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   Chapter 5 A START AND A LOSS

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 9263

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

When morning came Fred was still uncertain whether his experience of the preceding night had been a dream or a reality. As he glanced at the enthusiastic countenances of his friends he was almost convinced that what he had seen had been the shadowy figures of a dream. Besides he was fearful of the bantering which the Go Ahead Boys might bestow upon him if it was discovered that there was no basis for his statement.

However, as Fred deemed the matter too important to be entirely ignored, he said while the boys were seated about the improvised table, "Were any of you fellows up last night?"

"Not guilty," laughed George. "I was asleep almost before I had stretched out."

The other two boys also declared that their slumbers had not been disturbed and that neither had wandered about the camp.

"What's the trouble, Freddie?" laughed Grant. "You act either as if you don't believe us or something happened."

"Well, I'm not sure, but something did happen," said Fred slowly.

"What was it? Tell us your story," demanded John.

"Either I dreamed or else I surely saw two men moving about the camp. There was a moon and the place was almost as light as day."

"Who were the men?" demanded Grant.

"Perhaps they weren't 'men' at all," replied Fred, who was certain now that he was safe from ridicule.

"Do you think they were our visitors?"

"Yes," replied Fred promptly, "that's exactly what I do think."

"What were they doing?" asked John.

All the Go Ahead Boys were now deeply interested in Fred's statement and eager to hear what more he might say.

"I saw the two figures moving about the camp and at first I thought they were some of you. Pretty soon, however, I made up my mind that they weren't. I turned over on my side and pretended to be asleep, though I was watching these men all the time."

"Why didn't you wake us up?" demanded John.

"Because I wasn't sure that I myself didn't need waking up."

"You're a great lad," said John scornfully. "Zeke," he called, turning to the guide, "Fred thinks he saw those two men that were in our camp last night come back."

The guide looked keenly at Fred, and it was plain he instantly was interested and perhaps alarmed.

"What were they doin'?" he asked slowly.

"Why, they were moving about the camp," replied Fred. "It didn't seem to me they were here more than five or ten minutes but just as I was about to call you or the boys they disappeared."

Zeke said no more as he turned at once to the place where the garments and implements of Simon Moultrie had been placed.

The four boys were aware now that the guide was somewhat alarmed and instantly all four ran to join him.

"You see it is gone," said Zeke blankly as he displayed the empty pockets in the coat of the dead prospector.

"Gone!" exclaimed the Go Ahead Boys together.

"It isn't here anyway."

"You mean his diary?" demanded Fred.

"That's exactly what I mean. Your dream was a nightmare and it's likely to be a still bigger one for us."

"Do you think those men took that diary?" asked Grant.

"You can see for yourself," retorted Zeke gruffly.

"Maybe you put it somewhere else," suggested George.

"Huh!" snapped the guide. "I left it right in the pocket. Eight in that there pocket," he added as he again displayed the coat.

"What did they want of it?" inquired John.

"They wanted what you told them about."

"I didn't tell them anything about anything," said John angrily.

"The trouble with you, Jack, is that you can't read between the lines. You see, those men were not born yesterday and they could put two and two together."

"But I didn't give them anything to put together," protested John.

"If I recollect aright," suggested Grant, "there was something said about the coat and the tools that the prospector had with him. If I'm correct it seems to me that the men wanted to see the coat and the axe and the spade and the hammer."

"What of it?" demanded John.

"Everything," retorted Grant. "They probably suspected that if there was a coat there were pockets in it. And if there were pockets then there was something in them."

"They guessed right, all right," laughed George.

"Never you mind," said John. "I remember exactly what the diary said and I can draw another picture of that Gulch with just exactly the places marked on it that the prospector had marked."

"Try it," suggested Fred.

"That's just what I'll do," said John as he turned to the tent from which he speedily returned with a pad and pencil.

For a moment no one spoke while John busily made his drawing.

"There," he said

as he held it forth to view. "That's just as good as the original."

"It's a mighty pretty picture," scoffed George. "The only trouble with it is that no one knows whether it is correct or not."

"Zeke, isn't that drawing all right?" demanded John as he held forth the paper to the guide.

"It isn't so far wrong," acknowledged Zeke cautiously, "but I guess we'll be able to do something whether we have any paper or not. I'm more afraid of those two men than I am that we shan't be able to draw th' picture that old Sime had in his diary."

All four boys looked keenly into the face of the guide but no one inquired concerning the meaning of his words.

"Well, the little book is gone, anyway," continued Zeke. "We've got to decide what we'll do without it. When do you boys want to start?"

"What do you mean? For the lost mine?" demanded Fred.

"That's what I thought you wanted to do."

"Well, we do all right," said Fred quickly. "Are we ready to start?"

"We can be in a few minutes," said Zeke. "I think we can drop down the river in the two boats. That will be easier than climbing up the cliffs."

"Great!" exclaimed Fred enthusiastically. "How far can we go with the boats?"

"Ten or twelve miles," answered Zeke. "And when we stop we'll be more than half way to Thorn's Gulch. It's so much quicker to go by the river than over land."

"That will be fine," repeated Fred. "Let's get started."

"It's going to be hot in the middle of the day," suggested Zeke warningly.

"All the more reason then for starting right away," said Grant.

"All right," assented Zeke. "We'll put things to rights here in the camp and then we'll go down to start on our voyage."

The light tent was folded and concealed under the projecting rock nearby. Most of the cooking utensils also were hidden or at least placed where they would not attract the attention of any chance visitor. It was extremely unlikely that any one would come to the place, although among the parties visiting the Grand Canyon there might be some who would be attracted by the safe landing place, just as the Go Ahead Boys and their guides already had been.

"We had better plan to be gone about four days!" spoke up Pete who up to this time had taken no part in the morning conversation.

"I should think we ought to have supplies for more than that," said Fred.

Pete, however, insisted that the time he had named would be ample for their first attempt. "If we don't strike anything," he explained, "we shan't need to stay any longer and if we do we can mark the spot or leave someone there on guard and the rest can come back for more supplies."

"What do you think, Zeke?" asked Fred.

"I think Pete is all right," replied the guide. "We want to leave our supplies here pretty well protected and we don't want to take enough with us to tire us out carrying them. We'll have to measure it down pretty fine. We want just enough but not an ounce more than we ought to have."

Zeke's word carried the day and in a brief time the Go Ahead Boys were busily engaged in packing the few belongings they planned to take with them on their expedition. These were conveniently arranged so that they might be carried upon the backs of the boys, making a burden that did not exceed twenty-five pounds in weight for each boy when the arrangement was at last completed.

"Everything all ready now?" inquired Zeke when at last the packages, implements and knapsacks had all been prepared.

"How is the river right below us?" asked John.

"It's a bit rough and pretty swift for a spell," replied Zeke.

"Any danger of capsizing?" asked Fred nervously.

"There's always that danger," replied Zeke solemnly. "Nobody knows when the boat may turn squarely over. If you think you would rather walk across country we can try it that way," he added, winking solemnly at Fred's companions as he spoke.

Cautiously the party made their way down the canyon and at last after several exciting experiences arrived on the shore of the rushing Colorado.

Zeke's statement that the river here was rough was speedily confirmed. The tossing waves seemed to be rushing at break-neck speed past the little point. There was a bend in the channel a half-mile below and a projecting point there was plainly seen.

"I don't like the look of that," muttered Fred as he first saw the rushing stream.

"There's something I like still less," said Grant.

"What do you mean?" demanded Fred.

"Why there's only one boat there."

"What!" exclaimed George and Fred together.

"That's right," repeated Grant. "One of the boats is gone."

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