CHUB’S ADVENTURE

It was after eight o’clock, and they were back at camp, eating a
much-delayed supper and listening to the story of Chub’s adventures.

“I just had time to get behind that bale of hay with the horse-blanket
over it when they came into the tent. I thought sure they’d seen me! I
made myself as small as possible and felt around for the bottom of the
canvas, thinking every minute they’d reach down and pull me out.”

“Oh, but you were scared!” laughed Roy.

“I was,” acknowledged Chub. “You’d have been scared, too.”

“Then what happened?” asked Harry, eagerly.

“Now, if Dickums will cut a few more slices of bread I’ll proceed with
the narrative. I’m as hungry as a bear!”

“Well,” Chub proceeded, as he buttered another slice of bread and
helped himself to the stewed apricots, “I got my feet through under
the bottom of the tent and squirmed out until I just had my head
inside. I wasn’t going to leave that there, but just then the two
Gipsies began shouting and quarreling with each other, and I was pretty
certain that they didn’t know I was around. So I stayed still a moment
and listened. I couldn’t understand more than one word in three, for
they used the funniest language I ever heard, but I didn’t have any
trouble making out that one chap wanted money and the other didn’t want
to give it to him. I thought every minute they were going to fight, but
they didn’t; just romped around and called each other things in Gipsy
language–and sometimes in English–and raised all sorts of a rumpus.
I thought you could have heard them a quarter of a mile away, and I
wondered why the other folks didn’t come over to see what was up. But
I suppose they’re used to it. Presently I got my head outside, too,
but in such a position that I could see in under the canvas and hear
everything.

“Pretty soon they calmed down, and I heard one of them saying something
about a dollar, and the other fellow saying ‘Two dollars! Two
dollars!’ over and over. And finally one of them hove in sight, and I
ducked quick. I heard him fussing around back of the bale of hay, and
thought he was getting some of the canned things for supper. I lifted
the canvas a little way and saw that he wasn’t looking toward me at
all. He was leaning over the bale and pulling a piece of brown paper
out between the layers of hay. When he had it out he opened it, and I
felt like kicking myself. For there were bills and silver and coppers
wrapped up in it, and I knew it was the money I’d been looking for. But
I kept still and watched. He took a two-dollar bill out of the bunch,
did the rest up, and put it back where it had been before, shoving his
hand ’way into the hay. Then he went off, and I heard them squabbling
again, only they weren’t so peevish now.

“Then, thinks I, it’s my time. So I squirmed back until I had my head
and shoulders in the tent again. By stretching I could reach the bale,
and in the shake of a lamb’s tail I had that little bundle of money in
my pocket. Then I thought it would be a good scheme to have a look at
the chaps so I could tell them again. That’s where I made my mistake,
for, just as I got my head around the corner, one of the fellows got
up off the box he’d been sitting on and looked my way. I saw him all
right, and the other fellow too, but he saw me, which wasn’t down on
the program. I saw his eyes get big and his hand shoot out toward
me, pointing, and I heard him break into song, but I didn’t wait any
longer. I sneaked. I got tangled up in backing out, and lost some time
that way, but I got out before they reached me, and was up and running
like the dickens for the woods.

“Well, you never heard such a row as there was! I hadn’t got half-way
to cover when the whole place was in an uproar and everybody in that
camp was coming after me. The fellows in the tent came, too; one
through the back and the other by way of the door. It was a merry
chase, fellows! I made for the deep woods and then circled around
toward the road, thinking I could outrun any of them if I had a good
track. But I was off my reckoning. I reached the road all right and
had a few yards’ start, when the chap who had seen me broke out of the
woods and came after me like a house afire. And he can run, that Gipsy!
If we had him at college we’d win the sprints easily! I put on every
ounce of steam I had, but he kept gaining on me, and I saw that it was
no use. Then I made a dive for the woods again, thinking I might manage
to give him the slip. But instead of that I gave myself the slip. I
tumbled over a root or something, and before I could get my feet again
he had me.”

“Oh, Chub!” gasped Harry. “Did he hurt you?”

“Cut his head off,” said Dick. “Look for yourself, Harry.”

“No, he didn’t hurt me, that is, not to mean it. He pretty nearly broke
my back when he landed on me, but that was unintentional, I suppose. By
the time I’d got up, about six more of the Indians were on the scene,
all talking and jabbering away like mad. No one seemed to know what the
trouble was, and the chap who had me couldn’t get them to keep still
long enough to let him tell them. I never heard such a lot of noise in
my life. Sounded like a meeting of the Football Rules Committee. Well,
they held on to me and shouted and yelled, and I got my breath back and
tried to put on a front.

“‘What do you mean by chasing me like this?’ said I. ‘Let me go
immediately’–or words to that effect. ‘What you do in my tent?’
asks the pasty-faced gentleman who had caught me. ‘What tent?’ says
I, looking as innocent as anything. Then they all broke out again,
and pointed, and began to lug me back to their old camp. I went
unwillingly, but I went; that is, I went part way. Because, just as we
were getting back to it, along comes a cloud of dust with an automobile
in it. So I began to yell like anything: ‘_Help! Murder! Fire!
Thieves!_’ And, being a human sort of an automobile, it stopped quick
to see what was up. When the dust had blown away I looked up to find
Joe Whiting grinning down at me in surprise.

“‘Well, what the dickens are you doing here, Eaton?’ he asked.

“‘Having my fortune told,’ said I. ‘And I don’t like the way it’s
turning out.’

“Well, Whiting had three friends with him–they were touring, it
seemed–and it wasn’t more than half a minute until I was in the car
with them. The Gipsies didn’t want to let me go. They said I’d been
caught stealing; they can talk good enough English when they want to;
and they were going to have me arrested. But the fellows said I was
a particular friend of theirs, and they couldn’t spare me. Whiting
sort of wanted to get out and break up the camp, but I told him I knew
something that would be more fun than that. So we went on, and I told
him all about everything; how I’d found the stolen things and the
money, and all we had to do was to get the sheriff and go back there
and get them. Whiting said they weren’t in any particular hurry, and
they’d run over to Washington Hills and bring the sheriff back. So we
did it. Found the sheriff washing up for supper, got him into the car,
and hustled him back. The rest was easy. He just showed those Gipsies
his badge and the handle of his revolver, and they said, ‘Welcome to
our city.’ We hunted through the whole place and got everything except
a few cans of vegetables and two strips of bacon. Then the sheriff
threatened to arrest every one if they didn’t pay up for what was
missing and move out of the township before to-morrow night. And they
agreed to everything. We threw the booty into the automobile, said good
night, and kited for the store.”

“Well, you had a busy and eventful afternoon,” said the doctor, when
Chub had ended. “It was a lucky thing that your friends came just as
they did. I’m afraid you’d have fared badly otherwise.”

“I don’t believe they’d have hurt me, sir,” answered Chub. “You see,
they didn’t know I’d taken the money; they didn’t find that out until
the sheriff told them. And I don’t believe they’d have thought of it. I
think they’d have let me go after a while.”

“It did me good,” laughed Dick, “to see the expression on old Jim
Ewing’s face when you lugged the stuff into the store. He was a
picture.”

“The old ruffian!” growled Roy.

“Well, he saw the error of his way,” said Chub, cheerfully. “And he
came as near apologizing as it was possible for him to, I suppose.”

“Said he’d made a mistake; we could have told him that before,”
muttered Roy. “I hope he–” Roy glanced at the doctor and gulped. “I
hope he loses his train.” The others laughed.

“Well, Mrs. Peel apologized for him, anyway,” said Dick. “She’s a
nice old lady. She was so excited she didn’t know what was happening,
especially when Whiting bought the dozen cans of tomatoes. What did he
want with those, Chub?”

Chub chuckled.

“I asked him, and he said they were fine to set up on the fence-posts
and shoot at with revolvers. Said every time you hit one the blood
came. He’s a good chap, fellows. We must look him up when we get back
to college.”

“We sure must!” said Roy, vehemently. “Come on and let’s get these
things washed up. It’s ’most time for bed.”

“I wonder,” remarked the doctor, as he pushed Snip off his lap and
arose–“I wonder if you boys know what the date is.”




“Yes, sir, the fifth,” replied Chub, promptly.

“Sixth, isn’t it?” asked Roy, doubtfully.

“Seventh,” said Dick, as though he really knew.

“The seventh it is,” replied the doctor, “the seventh of August.
Does that suggest anything to any one?” He looked around the circle
smilingly. But every one looked utterly blank, every one save Harry;
she looked uneasy, as though she would have liked to change the subject
of conversation.

“Somebody’s birthday?” asked Roy, vaguely.

“Labor Day!” exclaimed Dick, and was promptly hooted.

“No, it’s nothing particular on the Gregorian calendar,” said the
doctor, “but it’s an important day on my calendar, I might say _our_
calendar.” And he laid his arm over Harry’s shoulders and pulled her to
him.

“Well, it isn’t Harry’s birthday,” said Chub, “because she–”

“And it isn’t the doctor’s,” Dick interrupted, “because that comes in
February. We–we observed it last time.” And Dick smiled doubtfully at
the doctor.

“You did indeed,” replied the latter, dryly, to the accompaniment of
Harry’s laughter.

“What did you do?” asked Chub, gleefully.

“They serenaded me,” said the doctor, with one of his slow smiles.
“The music was really nice, but, as it happened at half-past six in
the morning, I was obliged to interrupt it. In fact, I was obliged to
interview some half-dozen of the leaders at the office. And our friend
Dick, here, was one of them.”

“Oh, we didn’t mind, sir,” replied Dick, cheerfully. “You see,” he
explained, turning to Chub with a reminiscent grin, “we got up early,
about twenty of us, and went to the cottage. There were about eight
of us who could play things, and we had two violins, three banjos, a
concertina, and–and–”

“A clarionet!” prompted Harry, her eyes dancing.

“Yes, and we made pretty good music. We played ‘Boola’ and ‘Dixie’ and
something else. They weren’t especially appropriate, of course, but we
had to play what we all knew, or what most of us knew. We were just in
the middle of the third number on the program, with everything going
finely and the clarionet skipping every third or fourth note, when
up went a window and out popped the doctor’s head. ‘What does this
mean?’ he asked, very sternly. Then we all cheered and made noises on
the fiddles and things, and yelled, ‘Happy birthday, Doctor!’ And the
doctor told us to go back to the dormitory instantly. And we went.”

“And then you went to the office after breakfast, eh?” asked Roy.

“Oh, yes,” replied Dick, carelessly, “but the doctor didn’t really mean
half he said!”

Dr. Emery’s laughter mingled with that of the others.

“But you haven’t guessed my riddle yet,” he reminded them.

“I give it up, sir,” said Chub. “The seventh of August doesn’t mean a
thing to me.”

“Well, we wish it didn’t to us, don’t we, Harry?” Harry nodded
sorrowfully. “It’s the end of our two weeks’ cruise on the _Slow
Poke_,” said the doctor. “It’s the day we were due home.”

“O–oh!” exclaimed the boys in chorus.

“Can’t you stay a little longer, sir?” asked Chub, eagerly. But the
doctor shook his head with decision before Harry could get out the
words on her tongue.

“No, I’m afraid not, Chub. I’ve an engagement at home the day after
to-morrow and some things to look up first. I ought to have been back
to-day, I suppose, but I think one day won’t matter. Do you think you
can get us back to-morrow?”

“Easy, sir, if you really must go,” answered Chub. But Dick shook his
head dubiously.

“Why not?” challenged Roy.

“Well, you see, the engine hasn’t been working very well of late, and I
shouldn’t be a bit surprised if it just stopped entirely to-morrow.”

“Get out! You haven’t had it going for days!” said Roy. “How do you
know?”

“Feel it,” answered Dick, gravely. “I–I have a premonition.”

“And how long do you think it will be before the engine gets to working
again?” asked the doctor, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Probably about a week, sir,” replied Dick, slyly.

“A very intelligent engine,” said the doctor, with a smile. “You have
a talk with it to-night, Dick, and explain to it that I am obliged to
be at home to-morrow. Maybe it will decide to go on with us. You might
say, that if I can’t get home on the _Slow Poke_ I’ll have to ferry
across and take the train.”

“In that case,” said Dick, regretfully, “it–it might postpone its
breakdown until later. But I feel sure that it won’t last longer than
it takes to reach Ferry Hill.”

“Goody!” cried Harry. “Then you can stay and pay us a visit, can’t
they, papa?”

“They’re going to,” he answered. “They’re going to stay with us at
least a week, aren’t you, boys?”

The boys looked at each other questioningly. Finally:

“I’d like to,” said Chub, “if the others–”

“We’d all like to,” said Roy. “And we will if you’re sure you don’t
mind, doctor.”

“Mind! Of course I won’t mind! Why, Mrs. Emery wouldn’t forgive me if I
let you go back without a real visit.”

“If they don’t come,” said Harry, “I won’t speak to them again ever!”

“Oh, we’re coming,” said Chub. “We’ll sleep aboard the boat, doctor, so
that Mrs. Emery won’t have to bother about us much.”

“Just as you like about that, boys, but you’ll take your meals at the
cottage; that’s understood. How much longer is your cruise going to
last, Chub?”

Chub looked doubtfully at the others.

“Well,” he replied, finally, “this is the seventh, and if we stay at
the school a week that will bring it to about the middle, won’t it?
Then if we went back to New York slowly we could make the trip last to
about the twentieth. And, as far as I’m concerned, I think I’d be ready
to quit by that time.”

“That’s long enough,” said Dick.

Roy agreed with him. “We’ll have been gone over six weeks by that
time,” he said. “And there’s no use prolonging a good time till you
begin to get tired of it.”

“And there’s no use staying up all night,” said Dick, with a yawn. “I
wager you’ll dream the Gipsies have got you to-night, Chub.”

“If I do,” answered Chub, “you’ll hear me!”

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