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Boy Scouts in Northern Wilds
by Archibald Lee Fletcher
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Tommy and Sandy stepped into the open air and were directed around to the rear of the house.

There, face up in the moonlight, lay the man whom Will had described as an East Indian. The bandage was still around his head, but a new wound was bleeding now. His eyes were already fixed and glassy. The bullet had entered the center of the forehead.

"He shoot man inside!" the Indian grunted.

"And he killed him, too!" answered Tommy.

Entirely unconcerned, the Indian would have struck off into the forest, but the boys urged upon him the necessity of partaking of food. With a stoical exclamation of indifference, Oje finally followed them into the cabin and seated himself before the open fire.

Antoine was quite dead. The boys straightened his still figure upon the floor and placed by its side the body of the man who had been his murderer.

"We must give them decent burial in the morning," Will decided, "and in order to do so, we must keep them away from the wild animals of the wilderness tonight."

There was a hushed silence for a long time in the room. The boys involuntarily turned their eyes away from the two inanimate objects which had so recently possessed the power of speech and motion.

Presently Sandy saw something glistening at the breast of the dark man. Where his heavy coat of fur dropped back the boy thought he distinguished a gleam of gold. Thinking that it might possibly be some trinket calculated to reveal the identity of the man, Sandy advanced to the body and threw the coat open.

There was the Little Brass God!

"We didn't have to find it," Tommy said slowly after a short pause. "The fellow brought it to us!"

Will took it into his hand and made a careful examination of it.

"Do you think this is the one we are after?" he asked.

"Holy Moses!" exclaimed Sandy. "You don't think there are two Little Brass Gods, do you? One seems to have kept us pretty busy!"

"I've heard of their traveling in pairs," Thede suggested.

"Is this the man who made the search of the house?" asked Will of George.

"That is one of them!" was the reply. "The other seemed to be a man in the employ of this man. He was dressed like a trapper and acted like one. They quarreled over some suggestion made by this man and the one whom I took to be a guide went away in a rage."

"You are sure he didn't find what he was looking for?"

"Dead sure!"

"Then there are two Little Brass Gods!" insisted Tommy.

"Yes, and I guess the one we want is the one we haven't got!" Will said.

"I don't see how this fellow could have the one containing the last will of Simon Tupper," Tommy argued. "Can you open the tummy of the Little Brass God, Will?" asked Sandy.

"Mr. Frederick Tupper showed me how to do the trick," Will answered.

"Then why don't you see whether this is the right one or not?" asked Sandy. "If you can open it, it's the one; if you can't, it isn't the one!"

"Wise little boy!" exclaimed Will taking the ugly image into his hands again.

He pressed here and there on the surface of the Little Brass God, touching now a shoulder, now a foot, now the top of the head, for all the world like one operating the combination of a safe.

"You see," he said, as he continued his strange employment, "the shell of the image is not very thick and when I press on certain parts, certain things take place on the inside."

He put his ear to the side of the image and listened intently.

"There!" he said. "You can hear a click like the dropping of a tumbler when I press here at the back."

"If the combination works, then," shouted Tommy, "it must be that we have the Little Brass God holding the will."

"It works all right enough," Will replied.

With the final pressure on an elbow Will turned a foot to the right and the Little Brass God opened exactly in the center.

But no will was found in the cavity. Instead a mass of diamonds, emeralds, pearls, rubies, amethysts glittered out upon the floor.

The boys stood looking at the shining mass with wide open eyes.

"There must be a million dollars there!" Tommy said almost in a whisper.

"I wasn't thinking of that!" Will said. "I was thinking that, after all our labor and pains, we have unearthed the wrong Brass God."

"But we've just got to find the right Brass God," Sandy insisted.

"Yes, and we'll have a sweet old time doing it!" exclaimed George. "The poor fellow who lies dead there searched every bit of space inside the cabin, yet he didn't find it!"

"But it may not be anywhere near the cabin!" exclaimed "Will.

"If we knew whether Antoine ever had it in his possession," Tommy said, "we'd know better where to look."

"Of course he had it in his possession!" said Sandy. "I'm sure he's the man who took it from the pawnbroker's shop on State street. Now let's see," the boy went on, "what were the last words he spoke?"

"He started in to say Brass!" replied Will.

"Then you see, don't you, that that proves that he knew all about it?"

"Yes, and he asked if they found what they were looking for," Tommy contributed, "and that shows that the Little Brass God he brought from Chicago is some where about this palatial abode."



CHAPTER XXII

THE TWIN BRASS GODS

Oje, who had been sitting by the fire, waiting for his supper, long delayed by the rush of events, now arose and took the Little Brass God into his dusky hands.

"Have you ever seen one like that before?" asked Will.

The Indian shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the body of Antoine.

"Dead man have one!" he said.

"Like this?" asked Will.

The Indian grunted an assent.

"Then I'll tell you what took place, boys," Will said. "When Antoine shot Pierre, he came here and took possession of the cabin and provisioned it, He had had the Little Brass God in the cavern where George and Thede saw it, and he thought a safer place for it would be the cabin."

"So he moved in here and hid it!" Tommy went on. "And we boys chased along and drove him out into the wide, wide world. Now the question is whether he took the Little Brass God back to the cavern or whether he left it hidden about the cabin."

"It's a hundred to one shot," Sandy observed, "that this dead East Indian knew that the image he sought was in or about this cabin. The first night we came here he prowled about looking for it and tried to get one of us boys into a hypnotic trance. We don't know how many times he has been back here since that night."

"But who sent the fellow up here after the Little Brass God, anyway?" asked George. "How did he come to get on the track of the ugly little devil."

"I guess that's something we'll have to find out in Chicago," replied Will. "All we know is that Antoine was scared to death of him, as shown by his sudden flight from the cavern when he looked in and saw the East Indian and his guide standing looking out at him."

"And they chased him clear up to our burning tree!" Thede cut in.

"That's a fact," Sandy replied. "That dusky faced chap certainly had Antoine buffaloed!"

"Well," Will went on, "the East Indian kept returning to the cabin and Antoine kept returning to the cabin, so it's a pretty safe bet that the Little Brass God we seek is here. Besides, the fact that Antoine asked if the East Indian found anything proves that it is in or about the cabin."

"Well, we're going to find it if we tear the cabin to pieces," Tommy said. '"As Will says, it is a sure thing it is not far away."

There was not much sleep in the cabin that night, and it was a dreary supper the boys ate. Before daylight the Indian lay down upon the floor in a blanket, but the other boys remained awake until morning.

Then they began the search for the Little Brass God. They were satisfied now that Pierre had never had possession of it, that he had been despatched as one familiar with the woods and the ways of Antoine, in the Sigsbee interests to secure it from the man who had purchased it at the pawn shop. Everything pointed, as has been stated, to Antoine's being the man who had taken it out of Chicago.

The boys searched the cabin for two days until not a sliver of the inside remained uninvestigated. Then, after putting up their tents, they began taking the structure down, log by log.

On the third day they found what they sought in the heart of a rotten log. Antoine had hidden it in a secure place. Will had no difficulty in opening the belly of the little image, and there he found the last will of Simon Tupper, bequeathing his entire property to Frederick Tupper.

"That settles the case, boys, so far as we are concerned," Will said, "and I think we'd better be getting back to Chicago in order to straighten things out."

"You talk about getting back to Chicago like we could take the elevated and get there in an hour!" laughed Sandy. "I guess that you forget that we've got three hundred miles of wilderness to travel before we reach the railroad station!"

"Well, we've got our canoes, haven't we?" asked Tommy.

"Yes," Will answered, "and if we want to use the canoes, we'll have to wait until the river opens in the spring. We can get out on the ice all right, I guess."

At the end of two weeks the boys found themselves at a way station on the Canadian Pacific road. After that it did not take them long to reach Chicago. During the trip down they had rather enjoyed the hunting and fishing. Once or twice they had caught sight of a man whom they believed to be the guide the East Indian had secured, but after a time the man disappeared entirely and was seen no more. Oje accompanied them part of the way and then much to their regret, turned back.

The finding of the will, of course, settled the Tupper estate for good and all, and the boys were well rewarded for what they had done.

"There's one thing I'd like to know," Will said, as they sat in Mr. Horton's office after all the adventures of the trip had been related, "and that is where this second Little Brass God came from, and how this East Indian got into the Hudson Bay country in quest of the other Brass God about as quick as we did."

"That has all been explained," the attorney replied. "From your description, Antoine is undoubtedly the man who took the Little Brass God in which we were interested from the pawn shop. The evening papers of that day described the burglary of the Tupper home and referred particularly to the taking of the Little Brass God from the mantle in the library.

"The newspapers said at that time that the taking of the image would doubtless result in the discovery of the burglar. In this, the newspapers were wrong. The burglar has never been brought to punishment.

"On the other hand, however, the taking of the Brass God led to the recovery of two sacred ornaments belonging in a Hindu temple in India. It seems that two prominent Hindus read the article concerning the Little Brass God and made inquiries at police headquarters and at all the pawn shops in the city concerning it. The idols had been stolen years before and these men considered it their duty to restore them to the temple if in their power to do so.

"They found one of the Little Brass Gods without difficulty, it having been purchased a few months ago by a dealer in antiques. They might have known of the wealth contained in the belly of the idol, but it is certain that the dealer in antiques never did. Of course the East Indians learned all that any one knew concerning the destination of the image taken from the pawnshop, and so one of them, the man who was killed, went north in quest of it.

"So far as Pierre is concerned, it is probable that he was picked up here in Chicago and sent north by Sigsbee. Of course we shall never know the truth of that matter, but it is plain that he is not the man who took the idol from the pawnbrokers' shop.

"Well, that ends the case so far as we're concerned," George replied, "and if you've got any more Boy Scout excursions in view, Mr. Horton, I wish you'd suggest a hot climate for the next one. It seems to me like I never would get warm again!"

"What do you think of the people who live up in the Hudson Bay country all the year round?" asked Mr. Horton. "How would you like to wander around there year after year, as Oje does?"

"Say that Oje's a good Indian!" Tommy exclaimed. "I tried to get him to come on down to Chicago with me, but he said he wouldn't live here on a bet."

"What are you going to do with the two Little Brass Gods and all the precious stones?" asked Sandy.

"I would suggest," Mr. Horton replied, "that the two idols be returned to the Hindu still remaining in the city, the companion of the one who was killed, and that the jewels be returned with them."

"That's a lot of money to give away," Sandy suggested.

"There's nothing compulsory about it!" laughed Mr. Horton. "If you boys want to run the risk of being chased up by those Hindus until they finally get their hands on the idols, you may do so."

"Not for mine!" exclaimed Thede. "I don't want any dusky East Indians chasing me up!"

It was finally decided to restore the two little Brass Gods with the jewels to the Hindu. Later the body of the East Indian was taken from its grave near James Bay and transferred to his own country.

"There's one little commission I'd like to have you boys undertake," Mr. Horton said, after all the details of the Tupper case had been settled. "There's quite a bunch of trouble down here in a coal mine that I'd like to have you boys look into."

"Is it good and warm down there?" asked George.

"Suppose you walk down a few thousand feet under ground, some day, and make a note of the temperature!" laughed Tommy.

"Of course we want to go!" replied Will.

After a few days in Chicago, the Boy Scouts were off on their travels again. The story of their adventures will be found in the next volume of this series entitled.

"Boy Scouts in the Coal Caverns; or, The Light in Tunnel Six."

THE END

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