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HOME > Classical Novels > Rick and Ruddy Out West > CHAPTER VIII “GONE!”
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 “Anything the matter?” asked Rick, as, followed by Ruddy and Chot he hastened from the bunk1 room into the main apartment where the cold gray ashes had replaced the cheerful, blazing fire of the night before.  
“Anything wrong?” Chot wanted to know.
“Well, I don’t know that you could call it wrong,” said Mr. Campbell with a pat on Ruddy’s head, “but our hosts seem to have disappeared! Did you hear them go in the night?”
“Have the men left?” asked Rick.
“I don’t see any signs of them,” was the answer. “And I slept so heavily that I didn’t hear a sound. Did either of you?”
“I thought I felt Ruddy moving around in the night,” Rick answered. “But I didn’t wake up or hear anything.”
“Me either,” admitted Chot. “But, anyhow, it’s cleared off and we can travel along.”
“Yes, we can travel along,” said Mr. Campbell. “I don’t believe those men will care if I help myself to some of their coffee and grub. They were free enough with it last night. If they come back, and object, I’ll pay them.”
“Do you know where they have gone?” Rick wanted to know.
Mr. Campbell shook his head.
“I came out here as soon as I was up,” he explained, “and I saw no one. Then I knocked on the door of their bunk room, but there was no answer. I opened the door and looked in and they were gone.”
“Maybe they went out early to look up some trees,” suggested Chot.
“What do you mean—look up trees?” asked Rick. “Do you mean to look and see if there’s a bear to shoot?”
“No, I mean about cutting some lumber,” explained Chot.
“Oh,” exclaimed his chum. “I see.”
“It’s possible they did that,” said Mr. Campbell. “Of course they have a right to do as they please, but they might have left a note or something to say they’d be back. But it’s their business, I reckon. And I’m going to see what sort of a breakfast I can get.”
“We’ll help,” offered Rick and Chot.
Coffee was soon boiling on the stove, and bacon was sizzling in the pan. By rummaging2 further in a pantry Mr. Campbell found some prepared flour and, declaring that he was a master-hand at turning flapjacks, he proved it by setting before the boys two plates of delicately-browned pancakes.
“There’s even maple3 syrup4, or what passes for it, to eat on them,” he said, producing a sticky brown bottle.
“Oh, boy!” cried Rick.
“Can’t beat this—not even at home!” declared Chot, and they kept Mr. Campbell busy over the frying pan which he used in place of a pancake griddle. He did not neglect himself, however, and soon all three—no, all four, for Ruddy was not forgotten—had eaten a good breakfast.
“Well, since our friends don’t seem to be coming back, we’ll have to write a note and express our thanks for their hospitality,” said Mr. Campbell, after the meal. “Then we’ll start off again, but I don’t imagine we’ll make very good time until we get on the main road. This rain must have made more mud puddles5 than usual.”
“We’ll wash the dishes while you’re writing the note,” suggested Rick, for, like all Boy Scouts6, he had been taught to leave a place as he found it, and the dishes were clean in the cupboard at the start of breakfast.
There was a tank of warm water connected with the stove, and the dishes were soon being given a sort of rough-and-ready bath. But campers are never fussy—if they were they wouldn’t be campers.
“There, this will thank them for having taken us in,” said Mr. Campbell, as he finished the note to the three men. “I’ll leave it on the table where they’ll see it when they come back. I’ve given them my address in San Francisco,” he added, “and if the............
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