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   Chapter 12 A WRECK

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 10219

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


John was an expert swimmer but his skill was not of much avail when he plunged headlong into the rushing waters of the Colorado. The boat was moving swiftly when he met with his accident and it was impossible for the Go Ahead Boy to retrace his course and swim directly toward the shore.

The horror of Fred and Pete when they saw the long legs of John just disappearing beneath the surface of the river may well be imagined. It was impossible for them to check the speed of the boat and equally impossible to change its course. Almost as helpless as if it had been a chip it was carried forward by the swift current.

"He's going faster than we are," said Fred in a low voice as he discovered the head of his friend several yards in advance of the skiff.

"Then he must be swimming," said Pete. "Is he a good swimmer?"

"I never saw a better," replied Fred, not once turning away his eyes from the sight of John. "He has the Australian crawl and all the fancy strokes."

"I don't know nothin' about them crawls," answered Pete, "but he's swimmin' like a duck. He'll reach that point below us long before we get there."

The guide's surmise was correct for John was exerting himself strongly to gain a low point which he had seen in the distance and around which the swift waters of the current were swept forward.

Before the conversation in the boat was renewed both the guide and Fred were aware that John had succeeded in his attempt.

He had gained the low lying shore, but in his efforts to rise, although the water where he was standing did not come above his waist, he several times was thrown back into the stream and once nearly lost his foothold.

However, at last the sturdy lad succeeded in gaining the shore. As soon as he had shaken the water from his head he turned to look in the direction from which the skiff was coming. The boat now was not more than one hundred feet away.

"Come in here! Stop here!" shouted John in his loudest tones.

Whether or not his words were heard he saw that his friends were doing their utmost to follow his directions. Still borne onward by the rushing current they nevertheless succeeded in gaining the outer edge and when the sharp bend around the point was made they came sufficiently near the shore to enable Pete with the painter in his hand to leap into the shallow water.

Although the guide braced himself strongly and exerted all his strength, his attempt would have failed, if John, instantly aware of the predicament of his companion, had not leaped to his aid. While Pete was struggling and striving to regain a firm standing John seized the painter and as he was braced for the sudden strain he succeeded in checking the speed of the boat and drawing it within the more sheltered waters of the little bay.

Meanwhile Pete had succeeded in grasping the gunwale of the skiff and promptly shouted, "Run her up on the beach, boys! One, two, three! Now then, all together!"

By their united efforts they succeeded in bringing the boat up on the shore to a place where it was not in danger of being swept away by the swiftly flowing river.

"That's what I call a close call," exclaimed Fred with a sigh of relief, when at last he was certain not only that his friend was safe but that all the cargo and the skiff itself had been landed. "What happened to you?" he inquired of John.

"I didn't have time to find out very much," replied John demurely. "I lost my balance and the first thing I knew I was making as graceful a dive as ever you saw. I went up like a rocket."

"You looked very much like a rocket," sniffed Pete. "We saw your long legs hanging down and thought that something must have pulled you out of the boat."

"Something did," replied John dryly.

"What was it?" demanded Pete.

"The force of gravitation. I had all I could do to make this shore, let me tell you. I had on sneakers and I put in my best work, for I wanted to get on this side of the channel. At first I thought I was not going to make it but I did at last and here I am."

"Are you hurt any?" asked Fred.

"Hurt? No. I'm as sound as I was when we started."

"You may be as sound," laughed Fred, relieved now by the assurance that John was not injured, "but you're a woe-be-gone looking specimen. I think even you would laugh, String, if you could see yourself. You're like the definition of a line that Mr. Strong gave us in mathematics. You're the shortest distance between two points, a length without breadth or thickness."

"I've heard those words before," said John sharply. "I wish somebody could get up something new if he wants to make remarks concerning my physique. I'm not the one to blame if it doesn't suit you."

"Nobody blames you, Johnnie," laughed Fred. "We're just trying to face the cold facts."

"That's what I'm trying to do too," said John demurely. "I had in my pocket a copy we made, or at least what we thought was a copy, of the records from old Simon Moultrie's diary and they are gone now."

"Are you sure?" asked Fred, startled by the unexpected statement.

"Yes, I'm sure," replied Joh

n, turning the pockets inside out as he spoke. "I put them right in here," he explained as he placed his hand upon one pocket.

"I guess there won't be a great deal of harm done," spoke up Pete. "It was all done from memory anyway, at least that's what I understood you to say."

"That's right, it was," said John, "but if you have a piece of paper in your pocket, Fred let me have it and I'll write it out again. I'll do it now. It will be easier and safer to fix it up before we start than it will to let it all get dim in our minds."

Accordingly John took the diary which Fred handed him and tearing a leaf from the back of it at once proceeded to draw from memory an outline of the picture in Simon Moultrie's diary. To this he added the puzzling directions which they had found indicated near the stake. "I think we're all right," he said with satisfaction as he glanced at the drawing he had made.

"There's one thing about it," said Pete, "it won't do no harm. Now then, if you're rested, I think we'd better start on, only I think I'll chain your long legs to the boat so that if you decide to leave us the way you did before, we can haul you in the same as we would an anchor."

"You won't have to haul me in," retorted John. "I'm going to stay by you this time."

"See that you do," said Pete sharply.

In a brief time the boat had been pushed out once more into the stream and again the three passengers with their poles had taken their stations and were prepared to do their utmost to guide the course down the river.

For a considerable distance the waters were not so turbulent as they had been farther up the stream. Occasional rocks were passed and several times the points rising almost to the surface of the river were discovered. However, the current was so strong that it carried the boat safely around the threatening danger, and almost with the speed of a race horse the little party again turned down the stream.

It was not long before the spot which Pete had declared was to be their landing-place was seen before them. Here there was no great difficulty in gaining the shore and in a brief time the three passengers and the skiff were safely on the bank.

"What shall we do with the skiff?" inquired John after the cargo had been unloaded.

"We'll leave it here and let some one else take it up the stream or use it if he goes down. I think it will carry clear to the Gulf of California if he wants to try it."

"How about that map, String?" demanded Fred as he turned again to his tall companion.

"Right in my pocket," declared John promptly, "and dry too. I told you I was not going overboard this time, and I kept my promise, didn't I?"

"You certainly did," laughed Fred. "Now, then, what are we to do next?" he added, turning to the guide as he spoke.

Pete, however, did not reply. He had advanced several yards up the shore and was drawing from the loose soil several pieces that evidently were parts of a boat that had been wrecked.

"Do you see those?" he inquired, holding up some of the parts he had found.

"Yes," answered Fred. "It looks as if a boat had been wrecked down here, doesn't it?"

"It was 'wrecked' all right," answered Pete, "but I'm wondering if either of you boys knows what boat it was?"

"What boat was it?" inquired John, advancing to the place where the guide was standing.

"It's our lost skiff," replied Pete.

"What!"

"It's just as I'm tellin' you," Pete repeated. "That skiff we lost the other night didn't get loose. It was taken by somebody who knew what he was doing and brought down here. Here's where the party landed," he added, as he pointed to the shore. "But the boat wasn't 'wrecked,' unless you call smashing it wrecking it."

"What do you mean? How do you know?" demanded Fred in keen excitement.

"I know because I can see with both eyes," replied Pete sharply. "I don't have to have it all written out for me when I see what's happened to that boat."

"Why should anybody want to wreck it?" inquired Fred.

"It might be safer for some people if they started down the stream from here not to have any boats around that could follow."

"Do you think those two men who were in our camp took the boat?" Fred inquired abruptly.

"That's exactly what I think. And I think too," the guide added as he stopped to examine other parts of the boat, "that this skiff was wrecked as well as smashed. There's a hole stove in the bottom and then there are places that have been cut by an axe so I guess both parts of the story are true."

"Do you suppose they went up Thorn's Gulch from here?" asked Fred in a low voice.

"That's just what I think they did," replied Pete.

"Do you think we may meet them somewhere in the Gulch?"

"I shouldn't be a bit surprised."

"Then we may have pretty serious trouble before we're done."

"Right you are," assented Pete. "But it's time for us to be moving, boys," he added. "Here, I'll help each of you with his pack and we'll start out. If those two men are ahead of us we'll know it before they know that we're following them."

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