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   Chapter 25 CIRCLES

The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine By Ross Kay Characters: 10896

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


The determination of the Go Ahead Boys now was more manifest than at any time since they had left the Grand Canyon. The different ways in, which this feeling expressed itself was marked, for Fred's face was flushed and John's was eager as they pressed steadily forward. George was sometimes hopeful and sometimes in despair, while Grant was the only one whose countenance was unmoved.

Conversation did not thrive now for several reasons. The face of every one was turned toward the distance and as they pressed forward John's pace unconsciously became swifter. Indeed, the tall Go Ahead Boy was so interested now in arriving at the end of his journey that unconsciously he was giving less heed to the paces he was making.

Abruptly John stopped, declaring that he had come to the end. He had carefully followed the direction of the compass and had covered the last quarter-mile.

Blankly the Go Ahead Boys looked all about them. They now found themselves on the side of a low hill which itself seemed to be part of a mountain. At their left were ledges and great rocks that had been worn away by storms or the action of the air and sun. In whichever direction they looked, however, they were unable to discover anything that seemed to indicate a claim.

"I tell you we've come to the wrong place," said George, easily the most discouraged of the band. "There isn't anything here and I knew there wasn't all the while."

"Why did you come then?" demanded John irritably.

"I didn't want to break up the party," responded George.

"What shall we do now?" asked Fred, whose distress of mind was manifest in the tones of his voice.

"There's nothing to do but quit," said George. "It's a wise man that knows when he has had enough and I've had all I want."

"Q.E.D.," said Grant dryly.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded George.

"You know what it stands for," answered Grant. "All I meant was that you proved what you started out to prove."

"What is that?" demanded George.

"Why that you're a wise man and know when to quit."

"But honestly, Soc, isn't that the way you feel about it, too?" demanded Fred disconsolately.

"'Honestly,' Fred," retorted Grant mockingly, "it's not the way I feel about it. I'm not going to give up. Did you ever hear the story of Bruce and the spider?"

"Only a few times," laughed John. "I think you have told us about how he was hiding in a cave and how he watched a spider that kept on trying to swing himself across a corner. I believe that he failed a good many times but finally succeeded."

"Good for you, String," laughed Grant. "I wasn't quite sure that you got the point."

"I get the point, all right," retorted John, "when you're able to make it plain. All the same," he added, "what are we going to do next?"

"I'm not so sure," said Grant slowly. "Probably we'll have to stay here a few weeks and keep on trying to find the right spot."

"What are you talking about?" demanded Fred blankly. "I wouldn't stay here a few weeks for all the money there is in every mine in Arizona!"

"This is the time and this is the place when the majority have got to rule," said Grant quietly.

"If the majority want to stay here and look a little longer for Simon Moultrie's claim then I guess the others will have to stay too. There's going to be no journeying across the desert or back up the gulch and the canyon by any party of one or two. We've had enough Go Ahead Boys get lost."

"Don't be so proud," retorted Fred. "You haven't been lost, but it wasn't any fault of yours. It was simply your good luck."

"I'm not denying that," said Grant. "I am quite sure I should have been lost if I had been where you were. All I'm saying is that we aren't going to lose any more."

"Well, what are we going to do?" asked George.

"We've got to decide what we'll do first," said Grant. "What do you think?" he added, turning to the guide as he spoke.

Zeke had been silent throughout the conversation. It was plain that he was perplexed and perhaps downcast at the outcome of their first attempt. However, the expression of his face was unchanged when he said, "I've decided one thing and that is that you boys are going to stay right here and watch a little while."

"'Watch'?" repeated Grant. "What do you mean? What are we going to watch?"

"You're going to be on the lookout," was all that Zeke was willing to explain. "There's going to be some things goin' on around here worth seein', in my opinion," he added, "but I don't know just what and I'm not sure just where. I do know though the first thing that's going to be done."

"What's that?" inquired Grant.

"I'm going to get under the shadow of that big rock yonder and then I'm going to cook some dinner."

"But it isn't more than eleven o'clock," protested Fred.

"I don't care what time it is. I'm going to cook the dinner if it's seventeen o'clock to-morrow mornin'."

"And after dinner what?" asked Grant.

"What I told you," said Zeke. "I'm going to leave you boys here on the lookout while I go down over the rim."

"What are you going for?" asked Fred.

"Two things," replied Zeke. "I'm going to look first for those two pesky Navajos and then I'm going to have an eye on that ledge that Simon Moultrie referred to in his diary."

"If you have one eye in one direction and the other in another, Zeke," laughed Fred, "you'll be getting cross-eyed the first thing you know."

Fr

ed's laugh relieved the tension somewhat and when dinner had been prepared by the guides the spirits of all had risen once more.

"I'm suggesting," said Grant before the boys arose from their seats, "that we form five big circles here, about twenty-five feet apart. We'll have a common center and then from there we will start out, every one covering the part that has been given him. In this way we'll be able to cover a good deal of this ground and find out whether there's anything here to show that Simon Moultrie ever struck a claim."

"Better not try that until I come back," suggested Zeke. "I will be back along about supper time and I may have somethin' to report when I come. If I do, it may change all your plans."

"What do you expect to report, Zeke?" asked George.

"Just exactly what I find," answered the guide solemnly, whereat the Go Ahead Boys all laughed loudly.

"Now, you mind what I say," said Zeke a few minutes later. "Don't none of you go more'n a hundred yards from this spot. It may be I shall need the help of every one of you and need it in a hurry too. If I do, I want you on hand. Besides, there isn't any use in any more of you wanderin' off into the gullies trying to lose yourselves."

Zeke arose and after he had carefully looked to his person to assure himself that his revolver was in his hip pocket and that the pole he had taken would stand a severe test, quickly started toward the rim. Not once did he glance behind him and in a brief time he stepped lightly over the rim of the Gulch and disappeared from the sight of the Go Ahead Boys.

For a few minutes after the departure of the guide the boys remained in the camp, obedient to the suggestion of Zeke, and perhaps all alike fearful of being lost if they ventured far from the locality. Their restlessness, however, returned in a brief time and Grant said to his companions, "Boys, why don't we try out my plan?"

"What plan is that?" asked Fred.

"Why, that we use this place where we have camped as a center and that every one of us, as I told you, a few feet from the others try to make a big circle about it."

"I think that's a good scheme," said John excitedly. "It will give us something to do and it will help us in finding what we're after."

"That's right," joined in George.

As a consequence the boys speedily began their new task.

Fred was stationed about twenty-five feet from the camp, George was fifteen feet beyond him, John was stationed an equal distance beyond George, while Grant, who was about sixty feet from the camp, made the outer circle.

At a given signal the boys began their search. They did their utmost to retain the same relative positions, although such action required greater exertion on the part of Grant than of the other Go Ahead Boys.

When at last the circles had been completed the Go Ahead Boys decided to repeat the experiment, following a similar plan and at equal distances beyond the circles already made.

"We must look out," suggested Fred as the boys lined up the second time, "not to go too far away. You know Zeke told us not to leave this place."

"I guess we shan't have any trouble," declared John. "We shan't be beyond hailing distance from one another anyway."

The second attempt when it was completed had met with no better success than had crowned their former efforts. No one had found a trace or indication of any spot that had been staked out as a claim.

The third time the strange wheels revolved about the camping place, although by this time the distance that had to be covered was greatly increased.

When the boys at last assembled once more and the reports were made they were all plainly disheartened. Perhaps the fact that they were tired also had much to do with their feeling. Even Fred, however, did not suggest that they should abandon their main purpose, for the excitement of the search in spite of his disappointment was still strong upon him.

"I'm not just sure," said George when the boys stretched themselves upon the ground, "that I'm looking for the right thing anyway."

"What do you expect?" demanded Fred.

"I'm looking for Simon Moultrie's claim, that's all," remarked George simply.

"Yes, and probably you expected to stumble over a mine with the men all at work. You expected to find a shaft and mules and men on every side. How about it, Pop?"

"I'm not quite as bad as that," replied George, joining in the laugh that greeted Fred's words, "but I'll have to own up I don't know exactly what I was looking for."

"You're hopeless," laughed his friend, but for some reason silence soon rested over the little group.

The afternoon was waning and the night would soon be at hand. Already shadows were creeping over the gulches and canyons and the reflections were weird and in places fantastic. In the fading light the vivid colors of the sides of the canyons became softer. The coming of the night seemed to cast its spell over all.

The Go Ahead Boys had become quiet. Even the stories of Pete, who a few minutes before had joined the band, seemed to be as unreal as the empty shells. Few questions were asked and it was not plain that all the boys were listening.

Suddenly John arose and exclaimed, "There comes Zeke! I wonder what he has to report."

In a moment John's companions had joined him and all four were advancing to meet the guide who was returning from the rim of the Gulch.

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