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       Tom Fairfield in Camp; or, The Secret of the Old Mill, p.1

          Roy J. Snell / Young Adult
Tom Fairfield in Camp; or, The Secret of the Old Mill

Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net


WITH A SCREAM OF RAGE AND PAIN, THE BEAST LAUNCHEDITSELF INTO THE AIR.]


Tom Fairfield in Camp


Or


The Secret of the Old Mill


BY ALLEN CHAPMAN


AUTHOR OF "TOM FAIRFIELD'S SCHOOLDAYS," "TOM FAIRFIELD AT SEA," "FREDFENTON ATHLETIC SERIES," "DAREWELL CHUMS SERIES," "BOYS OF PLUCKSERIES," ETC.


ILLUSTRATED


NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY PUBLISHERS


BOOKS FOR BOYS


BY ALLEN CHAPMAN


=TOM FAIRFIELD SERIES=


12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.


TOM FAIRFIELD'S SCHOOLDAYS TOM FAIRFIELD AT SEA TOM FAIRFIELD IN CAMP TOM FAIRFIELD'S PLUCK AND LUCK


=FRED FENTON ATHLETIC SERIES=


12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.


FRED FENTON THE PITCHER FRED FENTON IN THE LINE FRED FENTON ON THE CREW FRED FENTON ON THE TRACK


=THE DAREWELL CHUMS SERIES=


12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.


THE DAREWELL CHUMS THE DAREWELL CHUMS IN THE CITY THE DAREWELL CHUMS IN THE WOODS THE DAREWELL CHUMS ON A CRUISE THE DAREWELL CHUMS IN A WINTER CAMP


=BOYS OF PLUCK SERIES=


12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.


THE YOUNG EXPRESS AGENT TWO BOY PUBLISHERS MAIL ORDER FRANK A BUSINESS BOY'S PLUCK THE YOUNG LAND AGENT


CUPPLES & LEON CO. PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK


Copyrighted 1913, by CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY


TOM FAIRFIELD IN CAMP


Printed in U. S. A.


CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE I. TOM GETS A LETTER 1 II. THE STORY OF THE MILL 12 III. TOM'S CHUMS ARRIVE 21 IV. OFF TO CAMP 28 V. LAUNCHING THE BOAT 36 VI. A BIG FISH 45 VII. A MIDNIGHT VISITOR 53 VIII. OLD ACQUAINTANCES 60 IX. AT THE OLD MILL 68 X. A CURIOUS CONFERENCE 75 XI. AN ANGRY HERMIT 84 XII. THE PIECE OF PAPER 89 XIII. A SHOT IN TIME 98 XIV. TOM'S SCHEME 106 XV. ALMOST CAUGHT 113 XVI. STRANDED 122 XVII. AN ANXIOUS SEARCH 129 XVIII. BACK IN CAMP 138 XIX. STRANGE DISAPPEARANCES 148 XX. LONELY DAYS 156 XXI. TOM MAKES PLANS 165 XXII. TOM'S DISCOVERIES 171 XXIII. THE CALLING VOICES 179 XXIV. THE SECRET ROOM 187 XXV. THE HIDDEN TREASURE 193


TOM FAIRFIELD IN CAMP


CHAPTER I


TOM GETS A LETTER


"Say, Dick, just throw that forward switch in; will you?"


"Sure I will, Tom. Going any place in particular?"


"Oh, just for a run down the river, and on my way back I guess I'llstop and get the mail."


"Can I go along?"


"Certainly. Did you see anything of Will to-day?"


"No, he's gone fishing, I guess," and Dick Jones, one of the bestchums of Tom Fairfield, threw in the connecting switch of the latter'smotorboat, and the craft was ready to run.


"Now I wonder if she'll start easily, or if I've got to break my backcranking her?" murmured Tom.


"What's the matter?" asked Dick. "Hasn't she been behaving herselflately?"


"Oh, yes, but you never can tell. One day she'll run like a sewingmachine, and the next I can't seem to get her started. She's like allthe other motorboats, good at times, and off her feed occasionally.That's why I called her the _Tag_. I never know whether I'm 'it' orwhether she is. However, here's for a try."


Tom revolved the fly wheel vigorously, but there was only a sort ofsigh from the engine, as if it did not like to be disturbed from therest it had been taking.


"One strike," murmured Tom whimsically as he looked at the engine tosee if all attachments were in their proper place. "Here goes foranother spasm."


Once more he whirled the heavy wheel around. But, save for a morepronounced sigh, and a sort of groan, there was no result.


"Let me try," suggested Dick.


"I'm afraid to. This engine is like a balky horse at times, and ifanyone but the regular trainer monkeys with her she just sulks all day.I'll get her going yet."


Again came an attempt to make the motor do its work, and again therecame a sigh, accompanied by a cough.


"Three strikes, and I'm out!" exclaimed Tom, sinking back on the seatrather exhausted. "But she's speaking better than at first. Didn't youthink you heard her sort of talking back at me, Dick?"


"Yes," laughed his chum. "But say, are you sure you've got anygasolene?"


"I put in five gallons last night, and didn't run two miles."


"Are you sure it's turned on?"


"Of course I am!"


"Have you adjusted the carburetor?"


"Foolish question number twenty-six!" exclaimed Tom. "Say, you're asbad as a chap at Elmwood Hall--George Abbot. We call him 'Why,' becausehe's always asking questions. Don't you get in that habit, Dick."


"I won't, but I wanted to be sure you'd done everything you ought to tomake the boat go."


"Don't worry. Nobody can do all he ought to do in running a motorboat.The best authority that ever was would get stuck once in a while, andthen some greenhorn could come along, scatter a little talcum powder onthe cylinder head, and off she'd go. And the funny part of it is thatno one would know why."


For a moment Tom sat looking at the refractory engine, as though tryingto read its mind, and then, with a sigh himself, he once more crankedup. This time there was hardly a murmur from the engine.


"Hum! Gone to sleep again!" commented Tom. "I can't understand this."


Taking off his coat he made up his mind that he would go systematicallyover every part of the engine, from the batteries and magneto to thegasolene tank and vibrator coil. He started up in the bow, and, nosooner had he looked at the switch which Dick had adjusted, than heuttered an exclamation.


"There it is!" he cried.


"What?" asked his chum.


"The trouble. Look, that one wire is loose, and even though the switchwas connected I didn't get any spark. It's a wonder you didn't see itwhen you turned it on."


"Say, I'm not a motorboat expert," declared Dick. "All I can do is tosteer one."


"I guess that's right," agreed Tom with a laugh. "It's my fault for notlooking there first. I must have jarred that wire loose when I came inlast night. I hit the dock harder than I meant to. But I'll soon haveit fixed."


With a screw driver he presently had the loose wire back in place onthe switch connection. Then, with a single turn of the flywheel, the_Tag_ was in operation, and Tom steered out into Pine river, on whichwas located the village of Briartown, where our hero lived.


"She's running fine now," commented Dick, who, at a nod from Tom, tookthe wheel.


"Yes, as slick as you'd want her. She's making good time, too," and Tomglanced over toward shore, watching the trees seemingly slip past.


"Hey, Tom, wait up, will you?" This came as a hail from the shore, and,following it, Tom and Dick saw a lad running along the river bank,waving his hand at them. "Wait!" he cried.


"It's Dent Wilcox," said Dick Jones.


"Yes, and he's running--that's the strange part of it," commented Tom."I wonder how he ever got out of his lazy streak long enough to get upthat much speed."


"It _is_ a question," agreed Dick, for Dent Wilcox was known as thelaziest lad in Briartown. "Probably he wants a ride badly enough tochase after you," added Tom's chum.


Once more came the hail:


"Hey, Tom, give me a ride; will you?"


"What for?" called back our hero.


"I've got to go down to Millford for a man. I've got a job," answeredDent.


"Then you'd better walk," answered Tom. "It's good exercise for you."


"Aw, say, stop and take me aboard," begged Dent.


"Not much!" shouted Tom. "I'm not going to take any chances on stoppingthis engine now, just when it's going good. You walk!" and as Dicksteered the boat out from shore Tom opened wider his gasolene throttleto increase the speed of the boat, which he had checked when Denthailed him.


"Aw, say, you're mean!" charged the lazy lad as the craft got fartherand farther from shore. "You wait; I'll get square with you yet!"


"Think he will?" asked Dick, glancing anxiously at his chum.


"Of course not. In the first place he won't dare, and in the secondhe's not smart enough to think up something to do to me, and if he is,he's too lazy to carry it out after he's planned it. Dent can't worryme."


The two chums kept on down the river toward the main part of the town,for Tom's home was on the outskirts.


"I want to get a new set of batteries," explained the owner of the_Tag_. "I always carry two sets so I can run on one even if some ofthem give out, and one set I've got now is running pretty low. Thismotor won't start on the magneto, for some reason, so I have to starton the batteries and then switch over."


They soon reached the town, and Tom tied his craft at a public dock.Having purchased the batteries, and some other things he needed, hewent to the post office.


There were several letters in the Fairfield box, and as Tom looked themover he found one for himself.


"Hum, I ought to know that writing," he murmured. "If that isn't fromJack Fitch I'm a cowbird. I wonder what's up? I thought he was inEurope, with his folks, this vacation."


Tom quickly opened the missive. As he glanced through it he gaveutterance to an exclamation of delight.


"What is it?" asked Dick, who stood near his chum.


"Why it's great news," explained Tom. "It seems that there was someslip-up in the plans of Jack's folks, and he didn't go to Europe afterall. And now here it is, just at the beginning of the summer vacation,and he writes to know what my plans are. He says he'd like to gosomewhere with me."


"Why don't you go traveling together?" asked Dick.


"We might, that's a fact," agreed Tom. "Hello, here's another page toJack's letter. I didn't see it at first. Well, what do you know aboutthat?" he cried.


"More news?" asked Dick.


"I should say so! Bert Wilson--he was my other chum with Jack, youknow, at Elmwood Hall--Bert will come with Jack and me if we gosomewhere, so Jack says. By Jove! I have it!" cried Tom, with sparklingeyes.


"What's the game?"


"We'll go camping! We talked of it this spring, just after I got backfrom Australia, but we couldn't seem to make our plans fit in. Now thiswill be just the cheese. Jack, Bert and I will go off camping togetherin the deepest woods we can find. It will be great sport."


"It sure will," said Dick enviously.


Something in the tone of his chum's voice attracted Tom's attention.


"Say, look here!" he exclaimed suddenly. "Wouldn't you like to gocamping with us, Dick?"


"Would I? Say, just give me the chance!"


"I will! Do you suppose your folks'll let you?"


"I'm sure they would. When can we start?"


"Oh, soon I guess. I'm glad this letter came at the beginning of thesummer, instead of at the end. I'm going home, tell dad and mother, andsee what they say. Maybe dad can suggest a good place to go."


Tom's motorboat, though making good time on the home trip, did not gohalf fast enough to suit him, as he was anxious to get back and tellthe news. But finally he did reach his house, and, while Dick hurriedoff to see what arrangements he could make with his family, Tom soughthis parents.


"Go camping; eh?" mused Mr. Fairfield when Tom broached the subject tohim. "Why of course. That will be a good way to spend the summer. Wherewill you go, the seashore or the mountains?"


"Mountains, of course!" exclaimed Tom. "It's no fun camping at theseashore. Mountains and a lake for mine! I thought maybe you might knowof some good place."


"Well, I've done some camping in my time," admitted Mr. Fairfield,"and come to think of it, I don't know any better place than up in thenorthern part of New York state. It's wild enough there to suit anyone,and you can pick out one of several lakes. There's one spot, near alittle village called Wilden, that would suit me."


"Then it will suit us," declared Tom. "Tell me all about it. Were youever camping there?"


"No, but I used to live near there when I was a boy. So did yourmother. It's a beautiful country, but wild."


"Then I'm for Wilden!" cried Tom. "I'll write to the fellows at once.I'm going to take Dick Jones along with us. Hurray for Wilden!"


Mrs. Fairfield came into the room at that minute, and at the sound ofthe name she started.


"Wilden!" she repeated. "What about Wilden, Tom?"


"Nothing, only I'm going camping there, mother."


"Camping at Wilden! Oh, Brokaw, do you think that's safe for Tom?" andthe lady looked apprehensively at her husband.


"Safe? Why shouldn't it be safe?" asked Tom quickly.


"Well--Oh, I don't know but--Oh, well, I suppose it's silly of me,"his mother went on, "but there's a sort of wild man--a half insanecharacter--who roams through the woods up there, and you might meethim."


"How did you hear that?" asked Tom.


"I had a letter from a lady with whom I used to go to school in Wildenyears ago," explained Mrs. Fairfield. "She wrote me the other day, andmentioned it. I told you at the time, Brokaw."


"Yes, I remember now. Old Jason Wallace. Let's see, didn't Mrs.Henderson say he stayed part of the time in the old mill?"


"Yes, he's trying to solve the secret of it, Mrs. Henderson said, andthat's one reason why he acts so strange, as if he was crazy. Oh, Tom,I wish you'd go camping some other place!" finished his mother.


"What, mother! Pass up a place like that, with all those attractions--awild man--a mysterious old mill? I guess not! What is the secret of theold mill, anyhow?"


"Ask your father," advised Tom's mother. "He knows the story betterthan I do."


"Let's have it, dad," begged our hero. "Say, this is great! A mysteryand a wild man in camp! Maybe the boys won't like that! I must writeand tell 'em to hurry up and come on. Oh, I can see some great timesahead of me this summer, all right!"



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