"My dear Biceps, you don't know what you are talking about. Those fellows don't mind putting a bullet into you, if you run. Now, I'd rather pay fifty dollars any day, than shoot a man even in self-defence."
"But they have killed elk too. We heard them shoot twice. Suppose we play the same game on them that they intend to play on us. We can play informers too, then we'll at least be quits."
"Biceps, you are a brick! That's a capital idea! Then let us start for the sheriff's; and if we get there first, we'll inform both on ourselves and on them. That'll cancel the fine. Quick, now!"
No persuasions were needed to make Albert bestir himself. He leaped toward his skees, and following his friend, who was a few rods ahead of him, started down the slope in a zigzag line, cautiously steering his way among the tree trunks. The boys had taken their departure none too soon; for they were scarcely five hundred yards down the declivity, when they heard behind them loud exclamations and oaths. Evidently the poachers had stopped to roll some logs (which were lying close by) over the carcass, probably meaning to appropriate it; and this gave the boys an advantage, of which they were in great need. After a few moments they espied an open clearing which sloped steeply down toward the river. Toward this Ralph had been directing his course; for although it was a venturesome undertaking to slide down so steep and rugged a hill, he was determined rather to break his neck than lower his pride, and become the laughing-stock of the parish.
One more tack through alder copse and juniper jungle--hard indeed, and terribly vexatious--and he saw with delight the great open slope, covered with an unbroken surface of glittering snow. The sun (which at midwinter is but a few hours above the horizon) had set; and the stars were flashing forth with dazzling brilliancy. Ralph stopped, as he reached the clearing, to give Biceps an opportunity to overtake him; for Biceps, like all marine animals, moved with less dexterity on the dry land.
"Ralph," he whispered breathlessly, as he pushed himself up to his companion with a vigorous thrust of his skee-staff, "there are two awful chaps close behind us. I distinctly heard them speak."
"Fiddlesticks," said Ralph; "now let us see what you are made of!
Don't take my track, or you may impale me like a roast pig on a spit. Now, ready!--one, two, three!"