fortune belonging to the family. The teacher told the boys that it was true that, during the Revolutionary War, his ancestors had buried a pot of gold, to keep it out of the hands of the British.
“But it was not worth anything like a million, as my unfortunate relatives believed,” had been George Strong’s statement to Jack and Pepper. “At the most it would be worth eight or ten thousand dollars.”
“That’s a tidy sum,” Jack had answered.
“You are right.”
“I’d like to pick up eight or ten thousand dollars,” Pepper had put in. “Mr. Strong, have you any idea where this fortune you speak of is located?”
“A very faint idea.”
“If you’ll tell us,—and the place is close by,—we might look for it for you.”
“A letter was left by my great-grandfather in which the pot of gold was mentioned as resting at the foot of the tree with the stone in its roots, twenty paces north of the old well. I have never been able to locate either the well or the tree.”
“But was it around here?” Jack had questioned with interest.
“Somewhere in this vicinity, for the farm belonging to my great-grandfather was located not many miles from here.”
“I thought the Indians were here at that time.”
“So they were, but my great-grandfather had some Indian blood in his veins and was a frontiersman, and the red men did not molest him very much.”
“Haven’t you ever hunted for the pot of gold?”
“A great many times—years ago. But I at last gave it up as useless. More than likely the old well mentioned has fallen in and the tree rotted away, so the landmarks are all gone and nothing is left by which to locate the treasure.”
And there the talk had come to an end, but the boys had not forgotten about the pot of gold.
A GAME OF SNAP-THE-WHIP
The race was on in earnest and the skates flashed brightly in the rays of the declining sun.
Pepper was in advance. Dale was slowly but surely crawling up to him.
“Go it, Imp! go it!” shrieked Jack, when he saw that he could not win.
Pepper did “go it,” and despite Dale’s effort to get ahead kept to the front. In the meantime Andy Snow also kept coming up, until he and Dale were tied for second place.
“Whoop, Pepper has won!” cried Stuffer Singleton, who was bringing up the rear. “Where are you, Andy?”
“Here I am!” answered the acrobatic pupil, and just then struck a crack in the ice, went down, and turned a handspring, coming to his feet again like a flash.
“Would yez look at that now!” burst out Joseph Hogan, as he stopped racing to look at Andy. “Sure an’ it’s in a circus you ought to be,” he continued.
“Andy’s doing stunts!” cried Jack.
“Say, Stuffer, why didn’t you try to win?” asked Andy, as he circled up to the stout youth. “Did you eat too much for dinner?”
“Eat too much!” snorted Stuffer. “With old Crabtree watching me? Not much! When I asked for more meat he wouldn’t let me have it. And I think I got the smallest dish of dessert, too!” grumbled the youth who was fond of good living.
“Pepper, you are all right,” said Jack, slapping his chum on the back. “That was well won!”
“And do I get the pie?” asked Pepper, with a smile.
“Certainly you do!” came from several of the others, who all loved the Imp. “But you have got to wait till we go to Cedarville.”
“Sure, an’ if he’ll be satisfied wid wan piece he’ll not have to wait at all, at all!” came from Hogan, with a twinkle in his eye.
“Why, what have you got up your sleeve, Emerald?” asked Jack.
“’Tis not up me sleeve at all, but in me pocket,” answered the Irish lad, and hauled forth a piece of brown paper containing a small cut of mince pie.
“Hullo, where did you get that?” asked several of the others, in astonishment.
“Got it from the kitchen, when nobody was looking,” answered Hogan. “It was on the table—set out, I think, for Snuggers’ dinner. I didn’t want to see him after gittin’ indigestion, so I—well, I made an appropriation, as the politicians say.”
“Phew! I’ll wager poor Peleg was mad!” was Pepper’s comment. He referred to Peleg Snuggers, the general-utility man around Putnam Hall.
“So here you are, Imp,” went on Hogan, and held out the pie.
“That’s the reason you proposed pie as a prize, eh?” cried Dale. “Supposing you had won?”
“Sure, I should have eaten the piece myself,” answered Emerald.
“I’ll accept the pie on one condition,” came from Pepper. “That is that you all have a bite with me.”
“We will!” was the shout, and a minute later each lad present was chewing on his mouthful of the dainty.
After that, the boys skated around for a little while longer. There were others on the lake, but they, for the most part, kept by themselves.
“I see Dan Baxter is out, with a new pair of skates,” said Jack to Pepper, presently.
“Yes, and he has a new camera, too,” answered Pepper. “By the way, I’d like to have a camera myself. I think I’ll write home for one before long. It will be lots of sport to take some winter pictures.”
Jack and Pepper, with Andy, had skated a little to one side, and now the three moved along one of the shores, where grew some evergreens, now loaded down with snow. The sun was going down and it was growing dark.
“Hi, you!” came suddenly from one side of them. “What do you mean by spoiling my picture!”
All three of the boys looked around and saw that Dan Baxter had set up his tripod on the ice. On the tripod rested his camera, the lens pointed at the evergreens on the shore. The three boys had swept along between the camera and the object Baxter wished to photograph just as the picture was being taken.
“I didn’t know you were trying to get a picture, Dan,” said Jack.
“Didn’t know it?” roared the bully of Putnam Hall. “Are you blind?”
“Not at all.”
“Then what did you rush in between for, tell me that? I was trying to get a nice time picture, and you have spoilt the plate.”
“I am very sorry. Haven’t you got another plate?”
“Of course I have. Do you think I carry only one plate? But that’s no reason why you and Pep Ditmore and Andy Snow should act so clownish.”
“Thank you, Baxter, but I didn’t act clownish,” cried Pepper, circling up on his skates.
“I say you did.”
“We didn’t see the camera at all,” put in Andy Snow. “So please don’t get so hot about it.”
“Oh, I know you fellows!” stormed Dan Baxter, working himself up into a rage, as was often his habit. “You think you can ride over me. But you can’t do it.”
“If you are going to take a picture you had better do it,” said Jack, quietly. “It will be too dark in another ten minutes.”
“Oh, don’t give me any advice, Jack Ruddy. Just because you are the major this term you can’t boss me.”
“I am not trying to boss you, as you call it, Baxter. Come, why can’t you drop the past and be friends?”
“I don’t want to be friends with you.”
“We’d rather have you for enemies any time,” came from Gus Coulter, who had been helping his crony carry the photographing outfit.
“That’s the talk,” added Nick Paxton, who was likewise present. “We prefer to choose our own friends; eh, fellows?”
“And we don’t