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   Chapter 20 TWO CROW TREE

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 9836

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

The party was compelled to move somewhat slowly as Fred and George had not yet entirely recovered from their recent experiences. Their spirits, however, were high, and in the bracing air of the early morning the troubles of the preceding night were forgotten.

Zeke and Thomas Jefferson led the way while Pete and the other Navajo formed a rear guard. The packs had been rearranged so that now the burdens were lighter for every one. Indeed, the loss of the pack which their white visitor had taken had made the guides somewhat anxious concerning the outlook for supplies. A journey of one hundred miles at least would be required to obtain fresh provisions and at least a week would be necessary if one of the guides should be sent to obtain them. There might be difficulty too in bringing in the supplies even if they should be obtained.

In a measure the boys reflected the feeling of their leaders, but their confidence in the speedy outcome of their quest was keen and as a consequence other things were ignored or forgotten.

As the morning waned the conversation lagged somewhat and the hour was near when they planned to stop for their noonday meal and rest. They were now walking along the rim of the great Gulch. Their pathway had led upward and indeed there were places immediately below them where it was more than doubtful if they would be able to proceed.

At a sudden sharp call from Zeke the remaining members of the party hastened forward to the place where the guide was standing.

"Look ahead of you," said Zeke. "Do you see anything?"

"I see rocks and the rim of the Gulch, plenty of sand and lots of sky," replied Fred glibly.

"Look along the rim," suggested Zeke, ignoring the flippant manner of the Go Ahead Boy. "What do you see about a mile ahead of us?"

"I don't see anything different from what I said," laughed Fred.

The other boys, however, were silent for a time while they peered intently in the direction indicated by the guide.

Suddenly Grant said in a low voice, "Zeke, do you mean that tree yonder?"

"That might be it," replied the guide.

As he spoke two large, black birds suddenly arose from a branch of the distant tree and flying lazily disappeared beneath the rim of the Gulch.

"That's it!" exclaimed John eagerly. "That's it! That's the tree Simon Moultrie marked out in his diary. Zeke," he added excitedly, "isn't that the Two Crow Tree?"

"It may be," replied Zeke.

"Then let's go ahead and not stop until we get there. It isn't more than a mile or two away, is it?"

"About that," replied Zeke.

The suggestion of the Go Ahead boy was at once adopted. The entire party increased their speed and rapidly moved forward.

Twenty minutes had elapsed when they stood beneath the tree which had been discovered by Zeke.

"What kind of a tree is it?" inquired Fred.

"It's a Two Crow Tree," retorted George glibly.

"I wish I was dead sure of that," spoke up Zeke.

"Don't you think it is?" demanded Grant.

"Yes, I think it is, but of course I can't be sure."

"What shall we do now?" demanded Fred.

"Cook our dinner here and decide what we'll do next."

As soon as the simple meal had been prepared the young prospectors were summoned to the repast. Their interest was so keen, however, in the tree under whose branches they were seated that all the Go Ahead Boys were ready to declare that the first landmark indicated by Simon Moultrie had been found.

"The only thing for us to do," said Zeke after he had listened to all that the boys had to say, "is for Thomas Jefferson and myself to leave you here while we go ahead to see if we can find anything that looks like Tom's Thumb. If we find it then we may be pretty sure that we're on the right track."

"How will you know?" inquired John.

"Have to use our common sense," said the guide sharply.

"Did you ever see Tom's Thumb?"

"If I did I didn't know it by that name," said Zeke. "What do you boys think we had better look for?"

"I say a rock shaped like a man's thumb," said Fred.

"I don't," spoke up John. "What I would look for would be a place in the mountains ahead."

"I suggest a formation in the rim of the Gulch," said George.

"What do you say?" demanded Zeke as he turned to Grant.

For some reason the guide manifested greater confidence in the judgment of Grant than in the opinions of the other boys.

"It seems to me," said Grant slowly, "that I should be on the lookout for all of them. I'm inclined to think, however, that if you find it, it's likely to be something in the shape of the ground that makes one think of a man's thumb."

"Don't none of you boys stir from this tree," ordered Zeke abruptly. "Jeff and I will go ahead and-"

"For a time you'll be the Go Ahead Boys," laughed Fred.

"I don't care much 'bout what you call us, but if we can get there you'll hear from us before a great while."

The i

nterest of the Go Ahead Boys was still keen after the departure of the guide and the Indian. Silently they watched the two men as they steadily proceeded on their way until at last they were lost to sight by an elevation around which they were making their way.

"Soc," asked John, "why do you suppose there were two crows in that tree?"

"Because they had stopped for rest or observation," laughed Grant.

"That isn't what I mean," retorted John. "You know when crows alight they usually station one of their number as a guard on a tree or fence or some place of elevation, that is supposed to give warning. Now, I don't think I ever saw two on observation, did you?"

"I don't know that I ever did," said Grant. "Now that you speak of it, I'm not sure they were crows anyway."

"They were crows all right," declared Fred confidently.

"My, Pee Wee!" said John in mock admiration. "If I only knew just half as much as you think you know I would be a wise man."

"That's all right, String," retorted Fred glibly. "Don't you remember what I told you about that great Englishman who said that Nature never made any man seven stories high without leaving the top loft empty?"

"I believe I have heard you refer to that fact some three thousand, eight hundred and sixty-one times. In fact I have almost learned it by heart. I haven't any doubt the man who said it was a little runt not much bigger than you are."

Fred's face flushed as the Go Ahead Boys laughed and conversation ceased for a time.

The boys had given their word not to leave the region of the big tree. There was therefore nothing to be done except to endure the waiting until Zeke and the Navajo returned.

Occasionally the conversation turned on the subject of the claim which Simon Moultrie plainly had believed he had discovered.

Fred, who was the most enthusiastic of the Go Ahead Boys, was positive the lost claim would be found and that the future wealth of the four boys was therefore certain.

The others may have been as eager as Fred to find the place for which they were seeking, but they were more restrained in their manner and inclined to tease their enthusiastic comrade.

"Zeke told me," suggested Grant soberly, "that really this Simon Moultrie was crazy."

"Is that so?" retorted Fred. "Then I suppose you're ready to say next that everything he saw was crazy too."

"Not quite as bad as that," laughed Grant, "but I do say that it's possible, if Simon Moultrie really was insane, he may have imagined he saw things or found them when he didn't see them at all."

Even Fred was somewhat sobered by the declaration of his companion and once more the party lapsed into silence.

It was now past mid-afternoon and the Go Ahead Boys were becoming impatient over the failure of the guide and the Indian to return.

"If they haven't found any thing," said Fred irritably, "then they ought to come back and tell us so. We don't want to stay here forever."

"Nay, verily, we do not," said George, shaking his head soberly. "I agree with Pyg. If Zeke doesn't come back within an hour I say we start after him."

"You want your turn in being lost in the canyon, do you?" said John grimly. "Well, all I can say is that if you do, you can try it, but as for little Johnnie he stays right here where he is. I've had all I want of lost Go Ahead Boys in Thorn's Gulch or any other canyon."

Although they did not share in John's fear nevertheless the boys all remained in their camp.

It was about four o'clock when Kitoni called their attention to two tiny figures in the distance.

The glasses revealed that they were men and that they apparently were coming across the Gulch. How they would be able to make their way up the steep side no one could explain.

"That must be Zeke and Thomas Jefferson," suggested Fred at once ready to form and express an opinion.

The Navajo, however, shook his head as he said, "It is not Zeke and it is not Thomas Jefferson."

"Then who is it?" demanded Fred. "It seems to me we're all the while having two or three men come into our camp when we've been told that there wasn't a human being in these parts. They told us in Tombstone that we wouldn't see a strange face in this part of the world."

"I see one now," declared John, turning and staring at his diminutive friend.

The Go Ahead Boys laughed but their interest was too keen in the men who now in the distance could be seen more distinctly.

"You don't suppose those two strange white men can be coming back here, do you?" inquired Grant in a whisper.

"Yes, that is just who they are," replied Kitoni. "Look yonder!" he added as he pointed in the direction in which Zeke and the Navajo had departed.

Two other men also were seen coming from that direction and no effort was required to induce the Go Ahead Boys to believe that Zeke and his companion were returning to the camp.

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