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   Chapter 3 TWO UNBIDDEN GUESTS

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 10785

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


By this time the boys and their guide had returned to the place where they had left their companions. Their two companions already were there and the return of their friends was greeted by a shout from both Grant and George.

Other things, however, speedily were forgotten when Fred related the story of their gruesome discovery in the sheltered place or cave on the sloping side of the mountain.

Both George and Grant at once united in declaring that the decision which their friends already had made to seek for the lost mine was to be highly commended. Again and again the diary was inspected and the part wherein Simon Moultrie had recorded his discovery of the great lead was read aloud again and again.

Pete, the guide, a silent, bronzed man of thirty, openly scoffed at the idea that any discovery worth while would follow their attempts to find the spot indicated in the diary of the lost prospector.

"Nobody knows," declared Pete, "whether you found the bones of Simon Moultrie or not."

"That doesn't make any difference," declared Fred sturdily, "if we can only find the place he spoke of. Zeke says he knows where Thorn's Gulch is-"

"Huh!" interrupted Pete. "I guess ev'rybody in this part o' th' country knows where Thorn's Gulch is."

"But," continued Fred, winking at John as he spoke, "he doesn't know where Two Crow Tree is nor just where Tom's Thumb is located. Of course you know, so we came back to the camp."

"If I don't know I can find 'em, I guess," assented Pete sturdily.

"That's just what Zeke said," laughed Fred. "What we're looking for isn't somebody who can find them, but somebody who knows where they are."

"Don't you worry none about that," said Pete. "We'll find the spot if there's any such place."

The camp was located in a most attractive spot, high above the roaring river. It was on the sloping side of the towering border. A natural pathway lead to the plateau above, while a spring of clear water was conveniently near for their needs.

In spite of the July day the air was cool and the smoke of their camp-fire was carried swiftly down the canyon. The sublime sight of the Grand Canyon was before them, although from their camp they were unable to see the largest of all the great gulches.

The sides of the various canyons, which the swiftly flowing Colorado had made, were carved and fretted almost beyond belief. The various strata of rock and soil that had been exposed to view by the centuries of action of the mighty river were marvelously tinted. Indeed, George declared that the blues, the grays, and reds and mauves were only less impressive than the overwhelming size of the Grand Canyon itself. Grant, however, was positive that the sculptured sides of the vast hole were equal in interest to the coloring and the glory of the canyon itself.

With every changing angle of the sun the colors and shadings also changed. Again and again the boys had marked the shadows formed every morning and evening and they laughingly announced and described the various resemblances which they had traced.

The Grand Canyon itself is only a part of the long canyon, in places a mile deep and in certain places a score of miles from side to side, through which the mighty river has forced its way.

The Colorado River starting in Southern Utah is formed by the junction of the Green and the Grand Rivers. The former rising in Northern Utah, traverses also a part of Wyoming, while the latter river traces the western Rockies in Colorado.

Of this wonderful stream Major Powell, the first to descend the river, wrote, "Ten million cascade brooks unite to form a hundred rivers. Beside that, cataracts and a hundred roaring rivers unite to form the Colorado, a mad turbid stream."

One distinguished writer, describing the mighty canyon, said it is "most mysterious in its depth than the Himalayas in their height. It is true that the Grand Canyon remains not the eighth but the first wonder of the world. There is nothing like it."

Our special interest, however, is in the four boys and their two guides, who now were assembled in the camp. Every boy was bronzed and toughened by his exposure and labors. Packs were to be seen which had been brought into camp on the backs of the various members of the party. Each pack contained about sixty pounds of food and materials necessary for the expedition. In addition, guns had been brought, fishing rods were visible and other implements, which were a part of the camp life were on every side.

Burros had been used to carry some of the burdens until the boys had entered within the canyon itself. Then the burros with the Indian boy who had accompanied them as far as the border, turned back to the place from which they had come. It was not believed that sufficient material would be left after the expedition was completed to require again the services of the donkeys.

After supper the boys stretched themselves on the ground near the fire which was still burning.

"We have kept together all the way as far as this," suggested Fred, "but I'm wondering now if we wouldn't do better if we divided into two parties."

"What for?" demanded Grant, sitting quickly erect.

"I've just been talking to Zeke and asking him whether he didn't think we would need more supplies than we have before we came back."

"Nonsense," said John. "We have all we want.

It isn't going to take us more than a year to find that place Simon Moultrie told about. If we don't get some trace of it within a few days I'm not in favor of keeping up the search and for that reason I don't believe we'll want any more supplies."

"Nobly spoken!" laughed George. "It sounds like the supreme wisdom of Soc. What do you say about it?" he added, turning to Grant as he spoke.

"I know just enough to know that I don't know anything about it," answered Grant.

"But what do you think?" protested Fred.

"I think we may need more than we have. What does Zeke say about it?" replied Grant.

"Zeke doesn't think we had better divide again. He says that if we need supplies we can go in for them, but the probabilities are that we shall be back long before any such lack comes. He thinks we had better all keep together. There's safety in numbers sometimes, you know."

"I agree," said Grant, "if that is Zeke's opinion. Still when we get on the ground where our real search begins I'm of the opinion that we'll get along better and faster if we make two parties instead of one."

"There will be time enough to talk about that when we have to," laughed Fred. "Look yonder," he abruptly added, pointing as he spoke to two men who could be seen coming down the natural approach to the camp. "Where did they come from? Who are they? What do you suppose they want? You don't suppose it is somebody coming in with a message of bad news for us, do you?"

No one replied to the questions of the startled boy, but every member of the party at once turned and keenly watched the approaching men. Both were walking, although Zeke explained in a low voice that doubtless they had burros somewhere not far away.

In a brief time the two strangers approached the camp and immediately made themselves known.

"I've seen both those men before," whispered Fred excitedly.

"Where?" inquired John.

"They were on the train when we came. They sat right across the aisle from us. I'm sure they are the same men for I never shall forget the scar on the left cheek of that short one."

The two approaching strangers were now so near that it was possible for John to confirm the statement of his friend. A long livid scar, extending almost entirely across his left cheek, was visible on the face of the younger man. His companion was taller, evidently at least ten years older and had a face which was not altogether prepossessing at first sight.

"Yes, sir," repeated Fred. "I saw both those fellows on the car the day before we left the train."

"Evenin'," called the man with the scar.

"Same to you," retorted Zeke.

"We're doin' a bit o' prospecting or at least we expect to do some and got caught up here in a gully which we can't very well get across where we are. We saw the smoke of your fire and thought we might come down and perhaps you would invite us to spend the night with you."

"You're entirely welcome," said Zeke. The guide's manner was quiet and there was nothing to belie the apparent cordiality of the statement he had just made.

The young campers, however, were by no means convinced that their unbidden visitors were parties whom they could welcome.

Already the sun was below the western cliffs, although its beams in certain places still flashed between the mountains and tinged the sides of the adjacent canyon with myriad dancing and delicate colors.

Hospitality, however, was a part of the life on the plains and seldom was any unexpected guest turned away from a human habitation or company. Suspicious though the boys certainly were they did not offer any protest and in response to their invitation to share in the remnants of their evening meal, the two strangers at once accepted and seated themselves not far from the camp-fire.

It was not until they had eaten that they explained more in detail who and what they were. Not long before this time they had come from Tombstone to search for a mine of whose existence they declared they had received information from certain somewhat vague reports.

"The trouble is, Mr. Stranger," one of them explained, "that we don't know just where this mine is. There was a report in Tombstone that an old prospector up here had struck it rich, but that he died or at least hadn't been heard from since the report started. The Indians say that he was looking for his mine in a part of the country where the Great Spirit has forbidden the children o' men to come. They declare that this prospector didn't die a natural death."

"What did he die of?" inquired Zeke.

"Why they say that no man ever goes into that region and comes out alive, or if he does happen to succeed in that, he can't dodge the bad luck which is sure to catch him."

"And do you want to find the place?" inquired Fred quizzically.

"We do and if there is any such place we're going to find it."

The four boys meanwhile had glanced apprehensively at one another when they heard the reference to the discovery of a mine which soon had been lost. The statement too that the original prospector was dead increased the mystery as well as the interest of the Go Ahead Boys.

What would these strangers say if they knew that already in the possession of the Go Ahead Boys was the statement of an old prospector who very likely was the very one to whom the unwelcome guests had frequently referred?

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