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The Heroes of the School by Allen Chapman

As Fenn came back in the canoe


"Why,

of course; glad to have you," said Bart. "Frank, put another plate on," he added waving his hand to the ground which served as a table. "Dinner is served," and he laughed, the tramp joining him.

"Happy to meet you all," the ragged man went on, not considering it necessary, it seemed, to mention his name or ask how the boys were called. "There is the salt," and he handed over a large box full.

In spite of his ragged clothes and the heavy growth of beard on his face, the tramp's hands and face were clean and he appeared to have washed his clothes, as, though they were in tatters, they were not dirty.

"Do you intend to camp around here long?" asked Frank.

"I can't tell," replied the tramp. "I am waiting for some friends to join me."

He did not seem to recognize the boys as the ones he had met in the woods recently, or, if he did, he gave no sign of it.

"You said you were prospecting," Ned added. "Not for gold, are you?"

"Hardly," replied the ragged man with a smile. "The truth is I am a naturalist. I have heard there is a certain rare kind of butterfly to be found along this river and I am looking for it. It is called the Oiliander Tinicander. Perhaps you have seen it in your travels."

"Guess we wouldn't

know it if we saw it," remarked Ned.

"No, it takes years of study to recognize it. But if you will excuse me I think I will sit down."

He crossed his legs comfortably in front of the plate that had been placed for him, and in a few minutes the dinner was under way. The salt certainly added zest to the fried fish and the boys, as well as the tramp, ate with excellent appetites.

"Best meal I've had in a long while," said the ragged man. "I hope I can return the favor some time."

"We'll be happy to call on you," said Bart, "but we are going to leave this afternoon. We are bound up the river."

"Well, good luck to you. May I trouble you to put me on the other side?" and he looked at Fenn who nodded in assent.

"Well that was a queer coincidence," spoke Ned, as Fenn and the tramp were in the middle of the river on the return trip. "What in the world is he doing around here? Looks as though the secret hadn't developed yet."

"We must ask Fenn what sort of headquarters he has over there," suggested Bart. "He'll soon be back. There I meant to ask him to sell us some salt! He's taken his back."

"We can get it at the next town," put in Frank. "We'll camp just above it."

CHAPTER XVIII

A NIGHT SCARE

"What sort of a place has he over there?" asked Bart, as Fenn came back in the canoe.

"Not much," was the reply. "I don't believe he's camping out at all. I saw some things in a pile on the ground, but they looked more like a lot of instruments than anything a man would go camping with. Besides, I didn't see any boat."

"What sort of instruments were they?" asked Ned.


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