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   Chapter 22 SPLIT ROCK

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 9303

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


"Well, boys," said Zeke when the men had departed, "my advice to you is to watch out for those two fellows. I told 'em they would go in a hurry when they left camp. You watch 'em! There they are now!"

As he spoke the feet of each of their recent visitors suddenly flew out from under him and both men slid rapidly forward on their backs.

"Haw! Haw!" roared Zeke, who was seldom heard to laugh. "That's a good 'un! Come back here," he shouted, "and I'll pick you up!"

The Go Ahead Boys, however, did not wait for the men to rise. Running swiftly to the place where they had disappeared from sight they peered down the sloping side of the Gulch and saw both men still moving rapidly in their descent.

Apparently neither was in any special difficulty, although both were moving swiftly in their descent. They had gone down the shelving and soft side of the Gulch a hundred feet or more before either of them regained his footing. The man with the scar, who was in advance of his companion, first attempted to rise, but his effort was intercepted by his larger companion who slid against him with full force, again sending both men rolling down the cliff side.

Inasmuch as there was no special danger connected with their descent, for the ground was soft, the amusement of the Go Ahead Boys became keen. They laughed and shouted their words of approval, and Zeke's words were the loudest of all.

The two men, when at last they succeeded in regaining an upright position, turned and savagely shook their fists at the laughing party on the rim of the Gulch and then resuming their descent, continued on their way until both disappeared from sight.

"I'm thinkin'," said Zeke as the party returned to the camp, "that those fellows won't come back here again, at least in the daytime."

"If they come at night," suggested Fred, "it won't do us any good, I'm afraid."

"No more it won't," acknowledged the guide, "but if my plans work out, when they come back here we shall be gone."

"Did you find Tom's Thumb?" asked Grant

"We did," answered the guide quietly.

"You did?" exclaimed Grant. "If you had never seen it before how did you know it was the place for which you were looking?"

"You couldn't miss it," explained Zeke. "There's a stretch of rock there almost as big as a house that is shaped exac'ly like a man's fist, only the thumb stands straight up."

"Did it really look like a thumb?" inquired Fred excitedly.

"It did. We both saw it about the same time and there wasn't any mistaking it either."

"That's all right then," said Grant. "If we've found Two Crow Tree and Tom's Thumb then it ought not to be very hard for us to find Split Rock. We know just about where it is placed, according to the map that Simon Moultrie drew."

"It's on the other side of the Gulch though," suggested George.

"You don't mean it?" exclaimed Fred laughingly. "What a wise chap you are." As Fred spoke Grant drew from his pocket the paper on which he had retraced the outlines of the map drawn by Simon Moultrie.

"In course we're not sure," said Zeke, "but we can get an idea about where to look."

"When shall we start?" asked Grant.

"First thing in the morning" replied the guide. "We wouldn't take any chances starting by night, though now that I've got that chap's revolver I'm thinkin' we wouldn't have anything very much to fear from him."

"But the other man may have a pistol," suggested George.

"That's right," acknowledged Zeke. "All the more reason for waitin' until mornin' afore we start."

"Well, there's one thing," laughed Grant, "and that is that we shan't try to go down the Gulch the same way those two men started."

"They did sit down hard, didn't they?" chuckled Zeke.

Again the Go Ahead Boys laughed at the recollection of the ludicrous sight presented by the two white men when they had unexpectedly started swiftly on their descent of the Gulch.

When the following morning dawned, the guides and the two Navajos were the first to be stirring in the camp. Before breakfast had been prepared, however, the Go Ahead Boys were awake and preparing for their expedition.

The packs were to be restrapped and all their various belongings secured. This task was completed by the time breakfast was ready and when the boys seated themselves on the ground they were thoroughly ready to receive the food which Zeke and Pete now served them.

"Zeke," inquired Grant, "do you really think those two men found the claim which Simon Moultrie staked?"

"I don't really think so," answered the guide slowly, "but I shouldn't be surprised if they did."

"If they have got it," sai

d Grant, "what can we do?"

"Nothin'."

"Do you mean to say that we can't claim it?"

"That's just what I mean. You can take up some other claims right close by if you want to, but first come first served."

"But that isn't their claim. It belonged to Simon Moultrie."

"Well, if it did," said Zeke dryly, "then I reckon they have as much right to it as we have."

"I hadn't thought of that," said Grant blankly. "However, I haven't much idea that old Sime ever filed his claim. If he didn't, why we stand as good a chance as any one. I do say," he added, "that the sooner we get started and the faster we go the less trouble we're likely to have."

"Then why don't we start right away?" demanded Fred as he leaped to his feet.

In a brief time the party with their packs on their backs started toward the Gulch. As has been said, the sides of the canyon at this place were not unduly steep, and, though the descent in places was difficult, none of the Go Ahead Boys had met with any mishap when at last they all safely arrived in the valley below.

There they halted for a rest and before they resumed their journey Zeke said, "It's so warm here in the middle of the day that I feel as if I was suffocated. I guess we'd better stay here where we be 'till we've cooked our dinner."

The descent had required so much effort on the part of every one of the Go Ahead Boys that they were all willing to accede to the guide's suggestion.

"Zeke, how far do you think we'll have to go before we begin our search?" inquired Fred.

"We'll have to go until we come to the claim," replied the guide dryly.

"But when shall we begin to look?"

"Keep lookin' all the while. I'm thinkin', though," Zeke added, "that we shan't have to go more than three or four miles from the rim."

"You don't suppose he has staked his claim right on the top of the ground, do you?" inquired George.

"What put that notion into your head?" laughed the guide.

"Why it looks so on Simon's map."

"That's all right," acknowledged Zeke. "That map doesn't show many gulches, does it? But I'm not lookin' for a claim right on the flat part of the rim."

"You'll tell us when to begin to look for the stakes, won't you?" asked Fred who was deeply interested in the project which now was distinctly before him.

"Don't you worry none about that," replied Zeke. "When you boys are ready to start you say the word and we'll leave."

"I guess we're all ready to go now," suggested Grant.

"Off we go then," said Zeke, as he promptly arose and swung his pack to his back.

The party by this time was moving in single file, Zeke still leading the way and Pete following as the rear guard.

The two young Navajos had not remained in the line for any continued length of time. They were moving back and forth, the expression of their shining eyes betraying their keen interest. Indeed, the possibility of discovering a mine had so aroused every member of the party that even the guide who was leading could not entirely conceal his excitement by his manner.

For nearly three hours the little expedition continued on its way. Climbing proved to be more difficult than the descent had been, but at last the party was near the rim.

There they halted once more while Zeke directed the Navajoes to move along the side of the gulch beneath the rim while the others continued on their way across the plateau.

"Yonder is Split Rock, I'm thinkin'," abruptly said Zeke as he stopped and pointed to a huge rock unlike any others which the boys had seen in the region. The stone had been cut almost as if by some huge knife. Several inches of the space between the halves had been filled in by the dust which the winds had deposited.

In the midst of the soil thus obtained a tree was growing which now had shot up at least twenty feet above the top of the great rock.

"What do you suppose that is?" inquired George lightly. "Is the tree trying to keep those rocks apart or are the rocks trying to keep the tree in between them?"

No one replied to the query of the Go Ahead Boy, for all were keenly aroused, now that they had found the third object which Simon Moultrie had indicated on his map.

So eager were all the members of the party that in spite of their recent exertions and the loads they were carrying they all began to run. In a brief time they arrived at the destination they were seeking and as they swung their packs from their shoulders Grant hastily drew again from his pocket the map which he had made in his attempt to recall the one which Simon Moultrie had drawn in the diary that the Go Ahead Boys had found.

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