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   Chapter 23 ON THE RIM

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 10324

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

The little assembly crowded closely about Grant and looked with eager interest at the drawings he had made.

"What does it mean?" inquired Fred, "when it says you have to go a half-mile northeast?"

"I'm not sure that it says that," replied Grant. "There's simply a mark here, ? m. N.E."

"Well, any lubber knows that that means a half-mile northeast."

"Not being a 'lubber,'" retorted Grant, "of course I'm not sure. I'm not very much impressed by a 'lubber's' knowledge anyway."

The Go Ahead Boys laughed at the retort, but their interest in their immediate problem was too keen to permit other matters to enter their thoughts.

"Now how do we know that those letters don't refer to the stake itself?" asked George.

"A brilliant remark," said Grant scornfully. "All you have to do is to locate the claim that Simon Moultrie staked and then prove that it is a half-mile northeast, a quarter-mile southeast, and a quarter of a mile north northeast from some place that you don't care anything about."

"That's not it," said Zeke, shaking his head as he spoke. "It's the claim itself. My opinion is that you go a half-mile northeast from Split Rock. Then turn and go one-quarter of a mile southeast and then a quarter of a mile north northeast."

Both the Navajos were present, standing on the border of the assembly and their shining eyes betrayed their keen interest in the discussion.

"If I recollect aright," said John, "in that diary of Simon Moultrie's he wrote that he was in the middle of Thorn's Gulch when he struck the vein just right."

"That's so," spoke up Grant quickly, "I do remember that."

"Yea!" continued John, elated by the response which had greeted his words, "and that isn't all. He says he followed it up and found the place he was looking for. Didn't he say too that he had already had an assay made and that it was great?"

"Wonderful, String!" said Fred. "You have proved yourself to be a great man. That's exactly what was in the diary as I recall it. The only thing then for us to do is to follow along the middle of Thorn's Gulch until we strike the vein."

"Huh!" retorted Zeke, "you had better make arrangements to have breakfast with the man in the moon than try any such plan as that."

"What shall we do then?" demanded John.

"We've got to decide first of all," explained Zeke, "about this claim that old Sime staked."

"That's what we're trying to do," interrupted Fred glibly.

"Be patient with the child, Zeke," said Grant dryly. "He rides on a half-fare ticket yet."

"Quit your fooling," spoke up John. "We want to find out about this."

"Well," said Zeke, "I've got a compass here, of course, but I haven't any chain. How are we going to tell when we have covered the distance!"

"The only way," responded Grant, "will be for us to pace the distance until we come to what we think is about the spot which Simon found."

"That will take a month of Sundays," spoke up George.

"It will take some time," acknowledged Grant, "but I don't know any other way. Do you, Zeke?" he inquired, turning to the guide.

"Where are you going to start with your measurements?" demanded Zeke.

"Why, at Split Rock, of course," said Grant promptly.

"From the middle of the Rock, or the edge? From the near side or the far side? From the top of it or-"

"I say," broke in Fred, "that we start from the edge of the Rock where it touches the sand. Then we can follow the compass and we know just how many paces there will be in a half-mile."

"It will depend on who does the pacing, I guess," said John drolly. "My legs are longer than Fred's and I guess my steps wouldn't be more than half as many as his."

"The best thing for us to do," said Grant confidently, "is to measure off as nearly as we can do it just what a yard is. Then John, who can cover any distance from two inches to two yards, can try to take steps just the required length."

"We can try that," assented Zeke dubiously, "though I'm inclined to think the better plan will be for us to get a stick that will measure a yard as nearly as we can make it. Then we had better measure it off. We can follow the compass all the way and needn't go very far aside even if we don't come to the exact spot."

"It's a long job," remarked Fred dolefully. "You see we've got to turn. We've got to make the half-mile, then stop and change our directions and go a quarter-mile southeast and then stop again and go a quarter of a mile north northeast. I wonder why old Sime didn't make it a straight line anyway."

"We may find out," said Grant, "that he had to go this way. What shall we do, Zeke?" he added, turning to the guide.

"Whichever you say," replied Zeke.

"Then, I say we try first to let John pace a half-mile. We'll all go along with him and when he comes to the end of his eight hundred and eighty yards why all there is for us to do is to stop and change the direction according to the compass and start out again."

"We haven't anything to measure with," said John dolefully.

"We can strike it pretty close," said Zeke.

"I'll tell you what we can do, boys," said Fred. "The first joint in

my thumb is just three-quarters of an inch. We can measure it with that."

Securing a piece of string Grant carefully measured according to the rule suggested by the diminutive Go Ahead Boy and soon he held up his string saying, as he did so, "If Fred is right that is exactly a yard."

"Let me see it," said Zeke, taking the string. Making his own measurements he soon declared that Grant was almost correct in his statement. "We can't get within a half-inch of it anyway," he said.

"A half-inch on a yard would mean four hundred and forty-four inches for a half-mile," said Grant. "Now four hundred and forty inches is thirty-six and three-quarter feet. If we get as far as that out of our way it will take us from now until Christmas to find old Simon Moultrie's lost mine."

"It doesn't make any difference," said John, "that's the best we can do and that's all we've got to work on."

The elongated Go Ahead Boy already had measured twenty yards of the ground and after every yard had been indicated he was walking over the distance trying to see how closely he could adjust his footsteps to the measurements which had been made.

"We'll try it anyway," said Grant. "There's nothing else to be done, but it won't be safe to start until to-morrow morning, will it, Zeke?"

"That's what it won't," said the guide quietly. "We'll stay here at Split Rock until sunrise to-morrow morning."

In accordance with the directions of the guide preparations were at once made for passing the night at the place where they had halted. Thoroughly tired by their exertions the Go Ahead Boys were ready for bed soon after their supper had been prepared and eaten. Indeed, it was not long after dark before silence rested over the entire camp and apparently every member of the party was sleeping soundly.

Some time later Fred suddenly sat erect and looked keenly all about him. He was unable to decide what had awakened him so abruptly for the silence which rested over the place was unbroken.

Uneasy over his sudden awakening, Fred, after delaying a few minutes, silently arose and doing his utmost not to disturb his other comrades moved cautiously toward the rim of the Gulch.

The stars in the sky above him were shining so brightly and appeared to be so near that to the boy it seemed almost possible that they might be plucked from their setting. Not a cloud was visible in the sky. The silence that rested over the entire region was so tense that Fred's nerves were tingling as he stopped for a moment to look about him and listen. What a marvelous experience it was. Alone with a few of his friends on the limitless plains, thoughts of the busy scenes in the great city in which he had his home were almost impossible under such conditions. The whole world seemed to be barren, while over all were the shining stars whose lights were visible thousands of miles away.

Suddenly Fred's thoughts were diverted from the sublimity of the sight which had claimed his attention. At that moment he saw the form of some one peering just above the rim of the great Gulch.

Startled by the sight Fred dropped upon the ground and excitedly waited for events to develop.

The man before him turned for a moment and apparently was speaking to some one who was hidden from Fred's sight. The boy was confident that he overheard several words although he was not able to distinguish anything that was said.

Fred saw the man whose approach he had discovered now turn again and silently approach the camp.

Greatly surprised Fred speedily was aware that the approaching man was Thomas Jefferson. It was not possible to deny that he had left the camp and in all probability had been talking to some one in the Gulch. Who or what the man was, it was impossible for Fred to conjecture. Troubled and perplexed by the strange occurrence he started swiftly toward the camp. As he drew near, abruptly the Indian arose and advanced.

"Is that you, Thomas Jefferson?" whispered Fred.

"What you do?" replied the Indian. The Navajo spoke in low tones, but his excitement was revealed in the trembling of his voice.

"Me? I haven't done anything. What have you been doing?"

"What you see?" inquired the Indian.

Ignoring the question, Fred said, "Who was talking to you?"

"Where? What you see? What you hear?" demanded the Navajo now plainly aroused by the question of the Go Ahead Boy.

"I have told you," replied Fred. "What were you doing out there with that fellow below the rim of the canyon?"

Before Thomas Jefferson could reply a thought flashed into Fred's mind which nearly staggered him. Was it possible that the Navajo had been meeting the two white men who had made so much trouble? And if he had met them what had he told them? Was he revealing what every one in the camp now was expected to keep secret? And why were the two white men still following the party if they had already discovered the location of Simon Moultrie's claim?

The questions were so troublesome that Fred decided that it was necessary for him to consult Zeke at once and tell him about the exciting experience through which he had just passed.

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