It was not until they had eaten that they explained more in detail who and what they were. Not long before this time they had come from Tombstone to search for a mine of whose existence they declared they had received information from certain somewhat vague reports.
“The trouble is, Mr. Stranger,” one of them explained, “that we don’t know just where this mine is. There was a report in Tombstone that an old prospector up here had struck it rich, but that he died or at least hadn’t been heard from since the report started. The Indians say that he was looking for his mine in a part of the country where the Great Spirit has forbidden the children o’ men to come. They declare that this prospector didn’t die a natural death.”
“What did he die of?” inquired Zeke.
“Why they say that no man ever goes into that region and comes out alive, or if he does happen to succeed in that, he can’t dodge the bad luck which is sure to catch him.”
“And do you want to find the place?” inquired Fred quizzically.
“We do and if there is any such place we’re going to find it.”
The four boys meanwhile had glanced apprehensively at one another when they heard the reference to the discovery of a mine which soon had been lost. The statement too that the original prospector was dead increased the mystery as well as the interest of the Go Ahead Boys.
What would these strangers say if they knew that already in the possession of the Go Ahead Boys was the statement of an old prospector who very likely was the very one to whom the unwelcome guests had frequently referred?
TWO THIEVES IN THE NIGHT
The question was speedily answered when, to the dismay of his companions, John said abruptly, “That must be something like the man whose body we found to-day.”
Instantly both strangers were staring at the boy who had spoken. Even in the dim light their intense interest was plainly manifest. Zeke was doing his utmost by absurd motions to impress upon the mind of John the fact that he must say nothing more.
The two visitors at the camp, however, were too deeply interested to lose the opportunity. Speaking slowly and as if he was not especially interested, the man with the scar on his face said in a drawling manner, “Where was that, sonny?”
“I don’t know just where it was,” replied John. “We found the body or rather the bones of a man to-day.”
“What did you do with them?”
“Buried them, of course.” John was aware now that his friends were angry at his uncalled-for statements. His obstinacy, however, had been aroused and he was ignoring all the signs and motions that were given him from every side.
“Wasn’t there anything besides the bones?” inquired the visitor.
“They had been picked clean. Zeke here thought that the coyotes and buzzards had been at work.”