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The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 9353

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

For a considerable distance the way along which the guide was leading was not difficult. The footing was fairly strong and there were not many obstacles to be met.

Both boys in spite of the exciting experiences of the morning were deeply interested in the marvelous sights which greeted them as they advanced into the gulch.

On the sides of the canyon layers of rock and earth of different colors were plainly to be seen. Occasionally there were strange formations that extended from the rim of the cliff to the bottom of the valley that were like huge buttresses fashioned by the hands of men.

"Look at that!" exclaimed Fred, calling the attention of John to one of these peculiar formations. "That looks exactly as if it had been cut out by a mason."

"It certainly does," acknowledged John, stopping and gazing at the interesting sight. "Indeed, if we had this place back east," he continued, "it would not be difficult to make some people believe that it had been especially designed so that they could charge a dime a head to come in to see it. What do you suppose Coney Island would do with the Grand Canyon?"

"I guess Coney Island, if it had the Grand Canyon, would hide in some little corner. You wouldn't see much of the Island in a place like that."

Pete was not leading his young charges at a rapid pace. In spite of the fact that they were at the bottom of the gulch the altitude was still so high that breathing was somewhat difficult.

They steadily continued on their way for two hours, making only occasional stops. Then they halted for the midday rest and the preparation of the luncheon which Pete at once began to get ready.

The fire was kindled under the lea of a projecting shelf of rock and soon the odor of broiling bacon appealed strongly to the Go Ahead Boys, whose appetites already needed no stimulant.

"This is the life!" exclaimed John a few minutes later when he and Fred were seated on rocks under the shade of the over-hanging cliffs.

John was holding a strip of broiled bacon on the end of the stick which he grasped in one hand, while with the other he was holding a huge piece of johnny-cake, in the making of which Pete was an expert.

"We couldn't find anything better than this," responded Fred, "even after we have dug out our mine. I wonder what we'll do with all the money we'll get."

"I know what I shall do with mine," laughed John.


"Spend it in carfare coming out to the Colorado River. I would like nothing better than to start in where the Green and Grand Rivers join and try to do what Major Powell did. Indeed, I would like to go clear through to the lower part of the Gulf of California."

"You don't want very much, do you?" laughed Fred.

"Not very much," retorted John. "This simple life appeals to me all right."

"You certainly looked simple this morning when you disappeared in the river."

"You mean I looked simple before I disappeared," retorted John. "I don't know what I can do to make you more careful in your use of the English language. You certainly did not see me after I disappeared."

"We certainly did," retorted Fred. "I saw your head away down the stream though your feet weren't very far in front of the boat. You were going like mad."

"I don't deserve any credit for that," laughed John as he extended his stick for more bacon.

"Did you notice how many branches there are to this gulch?" inquired John as he resumed his repast. "I've counted four or five canyons that open into the right side of this gulch and I guess there are as many on the other side although I can't see."

"Yes, it's all broken up," acknowledged Fred as he looked in the direction indicated by his companion. "It's a mighty interesting place."

"That's no news," laughed John. "Where are you going?"

Fred had arisen and throwing his gun over his shoulder he had started toward one of the canyons that opened on the opposite side of the great gulch.

"Where are you going?" called out Pete sharply as he discovered the action of the Go Ahead Boy.

"Not very far," replied Fred.

"You had better not," warned Pete. "Look out for snakes."

Fred stopped abruptly at the reference to the reptiles, but as John laughed loudly he decided to continue on his way. "Come along, Jack," Fred called.

"Nay verily, not so. I've had all the hike I want to-day."

Fred laughed and made no further response. Without waiting for his friend to join him he turned into the canyon and in a few minutes was unable to see the camping place which he had left behind him.

Fred, who had a keen eye for color, was examining the marvelous shades that were to be seen along

the sides of the canyon. Rock and soil were clearly distinguished and the comparison which John had made the preceding day, when he had said that the sides of the canyon looked like a great piece of layer-cake, caused Fred to smile at the recollection.

He stopped abruptly when for a moment he fancied he saw a huge living creature behind a sage bush a few yards before him. Pete had related many stories of the savage mountain lion and the peril of encounters which he had with the savage beasts. Since he had started, the fiercest animal Fred had seen had been the noisy little coyote. After night fall the sly, little beasts often came within sound of the camp and their weird barks or cries made the silence of the night appear even more intense. Of bears Fred had not seen one. Pete had related the story of the fate which had befallen a friend of his who, making his way through the forest one day had jumped upon a log which appeared in his pathway and without any delay then had leaped down upon the ground before him. The "ground" however, had proved to be a she-bear with her two cubs nearby. "They found only the bones of poor Jim Hyde," Pete had remarked at the end of the story.

"I don't see how you know that Jim jumped upon a log," suggested John when the guide's story had been told.

"That was easy," declared Pete. "We saw the prints of his feet leading right up to the log and marks where he stood on the top and then over on the other side there was nothing but the bones of the poor fellow."

Fred recalled the somewhat gruesome tale as he entered further within the shades of the canyon.

The sight, however, was so fascinating that he still continued on his way. The vivid coloring of the sides seemed to be more marked most of the way just a little in advance. Led on by the continued hope of discovering some place of special beauty, Fred was astonished when at last he looked at his watch and saw that more than an hour had elapsed since he had left his friends.

The Go Ahead Boy was less interested in the sights which greeted him on his return than when he at first entered the canyon. Occasionally he stopped before some sight that was unusually impressive, but he was eager to retrace his way for he was aware that the guide would soon want to resume their journey.

When he came nearer the place he was seeking, Fred's thoughts were turned once more to the mine for which the search was to be made. At the thought his eagerness again increased and he began to walk more rapidly.

It was strange that he did not discover the place before him where his friends were awaiting his coming. He steadily continued on his way, walking occasionally with increased speed.

At last really puzzled by his failure to discover the camp he stopped and looked keenly about him in all directions. Why was it that he had not found the place where they had stopped for their noonday meal? Indeed, as he now looked about him on all sides he failed to recognize the region.

There was a sinking of Fred's heart and yet the boy refused to believe that he had lost his way or that he was really in peril. There were many small canyons or gulches, as has been said, which opened into the larger gulch. Into several of these Fred entered, hoping to discover something that would convince him that he was moving in the right direction.

His alarm increased, however, when he soon discovered that he was moving through a region that was entirely unknown. Not a familiar object was to be seen.

The fear in his heart deepened and again the troubled boy stopped to look keenly about him.

As Fred tried to obtain his bearings his confusion apparently increased. The stream in the bottom of the gulch was wider than the one he had seen in the first part of his journey. He peered in one direction in his search for landmarks only to fail and then turn and try the same experiment in another gulch. All his efforts were alike unavailing and a great fear now welled up in the heart of the troubled boy.

He looked up to the rim and saw the passing clouds that seemed to be close to the ground. There was no help to be found from that direction and suddenly he laughed aloud as he thought of his rifle. He would fire the gun and as soon as he heard the response of John he would know in which direction to move.

Accordingly he discharged his gun and then as there was no immediate response, he waited in suspense until he was convinced that no answering report had been given. Again he fired and once more he waited for the answering shot. No answer, however, was given and now thoroughly alarmed Fred again turned and retraced his way.

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