Read CHAPTER XVIII - CAMPING ON THE LAKE SHORE of The Boy Scouts of Lenox / The Hike Over Big Bear Mountain, free online book, by Frank V. Webster, on ReadCentral.com.

For several minutes the scouts lay there and fairly held their breath in the grip of that sudden fear that had come upon them.  As the rumbling noise and the sickening sensation of the rock trembling under them passed away they regained in some degree their former confidence.

“The worst is over, I think,” said Mr. Witherspoon; “but we’ll stay where we are a while longer.”

Content to abide by his judgment, and glad that they had escaped being caught in that avalanche of earth and rocks, the boys kept quiet until finally, as there was no repetition of the landslide, they were allowed to issue forth.

Investigation showed them where the slip had occurred.  Some fault in the formation of the mountain side had allowed it to happen, the conditions being just right.

Later on the rest of the scouts went over to view the wrecked oak, bringing back some of the splinters of wood to use in making the fire they expected to have going presently.

Considering the two narrow escapes they had passed through recently, one from lightning and the other from the avalanche, the boys all felt that they had reason to be thankful.

“You’ll have some remarkable things to set down in that log book of yours for this particular day, Tom,” said the scout master; “and I think you can do the subject justice.  I hope to read an account of this trip in print one of these days.”

“Oh! there’s a small chance of my account taking the first prize, I’m afraid Mr. Witherspoon,” laughed the leader of the Black Bear Patrol; “I imagine there’ll be scores of competitors in the race, and plenty of them can write things just as well as I can, perhaps even better.”

“Yes,” remarked Josh, “but don’t forget that every account of an outing trip has to be absolutely true.  No wonderful imaginary stories will be allowed in the competition, the rules said.”

“Yes, that’s just what they did state,” added Felix; “you’ve got to have things authenticated-wasn’t that the word the paper used?”

“Attested to in due form by the scout master who accompanied the troop,” Mr. Witherspoon explained, smiling; “and in this case I can do that with an easy conscience.”

“And if things keep going as they have been lately,” declared another boy, “there never was and never can be a trip so crowded with interesting happenings as this same hike of Lenox Troop over Big Bear Mountain.”

The fire was made without any particular trouble, just as Josh and some of the others had predicted.  The boys knew how to get dry fuel out of the heart of a stump, and once the fire was roaring it hardly mattered what kind of wood was used, since the heat quickly dried it out.

Then supper was cooked as usual, only on this occasion they dispensed with some of the conditions that were not absolutely necessary, such as having two separate fires.

On the whole they managed to get on, and every one admitted he could dispose of no more when finally the meal was concluded.

Later on the boys sat around, and while most of them compared notes regarding their experiences during the exciting day just closed, others proceeded to attend to certain duties they did not wish to postpone any longer.

As for Tom Chesney, it was an aim with him to write out his account of daily events while they were still fresh in his mind.  He was afraid many of the little details might be forgotten if he delayed; and in the end those were what would give most of the charm to the narrative of the scout doings.

The storm had passed on, and above them they saw the stars peeping out once more.  Long into the night the steady drip of water could be heard, telling of numerous little rivulets that still ran down the side of Big Bear Mountain, though by morning most of these would have dried up.

They slept under the friendly ledges.  It was, after all was said, a pretty “rocky” bed, as Josh termed it; but since the ground outside was so well soaked, and there was always more or less peril in the shape of another landslide, none of the boys complained, or expressed his feelings in more than sundry grunts.

With the coming of morning the strange camp was astir, and one by one the boys painfully crawled out, to try to get some of the stiffness from their limbs by jumping around and “skylarking.”

About nine o’clock the hike was resumed Mr. Witherspoon did not think it advisable to go on up the mountain any further after that avalanche; he believed they would have just as good a time passing around the base, and in the end making a complete circuit of the high elevation.

The day turned out to be a delightful one after the storm.  It seemed as though the air had been purified, and even in the middle of the day it was not unpleasantly warm.

“We ought to make that little lake by the afternoon, oughtn’t we, Tom?” the scout master asked, as he plodded along at the side of the patrol leader.

Another consultation of the map Tom carried followed, and it was decided that they must be within a half a mile of the water.  Ten minutes later Josh declared he had caught a glimpse of the sun shining on dancing wavelets; and shortly afterwards a sudden turn brought them in full view of the pond.

It was hardly more than that, covering perhaps ten acres; but the boys declared they had never set eyes on a prettier sight as they arrived on the near shore, and proceeded to make a camp there.

“If we only had a canoe up here what a great time we’d have fishing,” said Josh, who was particularly fond of casting a fly for a trout or bass, and scorned to use the humble angleworm, as ordinary fishermen do.

“What’s the matter with taking a log and straddling the same?” asked Tom.  “Three of us could manage it, one to troll with a spoon, another to cast near the shore and the third to paddle the log.”

“Let’s try that in the morning,” suggested Josh, eagerly; “it’s too late in the day to have any great luck now.  But I like the looks of that pond-and I think we might get a good string of fish from it, if the wind’s right.”

That night their fire glowed upon the border of the water.  It was a new experience, and the boys, seeing Tom busily engaged in writing, told him to do full justice to the theme, for it deserved to be recorded exactly in the way they saw it.

It was a comfortable night they spent by the pond, in sharp contrast to the preceding one when flattened out under the rocky ledges.  Every one got a good sound night’s sleep, so that when morning came they were in prime condition for the work of the day.

“We’ll stay here to-day and not go on for another twenty-four hours,” decided the scout master, as they sat around eating breakfast.

“For one I’m glad to hear that,” said Felix; “I can hike as well as the next fellow; but just the same when I’m off for pleasure I don’t like to keep moving all the time.  This suits me first-rate.  Then I expect to do some paddling when we find the right sort of a log, with Josh at the bow casting his flies, and Tom at the stern trolling his phantom minnow along.”

The log needed was easily found, and was rolled down, to be launched in the pond.  A rude paddle was also cut, with the aid of the ax and a sharp knife.  Felix declared he could make it answer the purpose; so presently the enterprising scouts composing the fishing party went forth, followed by the best wishes of their mates.

“Fix it so we have a fish dinner to-night, fellows!” Billy Button called out.

“If you’re wise you’ll not make up your mouth that way; then there’s no danger of being disappointed,” said George.  “I never expect anything, and so I meet with pleasant surprises once in a while.”

Perhaps since the days of old Robinson Crusoe a more remarkable fishing party never started out than that one.  The three boys had taken off shoes and socks, and rolled up their trousers above their knees.  Straddling the log, Felix used his paddle, and, sure enough, the clumsy craft moved along fast enough to answer their desires.

Tom let out his line and trolled, while Josh began to cast with great animation, sending his trailing flies close to the shore, and drawing them toward him in fine style.

Presently he struck and managed to land a fair-sized bass.  Then Tom caught a larger one on his imitation minnow.  The fun began to wax furious, so that once both the anglers chanced to be busily engaged with fish they had hooked at the same time.

It was while this was going on, and their string had already reached respectable proportions, that the boys on the log heard a sound far away, up on the side of the mountain, which caused Josh to exclaim: 

“That’s a pack of dogs yapping, and they’re hot on the track of some sort of game, too!  It may be only a poor little cottontail, but we’ll soon know, for they’re heading straight in our direction.  Whew! listen to the yelps they give!”

“There’s something in the lake over yonder, and coming this way, too!” exclaimed Felix “Can it be a muskrat, Tom, do you think, swimming on top of the water?”

“Not much it isn’t!” cried Josh from the bow of the novel craft; “it’s a deer I tell you, a stag with half-grown antlers, taking to the water to escape from the hounds.”