“I never did,” said Zeke solemnly.
“Well, did you ever hear of Tom’s Thumb?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Then, it’s plain,” said John, winking at Fred as he spoke, “that we’ll have to get somebody who is more familiar than you are, Zeke, with this part of the country.”
“Huh!” snorted Zeke. “Don’t you believe it. There ain’t nobody in these diggin’s that knows the country like I do.”
“But you don’t know where Two Crow Tree is or Tom’s Thumb, to say nothing about Split Rock on the opposite side of the canyon.”
“That doesn’t mean that I can’t find them,” retorted Zeke. “You mustn’t forget either that those names may be the ones that Simon gave the places. They may not be on the map at all and nobody else may ever have called them by those names.”
“Well, shall we try to find the place? That’s the question,” said John somewhat impatiently.
“Not until the other boys and Pete come back here.”
Pete was the name of the second guide and on most occasions Zeke professed to despise his judgment and belittle his information.
“Oh, Pete will do just what you say is the thing to be done,” said Fred, winking at John as he spoke.
“That ’s likely,” assented Zeke. “All the same I’m not going to start off with you two boys and leave the other two here for Pete to look after. I’m afraid Pete couldn’t keep off the coyotes, to say nothing of the buzzards.”
“Zeke,” said Fred abruptly, “how long do you think it took the coyotes and the buzzards to strip those bones that we found?”
“Not more than a half-hour.”
“That’s right,” said Zeke positively. “A job like that doesn’t take a half-dozen coyotes any time at all. And I’m thinkin’ they had to divide with the buzzards anyway.”
John, who apparently for a few minutes had not been taking much interest in the conversation now looked up from the place where he was standing and said sharply, “I’m for looking for that lost mine.”
“That’s a good one,” laughed Zeke.
“What is a good one?” demanded John tartly.
“Your lost mine. There wasn’t any mine anyway. All there was to it was a prospect. Old Simon maybe thought he had found a lead, but unless ’twas a good deal surer than any other one he ever found, it wasn’t worth much, but all the same I’m for tryin’ to find it if the other boys and Pete agree to it.”
TWO UNBIDDEN GUESTS
By this time the boys and their guide had returned to the place where they had left their companions. Their two companions already were there and the return of their friends was greeted by a shout from both Grant and George.
Other things, however, speedily were forgotten when Fred related the story of their gruesome discovery in the sheltered place or cave on the sloping side of the mountain.