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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFrank Merriwell Down South - Chapter 28. The Hut On The Island
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Frank Merriwell Down South - Chapter 28. The Hut On The Island Post by :Karl_Augustine Category :Long Stories Author :Burt L. Standish Date :May 2012 Read :2790

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Frank Merriwell Down South - Chapter 28. The Hut On The Island

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE HUT ON THE ISLAND

"A house?"

"A cabin!"

"A hut amid the trays."

In a little clearing on some rising ground amid the trees they could see the hut.

"Is it possible any one lives here?" exclaimed the professor.

"It looks as if some one stops here at times, at least," said Frank.

"Av this ain't a clear case av luck, Oi dunno mesilf!"

"We'll get the man who lives there to guide us out of the Everglades!" shouted the professor, in a relieved tone.

Then Frank cast a gloom over their spirits by saying:

"This may be a hunter's cabin, inhabited only at certain seasons of the year. Ten to one, there's no one living in it now."

"You'd be pleased if there wasn't!" almost snarled Professor Scotch. "You're a boy without a heart!"

Frank laughed softly.

"We'll soon find out if there's any one at home," he said, as the canoe ran up to the bank, and he took care to get out first.

As soon as Frank was out, the professor made a scramble to follow him. He rose to his feet, despite Barney's warning cry, and, a moment later, the cranky craft flipped bottom upward, with the swiftness of a flash of lightning.

The professor and the Irish lad disappeared beneath the surface of the water.

Barney's head popped up in a moment, and he stood upon his feet, with the water to his waist, uttering some very vigorous words.

Up came the professor, open flew his mouth, out spurted a stream of water, and then he wildly roared:

"Help! Save me! I can't swim! I'm drowning!"

Before either of the boys could say a word, he went under again.

"This is th' firrust toime Oi iver saw a man thot wanted to drown in thray fate av wather," said Barney.

Frank sat down on the dry ground, and shouted with laughter.

Up popped the professor a second time.

"Help!" he bellowed, after he had spurted another big stream of water from his mouth. "Will you see me perish before your very eyes? Save me, Frank!"

But Frank was laughing so heartily that he could not say a word, and the little man went down once more.

"Hivins! he really manes to drown!" said Barney, in disgust.

"Grab him!" gasped Frank. "Don't let him go down again. Oh, my! what a scrape! This beats our record!"

For the third time the professor's head appeared above the surface, and the professor's voice weakly called:

"Will no one save me? This is a plot to get me out of the way! Oh, Frank, Frank! I never thought this of you! Farewell! May you be happy when I am gone!"

"Stand up!" shouted Frank, seeing that the little man had actually resigned himself to drown. "Get your feet under you. The water is shallow there."

The professor stood up, and an expression of pain, surprise, and disgust settled on his face, as he thickly muttered:

"May I be kicked! And I've been under the water two-thirds of the time for the last hour! I've swallowed more than two barrels of this swamp-water, including, in all probability, a few dozen pollywogs, lizards, young alligators, and other delightful things! If the water wasn't so blamed dirty here, and I wasn't afraid of swallowing enough creatures to start an aquarium, I'd just lie down and refuse to make another effort to get up."

Then he waded out, the look on his face causing Frank to double up with merriment, while even the wretched Barney smiled.

Barney would have waded out, but Frank said:

"Don't attempt to land without those guns, old man. They're somewhere on the bottom, and we want them."

So Barney was forced to plunge under the surface and feel around till he had fished up the rifles and the shotgun.

Frank had taken care of his bow and arrows, the latter being in a quiver at his back, and the paddles had not floated away.

After a time, everything was recovered, the canoe was drawn out and tipped bottom upward, and the trio moved toward the cabin, Frank leading, and the professor staggering along behind.

Reaching the cabin, Frank rapped loudly on the door.

No answer.

Once more he knocked, and then, as there was no reply, he pushed the door open, and entered.

The cabin was not occupied by any living being, but a glance showed the trio that some one had been there not many hours before, for the embers of a fire still glowed dimly on the open hearth of flat stones.

There were two rooms, the door between them being open, so the little party could look into the second.

The first room seemed to be the principal room of the hut, while the other was a bedroom. They could see the bed through the open doorway.

There were chairs, a table, a couch, and other things, for the most part rude, home-made stuff, and still every piece showed that the person who constructed it had skill and taste.

Around the walls were hung various tin pans and dishes, all polished bright and clean.

What surprised them the most was the wire screens in the windows, a screen door that swung inward, and a mosquito-bar canopy over the bed and the couch.

"By Jove!" cried Frank; "the person who lives here is prepared to protect himself against mosquitoes and black flies."

"It would be impossible to live here in the summer," gravely declared Professor Scotch, forgetting his own misery for the moment. "The pests would drive a man crazy."

"Oh, I don't know about that," returned Frank. "If a man knew how to defend himself against them he might get along all right. They can't be worse than the mosquitoes of Alaska in the warm months. Up there the Indians get along all right, even though mosquitoes have been known to kill a bear."

"Pwhat's thot?" gurgled Barney. "Kill a bear? Oh, Frankie, me b'y, Oi nivver thought that av you!"

"It's true," affirmed Professor Scotch. "Sometimes bears, lured by hunger, will come down into the lowlands, where mosquitoes will attack them. They will stand up on their hind legs and strike at the little pests with their forward paws. Sometimes a bear will do this till he is exhausted and falls. Then the mosquitoes finish him."

"Thot's a harrud yarn to belave, profissor; but it goes av you soay so," said Barney, thinking it best to smooth over the late unpleasantness.

"Up there," said Frank, "the Indians smear their faces and hands with some kind of sticky stuff that keeps the mosquitoes from reaching their flesh. In that way they get along very well."

But they had something to talk about besides the Indians of Alaska, for the surprises around them furnished topics for conversation.

Exploring the place, they found it well stocked with provisions, which caused them all to feel delighted.

"I'm actually glad we came!" laughed Frank. "This is fun galore."

"It will be all right if we are able to get out of the scrape," said Scotch.

Barney built a fire, while Frank prepared to make bread and cook supper, having found everything necessary for the accomplishment of the task.

The professor stripped off his outer garments, wrung the water out of them, and hung them up before the fire to dry.

His example was followed by the Irish boy.

They made themselves as comfortable as possible, and night came on, finding them in a much better frame of mind than they had expected to be.

Frank succeeded in baking some bread in the stone oven. He found coffee, and a pot bubbled on the coals, sending out an odor that made the trio feel ravenous.

There were candles in abundance, and two of them were lighted. Then, when everything was ready, they sat down to the table and enjoyed a supper that put them in the best of moods.

The door of the hut was left open, and the light shone out upon the overturned canoe and the dark water beyond.

After supper they cleaned and dried the rifles and shotgun.

"By jingoes!" laughed Frank; "this is a regular picnic! I'm glad we took the wrong course, and came here!"

"You may change your tune before we get out," said the professor, whose trousers were dry, and who was now feeling of his coat to see how that was coming on.

"Don't croak, profissor," advised Barney. "You're th' firrust mon Oi iver saw thot wuz bound ter drown himsilf in thray fate av wather. Ha! ha! ha!"

"Oh, laugh, laugh," snapped the little man, fiercely. "I'll get even with you for that some time! What fools boys are!"

After supper they lay around and took things easy. Barney and Frank told stories till it was time to go to bed, and they finally turned in, first having barred the door and made sure the windows were securely fastened.

They soon slept, but they were not to rest quietly through the night. Other mysterious things were soon to follow those of the day.

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CHAPTER XXVII. IN THE EVERGLADES"Gone!" "Disappeared!" The exclamations came from Frank and Professor Scotch. Barney's chuckle changed to a shiver, and his teeth chattered. "Th' Ould B'y's in it!" he chatteringly declared. "The Old Boy must have been in that canoe," agreed the professor. Frank was puzzled and disappointed. He still refused to believe there was anything supernatural about the mysterious, white canoe, but he was forced to acknowledge to himself that the craft had done most amazing things. "It simply slipped into some branch waterway while we were not looking," he said, speaking calmly, as if it were the most
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