All of Woodcraft who could get afloat were on the water, and those not so fortunate were ranged on points of vantage along the pier and on the shore. Dr. and Mother Merriam, with some of the guests of the camp, parents of the boys in for the annual field day, occupied the end of the pier, which commanded the whole course and was directly on the finish line. Among the most interested of the onlookers were Mr. Harrison and Mr. Upton, who had arrived that morning, taking their sons by surprise.
The shore events had been run off in the forenoon, with honors well distributed. The Algonquins, under Chief Seaforth, had won the rifle match. Chief Woodhull had scored heavily for the Delawares by winning the trail finding contest, the stalking event and the mile cross-country " hike " without compass or trail. The relay race, high and broad jumps had gone to the Hurons, while the Senecas had taken the hundred yard and two hundred and twenty yard dashes. The points for the best individual work during the summer in the various branches of nature study had been awarded, and the total score in the contest between the two wigwams for the deer's head offered for the highest total was Wigwam No. 1—1,460 points; Wigwam No. 2—1,450 points.
For tribal honors the Delawares had a safe margin, but the championship banner would go to the winning tribe in the successful wigwam. Excitement was at fever pitch, for on the outcome of the afternoon events hung the honors of the whole season. It was generally conceded that the Hurons would take the swimming events handily, unless the Delawares developed a dark horse. The Senecas were strong in the canoe work, and they vowed that if the Hurons tied the score with the swimming events they would win the canoe events.
The swimming races were called first. Before the first event Chief Woodhull called the Delawares together. " I haven't much to say," he said as he looked into the eager faces of his tribe, "only this : I expect every Delaware to do his best, not for his personal glory, but for the honor of his tribe and the honor of his wigwam. It is a great thing to win for yourself, but it is a greater thing to win for your fellows. When you reach the point where it seems as if you hadn't another ounce left just remember that the loss is not yours alone, but of the tribe who are pinning their faith to you. Another thing ; fight for second and third places just as hard as for first. It's the small points that are going to win that banner, and it's up to you individually to get every point you can. And," he added with a smile, " don't forget to cheer the other fellows when they win. If we must lose let's be good losers, but—don't lose ! That's all."
The conditions were perfect for the afternoon's sport. The lake lay like a huge mirror, not a ripple breaking its glassy surface. Clustered about the finish line were the camp canoes and boats and several launches filled with guests from the hotels at the other end of the lake. Several batteaux filled with lumberjacks from the Durant camp lined the course.
" Gee, ain't it great?" said Tug Benson as he and Walter paddled out to the raft from which the swimming races were to start.
" You bet! " replied Walter enthusiastically. " How you feeling ? "
" Fine and dandy ! " responded Tug. "I'm goin' to take that hundred yards if I never swim another stroke ! "
" Wish I felt as sure of a place in my event," said Walter.
" Look a-here, you're goin' to get more than place—you're goin' to win that event! You've got to ! What do you s'pose I've been coach in' you for all summer? " said Tug savagely as he glared at his companion.
They were to the raft by this time and as they hopped out and made their canoe fast they heard the starter announcing the first event, which was the hundred yard race. In all events for the afternoon first would count ten points, second five points and third three points.
There were eight entries for this event, three Hurons, two Delawares, two Senecas and one Algonquin.
" Are you ready ? " Bang! There was one splash as the eight boys took the water. At the very first Tug took the lead. The distance was too short to take any chances. He was using the crawl stroke, and his powerful muscles drove him through the water like a fish. But he had need of every bit of strength and skill he possessed. Two of the Hurons were pressing him close, and ten yards from the finish one of them forged up until the two boys were neck and neck. Tug glanced ahead to locate the finish line, and gulped his lungs full of air. Then, burying his face, he tore through the water like some strange amphibian, putting every last ounce of reserve strength into a supreme effort.
Bang! It was the finish gun, and the wild whoop of the Delawares told him he had won, but he had hardly filled his strained lungs when the second and third guns told him by how narrow a margin he had snatched the victory.
" Two points to the good, anyway," he said grimly as Woodhull helped him into a boat.
This made the wigwam score 1,470 to 1,458 and the Delawares and Algonquins whooped deliriously. But their triumph was short lived. The two hundred and twenty yard event gave the Hurons first and second and the Senecas third. It was now the turn of the Hurons and Senecas to break loose, and they made the most of it, for this gave Wigwam No. 2 a lead of six points.
" It's up to you now," growled Tug in Walter's ear as they stood side by side awaiting the starting gun in the quarter mile event. " I haven't a look-in, for that hundred killed me. But I'm goin' to set the pace for the first half, and you stick right to me. Don't you pay any attention to the rest of 'em, but stick right to me. When I give the word you dig out, and win. Remember, this is no sprintin' match ! "
The starting gun banged. When Walter had shaken the water from his eyes and looked around he found Tug at his side, swimming easily with a powerful overhand stroke. Off to the right two of the Hurons were using the crawl and were rapidly forging ahead. Already they had a lead that gave Walter a panicky feeling. Tug looked at him and grinned. " Water's fine," he grunted, for all the world as if this was nothing more than a pleasure swim. " Get your back into that stroke."