Walter brought out his scales, and could hardly believe that he read them aright. " Thirteen pounds and a half! " he gasped.
" An' there's two av me hooks in his mouth, bad cess ter him," said the matter-of-fact Pat, deftly extracting his property.
Pat was for trying for another big fellow, but Walter had had enough for that morning. Besides, he was anxious to show his prize at camp, so reeling in his line they started for the mouth of the backset.
" Pat, did Harrison ever have much luck in here ? " asked Walter.
Pat stared at his companion for a minute before he found speech. " What, do ye mane ter tell me ye be thinkin' Oi iver showed him where Oi was ketching the fish he bought ? " demanded Pat. " Not he nor any ither o' the Woodcraft byes knows about this setback. 'Tis lucky ye was ter be findin' the way in yer own self. Ye will kape ut ter yerself now, will ye not?"
Walter promised that he would.
" Say, bye, did ye tell the docther av the low-down thrick this Harrison has been afther playin' ? " Pat suddenly inquired.
Walter confessed that he had not. Then in a sudden burst of confidence he told the Irish lad all about the dilemma in which he had become involved. " What would you do, Pat ? " he concluded.
" Me ? Shure Oi dunno at all, at all. Oi'm thinkin' Oi'd side-step," replied Pat, with a twinkle in his eyes.
" But that's the trouble, I can't side-step," responded Walter.
The freckled face of the woods boy sobered. " 'Tis a quare thing, this honor ye be tellin' about, but Oi'm thinkin' 'tis a moighty foine thing too," he said. Then, his Irish humor rising to the surface, he added : " There be wan thing Oi wud do; Oi'd knock the block clane off av that blackguard that's made all the throuble."
Walter laughed. " I'd like to," he confessed.
They were now at the entrance and setting Pat ashore Walter turned his canoe toward camp. His arrival with the big pickerel, to say nothing of the smaller ones, created a wave of excitement among the boys who were in camp, and great jubilation among the Delawares. It happened that Harrison was among those present.
" So," he sneered when no one was near, " you've tried the silver bait! How much did you pay for the bunch ? "
Walter turned on his heel and walked away. All the joy of the day had vanished. He wanted to be alone to fight out to a finish the battle of honor. So immediately after noon mess he slipped away unseen, and sought the cool depths of the forest to find in the peace of the great woodland the solution of his difficulty.
Late that afternoon, his mind made up, he turned toward camp. As he approached he became aware of an air of suppressed excitement about the camp. Buxby was the first to see him.
" Hi, Walt! Have you heard the news ? " he shouted.
" No," said Walter. " What is it ? "
" The Senecas' records have been wiped out; Harrison's been buying those fish," whooped Billy.
Walter's first thought was that Hal had done the right thing and had confessed, and a great load fell from his shoulders. But Billy's next words brought him up short.
" Pat Malone came in this afternoon and told the big chief that he'd been selling fish to Hal right along. Brought in what money he had left, and said he guessed it wasn't quite the square thing for him to keep it. What do you think of that? "
" What did the doctor do? " asked Walter.
" Told Pat that as he had sold the fish in good faith the money was his, especially as the camp had had the benefit of them. Then he called Hal in and paid him back all that he had given Pat. Then he wiped out from the Senecas' score all of Hal's records. Don't know what he said to Hal, but the word's been passed that the incident is closed. Gee, but I'd hate to feel the way Hal must! I guess Pat's squared himself with the bunch on that pin business. A feller that would do what he did wouldn't steal."
After the first burst of indignation the feeling of the camp settled into contempt, mingled with pity, for the boy who had so besmirched his honor. No reference was ever made to his disgrace, but for the most part he was left severely alone, only a few, of whom Walter was one, endeavoring to hold out a helping hand. So the camp settled down to the usual routine once more.