Hal and Walter stood at the landing waiting for the launch with the day's mail and express matter. There had been an unfortunate error in ordering the needed photographic chemicals, and Walter was still in ignorance of the results of his trip to Lonesome Pond. As the packages were thrown out his eye caught the familiar label of the photographic supply house.
" Hurrah ! " he shouted, pouncing on the long-looked-for package, " I'm off to get first crack at that dark room. Want to come in with me while I develop, Hal?"
" I sure do," was Harrison's prompt response. " I'm almost as anxious as you are to know what you've got on those films. The results may make a big difference to us Sene-' cas, you know. We can't give the Delawares many more points."
As they started toward the office Big Jim and a stranger passed them talking earnestly. The latter had come in the launch. He was a man of medium build. His hair and eyes were gray, the latter clear and keen. There was nothing to especially distinguish him from the general run of guides of that region.
" Who is he?" asked Hal of Billy Buxby, who had saluted the stranger.
" Game warden," replied Billy, briefly. " Been a lot of deer shootin' round these diggings, so they say, and the big chief has been trying for some time to get the warden up here. Now he's here I reckon there'll be something doing."
Walter thought of his experience at Lonesome Pond, and wondered if the warden would go in there. As the boys passed through the office to the dark room Dr. Merriam, Big Jim and the warden were in earnest conversation.
"Whom do you suspect, Jim?" It was the warden who spoke.
" Red Pete," replied the guide promptly. " But yer understand I ain't got a mite o' proof. Ain't seen hide nor bar o' him, but I've seen signs thet spells Red Pete t' me. O' course some o' th' boys up t' th' camp will go out and get a piece o' meat once in a while, but thet ain't doin' no great harm."
" It ought to be stopped, Jim !" the doctor broke in sharply. " The law is law, meant for the lumber-jack just as much as for the city sportsman. I have no patience with this attitude of the natives that the law is made for the other fellows, not for them. Either the laws should be wiped off the statute books or they should be enforced to the letter without discrimination or favor."
"Thet may be so, doctor, but folks 'round here don't sense it thet way," replied Big Jim. "Anyway, th' real harm thet's bein' done th' deer is from some low down skunk thet's too lazy t' do honest work an' is jes' shootin' fer th' lumber camps. An' if it ain't Red Pete may I never sight another rifle! Nobody knows whar he is, or if they do they won't tell. You git yer hands on Red Pete, and this deer shootin' will stop."
The boys passed into the dark room and heard no more. Walter at once prepared his developer and also a fresh supply of hypo, for he was resolved that no precaution should be neglected to get all that might be in the negatives.
"Going to use tank development ? " asked Hal.
"No," replied Walter, "I'm not. Ordinarily I should, but I'm going to give each of these films separate treatment, and develop each for all that it holds. You know I want another fifty points," he added.
The daylight subjects were developed first and, with the exception of one fogged across one corner, were all that could be desired. Walter was particularly pleased with the results of his first successful shots on the way in to Lonesome Pond, and as the image of the great blue heron rapidly increased in strength under his skilful manipulation of the developer he confided to Hal how his rattled nerves had led him to miss two splendid chances previous to the opportunity afforded by the heron.
A portrait of Big Jim holding up Walter's double catch of trout would have been bard to improve, and Hal, looking over the other's shoulder, blushed as he recalled the big trout he had bought only to be beaten by the catch of which he now saw the proof growing before his eyes.
For the flashlights Walter prepared a special developer, and as it washed over the first film both boys bent over the tray eagerly. Almost at once three spots, one slightly above the other two, appeared, and these rapidly took outline until the eager watchers could see clearly the doe and three fawns of Lonesome Pond.
" Hip, hip hurrah ! " shouted Hal, slapping Walter on the back. " There are your fifty points for the Delawares ! "
" Now for the last one of all," said Walter as, the others all in the hypo, he picked up the negative made by the flash on the runway. " I knew what ought to be on the others, but I don't know what ought to be on this except that it ought to be a deer."
He bent impatiently over the tray, gently rocking the developer back and forth over the negative. Presently he looked up, and in the dim ruby light Hal could see a puzzled frown wrinkling his forehead. " That's the queerest thing I ever got up against!" he exclaimed. " I can make out the horns of a big buck, but they seem to be all mixed up with the figure of a man. If I hadn't taken such mighty good care of these films I'd say that it was a case of double exposure. Must be that I had another case of rattles, and forgot to pull the tab of the one made just before the flashlight, and so made the latter right on top of the former. Yet this doesn't act like an over-exposed negative, and a double exposure would be an overexposure. Oh, well, I give it up! We'll see what it looks like when it comes out of the hypo. Here it goes in. Now open that door, Hal, and I'll open the window. I'm about roasted:"
Hal threw open the door and the two boys stepped out into the office. The doctor was still there, but Big Jim and the warden were nowhere to be seen. At the sound of the opening door the doctor looked up.
" We beg your pardon, doctor, and hope that we haven't disturbed you," said Walter.