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   Chapter 15 THE SEARCH

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 10212

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

A strange feeling of excitement now possessed Fred. He already had recognized George and a moment later was certain that the two Indians who had entered their camp were the ones who now were assisting his friend.

Pushing forward as rapidly as he was able, Fred had not gone far before in his loudest tones he shouted, "I'm coming! I'm coming!"

At the sound instantly all three of the persons he had seen turned and looked blankly in the direction from which the unexpected hail had come. For a moment Fred was startled for fear that the surprise might harm George who might lose his grip on the steep and loose side of the gulch. His one thought, however, had been that by the announcement of his coming he might encourage all three to use their utmost endeavors until he should arrive at the place where he might help the Indian.

His alarm, however, was unfounded. Fred, desperately fighting his feeling of weariness and hunger, pushed forward rapidly on his way and was greatly relieved when he saw that George and both Indians also were renewing their efforts. Slowly and yet steadily George was making the ascent. Occasionally he stopped for rest, but not once had he looked behind him. The advice of Thomas Jefferson to look only above him when he was climbing had been strictly followed.

It was nearly at the same time when Fred and George arrived at the place on the brink of the canyon where Kitoni, the Indian, was standing. Each boy was aware of the emotions that filled the heart of his friend. For a moment they were both unable to speak and then Fred, whose tongue was seldom silent long, said eagerly, while his eyes filled with tears, "You must have had a close call, George."

"I did," replied George. "Somehow I slipped over the edge here and went sliding down that incline. I tried to stop myself but I couldn't get any brace or foothold until I came to the little shelf down there. That small tree saved my life."

"Were you alone?" inquired Fred.

"Yes," replied George foolishly. "I must have dropped behind Grant and Zeke. We were pretty well spread out here anyway."

"How long ago did it happen?"

"About fifty years, I should judge by my feelings," replied George dryly. "I fancy it really was about an hour or two."

"Why didn't Grant and Zeke come back and look for you?"

"Perhaps they did. They may have passed the place without knowing that I was anywhere near. But how is it that you are here alone? Where are String and Pete?"

"That's what I don't know," said Fred.

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say, I haven't the slightest idea where they are."

"Where did you leave them?"

"Way back near the entrance of Thorn's Gulch. We stopped in the middle of the day yesterday and after we had eaten our luncheon I began to make some investigations of my own. That's the last I've seen of either Pete or Jack and besides I haven't had a mouthful to eat since yesterday noon."

"You haven't?" exclaimed George. "I'm afraid we can't do anything for you until we find Grant and Zeke. They have most of the supplies. Let me get into my pack and see what I've got."

George's pack which Thomas Jefferson had insisted upon taking when he rescued the Go Ahead Boy was now opened but there was no food in it.

"There's nothing else to be done," said George, shaking his head.

"Yes, there is something to be done," said Fred tartly. "We've got to do something. You don't know where Soc and Zeke are and I don't know where String and Pete may be. We've got to find them."

"We'll find them," suggested Thomas Jefferson quickly.

Both young Indians had been silent during the conversation although they were intensely interested in the conversation of the two boys.

"I shall go to look up the two who went ahead of you-" began Thomas Jefferson.

"But they may have passed this place and gone in the other direction," interrupted George.

"I shall see," said the Navajo quietly. "I shall go in that direction and Kitoni will go in the other looking for the other two."

"But he may not find them," suggested George quickly. "They probably thought Fred was lost and they have been staying where they were when he left them."

"We shall see," was the laconic reply of Thomas Jefferson.

"But what makes you think they will be where Fred left them?" demanded George.

"I do not know," replied the Indian. "One may look and one may stay. If they think he is lost one may stay in the camp so that he will know where he is if he finds his way back to it. You must both stay right here where you are," he added. "Do not move even if no one comes for a day and a night. It is your only hope."

"Hi! Hi!" exclaimed George abruptly. "I've found something in my pack! It's good to eat."

George, greatly alarmed for his friend, had renewed his search among his belongings hoping to discover some food that might be prepared for the hungry lad. Strips of bacon quickly were cut and the boys, in spite of George's lameness and Fred's hunger, insisted upon making a fire and cooking the food. They were eager for the Indians to begin

their search for their missing friends as speedily as possible.

It was not long before the two Navajos started on their expeditions, Thomas Jefferson moving in the direction in which Grant and Zeke had gone, while his companion retraced his way in the hope of discovering John and the other guide.

It had been agreed that neither should remain away longer than the following evening. If the Indians were not back in camp by that time it was agreed that the meeting place which previously had been selected for the two parties should be the spot which all should seek when they returned with the lost members of the party.

It was also agreed that neither of the boys should try to withdraw from the place where they then were. The overhanging ledge protected them from the heat of the sun, and if they should be compelled to spend the night there they would be safer from the attacks of any prowling beasts than would likely be the case in a more open or exposed spot on the way they had followed.

"George," said Fred when the light had faded and the silence that rested over the great cliff was tense, "do you really think there's anything in what the Navajo said?"

"What did he say?"

"Why, don't you remember that he said that whoever tried to come in here to find the lost mine was certain to get into trouble? It seems to have worked pretty well with us so far. I lost my way and you fell and bruised your leg, to say nothing about trying to slide over the precipice and land in the valley below."

"I guess what Thomas Jefferson said didn't make you lose your way," replied George.

"I know," acknowledged Fred thoughtfully. "But how do you account for it that he should have said what he did and then before we get very far on our way into the Gulch something happens to both of us and something may have happened to John, to say nothing about Grant and Zeke."

"I guess you're tired and nervous, Pee Wee," said George, who was aware of the feeling in the heart of his friend.

"Well, all I can say," declared Fred, "is that I hope there won't be anything worse happen to us than has come already."

"Why should there be anything worse?"

"There shouldn't, that's just what I mean."

"Of course we've got a job ahead of us. It isn't any easy thing to locate a valuable claim. If it was there wouldn't be anything in the copper, or silver, or gold, or whatever the metal is that we want to get. That's why men use gold for money. It's so scarce and so hard to find and then after you have found it it's harder still to mine it. Hark," he added abruptly, "it seems to me I heard somebody speak."

Both boys listened intently and a moment later Fred declared, "You're right, Pop, there is somebody coming."

The sound of voices was faintly heard coming from the direction in which Thomas Jefferson had gone in his search for Grant and Zeke.

The sound became steadily clearer and in a brief time the dim outlines of the three approaching men were seen not far away.

"Hello, there!" called George.

"Hello, yourself!" came back the reply which both boys recognized at once as the voice of their missing comrade, Grant. A few minutes later all three arrived at the place where George and Fred were awaiting their coming.

"You're a great fellow!" exclaimed Grant to George. "Why didn't you keep up with us?"

"Why didn't you come back and look for me?" retorted George. "It's a great idea that a man slips down the side of the canyon and almost falls over a precipice and nobody cares enough about it even to stop and say good-by to him."

"We did come back," explained Grant, "and then we decided that you must have gone on again, so we turned back, then we stopped for we didn't know what to do. That was just about the time when the Navajo caught up with us and told us that you and Fred were back here together. He told us too about Fred's wandering around the canyons trying to see if he too couldn't get lost. According to Thomas Jefferson he came mighty near succeeding too."

Fred did not reply although it was plain that his feeling of relief at the return of Grant was as great as that of his companion.

The conversation speedily turned upon the exciting experiences through which all three boys had passed that day. Zeke declared gruffly that there wasn't one of them fit to be in the canyon. "I'm tellin' you," he said, "this is no place for a kid or a tenderfoot. It's a man's job to work one's way up this gulch, let me tell you, and we ought not to have any infants along with us."

"We're not 'infants,'" spoke up Fred. "Except in the eyes of the law," he added. "We're able to do the job and there isn't any one of us that's trying to back out."

"No, I wish some of you would," growled Zeke. "What with your getting lost and trying to slide over the edge of the Gulch there isn't much time to look for any lost claim or find any prospect."

"How long do you think it will be before Jack and Pete come here?" inquired Fred.

"Nobody knows," replied Zeke. "Maybe an hour, maybe a day, and maybe a week and maybe never."

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