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   Chapter 9 DOWN THE RUSHING RIVER

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 9521

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


"We saw where the two white men camped last night," explained Thomas Jefferson. "They are working' their way into Thorn's Gulch."

"And do you think they are looking for Simon Moultrie's claim the same as we are?" demanded John, who was not fully aware of the events which had occurred during his absence.

The Navajo smiled slightly and replied, "Yes, they both are trying to find the place."

"Do you know where it is? Have you anything to show where he found the new mine?"

"Not very much," replied the Indian.

His manner, however, impressed the Go Ahead Boys strongly that Thomas Jefferson possessed information concerning the object of their search which he was not willing to communicate.

The mystery surrounding the place had deepened. The fact that two white men as well as two Indians, in addition to the Go Ahead Boys and their guides, were convinced at the same time that the dead Simon Moultrie had discovered a lead of great promise, increased their interest. Already Fred and John had discussed what they would do with the fortune which they were convinced soon would be theirs as soon as the claim of the dead prospector had been located.

John and Pete, thoroughly wearied by their long journey for supplies, were soon ready for bed. Their example was contagious and in view of the long and difficult journey awaiting them on the morrow all the Go Ahead Boys speedily followed their example.

Daylight had appeared, though the light of the rising sun had not yet shone above the towering cliffs, when the guides were busily preparing breakfast the next morning.

In spite of the prospect awaiting them the appetites of the Go Ahead Boys were all keen and a hearty breakfast was disposed of before any one suggested that the hour for their departure had arrived.

A few of their belongings were left behind, after they had been carefully stowed away among the various cliffs and hidden from the sight of any chance passerby. It was seven o'clock when at last Zeke declared the party was ready to depart.

Every boy had his kit strapped upon his back in addition to the rifle which he carried while Zeke led the way and Pete served as a rear guard.

Since the missing boat had not been recovered it had been decided to try to make the journey overland. However, just as the party left the camp Pete said decidedly, "I think this is all fool business."

"What do you mean?" demanded Fred, who was next before him.

"I think it's foolishness for all six of us to go overland when we have a boat that will bring us within a few miles of Thorn's Gulch. Some of our heaviest supplies can be taken that way, and, if we have to, Zeke and I can make two trips from the place where we can land to the opening to Thorn's Gulch. Hold on," he called to Zeke.

The little party abruptly halted and after Pete had warmly urged his views Zeke reluctantly consented to a change in their plans. Pete, accompanied by Fred and John were to return and use the boat as far as they were able to make their way safely toward Thorn's Gulch. They would then land, draw the boat up on the shore, where it would be safe from storms, and at once start for the entrance of Thorn's Gulch where they were to await the coming of their companions. Naturally it was expected that the party led by Pete would arrive at the Gulch before the others. In that event Pete was to select a camp and make such provisions as were in his power for spending the second night.

Zeke had explained that he was not planning to rush his party across the desert. Rather he explained he would move leisurely, finding some place for rest and refuge in the middle of the day. In no place would he depart far from the rim of the Grand Canyon. He was confident that even with these expected delays he would easily arrive at their destination by sunset of the second day.

The two Navajos had not been included in either party; the truth of the matter being that neither Zeke nor Pete wanted the young Indians among his followers.

The feeling of the boys, however, was markedly different, but they did not make any objections, relying upon the need of assistance later to warrant them in inviting Thomas Jefferson and his friend to become members of their party at that time. Indeed Fred had expressed himself in this manner to the Navajos, and Thomas Jefferson, indicating that he understood fully the conditions, promised to report later after the party had entered Thorn's Gulch.

There was no further delay and George and Grant following Zeke soon disappeared from the sight of their companions.

Meanwhile Fred and John assisted Pete in packing in their boat the supplies which they were to carry down the Colorado.

Both George and Grant had protested

against their companions attempting the passage of the river. They were aware of the perils that awaited them and were fearful that they would not be able to land all their cargo safely.

"That's the way of it," said Fred in mock solemnity when he had responded to George's protest. "You don't care anything about us, but you're mightily afraid that some of the things we have on board may be lost in the river."

"We don't want to lose either the crew or the cargo," retorted George.

"There's no more danger going down the stream where we are than there is in trying to climb the cliffs and strike out overland," declared Pete.

No further protest had been made and not long after the departure of the division which was to climb the rugged pathway that led to the table-land the sailors were ready to embark.

Fred and John were both skillful in handling the boat, a form of knowledge in which even Grant was proficient. It was for this reason largely that Pete had selected Fred and John to accompany him.

Before he stepped on board, John, who was to push at the stern, looked out over the broad river. The current made in toward the shore where he was standing and was clearly defined. The swift waters bore around a bend not more than fifty yards below them. It is true that the passage here had already been made and the boat hauled back, but the very fact that a previous voyage had been tried although it allayed certain fears nevertheless made both Go Ahead Boys aware of the places where peril would confront them.

Pete was in the bow holding a long pole in his hands, while Fred was to take his friend's place whenever the latter desired him to.

In a brief time the strong heavy skiff was caught in the sweep of the channel and was borne swiftly down the rushing Colorado.

There was an excitement in the attempt that manifested itself clearly in the faces of all three. At one place where for a brief time the waters were stiller Pete turned to his fellow voyagers and shouted, "My, I must say you're the two nerviest boys I ever see."

John and Fred stared blankly at each other at the compliment, neither in fact having been unduly alarmed or suspecting that they were passing through any unusual peril.

Twice the boat had been swept in close to a projecting ledge but fortunately had escaped without any serious crash.

At the end of ten minutes the boys were aware that they were approaching the place which they dreaded most of all in their descent. The river became somewhat narrower here and the waters consequently were much deeper. A shoal or some huge hidden ledge rose in mid-stream and the swift current, divided by the obstacle, roared and sang as it rushed forward on its way on either side. One hundred yards below the projecting rock the divided channel was reunited. There was a great peril, however, that the little boat, as it was driven forward by one part of the stream, might be caught in the eddies that were formed when the waters united.

For a time the rocky shores seemed to be flying past the advancing boat. Occasional glimpses of the sky far above them added to the picture. Before them extended a long, narrow defile through which the deep water seethed and boiled as it sped forward. The grave peril here was that the boat might strike some of the projecting rocks or be grounded on one of the hidden projections. It was impossible for any one to use his pole here and Fred had passed the paddle to John while he himself insisted upon taking his place in the bow and ordering Pete to seat himself amidship.

The boat was moving at least ten miles an hour. Two-thirds of the passage had been safely made. The expression on Fred's face was tense as occasionally he caught a glimpse behind him of his long friend working desperately with his paddle.

Every ounce of strength each boy possessed was required for the effort. Occasionally the guide shouted his direction first to one boy and then to another and then to both alike. Neither Fred nor John, however gave much heed to their advisor nor indeed was it possible for them to hear what he said. The sound of the noisy water filled their ears, the peril of the projecting rocks continued to face them and a glance at the dark colored stream below was sufficient to warn them of dangers to be avoided there.

Fred, who, as has been said, was paddling from the bow turned for a moment to glance back at John. At that moment, however, the heavy boat suddenly struck an unseen rock. The force of the current was sufficient to drive the boat safely over the place of peril, but Fred as he had nearly lost his balance glanced again behind and to his horror he saw the long legs of John disappearing over the side of the boat.

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