Chapter III. An Old Enemy Turns Up
 

"That was certainly an odd dream," said Dick, after a short pause. "I am sure I never want to meet Josiah Crabtree under such circumstances."

"It was silly, Dick -- I'd forget it if I was you."

"And she never mentioned the man at any other time?"

"No. But I am certain she is glad he has left for parts unknown. I never, never, want to see him again," and the girl shivered.

"Don't be alarmed, Dora; I don't think he will dare to show himself," answered Dick, and on the sly gave her hand a tight squeeze. They were warmer friends than ever since Dick had rescued her from those who had abducted her.

The kite-flying was now in "full blast," as Sam expressed it, and the boys had all they could do to keep the various lines from becoming tangled up. His own kite and Fred's were side by side and for a long time it looked as if neither would mount above the other.

"Run her up, Fred! You can win if you try!" cried several of the cadets.

"Play out a bit more, Sam; you haven't given your kite all the slack she wants," said others. So the talk ran on, while each contestant did the best to make his kite mount higher. In the meantime the wind kept increasing in violence, making each kite pull harder than ever.

"It's a dandy for flying," panted Tom, who was holding his kite with all the strength he possessed. "Something must give way soon," and something did give way. It was the string he was holding, and as it snapped he went over on his back in such a comical fashion that all, even to the girls, had to laugh.

"Torn! Tom! What a sight!" burst out Nellie Laning. "You should have brought a stronger cord."

"If I had I'd a-gone up in the clouds," answered Tom ruefully. "That's the last of that kite, I suppose; if I -"

"The string has caught on Sam's kite!" interrupted Grace Laning. "Oh, my! See both of them going up!"

"Now you can win, Sam!" laughed Dora. "Fred, your flying is nowhere now."

"He didn't calculate to fly one kite against two," answered Fred. "Hold on, Sam, where are you going? The cliff is over in that direction!" he yelled suddenly.

"I -- I know it!" came back the alarming answer. "But I can't stop myself!"

"He can't stop himself!" repeated Dora.

"Oh, stop him somebody, before he goes over the cliff!"

"Let go of the line!" shouted Dick. "Don't go any closer to the cliff!"

"I -- I can't let go! The line is fast around my wrist!" gasped poor Sam. "Oh, dear, it's cutting me like a knife!"

"He's in a mess," came from Frank. "If he isn't careful he'll go over the cliff, as sure as he's born!"

"Throw yourself down!" went on Dick, and, leaving his kite in Hans Mueller's care, he ran after his brother.

By this time Sam had gained a few bushes which grew but a dozen feet away from the edge of the cliff, that at this point was nearly forty feet in height. With his right hand held a painful prisoner, he clutched at the bushes with his left.

"I've got the bushes, but I can't hold on long!" he panted, as Dick came close. "Help me, quick!"

Scarcely had the words left his mouth when the bushes came up by the roots and poor Sam fell over on his side. Then came another strong puff of wind, and he was dragged to the very edge of the rocky ledge!

"I'm going!" he screamed, when, making a mighty leap, Dick caught him by the foot.

"Catch the rock -- anything!" cried the older brother. "If you don't you'll be killed!"

"Save me!" was all poor Sam could say. "Oh, Dick, don't let me go over!"

"I'll do my best, Sam," was Dick's answer, and he held on like grim death.

By this time half a dozen boys were running to the scene. Dora Stanhope followed, and as she came up she pulled a tiny penknife from her pocket.

"Can't I cut the line with this?" she asked, timidly, as she pushed her way to Dick's side.

"Yes, Yes; cut it!" moaned Sam. "Oh, my wrist is almost cut in two!"

Stooping low, Dora sawed away at the kite line, which was as taut as a string on a bass fiddle. Suddenly there was a loud snap and the cord parted. Sam and Dick fell back from the edge of the cliff, while the entangled kites soared away for parts unknown.

"Thank Heaven you cut the line, Dora!" said Dick, who was the first to recover from the excitement of the situation. He saw that Dom was trembling like a leaf, and he hastened to her support, but she pushed him away and pointed to Sam.

"Don't mind me -- I am all right, Dick," she said. "Go care for poor Sam. See how his wrist is bleeding! Oh, how dreadful!"

"Here is my handkerchief; he had better bind it up with that," said Grace Laning, as she offered the article.

"We'll wash the wound first," put in Frank, and raced off for some water. Soon he returned with his stiff hat full, and the cut on Sam's wrist was tenderly washed by the Laning girls, who then bound it up with the skill of a hospital surgeon.

The kite-flying continued for the balance of the afternoon. But Sam and Dick had had enough of it, and, along with Tom, they took a stroll along the lake front with Dora Stanhope and Grace and Nellie. Of course both boys and girls talked a whole lot of nonsense, yet all enjoyed the walk very much.

"This is the spot where they abducted me," shivered Dora, as they came to the old boathouse. "Oh, what a dreadful time that was, to be sure!"

"I don't believe our enemies will bother you any more, Dora," said Dick. "It's not likely that old Crabtree Will try the same game twice; and Mumps has really turned over a new leaf and gone to work for a living."

"Yes, I was glad to hear that, for I don't believe he was such a bad fellow at heart. He was under Dan Baxter's influence, just as - as --"

"As Josiah Crabtree tried to influence your mother," whispered Dick, and Dora nodded slowly. "Well, let us forget it, and -- My gracious!"

Dick stopped short, to stare in open-mouthed wonder at a small boat shooting down the lake at a distance of several hundred yards from the shore.

"What's up?" came simultaneously from Tom and Sam.

"Don't you see that fellow in the boat?" demanded Dick, in increased wonder.

"Of course we see him," answered Tom.

"Don't you recognize him?"

"No; he's too far off," came from Sam..

"It's Dan Baxter!"

"Baxter!" cried Dora. "Oh, Dick!"

"Nonsense!" said Tom. "How could he be am here?"

"It does look a little like Baxter," was Sam's slow comment. "Yet it seems impossible that he could be here, as Tom says."

"I say it's Baxter," affirmed Dick stoutly, "I'll hail him and make sure."

"Oh, don't bring him over here!" interposed Dora, becoming alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed -- he shan't hurt anybody, Dora." Dick raised his voice. "Hi there, Baxter! What are you doing here?"

At first there was no reply, and the boy in the rowboat kept on pulling. But as Dick repeated his call, the rower threw up his oars.

"You mind your own business," he growled. "Guess I can row on the lake if I want to."

"It is Baxter, sure enough!" ejaculated Tom.

"The rascal! We ought to recapture him."

"That's the talk," added Sam. "I wish my wrist wasn't so sore -- I'd go after him."

"There's a boat below here," said Dick.

"Let's put out in that."

"He may -- may shoot at you," faltered Dora. "You know how wicked he can be at times."

"Indeed I do know," answered Dick. "But he ought to be handed over to the authorities. It is a crime to let him go free."

"Hi, Baxter. Come over here; we want to talk to you!" yelled Tom.

"Not much!" growled the former bully of Putnam Hall.

"You had better come," said Sam. "If you don't come we'll bring you."

"Hush, Sam, or you'll make a mess of things!" cried Dick softly, but the warning came too late.

"Will you bring me back?" roared the bully. "Just try it on and see how I'll fix you."

"Come on for the boat," said Tom. "We'll show him he can't scare us."

He started off and Dick came after him. Sam was also about to follow, when his elder brother stopped him.

"You can't do much with that sore wrist, Sam," he said. "Better stay with the girls until we come back. You can watch events from the shore, and run for assistance, if it's necessary."

Sam demurred at first, but soon saw the wisdom of Dick's reasoning and consented to remain behind.

By this time Tom had shoved out the rowboat Dick had mentioned -- a neat craft belonging to a farmer living near. A pair of oars lay in a locker on the lake bank; and, securing these, Tom leaped on board of the craft, and soon Dick came after.

Dan Baxter had watched their movement with interest, which speedily gave way to arm when he saw the other boat come out, and beheld Dick and Tom each take up an oar and begin to pull for all they could.

"I was a clam to come up here, when there is no real need for it," he muttered. "Two to one, eh? Well, I reckon I can put up a pretty stiff fight if it comes to the worst." Then he caught up his oars once more, and began to row down Cayuga Lake with all possible speed.