"He didn't get away, did he?"
"Are you sure he is in there?"
"Quib! Quib!" shouted Abe. "Woodchucks! Quib, woodchucks! Right in here. Find 'em!"
Quib was dancing around in a quiver of noisy excitement, for he had caught a sniff of something under the first bush he sprang into.
How he did bark and yelp and scratch, for about a minute!
"Poys! Poys! Vat is all dis? Vat you want vis mein stone-heap, eh?"
It was old Hamburger himself climbing the fence, and he looked longer and leaner just then, and had more pipe in his mouth, than the boys thought they had ever seen before.
"The finest woodchuck you ever saw, Mr. Hamburger," began Cole Thomas, by way of an apology.
"Vootchuck! Dat's it! Ant so you puts a tog into mein stone-heap, and you steps onto mein grass, ant you knock ober all mein beautiful mullein-stalks and mein thistles and mein scoke-veeds!"
Puff! puff! came the great clouds of smoke from the grim lips of the old German, but it struck Cole Thomas that Mr. Hamburger himself was on the watch for that woodchuck.
Bow-wow-yow-yelp! and Mart shouted:
"There he goes!"
"Hi! We'll get him!" screamed Abe.
"Take him, Quib! Take him!"
Quib had started a woodchuck.
There was never a stone-heap piled up that had room in it for both a dog and a woodchuck.
Mr. Hamburger took the pipe out of his mouth, which was a thing nobody could remember ever having seen him do.
"Dose poys! Dat vootchuck! De tog is a goot von. Dey vill preak dare little necks. Joost see how dey run! But de tog is de pest runner of dem poys, egsept de vootchuck."
Mr. Hamburger did not run. Nobody had ever seen him do any such thing as that.
But he walked on across the pasture-lot, toward the deep ravine that cut through the side of the hill to the valley.
All that time poor Julius had been hoeing away desperately upon the last row of his mother's potatoes, and she had been smiling at him from the window. She was anxious he should get through, for she meant to send him to the village for a quarter of a pound of tea.
It was just as Julius reached the last hill that the baby cried, and when Mrs. Davis returned to the window to say something about the store and the kind of tea she wanted, all she could see of Julius was the hoe lying beside that last hill.
"Ef he hasn't finished dem taters and run away!"
She would have been proud of him if she could have seen how wonderfully fast he did run away, down the road he had seen Quib and the other hunters.
"Dey's into de lot!" he exclaimed, when he came to the bars. "Dar's Pete Corry's ole straw hat lyin' by de stone-heap. Mus' hab been somefin' won'erful, or he'd nebber forgot his hat."
That was an old woodchuck, of course, or he would not have been so large, and it may be he knew those boys as well as Quib did. If not, it was his own fault, for every one of them had chased him before, and so had Quib.
He knew every inch of that pasture-lot, and he knew the shortest way to the head of the deep ravine.
"Boys!" shouted Abe Selover, with all the breath he had. "Boys!
He's going for the glen! Now we've got him!"
The ravine was a rocky and wonderful place, and all the boys were perfectly familiar with it, and considered it the grandest play-house in the world, or, at least, in the vicinity of the village. If Quib once got the woodchuck penned up among those rocks, they could play hide-and-seek for him till they should find him.
Some city people that had a picnic there once had called it a "glen," and the name had stuck to it, mainly because it was shorter than any other the boys could think of; and, besides that, the schoolmaster of the district two years before (who didn't suit the trustees) had been named Glenn, and so the word must have been all right.
Some of the boys were near enough to see the woodchuck make for the two maples at the head of the ravine, and Bob Hicks tumbled over Andy Thompson while he was shouting:
"Catch him, Quib!"
After they got past those two maple trees there was no more fast running to be done.
Down, down, deeper and rockier and rougher every rod of it, the rugged chasm opened ahead of them, and it was necessary for the boys to mind their steps. It was a place where a woodchuck or a small dog could get around a good deal faster than any boy, but they all followed Quib in a way that would have scared their mothers if they had been there.
"It's grand fun!" said Mart Penniman. "Finest woodchuck you ever saw!"
"Come on, boys!" shouted Abe Selover, away ahead. "We'll get him, this time."
Abe had a way of being just the next boy behind the dog in any kind of chase, and they all clambered after him in hot haste.
On went Quib, and even Abe Selover could not see him more than half the time, for he had an immense deal of dodging to do, in and out among the rocks and trees, and it was dreadfully shady at the bottom of that ravine.
The walls of rock, where Abe was, rose more than sixty feet high on either side, and the glen was only a few rods wide at the widest place.
"He's holed him! He's holed him! Come on! we've got him, now!"
Quib was scratching and yelping like an insane dog at the bottom of what looked like a great crack between two rocks, in the left-hand side of the glen as you went down. The crack was only an inch or so wide at the bottom, and twisted a good deal as it went up, for the rock was of the kind known as "pudding-stone." There was a hole, just there, large enough for a woodchuck, but too small for a dog.
"Dig, boys! Dig!"
"Dig yourself," said Pete Corry. "Who's going to dig a rock, I'd like to know?"
"Let Quib in, anyhow. He'll drive him out."
Abe was prying at that hole with a dead branch of a tree, and, almost while he was speaking, a great piece of the loose pudding-stone fell off and came thumping down at his feet.
"A cave, boys, a cave! Just look in!"
Quib did not wait for anybody to look in, but bounded through the opening with a shrill yelp, and Abe Selover squeezed after him.
Pete Corry felt a little nervous when he saw how dark it was, but he followed Abe; and the other boys came on as fast as the width of the hole would let them.
That is, they crept through, one boy at a time.
What surprised them was, that the moment they had crawled through that hole they could stand up straight.