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   Chapter 16 A STARTLING ARRIVAL

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 8986

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


Whether the gruff words of the somewhat crusty guide cast a spell over the boys or they themselves shared in the dark vision presented by him no one knew. At all events silence soon rested over the little camp and in a brief time all were asleep.

Now that Fred and George had been cared for and the immediate peril into which they had fallen was gone a feeling of relief had come to the three Go Ahead Boys. They were still anxious concerning their missing companion, but their confidence in Pete and their knowledge that John was not likely to incur any unnecessary risks, to say nothing of the search which Kitoni was making, all combined to strengthen their hope that the missing Go Ahead Boys would soon be with them.

When the light of the following morning appeared the camp was astir and Zeke, who was awake before his young charges had opened their eyes, was already preparing a simple breakfast. It had been difficult for him to obtain wood with which to kindle the fire but after a diligent search in the barren region where they had halted he at last obtained a sufficient number of dead and dried branches that had fallen from the few trees on the side of the canyon.

When breakfast had been prepared and eaten, the courage of the boys promptly revived. Frequently each turned and looked far down the great gulch, hoping to obtain a view of John or the absent guide, but as yet nothing was seen to indicate that the young Navajo had found the missing member of the party.

Already in the sunlight the air was Intensely warm. In the shade, however, it was so cool that Fred declared an overcoat would not be uncomfortable.

"I'm getting in a hurry," he said.

"It won't do you any good if you be," said Zeke solemnly. "You'll have to take things as they come."

"The trouble is they don't come," laughed Fred. "I want Pete and John here."

"I guess you'll have to put up with those of us that haven't got lost or tried to fall over the rocks," growled Zeke, his eyes twinkling as he spoke. "Here's Thomas Jefferson," he added, "he'll help you pass the time."

The Navajo had not passed the night near the spot which the boys had selected. No one was aware whether he had departed to rejoin his friend or had merely sought another resting place.

"They always show up about breakfast time," growled Zeke under his breath. Nevertheless the guide at once prepared some food for the Indian who now had rejoined the party.

"Did you see anything of our friends?" inquired Grant eagerly.

"I saw nothing," replied the Navajo. "I do not expect all people here to be safe."

"Why not?" demanded George.

"I have explained already," replied the Indian. "This is no place for white men. It belongs to the Indians, and the spirits of those who live here do not love to have white men come. I have never heard of one who tried to enter who did not have bad luck before long."

"Yes," laughed Fred, "but I have known people to have bad luck who never heard of Thorn's Gulch."

"They may have bad luck without coming here," said Thomas Jefferson, "but they are sure to have it if they do come."

"Why don't you go and help find your friend?" spoke up Zeke, addressing the Navajo as he spoke.

"Kitoni will come."

"Do you think he will find John and Pete?" inquired Fred eagerly.

"He will find them," answered the Navajo. "It may take two days, it may take more."

"Why I couldn't have been as many miles away as that," declared Fred.

"It's not the number of miles, it's the difficulty of finding the gulch into which they have gone while they were looking for you."

"Do you think they separated?" asked Fred.

The Navajo nodded affirmatively, but did not speak.

"In course they separated," spoke up Zeke. "One looked for you and the other stayed in camp so that you wouldn't be making any mistake when you came back and passed the place."

"Thomas Jefferson," spoke up Grant, "why do you think the spirits of the Indians live here in Thorn's Gulch?"

Whatever the opinion of the Navajo may have been he did not explain. Indeed he did not even reply to the question. It was manifest that he himself thoroughly believed in what he had said. Even his three years in the Eastern school had not been sufficient to deprive him entirely of the superstitions which he had inherited from his ancestors.

"Do you think we'll find that mining claim?" inquired George.

"I don't know," replied the Indian.

"But what do you think?" persisted

George.

"I don't know," again said the red man.

Convinced that it was useless to attempt to obtain any opinion from the young Indian, the boy ceased to question him.

Striving to possess their souls in patience they waited while the sun climbed higher into the heavens and still its light did not betray any signs of the coming of their missing friends. By turning and leaning a few feet over the way, the three boys were able to see much farther into the gulch behind them.

Patiently they kept watch but the slow minutes moved on and still John did not come.

It was late in the afternoon when Grant suddenly sprang to his feet and after gazing long and earnestly in the direction in which the guide was looking, he said excitedly, "Zeke, isn't that two men coming up the trail?"

"Yes," replied the guide shortly.

Instantly the three Go Ahead Boys were standing and peering excitedly in the direction indicated by Grant.

"That can't be String and Pete," said George in a low voice. "They would come from the other direction, wouldn't they, Zeke?"

"Yes," replied the guide abruptly.

"Then who are these men?"

"Not knowing, I can't tell you. I can say though that I hope you'll be quiet and not forget that children are to be seen and not heard. In course I mean if those two men come here, as I think they will."

The unexpected discovery of two men in the gulch was of itself startling. Seldom had the foot of man trod these weary wastes. There was an air of complete desolation that rested over the entire region. The discovery therefore of two men coming along the side of the canyon and following the way over which Zeke had gone was doubly surprising.

Conversation lagged while all four carefully watched the actions of the approaching men.

Whoever the strangers might be it was evident that they were not entirely unfamiliar with the region. They picked their way with confidence and made surprisingly good time as they advanced.

When they had come within fifty yards of the place where the boys were standing, Fred excitedly seized George by his arm and said, "Do you see who those two men are?"

"Who are they?" asked George.

"They are the same two white men that came into our camp over on the canyon."

"Is that so, Zeke?" demanded George in surprise as he turned to the guide.

"Yes," answered Zeke sharply. "Now see if you can keep from talking too much."

In a brief time the two white men advanced to the camp. From their actions it was apparent that they had not been aware of the presence of the young prospectors. Their surprise consequently was as great as that of the Go Ahead Boys.

When they entered the camp the long, livid scar on the cheek of the smaller man convinced the boys that their visitors were indeed the same men who previously had come to their camp and to whose actions they had attributed the loss of the diary of Simon Moultrie, as well as the strange disappearance of the second boat.

The visitors were the first to speak as the taller man said, "What are you folks doing here?"

"Just now we're doing nothin'," replied Zeke brusquely. "Can't you see?"

"That's about the same job we've got," laughed the man with the scar.

"We've been busy enough," growled Zeke.

"Doing what, may I ask?" inquired the larger of the visitors.

"Oh, looking for a lost boat-"

"Nice place to look for a boat," replied the man with the scar as he laughingly pointed to the desert wastes all about them.

"That makes no difference, we've found it just the same," declared Zeke.

For a moment the two white men stared blankly at him, and then both laughed as one said, "If you don't mind I wish you'd tell us where you found a boat up here."

"I didn't say it was up here," explained Zeke. "I said we'd found a boat where the men who took it had smashed."

"How do you know it was smashed?" inquired the man with the scar.

"Tell him," said Zeke abruptly, turning to Fred, "I wasn't myself in the party," he explained, "but this boy was and he knows all about it."

"Pete was the one who found the boat," exclaimed Fred, "but we all saw it."

"We likewise also are looking for a lost diary," broke in Zeke.

"It's a nice place to look for that, too," said the man with the scar.

For a moment the two visitors looked keenly at each other while neither spoke.

"I tell you," said Fred excitedly in a whisper to George, "they are both bad men and I wish we were out of this."

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