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The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 8807

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

For a moment the boys stood and stared blankly at the one boat and at the place on the shore where the other had been drawn from the water. There was no question now as to their loss. Every member of their party was present and yet only one boat was to be seen.

Certain of their supplies also were missing and the discovery served to increase the feeling of dismay.

"Do you suppose that boat got loose?" inquired Fred, who was the first to speak.

"I don't 'suppose it got loose,'" retorted Grant somewhat gruffly.

"Do you think somebody took it?" again Fred asked.

"If it didn't get loose, please tell me why it's gone? There's only one way the boat could get into the river. One was for it to get loose and the other for somebody to work it loose."

"Then the question is," said George, "who took it?"

"And there isn't much question about that," said Fred confidently.

"Do you think those two men stole the boat? I mean the two that were in our camp last night?"

"I don't know who else could take it," said John. "And it's my fault too, isn't it?"

"In a way it is your fault, all right," said Grant. "You started those men on the trail. If you had kept still no one would have known anything about it."

"That's right," said John, closing his eyes and doing his utmost to assume the expression of a martyr. "If anything goes wrong, put the blame on little Johnnie. Cock Robin wasn't in the same class with little Johnnie-"

"You've talked enough," broke in Zeke. "All your talkin' isn't goin' to bring back our boat. The question is what are we goin' to do, now that one of the boats is gone."

"Can't we all get into one boat?" inquired George.

"You can," snapped Zeke, "but you won't stay in very long. She would never carry six."

"What shall we do, then?" asked Fred.

"I think the first thing for us to do is to look around and see if we can find anything that will give us a clue to the takin' o' the boat."

Acting upon the suggestion the boys at once began a search along the shore, Fred and John steadily moving back from the river.

Not one of them, however, was able to discover any signs of the presence of the men whom they suspected. The plain fact was that the heavy boat was gone and with it had gone many of their supplies.

It was true that one boat was still left, but the guide's statement that it could not carry six left only one way out of the present difficulty.

"We can do one of two things," suggested Pete when the members of the party assembled again. "We can leave some o' you here and the rest o' us can strike out across the country for more supplies. It won't be so hard comin' back as it will be goin'. We'll get some burros to carry the stuff back for us and then they can go back with the drivers."

"If we don't do that what else can we do?" inquired Grant.

"Some of us can go down the river in the boat and then strike out for Thorn's Gulch while the others are coming overland."

"It will take two days to do that," said Fred ruefully.

"And the other will take four and maybe five," retorted Zeke.

A marked difference of opinion appeared in the company, but at last it was decided that Pete and John should go for additional supplies while all the other members of the party were to remain where they then were.

Sharp directions were given by the departing Pete that no one should leave the camp during his absence.

The Go Ahead Boys promised faithfully to follow his suggestion and within an hour Pete, who was nearly as tall as John, and his companion had disappeared from sight.

A renewed search for evidences of the men who had taken the boats was made, and Zeke and Fred even went down the stream a mile vainly hoping that they might find the boat stranded somewhere in the region. Their search was unavailing and when they returned to the camp it was with a fixed opinion that the sole solution of their difficulties was to be found in patiently remaining in camp until Pete and John had made their long journey across the desert.

That evening while they were seated about the campfire conversation turned upon the mighty river near which they had found their resting place.

"Yes, air," Zeke was saying, "the first man an' about the only man that ever went the whole length of the Colorado was Major Powell."

"Did he go in a little boat?" inquired Fred.

"Yes, he had four bo

ats?" replied Zeke. "They were all small, but every one was built for the voyage."

"Did he go alone?" inquired George.

"No. Nine men went with him."

"When was it?" asked Grant.

"In 1869. It took a lot of nerve to start on that trip too, let me tell you. Even the Indians were afraid of the river and every one of them said he didn't know really what the river was."

"What do you mean?" asked Fred.

"Why the redskins had all sorts of stories about the Colorado from the place where the Grand and the Green join to make it. And they had a lot to make them afraid, too. You see no one ever knew, when his boat got caught in the currents or whirlpools, whether there might be ahead o' him some great underground passage where the river had cut its way and the boat might be carried in there and never get out. Then too when they started on a swift current no one could tell when the water got rougher and swifter whether they were goin' head on for some great, roarin' cataract. Yes, sir, it was a very ticklish trip that Major Powell took, and what made it still worse for him was the fact that he had only one arm."

"What did he do with the other one?" inquired Fred.

"Had it shot away in the Civil War. I tell you he had more nerve than any man that ever came out to these parts. Unless p'raps it was Bill Williams, whose grave is away over yonder more than fifty miles beyond the Grand Canyon."

"Did the men who were with Major Powell come through all right?" asked Fred.

"All those that stayed with him did. There were four that got discouraged, and cleared out and left the very day when Major Powell floated clear of the Grand Canyon. It's strange about that. The exploring party came out all right, but not one of the four men that deserted was ever afterwards heard of. Probably they tried to make their way up some o' these cliffs and tumbled and fell."

"Did you say that the Indians knew all about the Grand Canyon?" asked Grant.

"No, I didn't say no sech thing," said Zeke sharply. "What I said was that the Indians were afraid of the place. They had any number of stories about the region."

"What were they?" asked Fred eagerly.

"Oh, I don't know," answered Zeke, "There was one, I understand, about the Indians believin' or at least reportin' that the Grand Canyon was the road to heaven. They had a story that one time one of their big chiefs lost his wife. He was very fond of her and when she died it seemed to take the heart right out o' him. He spent most o' his time mournin' for her and pretty soon the life o' the tribe was beginnin' to suffer.

"At last, at least so the Indians say, the god, Tavwoats, offered to prove to the big chief that his wife was happier than she had been even when she was livin' 'long with him. The chief took him at his word and Tavwoats started right away to take the chief where he could look on the happiness of his wife. It seems the trail he made to the Happy Land was what we now call the Grand Canyon. They say that there were more bright colors and pretty places to be seen there then than one can find now.

"When Tavwoats and the big chief came back through the trail among the mountains, the god rolled a wild and roaring river into it to keep out those who did not deserve to go to the Happy Land. That's the way the Colorado River was formed, at least accordin' to th' Indian story. Of course they didn't know what we know now that the Grand and Green joined forces to make up the big stream."

"That's a very pretty story," said Grant, rising as he spoke. "The Indians must have had a lot of poetry in them to make up so many wonderful legends."

"You would have thought they had poetry in them," said Zeke, "if you ever happened to be out here when there was a Navajo or Apache uprising. I tell you the air is full of poetry then, the same as it is full of rows and yells and shouts, and you can see the redskins full of poetry,-some people out here call the stuff they drink by another name,-ridin' like mad 'round the desert shooting every man, woman and child they can find. Oh, yes," he added, "it's a whole lot o' poetry."

The hour, however, had arrived when the Go Ahead Boys were ready to retire for the night. Fred was the first to set an example but in a brief time the other Go Ahead Boys had followed, the fire had been extinguished and silence rested over the region.

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