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"Now we will have to watch Downy or he will be sure to take that trip again," said Bert, as they reached home with the enterprising duck.
"We could build a kind of dam across the narrowest part of the lake," suggested Hal; "kind of a close fence he would not go through. See, over there it is only a little stream, about five feet wide. We can easily fence that up. I've got lots of material up in our garden house."
"That would be a good idea," agreed Bert. "We can put Downy in the barn until we get it built. We won't take any more chances." So Downy was shut up in his box, back of the donkey stall, for the rest of the day.
"How far back do these woods run?" Harry asked his companions, he always being interested in acres, as all real country boys are.
"I don't know," Hal Bingham answered. "I never felt like going to the end to find out. But they say the Indians had reservations out here not many years ago."
"Then I'll bet there are lots of arrow heads and stone hatchets around. Let's go look. Have we time before dinner, Bert?" Harry asked.
"I guess so," replied the cousin. "Uncle William's train does not get in until seven, and we can be back by that time. We'll have to slip away from Freddie, though. Here he comes. Hide!" and at this the boys got behind things near the donkey house, and Freddie, after calling and looking around, went back to the house without finding the "boy boys."
"We can cross the lake in my boat," said Hal, as they left their hiding-places. "Then, we will be right in the woods. I'll tie the boat on the other side until we come back; no one will touch it."
"Is there no bridge?" Harry asked.
"Not nearer than the crossings, away down near the ocean beach," said Bert. "But the boat will be all right. There are no thieves around here."
It was but a few minutes' work to paddle across the lake and tie up the canoe on the opposite shore. Hal and Bert started off, feeling they would find something interesting, under Harry's leadership.
It was quite late in the afternoon, and the thick pines and ferns made the day almost like night, as the boys tramped along.
"Fine big birds around here," remarked Harry, as the feathered creatures of the ocean darted through the trees, making their way to the lake's edge.
"Yes, we're planning for a Thanksgiving shoot," Hal told him. "We hope, if we make it up, you can come down."
"I'd like to first-rate," said Harry. "Hello!" he suddenly exclaimed, "I thought I kicked over a stone hatchet head."
Instantly the three boys were on their knees searching through the brown pine needles.
"There it is!" declared Harry, picking up a queer-shaped stone. "That's real Indian--I know. Father has some, but this is the first I was ever lucky enough to find."
The boys examined the stone. There were queer marks on it, but they were so worn down it was impossible to tell what they might mean.
"What tribe camped here?" asked Harry.
"I don't know," answered Hal. "I just heard an old farmer, out Berkley way, talking about the Indians. You see, we only come down here in the summer time. Then we keep so close to the ocean we don't do much exploring "
The boys were so interested now they did not notice how dark it was getting. Neither did they notice the turns they were making in the deep woodlands. Now and then a new stone would attract their attention. They would kick it over, pick it up, and if it were of queer shape it would be pocketed for further inspection.
"Say," said Hal, suddenly, "doesn't it look like night?" and at that he ran to a clear spot between the trees, where he might see the sky.
"Sure as you live it is night!" he called back to the others. "We better pick the trail back to our canoe, or we may have to become real Indians and camp out here in spite of our appetites."
Then the boys discovered that the trees were much alike, and there were absolutely no paths to follow.
"Well, there's where the sun went down, so we must turn our back to that," advised Hal, as they tramped about, without making any progress toward finding the way home.
What at first seemed to be fun, soon turned out to be a serious matter; for the boys really could not find their way home. Each, in turn, thought he had the right way, but soon found he was mistaken.
"Well, I'll give up!" said Hal. "To think we could be lost like three babies!"
"Only worse," added Harry, "for little fellows would cry and someone might help them."
"Oh! oh! oh! oh! we're lost! We're the babes in the woods!" shouted Bert at the top of his voice, joking, yet a little in earnest.
"Let's build a fire," suggested Harry. "That's the way the Indians used to do. When our comrades see the smoke of the fire they will come and rescue us."
The other boys agreed to follow the chief's direction. So they set to work. It took some time to get wood together, and to start the fire, but when it was finally lighted, they sat around it and wasted a lot of time. It would have been better had they tried to get out of the woods, for as they waited, it grew darker.
"I wouldn't mind staying here all night," drawled Harry, stretching himself out on the dry leaves alongside the fire.
"Well, I'd like supper first," put in Hal. "We were to have roast duck to-night," and he smacked his lips.
"What was that!" Harry exclaimed, jumping up.
"A bell, I thought," whispered Hal, quite frightened.
"Indians!" added Bert. "Oh, take me home!" he wailed, and while he tried to laugh, it was a failure, for he really felt more like crying.
"There it is again. A cow bell!" declared Harry, who could not be mistaken on bells.
"Let's find the cow and maybe she will then find us," he suggested, starting off in the direction that the "tink-tink-tink-tink" came from.
"Here she is!" he called, the next moment, as he walked up to a pretty little cow with the bell on her neck. "Now, where do you belong?" Harry asked the cow. "Do you know where the Cliffs are, and how we can get home?"
The cow was evidently hungry for her supper, and bellowed loud and long. Then she rubbed her head against Harry's sleeve, and started to walk through the dark woods.
"If we follow her she will take us out, all right," said Harry, and so the three boys willingly started off after the cow.
Just as Harry had said, she made her way to a path, then the rest of the way was clear.
"Hurrah!" shouted Hal, "I smell supper already," and now, at the end of the path, an opening in the trees showed a few scattered houses.
"Why, we are away outside of Berkley," went on Hal. "Now, we will have a long tramp home, but I'm glad even at that, for a night under the trees was not a pleasant prospect."
"We must take this cow home first," said Harry, with a farmer's instinct. "Where do you suppose she belongs?"
"We might try that house first," suggested Bert, pointing to a cottage with a small barn, a little way from the wood.
"Come, Cush," said Harry, to the strange cow, and the animal obediently walked along.
There was no need to make inquiries, for outside of the house a little woman met them.
"Oh, you've found her!" she began. "Well, my husband was just going to the pound, for that old miser of a pound master takes a cow in every chance he gets, just for the fine. Come, Daisy, you're hungry," and she patted the cow affectionately. "Now, young men, I'm obliged to you, and you have saved a poor man a day's pay, for that is just what the fine would be. If you will accept a pail of milk each, I have the cans, and would be glad to give you each a quart. You might have berries for dinner," she finished.
"We would be very glad of the milk," spoke up Harry, promptly, always wide awake and polite when there was a question that concerned farmers.
"Do you live far?" asked the woman.
"Only at the Cliffs," said Harry. "We will soon he home now. But we were lost until your cow found us. She brought us here, or we would be in the woods yet."
"Well, I do declare!" laughed the little woman, filling each of three pails from the fresh milk, that stood on a bench, under the kitchen window. "Now, our man goes right by your house to-morrow morning, and if you leave the pails outside he will get them. Maybe your mothers might like some fresh milk, or buttermilk, or fresh eggs, or new butter?" she asked.
"Shouldn't wonder," said Hal. "We have hard work to get fresh stuff; they seem to send it all to the hotels. I'll let the man know when he comes for the pails."
"Thank you, thank you," replied the little woman, "and much obliged for bringing Daisy home. If you ever want a drink of milk, and are out this way, just knock at my door and I'll see you don't go away thirsty."
After more thanks on both sides, the lost boys started homeward, like a milk brigade, each with his bright tin pail of sweet new milk in his hand.
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