His alarm increased, however, when he soon discovered that he was moving through a region that was entirely unknown. Not a familiar object was to be seen.
The fear in his heart deepened and again the troubled boy stopped to look keenly about him.
As Fred tried to obtain his bearings his confusion apparently increased. The stream in the bottom of the gulch was wider than the one he had seen in the first part of his journey. He peered in one direction in his search for landmarks only to fail and then turn and try the same experiment in another gulch. All his efforts were alike unavailing and a great fear now welled up in the heart of the troubled boy.
He looked up to the rim and saw the passing clouds that seemed to be close to the ground. There was no help to be found from that direction and suddenly he laughed aloud as he thought of his rifle. He would fire the gun and as soon as he heard the response of John he would know in which direction to move.
Accordingly he discharged his gun and then as there was no immediate response, he waited in suspense until he was convinced that no answering report had been given. Again he fired and once more he waited for the answering shot. No answer, however, was given and now thoroughly alarmed Fred again turned and retraced his way.
After he had advanced several hundred yards Fred was by no means certain that he really was retracing his way. Either he was greatly confused or the places by which he was passing were strange.
By this time the Go Ahead Boy was thoroughly alarmed. The thought of being lost in Thorn’s Gulch, or in some one of the myriad branches of the majestic chasm that extended for hundreds of miles in the course of the mighty Colorado, was alarming. Fred had a momentary glimpse of his home. He even pictured to himself what would occur there when the report was brought that he had been lost in one of the canyons. Doubtless his three friends would tell how they had searched for days and perhaps weeks, and with all their efforts had been unable to find any trace of his presence.
Finding almost a pleasure in his picture of misery, Fred nevertheless was aware that, unless he aroused himself at once, all the horrors of which he had dreamed might become a terrible reality.
Stepping within the shadow of a great cliff he did his utmost to be calm and try to think out what his problem was. He pictured to himself the sights of Thorn’s Gulch through which he and John had been led several miles by the guide. Closing his eyes he endeavored to fix accurately in his mind the direction in which Thorn’s Gulch extended.
Having satisfied himself as to this he next tried to think of the angles in which the various branches extended. As he recalled his own actions it seemed to him that he had gone in a half-dozen different directions. It was therefore now well nigh impossible to fix accurately the direction in which he ought to move.