Read CHAPTER XIX - SURPRISING TRAPPER JESSE of The Outdoor Chums / The First Tour of the Rod‚ Gun and Camera Club, free online book, by Captain Quincy Allen, on

Mr. Smithson had carried his prisoner off, after he, too, had partaken of the hospitality of Kamp Kill Kare.

“Boys,” he said, in leaving, “I’m sure under obligations to you for all this, and any time I can repay the debt don’t hesitate to ask me.  To get Bismarck back safe and sound after such a storm, is going to be a feather in my cap.  And only for you I’d be hunting him yet, with only a slim chance of success.”

“Why, that’s all right, Mr. Smithson,” Frank had declared heartily; “we’ve enjoyed helping you, though it does make a fellow feel bad to see as clever a man as that laboring under such a ridiculous fancy.”

“He was once a professor in a college, and lost his mind through overstudy,” remarked the keeper, as he moved off, with “Bismarck” at his side.

“There, see that!” exclaimed Bluff, triumphantly.  “Just what I’ve told my dad many a time when he complained that I was falling behind my class.  I’ll make certain to hold this up as an awful warning.”

“Talk to me about you losing your brain by overstudy!  There’s about as much chance of that as my being made king of England,” laughed Jerry.

“But still it has happened, you see.  That establishes a precedent all right, and my father, as a lawyer, is always talking about such things,” declared Bluff, not in the least abashed.

“Now suppose you sit right down here, Jerry, and let us have the whole yarn from Alpha to Omega.  What you haven’t been through since you left us yesterday morning isn’t worth mentioning, to judge from the hints you let fall.  A deer, four wild dogs, lost in the big timber, storm bound, rescuing our most bitter enemy; and now helping to land an escaped lunatic-say, you ought to feel satisfied, old fellow,” observed Frank.

Jerry laughed aloud.

All his recent troubles, as viewed from the pleasant seat by the campfire, with his three chums around him, seemed to fade into insignificance.

“Well, I reckon I am.  There was a bear, too,” he said, nodding.

“What! a bear-you ran across a bear?” ejaculated Will, drawing in a big breath and shaking this head as if he deplored the loss of an opportunity to embellish his album of the camping-out trip with more fetching views.

“Well, perhaps you could hardly call it that, seeing that he came looking for me, trying to push into the hollow tree where I had sought shelter from the storm.”

“That sounds mighty interesting-trying to get in, too, was he?  And I suppose you objected vigorously?” suggested Frank, falling down by the fire and assuming a listening attitude.

“I knew I hadn’t lost any bear, you see; and, besides, there wasn’t room for two in that old stump.  So I asked him to please go away,” said Jerry, with a wink.

“Of course he did just that?” queried Will.

“After I had shouted, and fired my gun through the hole.  He was somewhat surprised at such a rude reception, for I guess that stump was one of his dens, and he thought he had the first claim on it.”

“Well, start in now with your getting over at the camp of Jesse, and give us all the thrills you want.  You’ve got proof about the deer and the wild dogs; but perhaps we’ll have to consider the story about the bear,” laughed Frank.

“And Andy Lasher’s repentance; that is the most surprising of all,” declared Bluff, shaking his head as though he could not understand it at all.

They sat there spellbound while Jerry skimmed over the entire account of his adventures since quitting the camp.  As the reader already knows what befell him, it would be useless repeating the story.  The three chums, however, listened and exchanged looks with one another as some particularly thrilling incident came along, as though they could imagine Jerry facing that big yellow brute that chased him round and round the tree until he was dizzy enough to drop ere he remembered that he had a gun in his hand.

“I move we go out there right after lunch and get the balance of the venison.  We may not have another chance to lay in a stock of fresh meat all the time we’re up here,” proposed Will, finally.

“Oh!  I can see that you’re doubting my story about the dogs, and wondering where under the sun I ran across these four tails.  All right, fellows, I’ll do the best I can to take you to the place.  Perhaps if we went to old Jesse he could guide us there much better,” declared the mighty hunter, calmly.

“He talks as though he courts an investigation,” remarked Frank; “and in justice to his reputation, I think we ought to settle this matter without delay.  So I’m in favor of going, for one; besides, I confess to a curiosity to see the dead dogs, and, perhaps, if fate is kind, look into the identical hollow tree in which Jerry passed most of that stormy night.”

“It’s a go, then,” cried Will, eagerly; “for I want a few more pictures.  If we could only rig up something to look like that yellow hound, and have Jerry galloping around that tree in front of him, it would be simply immense.”

“Talk to me about a faker will you-why, if Will keeps on he’ll be bamboozling the public worse than any showman ever did.  Thanks, but I guess you’ll have to excuse me from that galloping act, Will.  Once bit, twice shy, you know.  But it was gospel truth about Andy.  He even confessed that he had been up to old Rabig’s place to get him to join the crowd in playing some more measly tricks on us here.  You see he was sorry, and had to just tell all these things.”

“All but about my gun, hang him,” grumbled Bluff, indignantly.

“Bother your old gun!  Will we ever hear the last of it?” exclaimed Jerry, frowning; and yet giving Frank a sly wink with one eye, as if to inform him that he did not really mean all he said.

“You never heard the first of it yet, for I didn’t even have a single chance to shoot it off,” complained the other.

“For which all the little birds and chipmunks are rejoicing, for they have had a chance to live.  Besides, a gun like that is dangerous to the community, I think.  If it ever started to going I believe it would spit out fire without any help from you, or any one else.  But, for goodness’ sake, change the subject.  I’m sleepy,” declared Jerry, curling up on a blanket by the fire.

“All of us are, I reckon.  You see we were having a little circus of our own at the time this happened to you,” remarked Frank.

“Yes,” exclaimed Bluff, “don’t you think you’re the only pebble on the beach, Jerry.”

“Why, what happened?” demanded the other, looking up.

“Why, what do you think we’ve got all those things on the bushes drying out for?  Yes, one of the tents blew away in the middle of the storm.  I think it must have been an hour or two before midnight, when the big gust came that tore it loose.  We were all four of us under it, and there was some tall scurrying just then, believe me.”

“I can well believe it, Frank.  Where was Will with his camera then?” asked Jerry.

“Trying to keep the blessed thing from getting soaked,” answered Bluff.

“Then he doesn’t believe in wet plates?” laughed the other.

“Seems not; films are good enough for him.  Well, we managed to get all the things under the shelter of the other tent, and shivered for some hours.  Finally, after the storm passed, and it began to get very cold, we started a fire and waited to welcome the rosy dawn.”

“Don’t get poetic, Frank.  I’m really too dead for sleep to appreciate it now.  Wake me up, fellows, when lunch is ready, will you?” and, so speaking, Jerry curled up again, this time in earnest.

The others amused themselves the balance of the morning in various ways.  Bluff declared that he believed he would stay in camp while the others went off.  Frank looked at him curiously as if wondering what had struck him, for he considered that the trip was well worth taking, if only to see the husky-looking wild dogs Jerry had met and slain.

He could remember having heard one or two persons speaking about the pack that was giving the farmers so much trouble.  To think that, after all, their comrade had been the one to relieve the situation, was pleasant indeed.

They aroused Jerry when Uncle Toby announced that lunch was ready.  The old man seemed to be kept pretty busy preparing meals for all stragglers happening in; but that part of the business pleased him.  The only thing he protested against was being left alone in camp.  There were too many visitors at such times to suit him.

First had come the wildcat, and then the wild man.  Uncle Toby had therefore heard Bluff’s announcement that he intended remaining behind when the others went off, with particular pleasure and much relief.

Immediately afterwards the three lads started out.  Jerry seemed much refreshed by his nap, and was as lively as either of his comrades.

A straight line was kept for the shack of the old trapper, and when they finally reached the place it was to find Jesse just starting out.

“Why, hello, boys, glad to see ye,” he said, shaking hands all around, gravely.  “And I’ll be hanged, if thar ain’t Jerry, big as life.  I was gettin’ uneasy about ye, lad, an’ just startin’ to follow up your route through the big timber.  Ye see, I kinder thought ye might a-fallen foul o’ them fierce wild dogs I told ye about.”

Both Frank and Will laughed.

“Well, he did all right, just that same thing.  And we’re on our way now to see where he left the critters,” declared Will.

“Left ’em-looky here, ye don’t mean to tell me-it can’t be possible now he fit that hull pack, an’ got out o’ it alive?” exclaimed the trapper.

Then Jerry, with a laugh, dangled the four tails before his startled eyes.