Page:Boys of the Fort.djvu/39

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he was he could not tell, nor could he form any definite plan for rejoining his cousin and old Benson. More than this, he was afraid that the desperadoes might come up at any minute and pounce upon him.

But as the minutes slipped by, and he neither saw nor heard anything of those in pursuit, he grew easier. Evidently they had given up the chase.

"I hope they have," was what he thought. "I never want to get so close to them again. They are a hard crowd, if ever there was one. If I can get to the fort and tell Colonel Fairfield of what I've heard, I'll be doing a good thing."

An hour went by slowly, and then Joe looked around to find some means of making himself comfortable for the balance of the night, knowing it would be useless to pursue his course through the forest in the darkness.

"This is camping out with a vengeance!" he muttered grimly. "Darry ought to be along; I guess he'd soon get enough of it. I'll be lucky if I don't fall in with some savage animal."

The thought of wild beasts gave him another shiver, and he concluded to climb into a nearby tree, which was low-drooping and had a spot where several branches made a sort of platform. He was soon up in a comparatively dry place, and