"And what's this I hear about playing a joke on Tom Fairfield, and some of his friends?" asked another voice. "A joke!" gasped Tom. "Quiet!" warned his friend. "Ha! Ha!" laughed Sam. "Yes, it was a joke all right. You know those fellows happened to go camping near where Nick and I were. We met old Skeel you know, the prof. who used to be here.
"Force our way with the king's keys, and break the neck of every living soul we find in the house, if ye dinna gie it ower forthwith!" menaced the incensed Hobbie. "Threatened folks live lang," said the hag, in the same tone of irony; "there's the iron grate try your skeel on't, lads it has kept out as gude men as you or now."
Skeel and the two Elmwood lads, who had held Jack, Dick and Bert prisoners, fled in alarm, and the old hermit, restored to his right mind through the finding of his wealth, lived a peaceful life thereafter. Once the secret of the mill was discovered, Tom and his chums had an enjoyable time in camp.
Tom and his friends had many experiences in camp, and with the old hermit. Finally their motorboat was taken, and they were in sore straits. But still they kept after the treasure. Then Bert, Jack and Dick mysteriously disappeared from camp. Tom suspected Mr. Skeel, and the two school bullies, Sam and Nick, of having had some sort of a hand in the kidnapping of his chums.
At the very start he threatened the boys and tried to drive them from the woods. But they decided to have a hunt for the treasure. It did not add to their pleasure to learn that Mr. Skeel, who had returned from Honolulu, was also camping near the mysterious mill, and, most unexpectedly our friends also learned that Sam Heller and Nick Johnson were also in the same woods.
The instruments were of skeel, the string of gut, and were shaped to fit the left forearm of the dancer, to which it was strapped. There was also a ring wound with gut which was worn between the first and second joints of the index finger of the right hand and which, when passed over the string of the instrument, elicited the single note required of the dancer.
I'm no freend to persecution, in ony shape. But, as to this chiel, I ken naething aboot him, but that he is a gude buttanist. Hout, your honor, to be sure I'll gi'e him a fair wage for his skeel and labor." Malcomson, who was what we have often met, a pedant gardener, saw, however, that the squire's mind was disturbed.
"True," replied Monkbarns; "but those whom the law suspects of being unwilling to abide her formal visit, she proceeds with by means of a shorter and more unceremonious call, as dealing with persons on whom patience and favour would be utterly thrown away." "Ay," said Ochiltree, "that will be what they ca' the fugie-warrants I hae some skeel in them.
They were guarded by Corporal Inglis and four soldiers, who, as may readily be supposed, were much more intent on watching the fluctuating fortunes of the battle, than in attending to what passed among their prisoners. "If you lads stand to their tackle," said Cuddie, "we'll hae some chance o' getting our necks out o' the brecham again; but I misdoubt them they hae little skeel o' arms."
"What's the matter with you fellows, anyhow? Why shouldn't we stay?" "You know why you shouldn't stay!" cried Tom, shaking his finger at Sam and Nick. "After the mean trick you played on Bert and Jack, standing guard over them in the old mill, in league with that scoundrel Skeel giving Jack and Bert only bread and water after that you dare come back here and expect to be treated decently?