling.

Henry, who had listened in utter amazement to what Guy had to say, could
control himself no longer. Clinging to the fence with both hands he
threw back his head and broke out into a shout of laughter that was
heard full a block away.

“I don’t see anything so funny about it,” said Guy indignantly. “I am in
earnest.”

“Oh, dear!” said Henry, after he had laughed until his jaws and sides
ached. “I know this will be the death of me. Why, Guy, what in the world
put such a ridiculous notion into your head?”

“I don’t call it a ridiculous notion. If the boy trappers could live
that way I don’t see why we couldn’t. I guess we are as smart and as
brave as they were.”

This set Henry to going again. It was some minutes before he could
speak.

“Do you believe that book is true?” he asked.

“Of course I do.”

“Why, Guy, I didn’t think you were such a dunce. The idea that three
boys, the oldest of them only seventeen years of age, could live as they
did, surrounded by savage beasts and hostile Indians, and get into such
scrapes as they did, and come out without a scratch. Common sense ought
to teach you better than that. Those boy trappers never had an existence
except in the brain of the man who wrote the book.”

“Then why did he write it?” demanded Guy.

“What makes you play base-ball and cricket, and why do you go fishing
and boat-riding every chance you get? Such sports are not necessary to
your existence—you could live without them—but they serve to fill up the
time when you don’t feel like doing anything else. That’s one reason why
books like ‘Boy Trappers’ are written—to keep you in the house and help
you while away a leisure hour that you might otherwise spend in the
streets with bad boys. Oh, Guy! Guy!”

“Now, don’t you begin your laughing again,” said his companion.

At this moment a door opened and the boys heard Mr. Harris calling.

“Guy!” he shouted.

“Sir!” was the response.

“Come in now.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Henry.

“Oh, we have a reading lesson every night, and I have to help,” replied
Guy with great disgust. “We’re reading Bancroft’s History of the United
States, and I despise it. I can’t understand half of it, but father
makes me read aloud twenty minutes every night, and scolds because I
can’t tell him the meaning of all the hard words. Now, Hank, are you
going with me or not?”

“Of course I am not. I’ll not give up such a home, and such a father and
mother as I’ve got for the sake of living in a wilderness all my life.”

“Well, you won’t repeat what I have said to you, will you?”

“No, indeed; but you must promise me that you will give up that idea.”

“All right, I will.”

“You’ll never speak of running away from home again, or even think of
it?”

“No, I never will—honor bright.”

“Then you may rely upon me to keep your secret. Now I have a plan to
propose: Let’s go fishing on the pier to-morrow—it’s Saturday, you
know—and talk the matter over. I can convince you in five minutes that
you had better stay at home. Come over early—say five o’clock.”

“I’ll see what father says about it; good-night. I might have known
better than to ask him to go with me,” added Guy mentally, as he walked
slowly toward the house. “If I had as pleasant a home as he has I
wouldn’t go either. Why don’t my father and mother take some interest in
me, and talk to me as Mr. and Mrs. Stewart talk to Hank? I haven’t
changed my mind, and I never shall. I promised that I would never again
think of running away from home, but I did it just to keep Hank’s mouth
shut. As long as he thinks I have given up the idea, he won’t say a word
to anybody. He’ll be astonished some fine morning, for I shall leave
here as soon as I can scrape the money together. I wish I could find a
pocket-book with a hundred dollars in it. I’d never return it to the
owner, even if I found him. I must try Bob Walker now.”

When Guy entered the sitting-room he found his father and mother waiting
for him. The former handed him an open volume of Bancroft’s History and
Guy, seating himself, began reading the author’s elaborate description
of the passage of the Stamp Act and the manner in which it was received
by the colonists—a subject in which he was not in the least interested.
His father often took him to task for his bad reading and pronunciation,
but he managed to get through with the required twenty minutes at last,
and with a great feeling of relief handed the book to his mother and
moved his chair into one corner of the room. In forty minutes more the
lesson was ended and Mr. Harris turned to question Guy on what had just
been read. To his surprise and indignation he saw him sitting with his
feet stretched out before him, his chin resting on his breast and his
eyes closed. The boy was fast asleep.

“Guy!” Mr. Harris almost shouted.

“Sir!” replied his son, starting up quickly and rubbing his eyes.

“This is the way you give attention to what is going on, and repay the
pains I am taking to teach you something, is it?” demanded his father.
“Do you think ignorance is bliss? You don’t know anything a boy of your
age ought to know. Tell me how many distinct forms of government this
country has passed through.”

“I can’t,” replied Guy.

“Who was the third President of the United States?”

“I don’t know.”

“What were the names of the two men who were hanged in effigy by the
Massachusetts colonists when the news of the passage of the Stamp Act
was received?”

“I don’t know,” said Guy again.

“And yet that is just what we have been reading about to-night. I saw a
picture in that paper you had in your possession a little while ago,”
continued Mr. Harris with suppressed fury. “It was a man dressed in
furs, who stood leaning against a horse, holding a gun in one hand and
stretching the other out toward a dog in front of him. Who was that man
intended to represent?”

“Nick Whiffles,” said Guy promptly.

“What was the name of his dog?”

“Calamity.”

“Did his horse have a name?”

“Yes, sir—Firebug; and he called his rifle Humbug.”

“There you have it!” exclaimed Mr. Harris with a sneer. “You know all
about that, and you’ve no business to know it either, for it will do you
more harm than good. If we had been reading that trash to-night you
would have been wide-awake and listening with all your ears; but because
we were reading something worth knowing—something that would be of
benefit to you in after life, if you would take the trouble to remember
it—you must needs settle yourself and go to sleep. Now, then, draw up
beside this table and read five pages in that history; and read them so
carefully, too, that you can answer any question I may ask you about
them to-morrow.”

Guy, so sleepy that he could scarcely keep his eyes open, staggered to
the chair pointed out to him and sat down, while his father once more
picked up the evening paper and his mother resumed her needle.

When he had read the required number of pages and looked them over two
or three times to fix the names and dates in his memory, he arose and
put the book away in the library.

“Father,” said he.

“Don’t you know that it is very rude to interrupt a person who is
reading?” replied Mr. Harris, looking up from his paper. “What do you
want?”

“May I go fishing with Henry Stewart on the pier to-morrow?”

“No, sir, you may stay at home. A boy who behaves as you do deserves no
privileges. I have learned that I cannot trust you out of my sight.”

Knowing that it would not be safe to show any signs of anger or
disappointment, Guy kept his face as straight as possible and turned to
leave the room. But when he put his hand on the door-knob his father
called to him.

“Guy,” said he, “where are you going?”

“I am going to bed.”

“And do you intend to leave us with that frown on your face and without
bidding us good-night? One or the other of us might die before morning
and then you would be sorry you parted from us in anger. I’ve a good
mind to whip you soundly, for if ever a boy deserved it you do. Come
back here and kiss your mother.”

Almost ready to yell with rage, Guy returned and kissed his mother, who
presented her cheek without raising her eyes from her novel, bid his
father good-night, and this time succeeded in leaving the room without
being called back.

When he was safe out of his father’s sight he turned and shook his fist
at him, at the same time muttering something between his clenched teeth
that would have struck Mr. Harris motionless with horror could he have
heard it. He went to bed with his heart full of hate, and not until his
mind wandered off to other matters, and he begun to dream of the wild,
free and glorious life he expected to lead in the mountains and on the
prairies of the Far West, did he recover his usual spirits. He fell
asleep while he was building his air-castles, and awoke to hear the
breakfast bell ringing and to see the morning sun shining in at his
window.

When he descended to the dining-room he was met by Ned, who was dressed
in his best, and who informed him, with evident satisfaction, that Henry
Stewart had been over to see if he was going fishing, and that his
father had said that he couldn’t go to the pier or do anything else he
wanted to do until he had learned to behave himself. Ned added that he
and his father and mother were going to ride out to visit Uncle David,
who lived nine miles in the country, and that he, Guy, was to be left at
home because there was no room in the buggy for him, and that he was not
to stir one step outside the gate until their return.

“I’ll show you whether I will or not,” said Guy to himself. “It’s a
pretty piece of business, indeed, that I am to be shut up here at home
while the rest of you go off on a visit. I won’t stand it. I’ll see as
much fun to-day as any of you, and if I only had all the money I need,
you wouldn’t find me here when you return.”

Breakfast over, the buggy was brought to the door, and Mr. Harris, after
assisting his wife and son to get in, turned to say a parting word to
Guy.

He was to remain in the yard all day, bring no boys in there to play
with him, and be very careful not to get into any mischief. If these
commands were not obeyed to the very letter there would be a settlement
between them when Mr. Harris came back.

Guy drew on a very long face as he listened to his father’s words,
meekly promised obedience and opened the gate for his father to drive
out. He watched the buggy as long as it remained in sight and then,
closing the gate, jumped up and knocked his heels together, danced a few
steps of a hornpipe, and in various other ways testified to the
satisfaction he felt at being left alone.

“I shouldn’t feel sorry if I should never see them again,” said he. “I
am my own master to-day, and I am going to enjoy my liberty, too. But
before I begin operations I must put Bertha and Jack on the wrong scent.
They would blow on me in a minute.”

Guy once more assumed a very sober expression of countenance, and walked
into the kitchen where the servant-girl was at work.

“Bertha,” said he, “I am going up to my curiosity shop, and I don’t want
to be disturbed. You needn’t get dinner for me, for I sha’n’t want any.”

“I am glad of it,” replied the girl, “I am going visiting myself
to-day.”

Guy strolled out to the carriage-house, and here he found Jack, the
hostler and man-of-all-work, to whom he gave nearly the same
instructions, adding the request that if any of his young friends called
to see him, Jack would say to them that Guy had gone off somewhere,
which, by the way, had Jack had occasion to tell it, would have been
nothing but the truth.

The hostler promised compliance, and Guy, having thus opened the way for
the carrying out of the plans he had determined upon, went up to his
curiosity shop, locking the door behind him, and putting the key into
his pocket. He lumbered about the room for a while, making as much noise
as he conveniently could, to let Bertha and Jack know that he was there,
and then stepped to the window that overlooked the garden and peeped
cautiously out. Having made sure that there was no one in sight, he
crawled out of the window, feet first, and hanging by his hands, dropped
to the ground. As soon as he touched it he broke into a run, and making
his way across the garden, scaled a high board-fence, dropped into an
alley on the opposite side, and in a few minutes more was two blocks
away.

“There!” he exclaimed, as he slackened his pace and wiped his dripping
forehead with his handkerchief; “that much is done, and no one is the
wiser for it. Now, the first thing is to go down to Stillman’s and buy a
copy of the _Journal_. I wrote to the editors of that paper three weeks
ago, telling them that I am going to be a hunter, and asking what sort
of an outfit I shall need, and how much it will cost, and I ought to get
an answer to-day.

“The second thing is to hunt up Bob Walker and feel his pulse. He once
told me that he would run away and go to sea if his father ever laid a
hand on him again, so I know I shall have easy work with him. He won’t
be as pleasant a companion, though, as Henry Stewart, for he swears, and
is an awful overbearing, quarrelsome fellow. But I can’t help it; I must
have somebody with me.”

A walk of a quarter of an hour brought Guy to Stillman’s news-depot,
where he stopped and purchased a copy of the paper of which he had
spoken. Seeing a vacant chair in one corner of the store, he seated
himself upon it, and with trembling hands unfolded the sheet, looking
for the column containing the answers to correspondents. When he found
it he ran his eye over it until it rested on the following paragraph:

“AN ABUSED DOG.—If you are going to become a hunter you will need an
expensive outfit. A good rifle will cost from $25 to $75; a brace of
revolvers, from $16 to $50; a hunting-knife, $1.25 to $3.50. Then
you will need a hatchet or two, an abundance of ammunition,
blankets, durable clothing, horse, etc., which, together with your
fare by rail and steamer to St. Joseph, will cost you at least $200
more. We know of no hunter or trapper to whom we could recommend
you, and neither can we say whether or not you will be able to find
a wagon train that you could join. Now that we have answered your
questions, we want to offer you a word of advice. Give up your wild
idea, and never think of it again. As sure as you are a live boy, it
will end in nothing but disappointment and misery. We are inclined
to believe that the story of your grievances is greatly exaggerated;
but even if it is not, you cannot better your condition by running
away from home. Your parents have your welfare at heart, and if you
are wise you will remain with them, even though their requirements
do sometimes seem harsh and unnecessary. It may be that you will
some day be left to fight your way through the world with no father
or mother to advise or befriend you, and then you will find how hard
it is. Take our word for it, if you live to be five years older, you
will laugh at yourself whenever you reflect that you ever thought
seriously of becoming a professional hunter.”

Guy read this paragraph over twice, and then folded the paper and walked
slowly out of the store.

IT IS beyond my power to describe Guy’s feelings at that moment. He had
never in his life been more grievously disappointed. It had never
occurred to him that anybody who knew anything would discourage his
project, much less the editors of his favorite journal, to whom he had
made a full revelation of his circumstances and troubles. And then there
was the expense, which greatly exceeded his calculations. That was the
great drawback.

“Humph!” soliloquized Guy, after he had thought the matter over, “the
man who wrote that article didn’t know my father and mother. If he did,
he wouldn’t be so positive that everything they do is for the best. I
know better, and won’t give up my idea. I am determined to succeed.
There are plenty of men who make a living and see any amount of sport by
hunting and trapping, and why shouldn’t I? Kit Carson is a real man and
so is Captain Bridges. So is Adams, the great grizzly bear tamer. One of
these days, when I am as famous as they are, I shall laugh to think I
_did_ become a professional hunter. But the money is what bothers me
now. I shall need at least three hundred dollars. Great Cæsar! Where am
I to get it? I’ve worked and scraped and saved for the last six months,
and I’ve got just fifteen dollars. That isn’t enough to buy a rifle.
Where is the rest to come from? That’s the question.”

Guy walked along with his hands behind his back and his eyes fastened
thoughtfully on the ground, revolving this problem in his mind. His
prospects did not look nearly so bright now as they did an hour ago. He
was learning a lesson we all have to learn sooner or later, and that is
that we cannot always have things as we want them in this world, and
that the best laid schemes are often defeated by some unlooked-for
event. Three hundred dollars! He never could earn that amount. His rags
brought him but two cents a pound, and although he kept a sharp lookout
and pounced upon every piece of cloth he found lying about the house, it
sometimes took him a whole month to fill his bag, which held just five
pounds. Old iron was worth only a cent a pound, and business in this
line was beginning to get very dull, for he had not found a single
horseshoe during the last two weeks, and he had purchased the last thing
in the shape of broken frying-pans and battered kettles that any of his
companions had to dispose of. He must find some other way to earn money.
He had thought of carrying papers, which would add a dollar and a
quarter a week to his income, besides what he would make out of his
Carriers’ Addresses on New Years. But Mr. Harris had vetoed that plan
the moment it was proposed.

Guy did not know what to do next.

“Dear me, am I not in a fix?” he asked himself. “I read in the paper the
other day of a boy picking up five thousand dollars that some banker
dropped in the street. Why wasn’t I lucky enough to find it? That banker
might have whistled for his money when once I got my hands upon it. I
_must_ have three hundred dollars and I don’t care how I get it.”

Guy was gradually working himself into a very dangerous frame of mind.
When one begins to talk to himself in this way it needs only the
opportunity to make a thief of him. If Guy thought of this, he did not
care, for he continued to reason thus, and was not at all alarmed when a
daring project suddenly suggested itself to him. Twenty-four hours ago
he would not have dared to ponder upon it; but now he allowed his
thoughts to dwell upon it, and the longer he turned it over in his mind
the more firmly he became convinced that it was a splendid idea and that
it could be successfully carried out. He wanted to get away by himself
and look at the matter in all its bearings. With this object in view he
turned down Erie Street and bent his steps toward Buck’s boat-house,
intending to spend an hour or two on the lake. In that time he believed
he could make up his mind what was best to be done.

Arriving at the boat-house, Guy entered and accosted the proprietor, who
stood behind his bar dispensing liquor and cigars to a party of
excursionists who had just returned from a sail on the lake.

“Mr. Buck, is the Quail in?” asked Guy, giving the name of his favorite
sail-boat.

“Yes, she is,” replied a voice at his elbow; “but what do you want with
her?”

Guy recognized the voice and turned to greet the speaker. He was a boy
about his own age, who sat cross-legged in an arm-chair beside the door,
his hat pushed on the side of his head rowdy fashion, one hand holding a
copy of a sporting paper, and the other a lighted cigar, at which he was
puffing industriously. His name was Robert Walker. He was a low-browed,
black-haired fellow, and although by no means ill-looking, there was
something in his face that would have told a stranger at the first
glance that he was what is called a “hard customer.” And his looks were
a good index of his character and reputation. He was known as one of the
worst boys in the neighborhood in which Guy lived. Parents cautioned
their sons against associating with him, for he would fight, smoke,
swear like any old sailor, and it was even whispered about among the
boys belonging to the Brown Grammar School that he had been seen rather
the worse for the beer he had drank. But Guy had always admired Bob; he
was such a free and easy fellow! Besides, he knew so much that boys of
his age have no business to know, that he was looked upon even by such
youths as Henry Stewart as a sort of oracle. He and Guy represented two
different classes of boys—one having been spoiled by excessive
indulgence, and the other by unreasonable severity.

Robert’s father was Mr. Harris’ cashier and book-keeper, and the two
families would have been intimate had not Bob been in the way. The
fathers and mothers visited frequently, but the boys never did; their
parents always tried to keep them apart. But in spite of this they were
often seen together on the streets, and a sort of friendship had sprung
up between them. This was the boy Guy wanted for a companion on his
runaway expedition, now that Henry Stewart had declined his invitation.

“The Quail is in,” continued Bob, extending his hand to Guy, who shook
it cordially, “but you are just a minute too late. Mr. Buck is going to
get her out for me as soon as he is done serving these gentlemen.
However, seeing it is you, I’ll take you along, and we can divide the
expenses between us.”

“All right,” replied Guy. “Do you know that you are just the fellow I
want to see?”

“Anything particular?” asked Bob, knocking the ashes from his cigar.

“Yes, very particular.”

“Well, that’s curious. During the last week I have had something on my
mind that I wanted to speak to you about—it’s a secret, too, and one
that I wouldn’t mention to any fellow but you—but somehow I couldn’t
raise courage enough to broach the subject. We’ll go out on the lake
where we can say what we please without danger of being overheard. Let’s
take a drink before we go. Come on.”

“I am obliged to you,” answered Guy, “but I never drink.”

“Take a cigar, then.”

“No, I don’t smoke.”

“Nonsense. Be a man among men. Give me some beer, Mr. Buck. Take a glass
of soda, Guy. That won’t hurt you, and it is a temperance drink, too.”

Guy leaned his elbows on the counter and thought about it. This was a
temptation that he had never been subjected to before. What would his
father say if he yielded to it? But, on the whole, what difference did
it make to him whether his father liked it or not? He was going away
from home to be a hunter, and from what he had read he inferred that
hunters did not refuse a glass when it was offered to them. If he was
going among Romans, and expected to hold a high place among them, he
must follow their customs. So he said he would take a bottle of soda,
and when it was poured out for him he, not understanding the etiquette
of the bar-room, watched Bob and followed his motions—bumped his glass
on the counter, said “Here are my kindest regards,” and drank it off.

“Now,” said Bob, smacking his lips over his beer, “we’re all ready. I’ve
got half a dollar’s worth of cigars in my pocket, and they will last us
until we get back.”

The boys followed Mr. Buck out of the house, and along a narrow wooden
pier, on each side of which were moored a score or more of row and
sail-boats of all sizes and models. When they reached the place where
the Quail was lying they clambered down into her, Mr. Buck cast off the
painter, and the little vessel moved away. Guy never forgot the hour he
spent on the lake that day. A week afterward he would have given the
world, had he possessed it, to be able to wipe it out or live it over
again.

As the harbor was long and narrow and the wind unfavorable, considerable
maneuvering was necessary, and for the first few minutes the attention
of Guy and his companion was so fully occupied with the management of
their craft that they could find no opportunity to begin the discussion
of the subject uppermost in their minds. But when they rounded the
light-house pier and found themselves fairly on the lake, Bob resigned
the helm to Guy, and relighting his cigar, which he had allowed to go
out, stretched himself on one of the thwarts, and intimated that he was
ready to listen to what his friend had to say, adding:

“You may think it strange, but I believe I can tell you, before you
begin, what you want to talk about.”

“You can!” exclaimed Guy. “What makes you think so?”

“The way you act, and the pains you are taking to make money. Does your
father know that you are a dealer in rags and old iron?”

“Of course not.”

“I thought so. What do you want with the little money you are able to
make in that way? You don’t see any pleasure with it, for you never
spend a cent. What are you going to do with that powder-horn you’ve got
hung up in your curiosity shop? It is of no use to you, for your father
won’t allow you to own a gun. And then there’s that lead bullet-ladle,
rubber blanket, and cheese-knife. They are not worth the room they
occupy as long as you stay here. But you are laying your plans to run
away from home, young man—that’s what you are up to. Indeed, you have
almost as good as said so in my hearing two or three different times.”

“Well, it’s a fact, and there’s no use in denying it,” said Guy. “You
won’t blow on me?”

“Certainly not. That’s just what I wanted to see about, for I am going
to do the same thing myself.”

“Are you? Give us your hand. We’ll go together. I’m going to be a
hunter.”

“I know you are; I’ve heard you say so. I had some idea of becoming a
sailor, but since I have thought the matter over I have made up my mind
that your plan is the best. If one goes to sea he has to work whenever
he is ordered, whether he feels likes it or not; but if he lives in the
woods he is his own master, and can do as he pleases. Have you any
definite plan in your head?”

“Yes. As soon as I get money enough. I am going to step aboard a
propeller some dark night and go to Chicago. I can travel cheaper by
water than I can by land, you know, and money is an object, I tell you.
From Chicago I shall go to St. Joseph, purchase a horse and whatever
else I may need, join some wagon train that is going to California, and
when I reach the mountains and find a place that suits me, I’ll stop
there and go to hunting.”

“That’s a splendid plan,” said Bob with enthusiasm. “It is much better
than going to sea. When do you intend to start?”

“Ah! that’s just what I don’t know. I find by a paper I bought this
morning that I shall need at least three hundred dollars; and that’s
more than I can ever raise.”

“By a paper you bought!” repeated Bob.

“Yes; there it is,” said Guy, taking it from his pocket and tossing it
toward his companion. “You see I wrote to the editors, telling them just
how I am situated and what I intend to do, and they answered my letter
this week. Look for ‘An Abused Boy’ in the correspondents’ column, and
you will see what they said.”

After a little search Bob found the paragraph in question, and settled
back on his elbow to read it.

When he finished, the opinion he expressed concerning it was the same
Guy had formed when he first read it.

“It is rather discouraging, isn’t it?” asked the latter.

“Not to me,” answered Bob. “These editors don’t know any more than
anybody else. Why should they? In the first place the man who wrote this
is not acquainted with our circumstances; and in the next, he is not so
well posted on the price of some things as I am. He says a rifle will
cost twenty-five dollars. Pat Smith has a cart-load of them, good ones,
too, that you can buy for twelve dollars apiece.”

“Is that so?” asked Guy.

“Yes; and after we get through with our sail we’ll go around and look at
them. He has hunting-knives, which he holds at a dollar and a quarter. I
know, because I asked the price of them. Blankets are not worth more
than five dollars per pair; and if you take steerage passage on the
steamer and a second-class ticket from Chicago you can go through to St.
Joseph for twenty-five dollars. Then how are you going to spend the rest
of your three hundred? Not for a horse, certainly; for I have heard
father say that when he went to California in ’49 he bought a very good
mustang for thirty dollars. However,” added Bob, “it will be well enough
to have plenty of money, for we don’t want to get strapped, you know.”

“But where is it to come from?” asked Guy.

“I know. I have been thinking it over during the last week, and I know
just how to go to work. Perhaps you won’t like it, and if you don’t you
can go your way and I’ll go mine. Here, smoke a cigar while I tell you
about it.”

“No, no! I can’t smoke.”

“What will you do when we are in the mountains? There’ll be plenty of
stormy days when we can’t hunt or trap, and you’ll need a pipe or cigar
for company.”

“It will be time enough for me to learn after I get to be a hunter.”

“Perhaps it is just as well,” returned Bob, after a moment’s reflection.
“If I carry out my plans you will have to help me, and you will need a
clear head to do it. Listen now and I will tell you what they are.”

Bob once more settled back on his elbow, and to Guy’s intense amazement
proceeded to unfold the details of the very scheme for raising funds
which he himself had had in contemplation when he came to Mr. Buck’s
boat-house, and which Bob proposed should be put into execution at once,
that very day.

Guy trembled with excitement and apprehension while he listened, and
nothing but the coolness and confidence with which his companion spoke
kept him from backing out. He had always imagined that the day for the
carrying out of his wild idea was in the far future, and from a distance
he could think of it calmly; but if Bob’s plans were successful they
would be miles and miles away ere the next morning’s sun arose, and with
the brand of _thief_ upon their brows.

He begun to realize now what running away meant. He did not once think
of his home—there was scarcely a pleasant reminiscence connected with it
that he could recall—but now that the great world into which he had
longed to throw himself seemed so near, he shrunk back afraid. This
feeling quickly passed away.

The wild, free life of which he had so often dreamed seemed so bright
and glorious, and his present manner of living seemed so dismal by
contrast that, feeling as he did, he could not be long in choosing
between them. He fell in with Bob’s plans and caught not a little of his
enthusiasm. He even marked out the part he was to play in the scene
about to be enacted, making some suggestions and amendments that Bob was
prompt to adopt.

The matter was all settled in half an hour later, and the Quail came
about and stood toward the pier. When she landed and the boys entered
the boat-house, Bob reminded Guy that it was his turn to stand treat.
The latter was prompt to respond, and won a nod of approval from his
companion by calling for a glass of beer.

Having settled their bill at the boat-house the boys started for the
gunsmith’s. There they spent twenty minutes in looking at the various
weapons and accouterments they thought they might need during their
career in the mountains, and Bob excited the astonishment of his friend
by selecting a couple of rifles, as many hunting-knives, powder-horns,
bullet-pouches and revolvers, and requesting the gunsmith, with whom he
seemed to be well acquainted, to put them aside for him, promising to
call in an hour and pay for them.

“Isn’t that carrying things a little too far?” asked Guy when they were
once more on the street. “What if we should slip up in our
arrangements?”

“But I don’t intend to slip up,” returned Bob confidently. “There’s no
need of it. Why, Guy, what makes your face so pale?”

“I feel nervous,” replied the latter honestly.

“Now don’t go to giving away to such feelings, for if you do you will
spoil everything. Remember that our success depends entirely upon you.
If I fail in doing my part the fault will be yours. But I must leave you
here, for it won’t be safe for us to be seen together. If you are going
to back out do it now before it is too late.”

“I’m not going to do anything of the kind. I’ll stick to you through
thick and thin.”

“All right. Remember now that when the South Church clock strikes one I
will be on the corner above your father’s store, and shall expect to
find you there all ready to start.”

“You may depend upon me,” replied Guy. “I’ll be there if I live.”

The two boys separated and moved away in nearly opposite directions,
their feelings being as widely different as the courses they were
pursuing. Bob, cool and careless, walked off whistling, stopping now and
then to exchange a pleasant nod with an acquaintance, while Guy was as
pale as a sheet and trembled in every limb. It seemed to him that every
one he met looked sharply at him, and with an expression which seemed to
say his secret was known. He felt like a criminal; and actuated by a
desire to get out of sight of everybody, and that as speedily as
possible, he broke into a run, and in a few minutes reached his home.

WALKING rapidly along the alley that ran behind his father’s garden Guy
climbed the fence, dropped down into a thicket of bushes, and stopped to
take a survey of the premises. There was no one in sight, and having
fully satisfied himself on this point he crept stealthily into the
carriage-house and up the stairs to his curiosity shop. Locking the door
behind him he took down from one of the nails a dilapidated valise,
which he had provided for this very occasion, and throwing open his
tool-chest began bundling his valuables into it with eager haste. He did
not forget anything, not even the rubber blanket, powder-horn, or rusty
butcher-knife. When the last article had been crowded into the valise he
closed it, and carrying it to the window that overlooked the garden
dropped it to the ground. Then he locked the door of the curiosity shop,
descended the stairs, and picking up the valise carried it to the lower
end of the garden and concealed it under a quince tree.

This much was done, but he had still another piece of work to perform,
and that took him into the house. He went to his mother’s room, and
after considerable fumbling in one of the bureau drawers took out
something wrapped up in a white paper, which, after he had examined it
to make sure that he had found what he wanted, he put it into his
pocket. Next he hurried to his own room to secure the buckskin purse
containing the fifteen dollars he had with so much difficulty scraped
together. This done, he selected from his abundant wardrobe a pair of
heavy boots, a shirt or two, a change of linen, a few pairs of
stockings, and a suit of his roughest and most durable clothing, all of
which he tied up in a handkerchief he had spread upon the floor. Once
during this operation he paused and looked with rather a longing eye
toward the pair of patent-leathers and the natty broadcloth suit he was
accustomed to wear on extra occasions, but, after a little reflection,
he decided to leave them behind, consoling himself with the thought that
in the country to which he was going buckskin was oftener seen than
broadcloth, and that fine boots and expensive clothing would not look
well on the person of a trapper.

Having tied his bundle he caught it up and ran out of the house. His
previous examination of the premises had satisfied him that the coast
was clear, so he did not take any pains to conceal his movements. He
went directly to the place where he had concealed his valise and spent
ten minutes trying to crowd some of the clothing into it; but it was
already so full that there was not room even for a pair of stockings,
and Guy found that he must either carry his bundle through the streets
wrapped up in his handkerchief or leave it behind. He decided on the
former course. Even trappers must have clothes, and he feared that those
he was then wearing might not hold together until he could capture and
cure a sufficient number of deer hides to make him a suit of buckskin.

Taking the valise in his left hand, and the bundle in his teeth, Guy
mounted to the top of the fence, and was on the very point of swinging
himself over, when happening to cast his eyes up the lane, whom should
he see approaching but Henry Stewart. He had come up just in time to
catch him in the act of running away from home.

So thought Guy, as he stood leaning on the top of the fence, growing
pale and red by turns, and utterly at a loss what to do. He was well
aware that the quick-witted Henry would know in a minute what was going
on; he could not well help it if he made any use of his eyes, for there
was the evidence of Guy’s guilt in the shape of his valise and bundle in
plain sight. What would Henry think of him for breaking the solemn
promise he had made the evening before—and more than that, what would he
_do_? But, unfortunately for our hero, Henry not being as wide-awake as
he usually was, did not see him. I say unfortunately, because had Henry
received the least intimation of what was going on, he would have saved
his friend many an hour of misery and remorse. He walked along,
whistling merrily, as though he felt at peace with himself and all the
world, carrying in one hand his jointed fish-pole, stowed away in a neat
bag of drilling, and in the other a fine string of rock bass; and so
completely was his mind occupied with thoughts of the splendid sport he
had enjoyed on the pier that he had neither eyes nor ears for what was
going on near him.

Guy saw that he had a chance to save himself, and he lost not an instant
in taking advantage of it. As quick as a flash he dropped his burdens
behind the fence, and in a moment more would have been out of sight
himself had not the noise the heavy valise made in falling through the
branches of a quince tree in the garden aroused Henry from his reverie.
He looked up just in time to see Guy’s head disappearing behind the
fence.

“Aha!” he exclaimed, “I saw you, old fellow. What are you about there?”

Guy, finding that he was discovered, straightened up and looked over the
top of the fence again. “Halloo, Hank,” said he, with an attempt to
appear as cordial and friendly as usual.

“What’s going on in here?” asked Henry, walking up close to the fence
and peeping through one of the cracks. “I heard something drop.”

“It was my ball club,” replied Guy, who could swallow a lie as easily as
if it had been a strawberry. “I was about to toss it toward you to
attract your attention, when it slipped out of my hand.”

“Oh,” said Henry. “But what’s the matter with you? Your face is as white
as a sheet. Are you ill?”

“No, only mad because father wouldn’t let me go fishing this morning. I
wish you would pass on and attend to your business,” added Guy mentally.
“I am in an awful hurry.”

“I am sorry you couldn’t go, for we had the best of sport,” said Henry.
Then he exhibited his string of fish, and went on to tell who were on
the pier, and what success each one had met with—how he had struck a
splendid black bass, and after an exciting struggle had almost landed
him, when his line broke and the fish took himself off; how Charley
Root, one of their school-mates, hooked on to a yellow pike that he
ought to have lost, he handled him so awkwardly, but which, by the
united efforts of all the men and boys on the pier, was safely landed at
last, and when placed on the scales pulled down the beam at nine pounds
and a quarter—of all of which Guy scarcely heard a dozen words, although
under any other circumstances he would have listened with all his ears.

“As you must be lonely, I’ll come in and visit with you a while,” added
Henry.

“I wish you could,” answered Guy, “but father told me before he went
away to bring no one in the yard.”

“Then suppose you come over and see me.”

“I can’t. I have orders not to go outside the gate to-day.”

“Have you finished reading the ‘Boy Trappers?’ If you have, I’ll lend
you another book.”

“No, I am not yet done with it. Perhaps I will spend an hour or two with
you this evening, after the folks come home.”

“I wish you would. You know we want to talk about something. Good-by.”

“Farewell—a long farewell,” said Guy to himself as his friend moved
away. “You’ll never see me again or the ‘Boy Trappers’ either, for I’ve
got it safely stowed away in my valise. I need it more than you do, and
you’ve so many you won’t miss it. But didn’t I come near being caught,
though?” he added, drawing a long breath as he thought of his very
narrow escape. “In half a second more I’d have been over the fence and
into a scrape that I could not possibly have lied out of. But what’s the
odds? A miss is as good as a mile.”

Guy remained standing on the fence for ten minutes—long enough to allow
Henry time to reach home and go into the house—and then jumped down into
the garden after his valise and bundle. This time he succeeded in
scaling the fence without being seen by anybody, and with a few rapid
steps reached the corner of the block, where he stopped to take a last
look at his home. He ran his eye quickly over its familiar surroundings,
and without a single feeling of regret turned his back upon it and
hurried away. A walk of fifteen minutes brought him to the corner above
his father’s store, where he found Bob waiting for him. The latter had a
well-filled valise in his hand, and was as cool and careless as ever. He
peered sharply into Guy’s face as he came up and seemed satisfied with
what he saw there.

“You look better than you did the last time I saw you,” said he. “Have
you got it?”

Guy replied in the affirmative.

“Father hasn’t left the store yet,” continued Bob, “so we’ll have plenty
of time to go down to the dock and engage passage on a propeller. The
Queen of the Lakes sails to-night, and we’ll go on her.”

“All right,” said Guy with a show of eagerness he was very far from
feeling.

“We’ll have to leave our luggage somewhere, for when we get our guns and
other things we’ll have as much as we can carry, and we might as well
leave it on board the steamer as anywhere else. We mus’n’t be seen
together with these valises in our hands, or somebody will suspect
something, so you had better go back and go down Elm Street and I’ll go
down Ninth. We’ll meet at the foot of Portage Street, where the Queen of
the Lakes lies.”

The two boys separated and pursued their different routes toward the
dock. Guy reached it ten minutes in advance of his companion, and the
first vessel he saw was the propeller of which he was in search. Her
name was painted in large letters on her bow, and over her rail was
suspended a card bearing the words, “This steamer for Chicago to-night.”
Her crew were engaged in rolling barrels and hogsheads up the
gang-planks, and Guy, watching his opportunity, dodged in and ascended
the stairs that led to the cabin.

“Now, then,” exclaimed a flashily-dressed young man, who met him at the
top and looked rather suspiciously at the bundles Guy deposited on the
floor of the cabin, “what can I do for you?”

“Are you the steward?” asked the boy.

“I have the honor.”

“I want to go to Chicago on this boat.”

“Who are you, where do you live, and what is your name?” demanded the
steward with another sidelong glance at Guy’s luggage.

The boy noticed the look, and took his cue from it.

“My name is John Thomas,” said he, “and I used to live in Syracuse, but
I am going West now to find my uncle.”

“Where does your father live, and what business does he follow?”

“I haven’t got any father or mother either. I am alone in the world.”

The man’s face softened instantly. The next words he uttered were spoken
in a much kinder tone.

“The fare will be eight dollars,” said he.

“I had thought of taking steerage passage,” returned Guy. “Money is not
as plenty with me as it is with some folks.”

“Then you can go for five dollars. Step this way.”

Guy picked up his valise and bundle and followed the steward, who led
the way along the deck toward the forward part of the vessel, finally
turning into an apartment which looked very unlike the neatly furnished
cabin they had just left. The floor was destitute of a carpet, and the
rough bunks that were fitted up against the bulk-heads looked anything
but inviting. Chests, bundles, and bed-clothes were scattered about, and
in one corner were congregated a dozen or more persons of both sexes,
who were eating bread and bologna and talking loudly.

Guy looked askance at them, and more than half made up his mind that he
wouldn’t take passage in the steerage. He didn’t like the idea of being
obliged to keep such company for a journey of seven hundred miles.

“You may take this bunk,” said the steward, pointing out the one he
wished Guy to occupy.

“Where are the bed-clothes?” asked the boy.

“We don’t furnish them to steerage passengers. Every man finds his own.”

“But I haven’t got any,” said Guy, “and I can’t sleep on those hard
boards. I think I had better wait a while. I have a friend, Ned Wheeler,
who is going with me, and perhaps he will decide to take a cabin
passage.”

The steward, not deeming any reply necessary, turned on his heel and
walked out, leaving Guy alone with the emigrants. He did not know that
it would be quite safe to leave his luggage there with no one to watch
it, but after a little hesitation he decided to run the risk; and,
pitching his valise and bundle into the bunk the steward had pointed out
to him, he hurried below to watch for his expected companion. He wanted
to post him. In a few minutes Bob made his appearance.

“Look here,” said Guy, as he ran to meet him, “your name isn’t Bob
Walker any longer—at least while we remain on board this propeller.”

“I understand,” said Bob. “Let me see; I’ll call myself——”

“I have told the steward that your name is Ned Wheeler, and that my name
is John Thomas.”

“It seems to me that you might have found better ones if you had tried.”

“No matter; they will answer our purpose as well as any others. You see
our names will have to go into the passenger list, and if our fathers
should suspect that we have gone up the lakes, they would have no
difficulty in tracing us as far as Chicago, if we gave our true names.”

“I understand,” said Bob again. “Have you picked out a berth yet?”

“No; but I have seen the steerage, and it is a horrible-looking place.
Come on; I’ll show it to you.”

Bob was not very favorably impressed with the appearance of things in
the steerage. He looked at the dingy deck, the empty bunks, the ragged,
dirty group in the corner, and stepped back and shook his head.

“I can’t go this, Guy,” said he. “I have been used to better things. Get
your bundles, and we’ll take cabin passage. We shall have money enough
to pay for it.”

The steward being hunted up, showed the boys to a state-room in the
cabin, in which they deposited their luggage, after which they hurried
ashore to carry out their plans.

Now came the hardest part of the work, and Guy would have been glad to
shirk it, could it have been accomplished without his assistance.

It was dangerous as well as difficult, and there was dishonor connected
with it. More than that—and this was what troubled Guy the most—there
was a possibility that the crime they intended to commit, even if they
were successful in it, would be discovered before they could leave the
city, and then what would become of them?

While Guy was thinking about it, they arrived within sight of his
father’s dry-goods store.

“Now, then,” said Bob, giving him an encouraging slap on the back, “keep
a stiff upper lip, and remember that everything depends upon you. Do
your part faithfully, and I’ll do mine.”

With a beating heart Guy walked into the store, and, stopping before the
counter, drew a small package from his pocket. He tried to look
unconcerned, but he trembled violently, and his face was white with
excitement and apprehension.

The clerk who stepped up to attend to his wants stared at him in
astonishment.

“What’s the matter, Guy?” he inquired.

“Nothing—nothing whatever, Mr. Fellows. What made you ask?”

“Why, you look as though you had been sick for a week. And see how your
hand shakes.”

“Well, I don’t feel remarkably lively for some cause or other, that’s a
fact,” returned Guy. “Mother sent me down here to see if you could match
this piece of silk,” he continued, unfolding the package and displaying
its contents.

“No, I cannot,” answered the clerk, and Guy knew very well what he was
going to say before the words left his lips. “I told Mrs. Harris the
last time she was in that our new stock would not arrive before Monday.”

“Mother is in a great hurry and can’t wait a day longer. Can’t you send
out to some other store?”

“Certainly,” said the clerk, taking a pair of scissors from his pocket
and cutting the silk in twain. “Here, Thompson, take this up to Kenton’s
and see if they can match it; and, Jones, you take this piece and go
over to Sherman’s.”

When Guy had seen the two clerks depart on their errand he drew a long
breath of relief. A part of his work was accomplished, and it had been,
too, just as he and Bob had planned it. The next thing was to keep Mr.
Fellow’s employed in the front part of the store for a few minutes
longer.

“Won’t you be kind enough to look over your stock again?” said Guy.
“Mother is positive there is a remnant of that silk somewhere in the
store.”

“I’ll do it, of course, to please her,” replied the clerk, “but I know I
sha’n’t find it. Ah! Here’s Mr. Walker. Perhaps he knows something about
it.”

At the mention of that name Guy started as if he had been shot. Bob’s
father was the very man of all others he did not want to see just then,
for he belonged in the back of the store, and Bob was there. Guy had a
presentiment that something disagreeable was about to happen.

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