The declaration of the Go Ahead Boy was so evidently true that without a protest from any one the entire party resumed its march.
They were now at least a half-mile from the rim of the great Gulch. In changing the direction in which they were moving they still were following the line made by the huge chasm.
They had gone only half the distance of the second stage of their journey, when they all halted abruptly as Zeke said in a low voice, pointing as he spoke toward the canyon, “Is that smoke off there?”
For a moment all in the party were silent, but Pete and Grant were strong in their opinion that a thin line of smoke was visible just above the border of Thorn’s Gulch.
“Huh,” muttered Zeke, “that’s more or less what I expected.”
“What was it you were expecting?” demanded Fred.
“Just what I see.”
“Yes, but what do you see?”
“The same as you do,” said the guide sharply.
“I don’t see anything but a little smoke. It may not be anything but a cloud,” said Fred.
“Well, you see the same thing that I do and you’re as free as I am to explain what it means. I’m very free to say that I don’t like it.”
“Here I am,” exclaimed John, who had closely been following the compass.
“Where is that?” laughed George.
“Right here where I am is the end of that quarter-mile that we were to follow to the southeast.”
“Stay where you are then,” said Grant quickly. “We’ve got to measure from that spot to find anything like the stake we’re looking for. We’re now going a quarter-mile north northeast from here.”
Again at the second halt John was standing on another small elevation, although it too was so slight that it would not have called attention to itself from any chance passer-by.
“We’re on our last lap, now,” said Fred gleefully. “In a few minutes we’ll know whether we’ve struck oil or gold. Come on, fellows!” he shouted in his excitement.
The little band at once renewed their journey and their excitement steadily increased as John’s pace led them, as they believed, in the direction which had been indicated in the diary of Simon Moultrie.
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.