" What's on this afternoon ? " " Nothin' much."
" Come on, push it out! If it's nothin' much the sooner it's out of your system the better."
" Well, what's the matter with a visit to the haunted cabin ? I guess we can get a permit all right."
The speakers were Hal Harrison and Walter. They had just met after noon mess, and the proposal to visit the haunted cabin came from Hal.
" Great idea," exclaimed Walter. " There's Chief Avery over there now ! You tackle him while I hunt up Woodhull. I'm pretty sure he'll let me go."
Permission was readily granted, and the two boys at once launched a canoe, and pointing the bow up and across the lake soon left the camp behind. The haunted cabin was the same to which Walter had heard veiled allusions on his first day in camp, and to which he supposed he had been carried for his initiation ordeal. Ever since then he had intended to visit it, but until now there had never seemed a good opportunity. It was located on the other side of the lake some three miles up, and was a half mile back from the water some little distance off to one side of a lumber trail. As it was out of bounds, it was necessary to get permission from the chiefs in order to visit it.
" What do you know about it, Walter ? " asked Hal as they sent their light craft swiftly over the water.
" Not much except that there was a murder or a fight or somethin' of the kind there }'ears ago. Do you know anything about it ? "
" Only the stories that are floatin' 'round, and no two agree," replied Hal. " I've been kind of interested, and have run down all the stories I could get hold of. I guess there was a tragedy there all right, but from all I can gather it was a fair fight, and not a cold-blooded crime. The story that seems to be most generally accepted is that there' was a fight over a girl. The cabin was built by an old half-breed trapper before there were any lumber trails through these parts at all, and he lived there with his daughter, who was said to be a mighty pretty girl. The old fellow's name was Duquesne, but he was more Indian than French, and was commonly called Indian Joe. He was a grouchy old fellow, and people didn't have any more to do with him than they had to.
" The girl was a beauty, and old Joe was so jealous of her that he never would let her out of his sight when they came down to the village to trade, and the young fellows of the region found that the vicinity of old Joe's cabin was anything but healthy. Finally a young Scotchman named Bruce moved down here from Canada and ran a line of traps up in the region that Joe had come to consider his own special preserve. This was bad enough, and roused all the Indian in him, but when he discovered that young Bruce had fallen in love with the girl and that she was in love with him his rage knew no bounds and he made a lot of ugly threats, so that the friends of the young fellow warned him to keep away from the cabin, and I guess the girl begged him to also.
" But Bruce was hot-headed and afraid of nothing and no one. When he heard of the threats he rightly guessed that things were probably mighty uncomfortable for the girl, so he jumps into a canoe and heads straight for the cabin. When he got there old Joe was out on his trap line and the girl begged Bruce to leave. But he wouldn't, and waited till the old man came back. He was in the cabin when the old man returned and the latter got inside before he discovered the visitor. He started to throw his rifle up, but Bruce was too quick for him and knocked it out of his hands. But the old man had a knife, and he didn't waste any time. He was all Indian then, and was on Bruce like a wildcat.
" I guess Bruce saw it was kill or be killed, with the girl for the stakes, so he whips out his own knife, and they turned that cabin into a shambles.
" The young Scotchman had the advantage of weight and youth, but Joe was all Indian, with every trick known to that kind of fighting, and with black hate in his heart. I guess it was some fight, all right, and the girl seeing the whole thing. Finally Bruce got in a lucky thrust that ended things and old Joe with it. He was cut up something fierce himself and so weak from loss of blood that 1 guess he thought he was going to cash in. But the girl managed to bind him up and get him into the canoe, though how she did it no one knows, for the cabin is half a mile back from the lake. Anyway, the first the village knew of it she came paddling in with Bruce in the bottom of the canoe, more dead than alive.
"You know lumbermen and backwoods people are awfully superstitious, and it wasn't long before they had the cabin haunted by Indian Joe's spirit, moaning for hi3 lost daughter. Hunters and trappers began to tell all sorts of stories of queer sounds around the cabin and soon no one would go near the old place. Superstition's a queer thing, isn't it? "
" You bet it is, and it isn't confined to lumbermen and backwoods people by a long shot!" replied Walter. "What became of the girl?"
" Oh, Bruce recovered, of course, and married her, and they moved up into Canada. There's the landing at the lumber trail."
A few minutes later they drew the canoe out on the shore. A lumberman's batteau was drawn up at one side, and they could hear voices ahead of them on the trail.
"A party going up to the Brown camp, I guess. I understand they've begun cutting about three miles back," said Walter.
The boys set out at a brisk pace along the trail. " Avery says that the trail to the cabin is so overgrown that it's hard to find, but that there is a Scout sign where it turns off of this trail, and then a line of old blazes," said Hal. " It's on the right a short half mile from the lake."
The boys slackened their pace, scanning the right hand side of the trail as they advanced. Presently Walter stopped and pointed to a little group of stones half hidden in the brush to the right. It consisted of a stone of fair size with a smaller one resting on top of it and a third on the ground to the right of the others. Both boys recognized it as the old Indian sign which means " Trail to the right."