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´╗┐Title: The Pony Rider Boys in the Grand Canyon - The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch
Author: Patchin, Frank Gee, 1861-1925
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Pony Rider Boys in the Grand Canyon - The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch" ***

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THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE GRAND CANYON
or
The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch

by
Frank Gee Patchin



CONTENTS

CHAPTERS
    I. Westward Ho!
   II. A View of the Promised Land
  III. Tenderfeet Show Their Skill
   IV. A Night in the Crater
    V. Tad Lend a Helping Hand
   VI. A Sight that Thrilled
  VII. On the Rim of Eternity
 VIII. The City in the Skies
   IX. Chunky Wants to go Home
    X. Escape is Wholly Cut Off
   XI. A Trying time
  XII. Braving the Roaring Colorado
 XIII. A Battle Mightily Waged
  XIV. The Dogs Pick up a Trail
   XV. The Mystery of the Rifle
  XVI. A New Way to Hunt Lions
 XVII. The Whirlwind Ball of Yellow
XVIII. The Unwilling Guest Departs
  XIX. The Fat Boy Does a Ghost Dance
   XX. In the Home of the Havasupais
  XXI. Chunky Gets a Turkish Bath
 XXII. A Magical Cure
XXIII. Stacy as an Indian Fighter
 XXIV. Conclusion



CHAPTER I

WESTWARD, HO!


"Ow, Wow, Wow, Wow! Y-E-O-W!"

Tad Butler, who was industriously chopping wood at the rear of the
woodshed of his home, finished the tough, knotted stick before looking
up.

The almost unearthly chorus of yells behind him had not even startled
the boy or caused him to cease his efforts until he had completed what
he had set out to do.  This finished, Tad turned a smiling face to the
three brown-faced young men who were regarding him solemnly.

"Haven't you fellows anything to do?" demanded Tad.

"Yes, but we have graduated from the woodpile," replied Ned Rector.

"I got my diploma the first time I ever tried it," added Chunky Brown,
otherwise and more properly known as Stacy Brown.  "Cut a slice of my
big toe off.  They gave me my diploma right away.  You fellows are too
slow."

"Come in the house, won't you?  Mother'll be glad to see you," urged Tad.

"Surely we will," agreed Walter Perkins.  "That's what we came over
to do."

"Oh, it is, eh?"

"Didn't think we came over to help you chop wood, did you?" demanded
Chunky indignantly.

"Knowing you as I do, I hadn't any such idea," laughed Tad.  "But
come in."

The boys filed in through the wood house, reaching the sitting room by
way of the kitchen.  Tad's mother gave them a smiling welcome, rising
to extend a warm, friendly hand to each.

"Sit down, Mrs. Butler," urged Walter.

"Yes, we will come to you," added Ned.

"We haven't lost the use of our legs yet, Mrs. Butler," declared the
fat Chunky, growing very red in the face as he noted the disapproving
glances directed at him by his companions.

"I hope you won't mind Chunky, Mrs. Butler," said Ned apologetically.
"You know he has lived among savages lately, and-----"

"Yes, ma'am, Ned and I have been constant companions for---how long
has it been, boys?"

"Shut up!" hissed Ned Rector in the fat boy's ear.  "I'll whale you when
we get outside, if you make any more such breaks."

"Never mind, boys; Stacy and myself are very old, old friends," laughed
Mrs. Butler.

"Yes, ma'am, about a hundred years old, more or less.  Oh, I beg your
pardon.  I didn't mean it just that way," stammered Chunky, coloring
again and fumbling his cap awkwardly.

"Now you have said it," groaned Walter.

"Go way back in the corner out of sight and sit down before I start
something," commanded Ned.  "You must excuse us, Mrs. Butler.  It is
as Chunky has said.  We are all savages---some of us more so than
others, some less."

"It is unnecessary to make apologies.  You are just a lot of healthy
young men, full of life and spirits." Mrs. Butler patted Tad
affectionately on the head.  "Tad knows what I think of you all and
how appreciative we both are over what Mr. Perkins has done for us.
Now that I have had a little money left me, I am glad that Tad is able
to spend more time with you in the open.  I presume you will soon be
thinking of another trip."

"We're always thinking of that, Mrs. Butler," interrupted Ned.  "And
we couldn't think of a trip without thinking of Tad.  A trip without
Tad would be like---like-----"

"A dog's tail wagging down the street without the dog," interjected the
solemn voice of Chunky Brown from his new headquarters.

"I move we throw Chunky out in the wood house," exploded Ned.  "Will
you excuse us while we get rid of the encumbrance, Mrs. Butler?"

"Sit down and make your peace.  I know you boys have some things to
talk over.  I can see it in your faces.  Go on with your conference.
I'll bring you some lemonade in a few moments," said Mrs. Butler, as
she left the room.

"Well, fellows, is this just a friendly call or have you really
something in mind?" asked Tad after all had seated themselves.

"I'm the only one with a mind that will hold anything.  And I've got
plenty in it, too," piped Chunky.

Ned Rector sighed helplessly.  The other boys grinned, passing hands
across their faces that Stacy might not observe their amusement.

"We want to pow-wow with you," said Walter.

"That means you've something ahead---another trip?"

"Yes, we're going to the-----" began young Brown.

"Silence! Children should be seen, but not heard," commanded Ned.

Chunky promptly hitched his chair out, joining the circle.

"I'm seen," he nodded, with a grimace.

"Then see that you're not heard.  Some things not even a Pony Rider boy
can stand.  You're one of them."

"Yes, I'm a Pony Rider," answered Chunky, misapplying Ned Rector's
withering remark.

"Another trip, eh?"

"That's it, Tad.  Walt's father has planned it out for us.  And what
do you think?"

"Yes, what d'ye think?  He's going-----"

"Look here, Chunky, are you telling this or am I?" demanded Ned angrily.

"You're trying to, but you're making an awful mess of the whole business.
Better let me tell it.  I know how and you don't."

"Give Ned a chance, can't you, Chunky?" rebuked Tad, frowning.

"All right, I'll give him a chance, of course, if you say so.  I always
have to take a back seat for everybody.  I'm nothing but just a
roly-poly fat boy, handy to draw water, pitch and strike camp, gather
firewood, wash the dishes, cook the meals, save the lives of my
companions when they get into scrapes, and-----"

This was too much for the gravity of the Pony Rider Boys.  They burst
out into a hearty laugh, which served to put all in good humor again.
Chunky, having relieved his mind, now settled down in his chair to
listen.

"Now, Ned, proceed," said Tad.

"Well, Mr. Perkins thinks it would be fine for us to visit the Grand
Canyon."

"Of the Colorado?"

"Yes."

"Tad knows more'n the rest of you.  You didn't know where the place was.
Walt thought it was some kind of a gun that they shot off at sunrise,
or-----"

No one gave any heed to Chunky's further interruption this time.

"The Grand Canyon of the Colorado?" repeated Tad, his eyes sparkling.
"Isn't that fine?  Do you know, I have always wanted to go there, but
I hardly thought we should get that far away from home again.  But what
plans has Mr. Perkins made?"

"Well, he has been writing to arrange for guides and so forth.  He knows
a good man at Flagstaff with whom Mr. Perkins hunted a few years ago.
What did he say the name was, Walt?"

"Nance.  Jim Nance, one of the best men in that part of the country.
Everybody knows Jim Nance."

"I don't," declared Chunky, suddenly coming to life again.

"There are a lot of other things you don't know," retorted Ned Rector
witheringly.

"If there are you can't teach them to me," returned Stacy promptly.

"As I was saying when _that_ interrupted me, Mr. Perkins wrote to this
man, Nance, and engaged him for June first, to remain with us as long
as we require his services."

"Does Mr. Perkins think we had better take our ponies with us?"

"No."

"Then we shall have to buy others.  I hardly think I can afford that
outlay," said Tad, with a shake of the head.

"That is all arranged, Tad," interrupted Walter.  "Father has directed
Mr. Nance to get five good horses or ponies."

"Then Professor Zepplin is to accompany us?"

"Yes."

"Poor Professor!  His troubles certainly are not over yet," laughed Tad.
"We must try not to annoy him so much this trip.  We are older now and
ought to use better judgment."

"That's what I've been telling Ned," spoke up Stacy.  "He's old enough
to-----"

"To---what?" demanded Ned.

Chunky quailed under the threatening gaze of Ned Rector.  He mumbled
some unintelligible words, settled back in his chair and made himself
as inconspicuous as possible.

"Pooh! Professor Zepplin enjoys our pranks as much as do we ourselves.
He just makes believe that he doesn't.  He's a boy himself."

"But an overgrown one," muttered Stacy under his breath.

"Where do we meet the Professor?" asked Tad.

"How about it, Walt?" asked Ned, turning to young Perkins.

"I don't think father mentioned that."

"We shall probably pick him up on the way out," nodded Tad.

"Well, what do you think of it?" demanded Ned.

"Fine, fine!"

"You don't seem very enthusiastic about it."

"Don't I?  Well, I am.  Has Mr. Perkins decided when we are to start?"

"Yes, in about two weeks."

"I don't know.  I am afraid that is too soon for me.  I don't even know
that I shall be able to go," said Tad Butler.

"Why not?"

"Well, we may not be able to afford it."

"Pshaw! Your mother just said you might go, or words to that effect.
Of course you'll go.  If you didn't, I wouldn't go, and my father would
be disappointed.  He knows what these trips have done for me.  Remember
what a tender plant I was when we went out in the Rockies that time?"

"Ye---yes," piped Stacy.  "He was a pale lily of the valley.  Now Walt's
a regular daisy."

Young Perkins laughed good-naturedly.  He was not easily irritated now,
whereas, before beginning to live in the open, the least little
annoyance would set his nerves on edge.

Mrs. Butler came in at this juncture, carrying a pitcher of lemonade
and four glasses on a tray.  The Pony Riders rose instinctively,
standing while Mrs. Butler poured the lemonade.

"Oh, I forgot the cookies, didn't I?" she cried.

"Yes, we couldn't get along without the cookies," nodded Chunky.

"Now don't let your eyes get bigger'n your stomach," warned Ned.
"Remember, we are in polite society now."

"I hope you won't forget yourself either," retorted Stacy.  "I'll
stand beside you.  If you start to make a break I'll tread on your
toes and-----"

"Try it!" hissed Ned Rector in the fat boy's ear.  The entrance of
Mrs. Butler with a plate heaped with ginger cookies drove all other
thoughts from the minds of the boys.  "Mrs. Butler," began Ned,
clearing his throat, "we---we thank you; from the bottom of our
hearts we thank you---don't we, Stacy?"

"Well, I---I guess so.  I can tell better after I've tried the cookies.
I know the lemonade's all right."

"How do you know?" demanded three voices at once.

"Why, I tasted of it," admitted Chunky.

"As I was saying, Mrs. Butler, we-----"

"Never mind thanking me, Ned.  I will take your appreciation for
granted."

"Thank you," answered Stacy, looking longingly at the plate of cookies.

"Now help yourselves.  Don't wait, boys," urged Tad's mother, giving
the boys a friendly smile before turning to leave the room.

"Ah, Mrs. Butler.  One moment, please," said Ned.

"Yes.  What is it?"

"We---ah-----"

"Oh, let me say it.  You don't know how to talk in public," exclaimed
Chunky.  "Mrs. Butler, we, the Pony Rider Boys, rough riders, Indian
fighters and general, all-around stars of both plain and mountain, are
thinking-----"

Ned thrust Chunky gently aside.  Had it not been for Mrs. Butler's
presence Ned undoubtedly would have used more force.

Tad sat down grinning broadly.  He knew that his mother enjoyed this
good-natured badinage fully as much as the boys did.

Ned rapped on the table with his knuckles.

"Order, please, gentlemen!"

"That's I," chuckled Stacy, slipping into a chair.

"Laying all trimmings aside, Mrs. Butler, we have come to speak with
you first, after which we'll have something to say to your son."

Mrs. Butler sat down in the chair that Tad had placed for her.

"Very good.  I shall be glad to hear what you have to say, Ned."

"The fact is---as I was about to say when interrupted by the
irresponsible person at my left-----"

"I beg pardon.  _I'm_ at your left," remarked Walter.

"He doesn't know which is his left and which is his right," jeered
Chunky.  "He's usually left, though."

"I refer to the person who was sitting at my left at the time I began
speaking.  I had no intention of casting any aspersion on Mr. Walter
Perkins.  As I was about to say, we are planning another trip, Mrs.
Butler."

"Where away this time, Ned?"

"To the Grand Canyon-----"

"With the accent on the _yon_," added Stacy.

"The Grand Canyon of the Colorado?"

"Yes, ma'am.  Mr. Perkins has arranged it for us.  Everything is fixed.
Professor Zepplin is going along and-----"

"That will be fine, indeed," glowed Tad's mother.

"Yes, we think so, and we're glad to know that you do.  Tad didn't know
whether you would approve of the proposed trip or not.  We
are---ahem---delighted to learn that you do approve of it and that you
are willing that Tad should go."

"Oh, but I haven't said so," laughed Mrs. Butler.

"Of course she hasn't.  You see how little one can depend upon what Ned
Rector says," interjected Stacy.

Ned gave him a warning look.

"I should say that you approve of his going.  Of course we couldn't
think of taking this trip without Tad.  I don't believe Mr. Perkins
would let Walt go if Tad weren't along.  You see, Tad's a handy man
to have around.  I know Chunky's people never would trust him to go
without Tad to look after him.  You see, Chunky's such an irresponsible
mortal-----"

"Oh, I don't know," interrupted the fat boy.

"One never knows what he's going to do next.  He needs some one to
watch him constantly.  We think it is the fault of his bringing up."

"Or the company I've been keeping," finished Chunky.

"At any rate, we need Tad with us."

"Then I shall have to say 'yes,'" replied Mrs. Butler, nodding and
smiling.  "Of course Tad may go.  I am glad, indeed, that he has such
splendid opportunities."

"But, mother, I ought to be at work," protested Tad.  "It is time I
were doing something.  Besides, I think you need me at home."

"Never mind, Tad.  When you have finished with these trips you will
be all the better for them.  You will have erected a foundation of
health that will last you all your life.  Furthermore, you will have
gained many things by the experience, When you get at the real serious
purpose of your life, you will accomplish what you set yourself to do,
with better results."

"That---that's what I say," began Chunky.  "Haven't I always told
you-----"

"Stacy is wise beyond his years," smiled Mrs. Butler.  "When he is
grown up I look for him to be a very clever young man."

The eyes of the boys still twinkled merrily, for Chunky, unable to
guess whether he were being teased, was still scowling somewhat.
However, he kept still for the time being.

"Yes, Tad may go with you," continued Mrs. Butler.  "You start---when?"

"In about two weeks," Walter replied.  "Father said he would call to
discuss the matter with you."

"I shall be glad of that," nodded Mrs. Butler.  "I shall want to talk
over the business part of the trip."

Then the youngsters fell to discussing the articles of outfit they
would need.  On this head their past experience stood them in good
stead.

"Now, I presume, I have said all that I can say," added Mrs. Butler,
rising.  "I will leave you, for I would be of very little use to you
in choosing clothing and equipment."

Before she could escape from the room, however, Tad had risen and
reached her.  Without exhibiting a twinge of embarrassment before the
other young men, Tad held and kissed her, then escorted her to the
door.  Walter and Ned smiled their approval.  Chunky said nothing,
but sat blinking solemnly---the best possible proof of his approbation.

All of the readers of this series know these young men well.  They
were first introduced to Tad and his chums in the opening volume,
"_The Pony Rider Boys In The Rockies_."  Then were told all the details
of how the boys became Pony Riders, and of the way they put their
plans through successfully.  Readers of that volume well recall the
exciting experiences and hair-breadth escapes of the youngsters, their
hunts for big game and all the joys of living close to Nature.  Their
battle with the claim jumpers is still fresh in the minds of all readers.

We next met our young friends in the second volume, "_The Pony Rider
Boys In Texas_."  It was on these south-western grazing plains that
the lads took part in a big cattle drive across the state.  This new
taste of cowboy life furnished the boys with more excitement than they
had ever dreamed could be crowded into so few weeks.  It proved to be
one long round of joyous life in the saddle, yet it was the sort of
joy that is bound up in hard work.  Tad's great work in saving a large
part of the herd will still be fresh in the mind of the reader.  How
the lads won the liking of even the roughest cowboys was also
stirringly told.

From Texas, as our readers know, the Pony Riders went north, and their
next doings are interestingly chronicled in "_The Pony Rider Boys In
Montana_."  Here the boys had the great experience of going over the
old Custer trail, and here it was that Tad and his companions became
involved in a "war" between the sheep and the cattle men.  How Tad and
his chums soon found themselves almost in the position of the grist
between the millstones will be instantly recalled.  Tad's adventures
with the Blackfeet Indians formed not the least interesting portion of
the story.  It was a rare picture of ranch and Indian life of the
present day that our readers found in the third volume of this series.

Perhaps the strangest experiences, as most of our readers will agree,
were those described in "_The Pony Rider Boys In The Ozarks_."  In this
wild part of the country the Pony Rider Boys had a medley of
adventures---they met with robbers, were lost in the great mountain
forests, and unexpectedly became involved in an accident in a great
mine.  The final discovery of the strange secret of the mountains was
the climax of that wonderful saddle journey.

From the wooded Ozarks to the stifling alkali deserts of Nevada was
a long jump, but the lads made it.  All of our readers remember the
rousing description of adventures that were set forth in "_The Pony
Rider Boys In The Alkali_."  This trip through the grim desert with
its scanty vegetation and scarcity of water proved to be a journey
that fully demonstrated the enduring qualities of these sturdy young
men.  The life, far away from all connection with civilization, was
one of constant privation and well-nigh innumerable perils.  The
meeting with the crazed hermit of this wild waste formed one of the
most thrilling incidents.  The whole vast alkali plain presented a
maze the solving of which taxed to the utmost the ingenuity of the
young men.  However, they bore themselves with credit, and came out
with a greater reputation than ever for judgment, courage and
endurance.

Our next meeting with these lads, who were fast becoming veterans of
the saddle, was in the sixth volume, "_The Pony Rider Boys in New
Mexico_."  Here, again, the lads ran upon Indian "signs" and
experiences, not the least of which was their chance to be present at
the weird fire dance of the Apaches.  The race with the prairie fire,
the wonderful discoveries made in the former homes of the cave-dwellers,
and the defence of the lost treasure in the home of the ancient Pueblo
Indians are all matters well remembered by our readers.

Now another journey, to the scene of one of Nature's greatest wonders,
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, was absorbing the thought of Tad
Butler and his young friends.

"The question is, what'll we take with us?" asked Ned Rector.

"Yes, that's one of the things about which we wanted to talk with you,"
spoke up Walter Perkins.  "You always think of things that none of the
rest of us remembers."

"Oh, I don't know.  You're all pretty good planners.  In the first place,
you know you want to travel light."

"We aren't likely to travel any other way," scoffed Chunky.  "Whatever
we do, though, let's not travel light on food.  I can stand almost
anything but food---I mean without food---I mean-----"

"I don't believe you know what you do mean," jeered Ned.  "Well, what
about it, Tad?"

"As I was saying, we should travel light.  Of course, we must take our
own equipment---saddles, quirts, spurs, chaps, lasso, guns, canteen,
slicker and all that sort of thing.  I suppose the guide will arrange
for the pack train equipment."

"I'll speak to father about that," said Walter.  "I don't know just what
arrangements he has made with the guide."

"We can no doubt get what ammunition we need after we get to Flagstaff,
if that is to be our railway destination.  Folks usually have ammunition
in that country," added Tad, with a faint smile.  "Our uniforms or
clothes we know about.  We shall no doubt need some good tough boots for
mountain climbing-----"

"Do we have to climb mountains?" demanded Stacy.

"Climb up and fall down," answered Walt.

"Oh, dear me, dear me!  It'll be the death of me, I know," wailed the
fat boy.  "I'd rather ride---up.  I can get down all right, but-----"

"Yes, you certainly can get down," laughed Ned.

"Then we shall want quite a lot of soft, strong rope, about quarter-inch
Manila.  I don't think of anything else.  We ought to be able to pick up
whatever else we need after we get out there------"

"I guess that's all, fellows, isn't it?" asked Ned.

"All but the shouting," answered Stacy.

"You are well able to do that.  You'd better practise up on those
favorite exclamations of yours---"

"What are they?"

"Y-e-o-w and W-o-w!"

"Who-o-o-p-e-e!" answered Chunky in a shrill, high-pitched voice.

Ned Rector clapped a hand over the fat boy's mouth with a resounding
smack.  Chunky was jerked backward, his head striking the chair with a
bump that was audible all over the room.

"You stop that business.  Do you forget where you are?  That's all
right out in the wilds, but not in civilized society," declared Ned.

"Whe---where's the civilized society?  Don't you do that to me again,
or I'll-----"

"Chunky's all right.  Let him alone, Ned.  Mother doesn't care how
much noise we make in here.  In fact, she'd think something was wrong
with us if we didn't make a big racket.  Chunky, if you are so full
of steam you might go out and finish the woodpile for me.  I've got
to cut that wood this afternoon."

"No, thank you.  I'm willing to hunt for the colored man in the
woodpile, but I'm a goat if I'll chop the wood.  Why, I'd lose my
reputation in Chillicothe if I were seen doing such a common thing
as that."

"No, that would be impossible," answered Ned sarcastically.

"Eh?  Impossible?" questioned Stacy.

"Oh, yes, yes, yes.  I'll write it down for you so you'll understand
it and-----"

"He means that you can't lose what you don't possess," explained Walter.

Chunky grunted his disgust, but made no reply.  The boys then fell to
discussing the proposed trip.  Tad got out his atlas and together they
pored over the map of Arizona.  After some time at this task, Chunky
pulled a much soiled railway map from his pocket.  This gave them a
more detailed plan of the Grand Canyon.

"You see, I have to show you.  When it comes to doing things Stacy
Brown's the one on whom you all have to fall back."

"You are almost human at times, Stacy.  I'm free to admit that,"
laughed Tad.  "Yes, this is just what we want."

Chunky inflated his chest, and, with hands clasped behind his back,
walked to the window and gazed out into the street, nodding patronizingly
now and then to persons passing who had bowed to him.  In his own
estimation, Stacy was the most important person in Chillcothe.
So confident was he of this that several persons in the community
had come almost to believe it themselves.  Chunky, by his dignified
and important bearing, had hopes of converting others to this same
belief.  As for his three companions---well, a journey without Stacy
Brown would be a tame and uneventful journey at best.

The greater part of the afternoon was devoted to making plans for the
coming trip, each having his suggestions to make or his criticism to
offer of the suggestions of others.  Though the arguments of the Pony
Riders at times became quite heated, the friendship they held for each
other was never really strained.  They were bound together by ties
that would endure for many years to come.

Each day thereafter, during their stay at home, they met for
consultation, and when two weeks later they had assembled at the
railroad station in Chillicothe, clad in their khaki suits, sombreros,
each with a red bandanna handkerchief tied carelessly about his neck,
they presented an imposing appearance and were the centre of a great
crowd of admiring boys and smiling grown-ups.  There were many exciting
experiences ahead of the Pony Rider Boys as well as a series of
journeys that would linger in memory the rest of their lives.



CHAPTER II

A VIEW OF THE PROMISED LAND


For nearly three days the Pony Rider Boys had been taking their ease
in a Pullman sleeping car, making great inroads on the food served in
the dining car.

It had been a happy journey.  The boys were full of anticipation of
what was before them.  At intervals during the day they would study
their maps and enter into long discussions with Professor Zepplin,
the grizzled, stern-looking man who in so many other journeys had
been their guardian and faithful companion.  The Professor had joined
them at St. Louis, where the real journey had commenced.

All that day they had been racing over baked deserts, a cloud of dust
sifting into the car and making life miserable for the more tender
passengers, though the hardy Pony Riders gave no heed to such trivial
discomforts as heat and dust.  They were used to that sort of thing.
Furthermore, they expected, ere many more days had passed, to be treated
to discomforts that were real.

Suddenly the train dashed from the baked desert into a green forest.
The temperature seemed to drop several degrees in an instant.  Everyone
drew a long breath, faces were pressed against windows and expressions
of delight were heard in many parts of the sleeper.

They had entered a forest of tall pines, so tall that the lads were
obliged to crane their necks to see the tops.

"This is the beginning of the beginning," announced Professor Zepplin
somewhat enigmatically.  "This is the forest primeval."

"I don't know," replied Chunky, peering through a car window.  "It
strikes me that we've left the evil behind and got into the real thing."

"What is it, Professor?" asked Tad Butler.

"As I have said, it is a primeval forest.  This great woodland stretches
away from the very base of the San Francisco mountains southward for a
distance of nearly two hundred miles.  We are taking a short cut through
it and should reach Flagstaff in about an hour from now."

"Hurrah!  We're going to see the Flagstaff in an hour," cried Stacy,
his face wreathed in smiles.

"A further fact, which is no doubt unknown to you, is that this enormous
forest covers an area of over ten thousand square miles, and contains
six million, four hundred thousand acres."

The boys uttered exclamations of amazement and wonder.

"If you'd said ten acres, I'd understand you better," replied Stacy.
"I never could think in such big figures.  I'm like a rich fellow in
our town, who doesn't know what money is above a certain sum."

"Well, what about it?" demanded Tad.

"Up to fifty dollars, he knows how much it is, but for anything above
that it's a check," finished Chunky, looking about him expectantly.

No one laughed.

"Speaking of checks," said Ned Rector after an interval of silence, "did
you bring along that snaffle bit, Tad?"

"What snaffle bit?"

"The one we were going to put on Stacy Brown to hold him in check?"

A series of groans greeted Ned's words.  Chunky grumbled something about
making a checker board of Ned's face if he didn't watch out, after
which the Professor turned the rising tide into other and safer
channels by continuing his lecture on the great Arizona forest.

As the train dashed on the Pony Riders were greeted with occasional
views of a mountain differing from anything they ever had seen.  One
peak especially attracted their attention.  Its blackened sides, and
its summit bathed in a warm glow of yellow sunshine, gave it a most
striking appearance.

"What is it, Professor?" asked Tad, with an inquiring gaze and nod
toward the mountain.

"Sunset Mountain," answered Professor Zepplin.  "You should have
discovered that."

"But it isn't sunset," objected Walter.

"It is always sunset there.  The effect is always a sunset effect."

"In the night, too!" questioned Chunky.

"No, it's moonset then," scoffed Rector.

"In the same direction you will observe the others of the San Francisco
mountains.  However, we shall have more of this later on.  For the
present you would do well to gather up Your belongings, for we shall
be at our journey's end in a few minutes."

This announcement caused the boys to spring up, reaching to the racks
above for such of their luggage as had been stowed there.  All was
bustle for the next twenty minutes.  Then the train drew into the
station, the cars covered with the dust of the desert, changing the
dark brown of their paint to a dirty gray.

The boys found that they had arrived at a typical western town, a
tree-surrounded, mountain-shadowed, breeze-blown place set like a gem
in a frame of green and gold, nestling, it seemed, at the very base
of the towering peaks of the San Francisco mountains, whose three
rough volcanic peaks stood silent sentinel over the little community
clustered at their base.

The railroad track lined one side of the main street, while business
blocks and public houses were ranged on the opposite side.  Here the
garb of the Pony Riders failed to attract the same attention that it
had done further east.  There were many others on the station platform
whose clothes and general get-up were similar to those of the boys.

But as they descended from the sleeping car, their arms full of their
belongings, each carrying a rifle in a case, they caught sight of a
man who instantly claimed their attention.  He was fully sixty years
old, standing straight as a tree and wearing a soft black felt hat,
a white shirt and a wing collar.  From his chin, extend almost back
to the ears, there stood a growth of white bristling whiskers.  As he
tilted his head backward in an apparent effort to stand still more
erect, the whiskers stood out almost at right angles, giving him a
most ferocious appearance.

Tad felt a tug at his sleeve.  He turned to find the big eyes of Chunky
Brown gazing up into his face.

"Is that the Wild Man of the Canyon?" whispered Stacy.

"I don't know.  He looks as if he might be a Senator, or-----"

"Any of you boys know where we can find Jim Nance?" interrupted the
Professor.

"I reckon we do," drawled a cowboy.

"Well?" urged the Professor somewhat irritably.

"Wal?" answered the cowboy.

"Will you please tell us where we may find him, pardner?" spoke up Tad,
observing how the land lay and wishing to head off friction.

"I reckon that's him," answered the cowboy, pointing to the straight,
athletic figure of the old man.

Tad grinned at Chunky.

"That's our guide, Bub."

"He looks fierce enough to be a man eater."

"I'm afraid of him," whispered Stacy.  "He's mysterious looking, too;
like the Canyon."

Professor Zepplin strode up to the old man.

"Mr. Nance, I believe."

"Y-a-a-s," drawled the old man.

The Professor introduced himself, then one by one called the boys up
and presented them, the old man gazing keenly with twinkling, searching
eyes into the face of each one presented to him.  Chunky said "ouch"
when Nance squeezed his hand, then backed off.

"This is Mr. Nance, the gentleman who is to be our guide," announced
Professor Zepplin.

"We're all glad to see you, Mr. Nance," chorused the Pony Riders.

"Ain't all tenderfeet, eh?" quizzed the guide.

"No, not exactly.  They have been out for some time.  They are pretty
well used to roughing it," declared the Professor.

"Good idea.  They'll think they haven't before they get through with
the old Grand."

"How about our ponies?" asked Tad.  "Have you engaged them?"

"You pick 'em out.  I'll take yon to corral after you've had your
dinner."

All hands walked across the street to a hotel, where they sat down to
the first satisfying meal they had eaten since leaving home.

"This beats the spirit meals we've been having on board the train,"
announced Stacy, his eyes roving longingly over the heaped up dishes.

"Don't lick your chops," cautioned Ned.  "There are some polite folks
here, as you can see.

"What's that you said about spirit meals?" quizzed the guide after they
had gotten started with their dinner.

"The kind a fellow I knew used to make for his men on the farm,"
answered Stacy promptly.

"Tell us about it.  I never heard you mention it," urged Tad.

"He fed his men mostly on spirit soup.  Ever hear of spirit soup?"

"I never did.  Any of you boys ever hear of spirit soup?"

The Pony Riders shook their heads.  They were not particularly interested
in Chunky's narration.  Ned frowned and went on with his dinner.

"Well, this fellow used to make it.  He had barrels of the stuff,
and-----"

"How is the chuck made?" demanded Jim Nance.

"I'll tell you.  To make spirit soup you catch a snipe.  Then you starve
him to death.  Understand?"

Nance nodded.

"After you've starved him to death you hang him up on the sunny side
of the house till he becomes a shadow.  A shadow, you understand?
Well, after he's become a shadow you let the shadow drop into a
barrel of rainwater.  The result is spirit soup.  Serve a teaspoonful
a day as directed," added Stacy, coming to a sudden stop as Ned trod
on his toes with a savage heel.

Jim Nance's whiskers stood out, the ends trembling as if from the
agitation of their owner, causing Chunky to shrink within himself.

"Very unseemly, young man," rebuked the Professor.

"It seems so," muttered Walter under his breath; then all hands
laughed heartily.

The meal being finished, Nance ordered a three-seated buckboard
brought around.  Into this the whole outfit piled until the bottom
of the vehicle bent almost to the ground.

"Will it hold?" questioned the Professor apprehensively.

"I reckon it will if it doesn't break.  We'll let the fat boy walk if
we've got too big a load," Nance added, with a twinkle.

"No, I'll ride, sir," spoke up Stacy promptly.  "I'm very delicate and
I'm not allowed to walk, because-----"

"How far is it out to the corral, Mr. Nance?" questioned Tad.

"'Bout a mile as the hawk flies.  We'll be there in a jiffy."

It appeared that all arrangements had been made by Mr. Perkins for the
stock, through a bank in Flagstaff, where he had deposited funds to
cover the purchase of stock and stores for the trip through the Canyon.
This the Professor understood.  There remained little for the boys to
do except for each to pick out the pony be fancied.

They looked over the mustangs in the corral, asking the owner about
this and that one.

"I'll take that one," said Chunky, indicating a mild-eyed pinto that
stood apparently half asleep.

The owner of the herd of mustangs smiled.

"Kind and sound, isn't he?" questioned the fat boy.

"Oh, he's sound all right."

"Do you know how to handle a pinto, boy?" questioned Nance.

"Do I?  Of course I do.  Haven't I been riding the toughest critters
on the ranges of the Rockies for years and years?  Don't I know how to
rope anything that ambles on four legs?  Well, I guess!  Gimme that
rope.  I'll show you how to fetch a sleepy pinto out of his dreams."

The black that Chunky coveted seemed, at that moment, to have opened
his eyes ever so little, then permitted the eyelids to droop.  It was
not a good sign as Tad viewed it, and the Pony Rider was an excellent
horseman.

"Better be careful, Chunky," he warned.  "Shan't I rope him for you?"

"I guess not.  If I can't rope him I'd like to see you do it."

"Sail in.  You know best," answered Tad, with a grin, winking at Ned
and the Professor.  Jim Nance appeared to take only a passive interest
in the matter.  He might have his say later provided his advice were
needed.

Chunky ran his rope through his hands, then grasping the hondo, strode
boldly into the corral.

"I reckon it's time we were climbing the fence," announced Tad.

"I reckon it is," agreed the guide, vaulting to the top rail, which
action was followed by the other two boys, only the owner of the herd
and Professor Zepplin remaining inside the corral with Stacy.

Suddenly Stacy let go the loop of his lariat.  It dropped over the head
of the sleepy pinto.  The pinto, at the touch of the rope, sprang into
sudden life.  Then things began to happen in that corral.  Stacy Brown
was the center of the happenings.



CHAPTER III

TENDERFEET SHOW THEIR SKILL


"Woof!" exclaimed Ned Rector.

"Oh!" cried Walter Perkins.

"Good boy! Hang on!" shouted Tad encouragingly.

It is doubtful whether Stacy heard either the words of warning or those
of encouragement from Tad, for at that moment Stacy's feet were up in
the air.  The pinto had leaped forward like a shot the instant it felt
the touch of the rope.  Of course Chunky, who had clung to the rope,
went along at the same rate of speed.

A great cloud of dust rose from the corral.  The mustang was darting
here and there, bucking, squealing and kicking.  In a moment most of
the other mustangs were doing likewise.  The owner of the herd, calling
to the Professor, darted out, leaving one bar of the fence down.
Professor Zepplin, becoming confused, missed his way and found himself
penned into one corner at the far side, almost the center of a circle
of kicking mustangs.

Tad saw the danger of their companion almost at once.  The lad leaped
down, and darting among the kicking animals, made his way toward the
Professor just as Stacy's mustang leaped the bars.  Stacy's toes
caught the top rail, retarding his progress for the briefest part
of a second, then he shot out into the air after the racing mustang.

"Leggo!" roared the boys.

"Let go!" shouted the guide.  "The little fool!  Doesn't he know enough
to come in out of the wet?"

"You'll find he doesn't, sir.  Your troubles have only just begun.
You'll be demanding an increase of wages before you have followed
Stacy Brown for a full twenty-four hours," prophesied Ned.

In the meantime Tad had reached the Professor, regardless of the
flying hoofs about him.  With his rope the boy drove the animals off
just in time.  Somehow they seemed to have taken it into their heads
that the Professor was responsible for their having been disturbed
and they were opening their hoof batteries upon him.  They gave way
before the resolute young Pony Rider almost at once.  They recognized
that this slender young plainsman and mountaineer was unafraid.

The Professor was weak in the knees by the time he had been led out.

"I didn't know you were in there," apologized Nance.

"Where's Stacy?" was the Professor's first question.

"He's gone by the air line," answered Walter.

While all this had been taking place Chunky had continued in his mad
flight for a short distance.  He had a long hold on the rope by which
the mustang was hauling him.  The wary beast, espying a tree whose
limbs hung low, changed his course and darted under the lowest of
the limbs.  Its intention was plain to those who knew the habits of
these gentle beasts.  The mustang intended to "wipe" the Pony Rider
boy free of the line.

Just before reaching the low-hanging limb the pinto darted to one
side, then to the other after an almost imperceptible halt.  The
result was the rope was drawn under the low limb.  A quick leap on
the part of the mustang, that exhibited almost human intelligence by
this manoeuvre, caused Chunky to do a picturesque flop over the limb,
falling flat on his back on the other side.  This brought the mustang
to a quick stop, for the rope had taken a firm hitch around the limb.

The sudden jolt and stoppage of his progress threw the mustang on his
nose, where he poised for a few seconds, then he too toppled over on
his back.

The owner of the herd was screaming with, merriment, Jim Nance was
slapping his sides as he ran, while the Professor was making for the
fat boy with long strides.

Tad reached Stacy first.  The fat boy lay blinking, looking up at him.
Stacy's clothes were pretty well torn, though his body did not seem
to be harmed beyond the loss of considerable skin.

"Let me have that rope," commanded Tad.

"N-n-no you don't."

"Let me have that rope, I tell you.  I'll attend to the pinto for you."

"Here, give it to me," ordered Jim Nance, reaching for the rope which
Tad Butler had taken.

"I can handle him, Mr. Nance."

The "handling" was not easy.  Tad was hauled over the best part of an
acre of ground ere he succeeded finally in getting an opportunity to
cast his own rope.  When, however, he did make the cast, the rope
caught the pinto by a hind foot, sending the stubborn little beast to
the ground.  Then Tad was jerked this way and that as the animal
sought to kick the foot free.

"Grab the neck rope some of you," he cried.

Nance was the first to obey the command.  It was the work of but a
moment temporarily to subdue the pinto.

"Take him back.  We don't want the critter," ordered the guide.

"I---I want him," declared Stacy, limping up to the former sleepy
beast.

"I'll break him so I guess Stacy can ride him," said Tad.  "Ned, will
you fetch my saddle and bridle?  I can't let go here just yet.  Has
this fellow ever been ridden?" demanded the boy, looking up at the owner.

"I reckon he has, but not much."

"Why did you let Brown rope the pinto, then?"

"He said he wanted him."

"Let him up," directed Tad.  The mustang had another spell, but ere
he had finished his bucking Tad had skillfully thrown the saddle on
and made fast the saddle girth at the risk of his own life.  Next came
the bridle, which was not so easily put in place.  It was secured at
last, after which the lad stepped back to wipe the perspiration from
his face and forehead.  Dark spots on his khaki blouse showed where
the sweat had come through the tough cloth.

"Now I'll ride him," Butler announced.

For the next quarter of an hour there followed an exhibition that won
the admiration of all who saw it.  All the bucking and kicking that
the pinto could do failed to unseat Tad Butler.  When finally he rode
back to the group, Mr. Mustang's head was held straight out.  Once more
the sleepy look had come into his eyes, but it was not the same crafty
look that had been there before.  He was conquered, at least for the
time being.

"Now, Chunky, you may try him."

"What do you think of that for riding?" demanded Stacy, turning to
the guide.

"Oh, he'll ride one of these days," answered the guide.

"I believe you're a grouch," snorted the fat boy, as he swung into the
saddle, quickly thrusting his toes into the stirrups, expecting to be
bucked up into the air.

But nothing of the sort followed.  The mustang was as meek as could be.
Stacy rode the animal up and down the field until satisfied that the
pinto was thoroughly broken.  Stacy was an object of interest to all.
He was a very much banged-up gentleman, nor was Tad so very far behind
him in that respect.

Young Butler chose for his mount a mustang with a white face.  Already
Tad had decided to call him Silver Face.  The two very quickly came
to an understanding, after a lively but brief rustle about the enclosure.
After this Tad roped out the pintos for the others of his party.  This
done, the boys took their mustangs out into the field, where they tried
them out.  The spectators were then treated to an exhibition of real
riding, though the Pony Riders were not doing this for the sake of
showing off.  They wanted to try their mounts out thoroughly before
deciding to keep those they had chosen.

At last they decided that the stock could stand as picked out, with
the exception of Walter Perkins's mustang, which went lame shortly
after the boy had started off with him.

"I guess we are all right now," announced Tad, riding up to where the
Professor and Jim Nance were standing.  "Has either of you any
suggestions to offer?"

"Hain't got no suggestions to offer to the likes of you," grumbled the
guide.  "Where'd you learn to ride like that?"

"Oh, I don't know.  It came natural, I guess," replied Tad simply.  "The
others ride as well as I do."

"Then we'll be moving.  I reckon you are figgering on gitting started
to-day?"

"Yes, we might as well be on our way as soon as you are ready, Mr.
Nance," agreed the Professor.

"How about the pack train?" asked Tad.

"The mules are all ready," answered the guide.

The lads rode their new horses back to Flagstaff.  None cared to ride
in the buckboard long as there was a horse to ride.  Even the Professor
thought he would feel at home in the saddle once more.  Nance observed
that though Professor Zepplin was not the equal of the Pony Riders on
horseback, yet he was a good man in the saddle.  Nance was observing
them all.  He knew they would be together for some weeks and it was
well to understand the peculiarities of each one of the party at the
earliest possible moment.

Reaching town the party found that the entire equipment for the pack
train had been gotten in readiness.  There remained but to pack the
mules and they would be ready for their start.  This was done with a
will, and about two o'clock in the afternoon the outfit set off over
the stage road, headed for the Grand Canyon.

It was a happy party, full of song and jest and joy for that which was
before them.  The way led through the Coconino Park.  Some three miles
out they halted at the edge of a dry lake basin, in the centre of which
was a great gaping hole.  The Professor pointed to it inquiringly.

"There was a lake here up to a few years ago," explained Jim.  "Bottom
fell out and the water fell in.  Ain't no bottom to it now at all"

"Then---then the water must have leaked out on the other side of the
world," stammered Chunky, his eyes big with wonder.

"I reckon it must have soused a heathen Chinee," answered Nance, with
a grin.

"Pity it didn't fall out the other way and souse a few guides, eh?"
questioned the fat boy, with a good-natured grimace at which Nance
laughed inwardly, his shaking whiskers being the only evidence of
any emotion whatever.

"Up there is Walnut Canyon," explained Jim.  "Cliff dwellers lived up
there some time ago."

"Yes, we met some of them down south," nodded Chunky.

"You mean we saw where they once lived long, long ago," corrected
Professor Zepplin.

"Yes, we saw where they lived," agreed Stacy.

The way led on through a forest of pines, the trail underfoot being of
lava, as hard and smooth as a road could be.  They were gradually
drawing nearer to Sunset Mountain.  After a time they turned off to
the right, heading straight for the mountain.

Tad rode back to the Professor to find out where they were going.

"I thought you boys might like to explore the mountain.  You will find
some things there well worth scientific consideration."

"Yes, sir; that will be fine."

"You know the mountain was once a great volcano."

"How long ago?" interrupted Stacy.

"A few million years or so."

"Mr. Nance must have been a boy in short trousers then," returned Stacy
quizzically.  The guide's whiskers bristled and stood out straight.

The road by this time had lost its hardness.  The ponies' hoofs sank
deep into the cinders, making progress slow for the party.  They
managed to get to the base of the mountain, but the mustangs were
pretty well fagged.  The animals were turned out for the night after
having been hobbled so that they could not stray far away.

"Now each of you will have to carry a pack," announced the guide.
"I will tell you what to take."

"Why, where are we going?" asked Tad.

"We are going to spend the night in the crater of the extinct volcano,"
said the Professor.  "Will not that be a strange experience?"

"Hurrah for the crater!" shouted the boys.

"Speaking of volcanoes, I wish you wouldn't open your mouth so wide,
Ned.  It makes me dizzy.  I'm afraid I'll fall in," growled Chunky.



CHAPTER IV

A NIGHT IN THE CRATER


"What, climb that mountain?" demanded Stacy.

"Surely.  You are not afraid of a mountain, are you?" demanded Tad.

"I'm not afraid of---of anything, but I'm delicate, I tell yau."

"Just the same, you'll pack about fifty pounds up the side of that hill,"
jeered Ned Rector.

The pack mules had not yet come up with their driver.  The party
foreseeing this, had brought such articles as would be needed for the
night.  Taking their blankets and their rifles, together with food and
wood for a fire, they began the slow, and what proved to be painful,
ascent of Sunset Mountain.

A lava field stretched directly in front of them, barring the way.  Its
forbidding surface had been riven by the elements until it was a perfect
chaos of black tumult.  By the time the Pony Rider Boys had gotten over
this rough stretch, they were ready to sit down and rest.  Nance would
not permit them to do so.  He said they would have barely time to reach
the crater before dark, as it was, and that they must make the best
speed possible.  No one grumbled except Stacy, but it was observed that
he plodded along with the others, a few paces to the rear.

The Professor now and then would point to holes in the lava to show
where explosions had taken place, bulging the lava around the edge and
hurling huge rocks to a considerable distance.  As they climbed the
mountain proper they found that Sunset, too, had engaged in some gunnery
in those far-away ages, as was shown by many lava bombs lying about
the base.

The route up the mountain side was over a cider-buried lava flow, the
fine cinders under foot soon making progress almost a torture.  Tad was
the first to stand on his head as his feet went out from under him.
Stacy, in a fit of uproarious laughter, did the next stunt, that of
literally standing on his right ear.  Chunky tried to shout and got
his mouth full of cinders.

"I'm going back," howled the fat boy.  "I didn't come up here to climb
slumbering volcanoes."

"I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll carry you, Stacy," said Tad, smiling
and nodding toward the cinder-blackened face of his companion.

"You mean it?"

"Of course I mean it."

"I guess I can walk.  I'm not quite so big a baby as that."

"I thought so.  Have your fun.  If you get into trouble you know your
friend, Tad Butler, is always on the job."

"You bet I do.  But this is an awful climb."

It was all of that.  One step upward often meant a slide of several short
steps backward.  The Professor's face was red, and unuttered words were
upon his lips.  Jim Nance was grinning broadly, his whiskers bobbing up
and down as he stumbled up the side of Old Sunset.

"I reckon the tenderfeet will get enough of it before they get to the
Canyon," chuckled the guide.

"Say, Mr. Nance, we don't want to Mister you all the time.  What shall
we call you for short?" asked Tad Butler.

"Anything you want."

"What d'ye say if we call you Whiskers?" called Stacy.

"Stacy!" rebuked the Professor sternly.

"Oh, let the little tenderfoot rant.  He's harmless.  Call me Whiskers,
if it does ye any good."

"I'm no tenderfoot," protested Chunky.

"Nor be I all whiskers," returned the guide, whereat Chunky's face
turned red.

"I guess we'll call you Dad, for you'll have to be our dad for some time
to come," decided Tad.

"That'll be all right, providing it suits the fat little tenderfoot."

Stacy did not reply to this.  He was having too much trouble to keep
right side up just then to give heed to anything else.

"Go zig-zag.  You'll never get to the top this way," called Tad.  "You
know how a switchback railroad works?  Well, go as nearly like a
switch-back as possible."

"That's a good idea," agreed Dad.  "You'll get there quicker, as the
young gentleman says."

Tad looked at his companions, grinning broadly.  As they got nearer to
the top the color of the cinders changed from black to a brick red.
They began to understand why the peak of Sunset always presented such
a rosy appearance.  It was due to the tint of the cinders that had been
thrown from the mouth of the volcano ages ago.

"We have now entered the region of perpetual sunset," announced the
Professor.

Chunky took advantage of the brief halt to sit down.  He slid back
several feet on the treacherous footing.

Still further up the mountain took on a rich yellow color, but near the
rim it was almost white.  It was a wonderful effect and caused the
Pony Riders to gaze in awe.  But darkness was approaching rapidly.  The
guide ordered them to be on the way, because he desired to reach the rim
of the crater while they still were able to see.  What his reasons were
the boys did not know.  They took for granted that Dad knew his business,
which Dad did.  He had spent many years in this rough country and knew
it well.  The Grand Canyon was his home.  He lived in it the greater
part of the year.  When winter came, Dad, with his mustang, his cattle
and equipment would descend into the Grand Canyon far from snow and
bitter cold into a land of perpetual summer, where, beside the roaring
Colorado, he would spend the winter alone with his beloved Canyon.

Dad's was a strange nature.  He understood the moods of the great gash
in the plateau; he seemed literally to be able to translate the
mysterious moans and whispers of the wind as it swirled between the
rocky walls and went shrieking up the painted sides of the gulches.

But of all this the boys knew nothing as yet.  It was all to be revealed
to them later.

"You'll have a look over the country tomorrow," said Dad.

"Where is the Canyon?" asked Tad, eager for a view of the wonderful spot.

"You'll get a glimpse of it in the morning.  You'll know the place when
you get to it.  Here we be at the top.  There's the hole."

Chunky peered into the crater rather timidly.

"How do you get down?" he asked.

"Slide," answered Ned.

"I can do that, but what's at the bottom?"

"The same thing.  Cinders and lava," answered Tad.  "What would you
expect to find in a volcano?"

"I'd never expect to find Stacy Brown in one, and I'm not sure that I'm
going to."

"All hands follow me.  There's no danger," called the guide, shouldering
his pack and leaping and sliding down the sharp incline.  He was
followed by the boys with shouts of glee.  They went tumbling head over
heels, laughing, whooping, letting off their excess steam.  The
Professor's grim face relaxed in a smile; Dad's eyes twinkled.

"We'll take it out of them by and by," he confided to the Professor.

"You don't know them," answered Professor Zepplin.  "Better men than
you or I have tried it.  Remember, they are young.  We are old men.
Of course, it is different with you.  You are hardened to the work,
still I think they could tire both of us out."

"We'll see about that."

"Whoop-e-e!" came the voice of Tad Butler far below them.  "I'm at the
bottom.  Any wild animals down here, Dad?"

"Only one at present.  There'll be three more in a minute."

"Six, you mean," laughed Tad.

The others had soon joined him.

"How far are we from the surface?" asked Walter.

"About five hundred feet down.  We're in the bowels of the mountain for
sure, kid," answered the guide.

"That's pretty tough on the mountain.  I'm afraid it will have a bad
case of indigestion," laughed Tad.

"You needn't be.  It has swallowed tougher mouthfuls than you are,"
returned the guide, ever ready with an answer.

"Dad's able to give as good as you send," laughed Ned.

"That's good.  All the better for us," nodded Tad.  "What about some
light?"

"Unload the wood from your packs.  This is where you are glad you did
pack some stuff."

In a few minutes a fire was blazing, lighting up the interior of the
crater.  The boys found themselves in a circular opening of almost
terrifying roughness and something like a quarter of a mile across.
Here, in ages past, the forces of Nature had been at work with fearful
earnestness.  Weird shadows, mysterious shapes, somewhat resembling
moving figures, were thrown by the flickering blaze of the camp fire.
While the boys were exploring the crater Dad was busy getting the
supper ready, talking with Professor Zepplin as he worked.

The voices of the boys echoed from side to side of the crater, sounding
strange and unreal.  The call to supper put an end to their explorations.
They sat down with keen edges to their appetites.  It was their first
meal in the open on this journey.  All were in high spirits.

"I think we should agree upon our work for the future," declared the
Professor.

"Work?" exclaimed Chunky, opening wide his big eyes.

"Yes.  It is not going to be all play during this trip."

"We are willing to do our share," answered Ned.

"Yes, of course we are," chorused Walt and Stacy, though there was no
enthusiasm in the fat boy's tone.

"I am of the opinion that you boys should take turns in cooking the
meals, say one boy to cook for an entire day, another to take the job
on the following day."

"I'll cook my own," declared the guide.  "No tenderfoot experiments
in my chuck."

"They know how to cook, Mr. Nance," explained the Professor.

"All right; they may cook for you," said the guide, with a note of
finality in his tone.  He glanced up at the sky, held out his hand and
shook his head.  Tad observed the movement.

"What is it?" asked the boy.

"It's going to snow," said Dad.

Tad laughed, glancing at his companions.

"What, snow in June?" questioned Stacy.

"You must remember that you are a good many thousand feet up," the
Professor informed him.

"Up?  I thought I was down in a crater."

"You are both up and down," spoke up Tad.

"Yes, I'm usually up and down, first standing on my feet then on my
head," retorted Stacy.  "How are we going to sleep?"

"Same as usual.  Pick out your beds, then roll up in your blankets,"
directed Dad.  "You are used to it, eh?"

"Well," drawled Chunky, "I've slept in a good many different kinds of
beds, but this is the first time I ever slept in a lava bed."

True to Dad's prophecy, the snow came within half an hour.

"Better turn in before the beds get too wet," advised Dad.

All hands turned in.  Sleep did not come to the boys as readily as usual.
They had been sleeping in real beds too long.  After a time the snow
changed to rain in the warmth of the crater.  Chunky got up disgustedly.

"I'm tired of sleeping in the bath tub," he declared.  "Think I'll move
into the hall bedroom."

Chuckles were heard from beneath other blankets, while Stacy, grumbling
and growling, fussed about until he found a place that appeared to be
to his liking.

"When you get through changing beds perhaps you will give us a chance
to go to sleep," called the guide.

Stacy's voice died away to an indistinct murmur.  Soon after that quiet
settled over the dark hole in the mountain.  The rain came down harder
than ever, but by this time the Pony Rider Boys were asleep.  They
neither heard nor felt the water, though every one was drenched to the
skin.

Toward morning Tad woke up with a start.  He thought something had
startled him.  Just then an unearthly yell woke the echoes of the
crater.  Yell upon yell followed for the next few seconds, each yell
seeming to be further away than the preceding one, and finally dying
out altogether.

"It's Chunky!" shouted Tad, kicking himself free of his blankets and
leaping up.  "Some thing's happened to Chunky!"



CHAPTER V

TAD LENDS HELPING HAND


"What is it?  What is it?" cried the other boys, getting free of their
blankets and in the confusion rolling and kicking about in the cinders.

"What is it?" shouted the Professor, very much excited.

Ned, dragging his blanket after him, had started to run about, not
knowing which way to turn nor what had occurred.  In the meantime the
guide and Tad had started in the direction from which the yells had
seemed to come.

"It was this way," shouted Tad.

Ned headed them off running toward the west edge of the crater.  All at
once a new note sounded.  With an unearthly howl Ned Rector disappeared.
They heard his voice growing fainter, too, just as Stacy's had done.

"They've fallen in!" cried Tad.

"Everybody stand still!" commanded Dad.

Recognizing that he was right, the others obeyed, with the exception of
Tad Butler, who crept cautiously forward, feeling his way with the toes
of his boots, that he too might not share the fate of his two companions.

Dad, from somewhere about his person, produced a bundle of sticks which
he lighted.  He was prepared for just such an emergency.  A flickering
light pierced the deep shadows, just enough to show the party that two
of their number had disappeared.

"There is the place," cried Tad.  "It's a hole in the ground.  They've
fallen in."

"Chunky's always falling in," laughed Walter half hysterically.

With his rope in hand, Tad sprang forward.

"Light this way, please," called Butler.  "Hello, down there!" he cried,
peering into the hole in the ground.

"Hello!" came back a faint answer from Ned Rector.  "Get us out quick."

"What happened?"

"I don't know.  Chunky fell in and I fell on him."

"Is he hurt?"

"I don't know.  I guess I knocked the wind out of him."

"How far down are you?" demanded Dad peering in, holding his torch low,
exposing a hole about six feet square at the top, widening out as it
extended downward.

"I---I don't know.  It felt like a mile when I came down.  Hurry.  Think
I want to stay here all night?"

"If Stacy isn't able to help himself, tie the rope around his waist and
we will haul him up," directed Tad.

"Serve him right to leave him here," retorted Ned.

"All right, we will leave you both there, if you feel that way," answered
Nance grimly.

"He doesn't mean it," said Tad.  "Ned must have his joke, no matter how
serious the situation may be." Tad lowered his rope, loop first.  "Well,
how about it?" he called.

"I've made it fast.  Haul away." Chunky was something of a heavy weight.
It required the combined efforts of those at the top to haul him out.
Dragging Stacy to the surface, Tad dropped beside the fat boy, giving
him a shake and peering anxiously into his eyes, shouting, "Stacy!
Stacy!"

Chunky opened one eye and winked knowingly at Tad.

"Oh, you rascal!  You've made us pull until we are out of breath.  Why'd
you make a dead weight of yourself?"

"Is---is he all right?" inquired Professor Zepplin anxiously.

"He hasn't been hurt-----"

"Yes, I have.  I'm all bunged up---I'm all shot to pieces.  The---the
mountain blew up and-----"

"Well, are you fellows going to leave me down here all the rest of the
night?" demanded the far-away voice of Ned Rector.

"Yes, you stay there.  You're out of the wet," answered Stacy.

"That's a fine way to talk after I have saved your life almost at the
expense of my own."

"Pshaw! Saved my life!  You nearly knocked it all out of me when you
fell on top of me."

"Here comes the rope, Ned," called Tad.  "If you can help us a little
you will make the haul easier for us."

"I'll use my feet."

"Better take a hitch around your waist in case you should slip," advised
Butler.

Ned did so, and by bracing his feet against the side of the rock he was
able to aid them not a little in their efforts to haul him to the
surface.  Ned fixed Stacy with stern eye.

"Were you bluffing all the time?" he demanded.

"Was I bluffing?  Think a fellow would need to bluff when a big chump
like you fell in on him?  I thought the mountain had caved in on me, but
it was something softer than a mountain, I guess," added Stacy
maliciously.

"What did happen?" demanded Ned, gazing at the hole wonderingly.

"It's one of those thin crusts," announced the guide, examining the
broken place in the lava with critical eyes, in which occupation the
Professor joined.

"Yes, it was pretty crusty," muttered Chunky.

"You see, sir, this occurs occasionally," nodded the guide, looking up
at the grizzled face of Professor Zepplin.  "One never knows in this
country when the crust is going to give way and let him down.  I guess
the rain must have weakened the ground."

"And I fell in again," growled Stacy.

"You were bound to fall in sooner or later," answered Tad.  "Perhaps it
is just as well that you fell in a soft place."

"A soft place?" shouted Stacy.  "If you think so, just take a drop in
there yourself."

"I thought it was the softest thing I ever fell on," grinned Rector,
whereupon the laugh was on Stacy.

There was no more sleep in the camp in the crater of Sunset Peak that
night.  Nor was there fire to warm the campers.  They walked about
until daylight.  That morning they made a breakfast on cold biscuit
and snowballs at the rim of the crater.  But as the sun came out they
felt well repaid for all that they had passed through on the previous
night.  Such a vista of wonderful peaks as lay before them none of the
Pony Riders ever had gazed upon.

To the west lay the San Francisco Peaks, those ever-present landmarks
of northern Arizona.  To the south the boys looked off over a vast area
of forest and hills, while to the east in the foreground were grouped
many superb cinder cones, similar to the one on which they were
standing, though not nearly so high.  Lava beds, rugged and barren,
reached out like fingers to the edge of the plateau as if reaching for
the far-away painted desert.

"Where is the Canyon?" asked Tad in a low voice.

"Yonder," said Dad, pointing to the north over an unbroken stretch of
forest.  There in the dim distance lay the walls of the Grand Canyon,
the stupendous expanse of the ramparts of the Canyon stretching as far
as the eye could see.

"How far away are they?" asked Tad.

"More than forty miles," answered Dad.  "You wait till we get to the
edge.  You can't tell anything about those buttes now."

"What is a butte---how did they happen to be called that?" asked Walter.

"A butte is a butte," answered the guide.

"A butte is a bump on the landscape," interjected Stacy.

"A butte is a mound of earth or stone worn away by erosion," answered
the Professor, with an assurance that forbade any one to question the
correctness of his statement.

"Yes, sir," murmured the Pony Rider Boys.  "A wart on the hand of fair
Nature, as it were," added Chunky under his breath.

"Come, we must be on our way," urged Dad.  "We want to make half the
distance to the Canyon before night.  I reckon the pack train will have
gone on.  We'll have to live on what we have in our saddle bags till
we catch up with the train, which I reckon we'll do hard onto noon."

No great effort was required to descend Sunset Mountain.  It was one
long slide and roll.  The boys screamed with delight as they saw the
dignified Professor coasting and taking headers down the cinder-covered
mountain.

By this time the clothes of the explorers had become well dried out in
the hot sun.  When they reached the camp they found that the pack train
had long since broken camp and gone on.

"Where are the ponies?" cried Walter, looking about.

"I'll get them," answered Dad, circling the camp a few times to pick up
the trail.

It will be remembered that the animals had been hobbled on the previous
afternoon and turned loose to graze.  Dad found the trail and was off
on it running with head bent, reminding the boys of the actions of a
hound.  While he was away Tad cooked breakfast, made coffee and the
others showed their appreciation of his efforts by eating all that was
placed before them and calling loudly for more.  Dad returned about an
hour later, riding Silver Face, driving the other mustangs before him.
When the boys saw the stock coming in they shouted with merriment.  The
mustangs had been hobbled by tying their fore feet together.  This made
it necessary for the animals to hop like kangaroos.  The boys named them
the kangaroos right then and there.

Tad had some hot coffee ready for Nance by the time Dad got back.  The
guide forgot that he had declared against eating or drinking anything
cooked by the Pony Rider Boys.  He did full justice to Tad's cooking,
while the rest of the boys stood around watching the guide eat, offering
suggestions and remarks.  Dad took it all good-naturedly.  He would have
plenty of opportunities to get back at them.  Dad was something of a
joker himself, though this fact was suspected only by Tad Butler, who
had noted the constantly recurring twinkle in the eyes of the guide.

"We shall hear from Dad one of these days," was Butler's mental
conclusion.  "All right, we deserve all we get and more, I guess."

Shortly afterwards the party was in the saddle, setting out for their
forty-mile ride in high spirits.  They hoped to reach their destination
early on the following morning.  Some of the way was dusty and hot,
though the greater part of it was shaded by the giant pines.

They caught up with the pack train shortly before noon, as Nance had
said they would.  A halt was made and a real meal cooked while the
mustangs were watered and permitted to graze at the ends of their
ropes.  The meal being finished, saddle bags were stocked as the party
would not see the pack train again until some time on the following day.
Then the journey was resumed again.

The Pony Rider Boys were full of anticipation for what they would see
when they reached the Canyon.  Dad was in a hurry, too.  He could
hardly wait until he came in sight of his beloved Canyon.  But even with
all their expectations the lads had no idea of the wonderful sight in
store for them when they should first set eyes on this greatest of
Nature's wonders.

That night they took supper under the tall trees, and after a sleep of
some three hours, were roughly awakened by the guide, who soon had them
started on their way again.



CHAPTER VI

A SIGHT THAT THRILLED


"We'll make camp here for a time, I reckon," announced Dad about two
o'clock in the morning.

"I thought we were going on to the Canyon," said Tad.

"We shall see it in the morning," answered the guide somewhat evasively.
"You boys turn in now, and get some sleep, for you will want to have
your eyes wide open in the morning.  But let me give you a tip: Don't
you go roaming around in the dark here."

"Why---why not?" demanded Stacy Brown.

"Oh, nothing much, only we're likely to lose your valuable company if
you try it.  You have a habit of falling in, I am told.  You'll fall in
for keeps if you go moseying about in this vicinity."

"Where are we?" asked Butler.

"'Bout half a mile from the El Tovar," answered Nance.  "Now you fellows
turn in.  Stake down the pintos.  Isn't safe to let them roam around on
two legs."

Tad understood.  He knew from the words of Nance that they were
somewhere in the vicinity of the great gash in the earth that they
had come so far to see.  But he was content to wait until the morrow
for the great sight that was before them.

The sun was an hour high before they felt the heavy hand of Jim Nance
on their shoulders shaking them awake.  The odor of steaming coffee
and frying bacon was in the air.

"What---sunrise?" cried Tad, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.

"And breakfast?" added Ned.

"Real food?" piped Stacy Brown.

"Where do we wash?" questioned Walter.

"You will have to take a sun bath," answered the guide with a twinkle.
"There isn't any water near this place.  We will find water for the
stock later in the morning."

"But where is the Canyon?" wondered Tad.

"You're at it."

"I don't see anything that looks like a canyon," scoffed Ned.

"No, this is a level plateau," returned Tad.  "However, I guess Dad
knows what he is talking about.  I for one am more interested in what
I smell just now than anything else."

Chunky sniffed the air.

"Well, it will take more than a smell to satisfy me this morning,"
declared Chunky, wrinkling his nose.

"This is my day to cook," called Tad.  "Why didn't you let me get the
breakfast, Mr. Nance?"

"I'm doing the cooking this morning.  I've had a long walk and feel
fine, so I decided to be the cook, the wrangler and the whole outfit
this morning.  How do you feel, boys?"

"Fine!" chorused the Pony Riders.  "But we thought we should see the
Canyon when we woke up this morning."

A quizzical smile twitched the corners of Dad's mouth.  Tad saw that
the guide had something of a surprise for them.  The lad asked no
further questions.

Breakfast finished, the boys cleared away the dishes, packing everything
as if for a continuation of their journey, which they fully expected
to make.

A slight rise of ground lay a few rods ahead of them.  Tad started
to stroll that way.  He halted as a party of men and women were seen
approaching from the direction of El Tovar, where the hotel was located.

"Now, gentlemen, you may walk along," nodded the guide, smiling broadly.

"Which way?" asked the Professor.

"Follow the crowd you see there."

They saw the party step up to the rise, then a woman's scream smote their
ears.  Tad, thinking something had occurred, dashed forward.

He reached the level plateau on the rise, where his companions saw him
halt suddenly, throwing both arms above his head.

The boys started on a run, followed by the professor, who by this time
was a little excited.

Then all at once the glorious panorama burst upon them.  There at their
very feet lay the Grand Canyon.  Below them lay the wonder of the world,
and more than five thousand feet down, like a slender silver thread,
rippled the Colorado.

The first sight of the Canyon affects different persons differently.  It
overwhelmed the Pony Rider Boys, leaving them speechless.  They shrank
back as they gazed into the awful chasm at their feet and into which
they might have plunged had the hour been earlier, for it had burst
upon them almost with the suddenness of the crack of a rifle.

They had thought to see mountains.  There were none.  What they saw was
really a break in the level plateau.  From where they stood they looked
almost straight down into the abyss for something more than a mile.
Gazing straight ahead they saw to the other side of the chasm twelve
miles away.  To the right and to the left their gaze reached more than
twenty miles in each direction.

This great space was filled with gigantic architectural constructions,
with amphitheaters, gorges, precipices, walls of masonry, fortresses,
terraced up to the level of the eyes, temples, mountain high, all
brilliant with horizontal lines of color---streaks of hues from a few
feet to a thousand feet in width, mottled here and there with all the
colors of the rainbow.

Such coloring, such harmony of tints the Pony Rider Boys never had gazed
on before.  It seemed to them as if they themselves were standing in
midair looking down upon a new and wonderful world.  There was neither
laughter nor jest upon the lips of these brown-faced, hardy boys now.

Professor Zepplin slowly took off his hat in homage to what was there
at his feet.  He wiped the perspiration from his forehead.  A glance
at Tad Butler showed tear drops glistening on his cheeks.  He was
trembling.  Never before had a more profound emotion taken hold of him.
Ned Rector and Walter Perkins's faces wore expressions of fear.  No
other moment in the lives of the four boys had been like this.

Dad's face shone as with a reflected light from the Canyon that he
loved so well, and that had been his almost constant companion for
more than thirty years; whose moods he knew almost as well as his own,
and whose every smile or frown had its meaning for him.

The travelers each forgot that there was any other human being than
himself present.  They were drawn sharply to the fact that there
were others present, when one of the little party of sight-seers that
had come over from the hotel picked up a rock, the weight of which was
almost too much for him.

The lads watched him with fascinated eyes.  The man swung the rock back
and forth a few times, then hurled it over the edge.  The Pony Rider
Boys waited, actually holding their breath, to catch the report when
the rock should strike the bottom.

No report came.  It requires some little time for a rock to fall a mile,
and when it does land it is doubtful if those at the other end of the
mile would hear the report.

The faces of the Pony Riders actually paled.  This was indeed the next
thing to a bottomless pit.  Walter Perkins recalled afterwards that his
head had spun dizzily, Ned that he was too frightened to move a muscle.

Suddenly the silence was broken by a shout that was really an agonized
yell.  The voice was Stacy Brown's.

"Hold me! Somebody hold me!" he screamed

The others glanced at him with disapproving eyes.  Could nothing impress
Chunky?  The fat boy had begun to move forward toward the edge, both
hands extended in front of him as to ward off something.

"Hold me! I'm going to jump!  Oh, won't somebody hold me?"

Even then only one in that little party appeared to understand.  They
were paralyzed with amazement and unable to move a muscle.  The one who
did see and understand was Tad Butler.  Chunky was giving way to an
irresistible impulse.  He was at that instant being drawn toward the
terrible abyss.



CHAPTER VII

ON THE RIM OF ETERNITY


Tad caught his breath sharply.  He, too, for the instant seemed unable
to move.  Then all at once he sprang forward, throwing himself upon the
fat boy, both going to earth together, locked in a tight embrace.

"Leggo! Leggo!" shrieked Stacy.

The fat boy fought desperately.  He had appealed for help; now he
refused to accept it.  He was possessed with a maddened desire to throw
himself into the mile-deep chasm.  It was all Tad Butler could do at
the moment to keep from being rolled to the rim himself.

Dad, suddenly discovering the situation, ran at full speed toward the
struggling boys.

"Grab his legs.  I will look out for his shoulders," gasped Tad, sitting
down on Chunky's face for a brief respite.

"I'll handle him," said the guide quietly.  "They get taken that way
sometimes when they first look into the hole."

By this time the others, having shaken off the spell, started to move
toward the scene of the brief conflict.  Dad waved them back; then,
with Tad holding up the fat boy's shoulders, Dad with Chunky's feet in
hand, the two carried him back some distance, where they laid him on
the ground.  Stacy did not move.  His face was ghastly.

"I think he has fainted---fainted away," stammered Tad.

"Let him alone.  He'll be all right in a few minutes," directed the
guide.

"What made him do that?" wondered Tad, turning large eyes on Nance.

"He jest couldn't help it.  I told you you'd see something, but I didn't
think Fatty would be taken quite so hard.  You go back."

"No, I'll wait.  You perhaps had better look after the others, Ned or
the Professor might be taken the same way," answered Tad, with a faint
smile.

Nance hurried back.  After a time Chunky opened his eyes.  He sat up,
looking dazed then he reached a feeble hand toward Tad.

"I'd 'a' gone sure, Tad," he said weakly.

"Nonsense!"

"I would, sure."

"Come back and look at it."

"Not for a million, I wouldn't."

"Oh, pooh!  Don't be a baby.  Come back, I tell you.  You've got to get
over that fright.  We shall have to be around this canyon for some time.
If you haven't any nerve, why-----"

"Nerve?  Nerve?" queried Stacy, rousing himself suddenly.  "Talk about
nerve!  Don't you think it takes nerve for a fellow to start in to jump
off a rock a mile high?  Well, I guess it does.  Don't you talk to me
about nerve."

"There come the others."

The Professor, the guide and the other boys walked slowly up to them at
this juncture.  Chunky expected that Ned would make fun of him.  Ned did
nothing of the sort.  Both Ned and Walter were solemn and their faces
were drawn.  They sighed as if they had just awakened from a deep sleep.

"What do you think of it, Professor?" asked Tad, looking up.

"Words fail me."

"I must have another look," announced Butler.

He walked straight to the edge of the rim, then lying flat on his
stomach, head out over the chasm, he gazed down into the terrible abyss.

Jim Nance nodded approvingly.

"He's going to love it just the same as I do."  The old man's heart
warmed toward Tad Butler in that moment, when Tad, all alone, sought a
closer acquaintance with the mystery of the great gash.  After a time
the others walked back, Dad taking Chunky by the nape of the neck.
Perhaps it was the method of approach, or else Chunky, having had his
fright, had been cured.  At least this time he felt no fear.  He was
lost in wonder.

"Buck up now!" urged the guide.

"I am bucked.  Leggo my neck.  I won't make a fool of myself this time,
I promise you."

"You can't blame him," said Tad, rising from his perilous position and
walking calmly back to them.  "I nearly got them myself."

"Got what?" demanded Stacy.

"The jiggers."

"That's it.  That describes it."

Professor Zepplin, who had informed himself before starting out, now
turned suddenly upon them.

"He's going to give us a lecture.  Listen," whispered Tad.

"Young gentlemen, you have, perhaps, little idea of the vastness of that
upon which you are now gazing."

"We know it is the biggest thing in the world, Professor," said Ned.

"Imagine, if you can," continued the Professor, without heeding the
interruption, "that this amphitheatre is a real theatre.  Allowing
twice as much room as is given for the seat of each person in the most
comfortable theatre in the world, and you could seat here an audience
of two hundred and fifty millions of people.  These would all be in the
boxes on this side."

The boys opened their eyes at the magnitude of the figures.

"An orchestra of one hundred million pieces and a chorus of a hundred
and fifty million voices could be placed comfortably on the opposite
side.  Can you conceive of such a scene?  What do you think of it?"

"I---I think," stammered Chunky, "that I'd like to be in the box office
of that show---holding on to the ticket money."

Without appearing to have heard Stacy Brown's flippant reply, Professor
Zepplin began again.

"Now that you are about to explore this fairy land it is well that you
be informed in advance as to what it is.  The river which you see down
there is the Colorado.  As perhaps some of you, who have studied your
geography seriously, may know, the river is formed in southern Utah by
the confluence of the Green and Grand, intersecting the north-western
corner of Arizona it becomes the eastern boundary of Nevada and
California, flowing southward until it reaches the Gulf of California."

"Yes, sir," said the boys politely, filling in a brief pause.

"That river drains a territory of some three hundred thousand square
miles, and from its source is two thousand miles long.  This gorge is
slightly more than two hundred miles long.  Am I correct in my
figures, Mr. Nance?" demanded the Professor, turning to Dad, a
"contradict-me-at-your-peril" expression on his face.

"I reckon you are, sir."

"The river has a winding way-----"

"That's the way with rivers," muttered Chunky to himself.

"Millions of years have been consumed in the building of this great
Canyon.  In that time ten thousand feet of non-conformable strata have
been deposited, elevated, tilted, and washed away; the depression of
the Canyon Surface serving for the depositing of Devonian, Lower
Carboniferous, Upper Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic,
Cretaceous; the formation of the vast eocene lake and its total
disappearance; the opening of the earth's crust and the venting from
its angry stomach the foul lavas---the mind reels and whirls and grows
dizzy-----"

"So do I," almost shouted Chunky, toppling over in a heap.  "Quit it!
You make me sea sick-----"

"I am amazed," bristled the Professor.  "I am positively amazed that
a young gentleman---"

"It was the whirling, reeling suggestion that made his head swim, I
think, Professor," explained Tad, by way of helping out the fat boy.

The lecture was not continued from that point just then.  The Professor
postponed the rest of his recital until a more opportune time.

"Will you go down to-day, or will you wait?" asked the guide.

"I think we shall find quite enough here on the edge of the rim to
occupy our minds for the rest of the day, Nance," returned the Professor.

The boys agreed to this.  They did not feel as if they ever would want
to leave the view that fascinated and held them so enthralled.  That day
they journeyed over to the hotel for dinner.  The guests at the quaint
hotel were much interested in the Pony Rider Boys, and late in the
afternoon quite a crowd came over to visit Camp Grand, as the lads had
named their camp after the pack train had arrived and the tents were
pitched.

There were four tents all pitched in a row facing the Canyon, the tents
in a straight line.  In front the American flag was planted, the camp
fire burning about midway of the line and in front, so that at night
it would light up the entire company street.

They cooked their own supper, Tad attending to this.  But the boys were
too full of the wonderful things they had seen that day to feel their
usual keen-edged appetite.

The dishes put away, the Professor having become deeply absorbed in an
argument with some gentlemen from the hotel regarding the "processes
of deposition and subsidence of the uplift," Tad slipped away, leaving
his chums listening to the conversation.  Dad was also listening in
open-mouthed wonder that any human being could use such long words as
were being passed back and forth without choking to death.  He was,
however, so absorbed in the conversation that he did not at the moment
note Butler's departure.  Tad passed out of sight in the direction of
the Canyon.

After a few moments had passed, Dad stirred the fire, then he too
strolled off toward the rim.  Tad, fearless, regardless of the peril to
himself, was lying flat on his stomach gazing down over the rim,
listening to the mysterious voices of the Canyon.

"I don't want you to be here, boy," said the guide gently.

Though he had approached silently, without revealing his presence, Tad
never moved nor started, the tone was so gentle, and then again the
boy's mind was full of other things.

"Why don't you want me here, Mr. Nance?"  Dad squatted down on the very
edge of the rim, both feet banging over, one arm thrown lightly over
Tad's shoulders.

"You might fall."

"What about yourself?  You might fall, too.  You are in more danger than
am I."

"Dad is not afraid.  The Canyon is his home---"

"You mean you live here?"

"The greater part of the year."

"Where?"

"Some day I will show you.  It is far, far down in my beloved Canyon,
where the foot of the white man seldom strays.  Have you heard the
strange voices of Dad's friend?"

"Yes, Dad, I have heard.  I hear them now."

Both fell silent.  The far away roar of the turbulent waters of the
Colorado was borne to their listening ears.  There were other sounds,
too, mysterious sounds that came like distant moans, rising and falling,
with here and there one that sounded like a sob.

"The spirit of the Canyon is sad to-night," murmured Dad.

"Why, Dad, that was the wind sighing through the Canyon."

"Yes, I know, but back of it all there is life, there is the very spirit
of life.  I don't know how to explain it, but I feel it deep down inside
of me.  I think you do, too."

"Yes, Dad, I do."

"I know you do.  It's a living thing to me, kid, as it will be to you
after you know their voices better and they come to know you.  All
those people," with a sweeping gesture toward the hotel where music and
song were heard, "miss it all.  What they see is a great spectacle.  To
see the Grand Canyon is to feel it in your heart.  Seeing it in any
other way is not seeing it at all."

"And do you live down there alone?"

"Yes.  Why not?"

"I should think you would long for human companionship."

"What, with my beloved Canyon to keep me company?  No, I am never
lonely," added Jim Nance simply.  "I shall live and die there---I hope,
and I'll be buried down there somewhere There are riches down there too.
Gold---much gold-----"

"Why don't you go after it-----"

Dad shook his head.

"It would be like robbing a friend.  No, you may take the gold if you
can find it, but Dad, never.  See, the moon is up.  Look!"

It was a new scene that Tad gazed upon.  Vishnu Temple, the most
wonderful piece of architecture in the Canyon, had turned to molten
silver.  This with Newberry Terrace, Solomon's Throne, Shinto Temple
and other lesser ones stood out like some wonderful Oriental city.

All at once the quiet of the beautiful scene was disturbed by a bowl
that was plainly the voice of Stacy Brown.  Stacy, his big eyes missing
little that had been going on about him, had after a time stolen away
after Tad and the guide.  His curiosity had been aroused by their
departure and still more by the time they had been gone.  Chunky
determined to go out and investigate for himself.

He had picked his way cautiously toward the Canyon when he halted
suddenly, his eyes growing large at what he saw.

"Yeow! Look!" cried the fat boy.

Both Jim Nance and Tad sprang up.  Those in the camp heard the shout and
ran toward the rim, fearing that some harm had befallen Stacy.



CHAPTER VIII

THE CITY IN THE SKIES


"What has happened now?" cried Tad, running forward.

"Look, look!"

Tad and the guide turned at the same instant gazing off across the
Canyon.  At first Tad saw nothing more than he had already seen.

"I---I don't-----"

"It's up there in the skies.  Don't you see?" almost shouted Stacy,
pointing.

"What is it?  What is it?" shouted the others from the camp, coming up
on a run.

Then Tad saw.  High up in the skies, as plainly outlined as if it were
not more than a mile away, was reflected a city.  Evidently it was an
Eastern city, for there were towers, domes and minarets, the most
wonderful sight he had ever gazed upon.

"A---a mirage!"

"Yes," said Dad.  "We see them here some times, but not often.  My
friends down there are showing you many things this night.  Yes they
never do that unless they are pleased.  The spirit of the Canyon is
well pleased.  I was sure it would be."

By this time the others had arrived.  All were uttering exclamations
of amazement, only Tad and Dad being silent and thoughtful.  For
several minutes the reflection hung suspended in the sky, then a
filmy mist was drawn before it like a curtain.

"Show's over," announced Chunky.  "That billion orchestra will now play
the overture backwards."

"Most remarkable thing I've ever seen," announced the Professor,
whereupon he entered into a long scientific discussion on mirages with
the gentlemen from the hotel.

Tad and the guide followed them slowly back to camp.  The conversation
soon became general.  Dad was drawn into it, but he spoke no more about
the things he and Butler had talked of out on the rim of the Canyon,
literally hanging between heaven and earth.

"Well, what about to-morrow, Mr. Nance?" questioned the Professor, after
the visitors had left them.

"I reckoned we'd go down Bright Angel Trail," answered the guide.

"Do we take the pack train with us?"

Nance shook his head.

"Too hard a trail.  Besides we can't get anywhere with the mules on that
trail.  We've got to come back up here."

"Aren't we going into the Canyon to stay?" asked Walter.

"Yes.  We'll either go down Bass Trail or Grand View.  We can get the
pack mules down those trails, but on the Bright Angel we'll have to
leave the pintos before we get to the bottom and climb down."

"Any Indians down there?" asked Ned.

"Sure, there are Indians."

"What's that, Indians?" demanded Stacy, alive with quick interest.

"Yes.  There's a Havasupai camp down in Cataract Canyon, then there
are always some Navajos gunning about to make trouble for themselves
and everybody else.  The Apaches used to come down here, too, but we
don't see them very often except when the Havasus give a peace dance
or there's something out of the ordinary going on."

"And do---do we see them?"

"See the Indians?  Of course you'll see them."

"Are they bad?" asked the fat boy innocently.

"All Indians are bad.  However, the Havasus won't bother you if you
treat them right.  Don't play any of your funny, sudden tricks on them
or they might resent it.  They're a peaceable lot when they're let
alone."

"One of the gentlemen who were here this evening told me the Navajos,
quite a party of them, had made a camp down near Bright Angel Gulch,
if you know where that is," spoke up Professor Zepplin.

Dad pricked up his ears at this.

"Then they aren't here for any good.  The agent will be after them if
they don't watch out.  I'll have a look at those bucks and see what
rascality they're up to now," said Nance.

"Any chance of a row?" questioned Ned.

"No, no row.  Leastwise not for us.  Your Uncle Sam will look after
those gentlemen if they get gay.  But they won't.  It will be some
crooked little trick under cover---taking the deer or something of
the sort."

"Will we get any chance to shoot deer?" asked Walter.

"You will not unless you are willing to be arrested.  It's a closed
season from now till winter.  I saw a herd of antelope off near Red
Butte this afternoon."

"You must have eyes like a hawk," declared Stacy, with emphasis.

"Eyes were made to see with," answered Nance shortly.

"And ears to hear, and feet to foot with, and-----"

"Young men, it is time you were in bed.  I presume Mr. Nance will be
wanting to make an early start in the morning," said the Professor.

"If we are to get back the same day we'll have to start about daybreak.
It's a hard trail to pack.  You'll be ready to stretch your legs when
we get back to-morrow night."

The boys were not ready to use those same legs when they were turned
out at daybreak.  There was some grumbling, but not much as they got up
and made ready their hurried breakfast.  In the meantime Nance had
gotten together such provisions as he thought they would need.  These
he had packed in the saddle bags so as to distribute the weight. Shortly
after breakfast they made a start, Dad going first, Tad following close
behind.

The first two miles of the Bright Angel Trail was a sort of Jacob's
ladder, zigzagging at an unrelenting pitch.  Most of the way the boys
had to dig their knees into the sides of their mounts to prevent
slipping over the animals' necks.

"This is mountain climbing backwards," jeered Stacy.

"I don't know, but I guess I like it the other way," decided Walter,
looking down a dizzy slope.

"I hope my pony doesn't stumble," answered Ned.

"You won't know much about it if he does," called Tad over his shoulder.

"Never mind.  We'll borrow an Indian basket to bring you home,"
laughed Stacy in a comforting voice.

The trail was the roughest and the most perilous they had ever essayed.
The ponies were obliged to pick their way over rocks, around sharp,
narrow corners, where the slightest misstep would send horse and rider
crashing to the rocks hundreds of feet below.  But to the credit of the
Pony Rider Boys it may be said that not one of them lost his head for
an instant.

"How did this trail ever get such a name?" asked Tad of the guide.

"Yes, I don't see any signs of angels hereabouts," agreed Chunky.

"You never will unless you mend your ways," flung back Nance.

"Oh, I don't know.  There are others."

"On the government maps this is called Cameron Trail, but it is best
known by its original name, Bright Angel, named after Bright Angel creek
which flows down the Canyon."

"Where is Bright Angel Canyon?" asked Tad.

"That's where the wild red men are hanging out," said Stacy.

"That's some distance from here.  We shan't see it until some days
later," replied the guide.  "This, in days long ago, was a Havasupai
Indian trail.  You see those things that look like ditches?"

"Yes."

"Those were their irrigating canals.  They knew how to irrigate a long
time before we understood its advantages.  Their canals conveyed large
volumes of water from springs to the Indian Gardens beyond here.  Yonder
is what is known as the Battleship Iowa," said the guide, pointing to
the left to a majestic pile of red sandstone that capped the red wall of
the Canyon.

"Don't shoot," cried Stacy, ducking.

"You'll be shooting down into the Colorado," warned Nance.  "You'd
better watch out."

The rock indicated did very much resemble a battleship.  The boys
marveled at it.  Then a little further on they came upon a sandstone
plateau from which they could look down into the Indian Garden,
another plateau rich with foliage, green grass and a riot of flowers.
It was like looking into a bit of the tropics.

"Here is the worst piece of trail we have yet found," called Nance.
"Go carefully," he directed when they reached the "blue lime."  For the
next few minutes, until they had passed over this most dangerous portion,
little was said.  The riders were too busy watching out for their own
safety, the Professor, examining the different strata of rocks that so
appeal to the geologist.  He was entranced with what he beheld about
him.  Professor Zepplin had no time in which to enjoy being nervous.

From there on to the Garden they rode more at ease in the "Boulder Bed,"
where lay large blocks of rock of many shapes and sizes that had rolled
from some upper strata.  Small shrubs and plants grew on every hand,
many-hued lizards and inquisitive swifts darted across the trail, acting
as if they resented the intrusion.

Chunky regarded the lizards with disapproving eyes.  But his thoughts
were interrupted by the voice of the guide pointing out the Temple of
Isis that looks down six thousand feet into the dark depths of the
inner abyss, surrounded by innumerable smaller buttes.  The wonderful
colorings of the rocks did not suffer by closer inspection; in fact,
the colors appeared to be even brighter than when viewed from the rim
a few thousand feet above them.

Indian Garden was a delight.  They wanted to tarry there, but were
allowed to do so only long enough to permit horses and riders to
refresh themselves with the cold water that trickled down through the
canals from the springs far above.

Reaching the end of Angel Plateau they gazed down a sheer descent of
twelve hundred feet into the black depths of the inner gorge, where
flowed the Colorado with a sullen roar that now was borne plainly to
their ears.

"It sounds as I have heard the rapids at Niagara do," declared Chunky
somewhat ambiguously.

"All off!" called the guide.

"What's off?" demanded Chunky.

"Dismount."

"Is this as far as we go?" questioned Tad.

"It is as far as we go on the pintos.  We have to climb down the rest
of the way, and it's a climb for your life."

The boys gazed down the wall to the river gorge.  The prospect did not
look very inviting.

"I guess maybe I'd better stay here and mind the 'tangs'," suggested
Stacy, a remark that brought smiles to the faces of the other boys.

"No, you'd be falling off if we left you here," declared Dad.  "You'll
go along with us."

Before starting on the final thousand feet of the descent the trappings
were removed from the horses, after which the animals were staked down
so that they might not in a moment of forgetfulness fall over the wall
and be dashed to pieces on the rocks below.

Dad got out his climbing ropes, the boys watching the preparations with
keen interest.

"Are you going down, Professor?" asked Tad smilingly.

"Certainly I am going down.  I for one have no intention of remaining
to watch the stock," with a grim glance in Chunky's direction.  Chunky
saw fit to ignore the fling at him.  He was gazing off across the chasm
at the Temple of Isis, which at that moment absorbed his full attention.

"Now I guess we are ready," announced the guide finally.  "I will go
first.  In places it will be necessary to cling to the rope.  Don't
let go.  Then, in case you stumble, you won't get the nasty fall that
you otherwise would be likely to get."

Away up, just below the Indian Garden, they picked up the slender trail
that led on down to the roaring river.  They had never had quite such a
climb, either up or down.

Every time they looked down they saw a possible fall upon rough,
blade-like granite edges.

"We'd be sausage meat if we landed on those," declared Chunky.

"You are likely to go through the machine if you don't pay closer
attention to your business," answered Dad.

Carefully, cautiously, laboriously they lowered themselves one by one
over the steep and slippery rocks, down, down for hundreds of feet until
they stood on the ragged edge of nowhere, a direct drop of several
hundred feet more before them.

The guide knew a trail further on, so they crept along the smooth wall
of the Canyon with scarcely room to plant their feet.  A misstep meant
death.

"Three hundred feet and we shall be there," came the encouraging voice
of the guide.  "Half an hour more."

"I could make it half a minute if I wanted to," said Stacy.  "But I
don't want to.  I feel it my duty to stay and look after my friends."

"Yes, your friends need you," answered Ned sarcastically.  "If they
hadn't I never should have pulled you out of the hole in the crater."

"I was just wondering how Chunky could resist the temptation of
falling in here.  He'll never have a better opportunity for making a
clean job of said Walter.

"He has explained why," replied Tad.  "We need him.  Of course we do.
We need him every hour-----"

"And a half," added Ned.

The roar of the river became louder as they descended.  Now they were
obliged to raise their voices to make themselves heard.  The Professor
was toiling and sweating, but making no complaint of the hardships.
He was plucky, as game as any of those hardy boys for whom he was the
companion, and they knew it.

"Hold on here!" cried Stacy, halting.

All turned to see what was wrong.

"I want to know---I want to know before I take another step."

"Well, what do you want to know?" demanded Tad.

"If it's all this trouble to climb down, I want to know how in the name
of Bright Angel Trail we're ever going to be able to climb up again!"

"Fall up, of course," flung back the guide.  "You said this was
mountain climbing backwards.  It'll be that way going back," chuckled
the guide.

"And I so delicate!" muttered the lad, gazing up the hundreds of feet
of almost sheer precipice.  But ere the Pony Rider Boys scaled those
rocks again they would pass through some experiences that were far from
pleasurable ones.



CHAPTER IX

CHUNKY WANTS TO GO HOME


Instead of a half hour, as had been prophesied, a full hour elapsed
before they reached the bottom of the trail that was practically no trail
at all.  Tad was sure that the guide couldn't find his way back over the
same ground, or rather rock, to save his life, for the boy could find
nothing that looked as if the foot of man had ever trodden upon it
before.  He doubted if any one had been over that particular trail from
the Garden on.

As a matter of fact, Dad had led them into new fields.  But at last they
stood upon the surer foundation of the bottom of the chasm.

"Anyone needs to be a mountain goat to take that journey," said Tad, with
a laugh.

"No, a bird would be better," piped Stacy.

"I'd rather be a bug, then I wouldn't have to climb," spoke up Walter.

"Hurrah!  Walt's said something," shouted Ned.

By this time Nance and the Professor had walked along, climbing over
boulders, great blocks of stone that had tumbled from the walls above,
making their way to the edge of the river.

The others followed, talking together at the tops of their voices,
laughing and joking.  They felt relieved that the terrible climb had
come to an end.  As they approached the river, their voices died away.
It was a sublime but terrifying spectacle that the Pony Rider Boys gazed
upon.

"This is more wonderful than Niagara," finally announced the Professor.
"The rapids of the Niagara River would be lost in this turbid stream."

Great knife-like rocks projected from the flood.  When the water struck
these sharp edges it was cleanly cut, spurting up into the air like
geysers, sending a rainbow spray for many yards on either side.

What puzzled the lads more than all else were the great leaping waves
that rose without apparent cause from spaces of comparatively calm
water.  These upturning waves, the guide explained, were the terror of
explorers who sought to get through the Canyon in boats.

"Has any one ever accomplished it?" asked Tad.

"Yes; that intrepid explorer, Major J.W. Powell, made the trip in the
year 1869, one of the most thrilling voyages that man ever took.  Several
of his men were lost; two who managed to escape below here were killed
by the Indians."

"I think I should like to try it," said Tad thoughtfully.

"You won't, if I have anything to say about the matter," replied Dad
shortly.

"No one would imagine, to gaze down on this stream from the rim, that
it was such a lively stretch of water," remarked the boy.  "It doesn't
seem possible."

"Yes, if they had some of this water up on the plateau it would be
worth almost its weight in gold," declared Nance.  "Water is what
Arizona needs and what it has precious little of.  Speaking of the
danger of the river," continued Nance, "it isn't wholly the water, but
the traveling boulders."

"Traveling boulders!" exclaimed the boys.

"Yes.  Boulders weighing perhaps a score or more of tons are rolled
over and over down the river by the tremendous power of the water,
almost with the force and speed of projectiles.  Now and again they
will run against snags.  The water dashing along behind them is
suddenly checked under the surface.  The result is a great up-wave,
such as you have already observed.  They are just as likely to go
downward or sideways as upward.  You never know."

"Then that is the explanation of the cause of those up-waves?" asked
the Professor.

"That's the way we figure it out.  But we  may be wrong.  Take an old
man's advice and don't monkey with the river."

"I thought you said Dad's beloved Canyon would not hurt him," said Tad
teasingly.

"Dad's Canyon won't.  The river isn't Dad's The river is a demon.  The
river would scream with delight were it to get Dad in its cruel
clutches," answered the old man thoughtfully, his bristling whiskers
drooping to his chest.  "Are you boys hungry?"

The boys were.  So Dad sought out a comfortable place where they might
sit down, a shelf some twenty feet above the edge of the river, whence
they could see the turbulent stream for a short distance both ways.  It
was a wonder to them where all the water came from.  The Professor
called attention to his former statement that the river drained some
three hundred thousand miles of territory.  This explanation made the
matter clearer to them.

Coffee was made, the ever-ready bacon quickly fried and there in the
very heart of the Grand Canyon they ate their midday meal.  Never
before had they sat down to a meal amid such tremendous forces.

The meal having been finished and Dad having stretched himself out on
a rock after his dinner, the boys strolled off along the river,
exploring the various crevices.

"Isn't there gold down here?" asked Tad, returning to the shelf.

Dad sat up, stroking his whiskers thoughtfully.

"I reckon you would find tons of it in the pockets of the river if she
were to run dry," was the amazing reply.

"But," protested Tad, "is there no way to get it?"

"Not that man knows of.  The Almighty, who made the whole business here,
is the only one who is engineer enough to get that gold.  No, sir, don't
have any dreams about getting that gold.  It isn't for man, at least not
yet.  Maybe He to whom it belongs is saving it for some other age, for
folks who need it more than we do."

"Nobody ever will need it more than we do," interposed Stacy.  "Why, just
think, I could buy a whole stable full of horses with what I could get
out of one of those pockets."

"Maybe I'll show you where you can pan a little of the yellow out, before
you finish your trip."

Later in the day the guide decided that it was time to start for the
surface again.  But the boys begged to be allowed to remain in the
Canyon over night.  It was an experience that they felt sure would be
worth while.  For a wonder, Professor Zepplin sided with them in this
request.

"Well, I'll go up and water the stock, then if you want to stay here,
why, all right," decided Dad.

"I will go with you," said Tad.

"Professor, I'll leave the rest of the boys in your charge.  Don't let
them monkey with the river.  I don't want to lose anybody this trip.
Fall in there, and you'll bring up in the Pacific Ocean---what's left
of you will.  Nothing ever'll stop you till you've hit the Sandwich
Islands or some other heathen country."

The boys promised and so did the Professor, and both men knew the lads
would keep their word, for by this time they held that stream in
wholesome respect.

Chunky, after the guide and Tad had left, perched himself on the point
of a rock where he lifted up his voice in "Where the Silvery Colorado
Wends Its Way," Ned Rector occupying his time by shying rocks at the
singer, but Chunky finished his song and had gotten half way through it
a second time before one of Ned's missiles reached him.  That put an
end to the song and brought on a rough and tumble fight in which Ned
and Stacy were the sole participants.  Chunky, of course, got the worst
of it.  The two combatants locked arms and strolled away down the river
bank after Chunky had been sufficiently punished for trying to sing.

Night in the canyon was an experience.  The roaring of the river which
no longer could be seen was almost terrifying.  Then, too, a strange
weird moaning sounded all about them.  Dad, who had returned, explained
that it was supposed to be the wind.  He confided to Tad that it was
the spirit of the Canyon uttering its warning.

"Warning of what?"

"I don't know.  Maybe a storm.  But you can believe something's going
to come off, kid," answered Nance with emphasis.

Something did come off.  Tad and Nance had fetched the blankets of the
party back with them, together with two large bundles of wood for the
camp fire, which materials they had let down from point to point at the
end of their ropes.  Tad had learned always to carry his lasso at his
belt.  It was the most useful part of his equipment.  He had gotten
the other boys into the habit of doing the same.  Rifles had been left
in the camp above, as they were a burden in climbing down the rocks.
But all hands carried their heavy revolvers.

A very comfortable camping place was located Under an overhanging shelf
of rock, the camp fire just outside lighting up the chamber in a most
cheerful manner.  There after supper the party sat listening to Dad's
stories of the Canyon during some of his thirty years' experience with
it.

The wind was plainly rising.  It drew the flames of the fire first in
one direction, then in another.  Nance regarded the signs questioningly.
After a little he got up and strolled out to the edge of the roaring
river.  Tad and Chunky followed him.

"We are going to have a storm," said Dad.

"A heavy one?" asked Tad.

"A regular hummer!"

"Rain?"

"Everything.  The whole thing.  I'm sorry now that we didn't go back up
the trail, but maybe we'd never got up before we were caught.  However,
we're pretty safe down here, unless-----"

"Unless what?" piped Chunky.

"Unless we get wet," answered Nance, though Tad knew that was not what
was in the guide's mind.

Just as they were turning back to the camp there came an explosion that
seemed as if the walls of the Canyon had been rent in twain.  Chunky
uttered a yell and leaped straight up into the air.  Tad took firm hold
of the fat boy's arm.

"Don't be a fool.  That was thunder and lightning.  The lightning struck
somewhere in the Canyon.  Isn't that it, Dad?"

Nance nodded.

"It's always doing that.  It's been plugging away at Dad's Canyon for
millions of years, but the Canyon is doing business at the same old
stand.  I hope those pintos are all right up there," added the guide
anxiously.

"Mebby they're struck," suggested Stacy.

"Mebby they are," replied Nance.  "Come, we'll be getting back unless
you want to get wet."

A dash of rain followed almost instantly upon the words.  The three
started at a trot for the camp.  They found the Professor and his two
companions anxiously awaiting their return.

"That was a severe bolt," said the Professor.

"Always sounds louder down here, you know," replied Dad.  "Echoes."

"Yes, I understand."

"Is---is it going to rain?" questioned Walter.

"No, it's going to pour," returned Chunky.  "You'll need your rubber
boots before long."

"Move that camp fire in further," directed Nance.  "It'll be drowned out
in a minute."

This was attended with some difficulty, but in a few minutes they had
the fire burning brightly under the ledge.  Then the rain began.  It
seemed to be a cloudburst instead of a rain.  Lightning was almost
incessant, the reports like the bombardment of a thousand batteries of
artillery, even the rocks trembling and quaking.  Chunky's face grew
pale.

"Say, I want to go home," he cried.

"Trot right along.  There's nothing to stop ye," answered the guide
sarcastically.

"Afraid?" questioned Ned jeeringly.

"No, I'm not afraid.  Just scared stiff, that's all," retorted the fat
boy.

The shelf of rock that sheltered them had now become the base of a
miniature Niagara Falls.  The water was pouring over it in tons, making
a roaring sound that made that of the river seem faint and far away.

Jim Nance was plainly worried.  Tad Butler saw this and so did the
Professor, but neither mentioned the fact.  Their location was no
longer dry.  The spray from the waterfall had drenched them to the
skin.  No one complained.  They were too used to hardships.

All at once there came a report louder and different from the others,
followed by a crashing, a thundering, a quaking of the rocks beneath
their feet, that sent the blood from the face of every man in the
party.  Even Dad's face grayed ever so little.

The next second each one was thrown violently to the ground.  A sound
was in their ears as if the universe had blown up.

"We're killed!" howled Chunky.

"Help, help!" yelled Walter Perkins.

"What---what is it?" roared the Professor.

"We're struck!" shouted Tad.

"Lie still.  Hug the wall!" bellowed the stentorian voice of Jim Nance,
who himself had crept closer to the Canyon wall and lay hugging it
tightly.

The deafening, terrifying reports continued.  One corner of the ledge
over their heads split off, sending a volley of stones showering over
them, leaving the faces of some of the party flecked with blood where
the jagged particles had cut into their flesh.

It was a terrible moment for the Pony Rider Boys.



CHAPTER X

ESCAPE IS WHOLLY CUT OFF


Not one could collect his thoughts sufficiently to reason out what had
taken place.  The guide, however, had known from the first.  He feared
that his charges would be killed, but there was nothing more that he
could do.

The bombarding continued, some explosions sounding near at hand, others
further down or up the Canyon, but each of sufficient force to send
shivers up and down the spines of the Pony Rider Boys.  They never had
experienced anything approaching this.

"I'm going to stand up," declared Tad, rising to his feet.  "I won't
be killed any quicker standing than lying down.  Besides, I don't like
to shirk."

"Stand up if you want to, but keep close to the wall," ordered Dad,
himself rising to his feet.

One by one the boys got up, Professor Zepplin following the example of
the guide.  They had to shout in speaking in order to make themselves
heard above the bombardment, the roaring of the river and the cataract
over their heads.

"What is going on up there?" shouted Tad.

"Mountain falling in!"

"I knew it! I knew it!" yelled Chunky.  "I knew something would fall
down as soon as I got here."

No one laughed.  The situation was too serious for laughter.

"Is it a land or a rock slide?" questioned Tad further.

"Both," shouted Nance.  "Mostly boulders."

The rain has loosened them and they are raining down on us.  We're lucky
we had this shelf to get under."

"From the present outlook I am afraid the shelf isn't going to protect
us much longer," said Tad.

"Keep close to the wall and you will be all right.  It won't break off
short up to the wall.  I've seen rock slides, but never anything quite
like this.  You see, the spirit of the Canyon was right," nodded Nance.

"Spirits?  What spirits?" demanded Chunky.  "Is this place haunted?
Don't tell me it is.  Haven't I got enough to worry me already without
being chased by ghosts?

"Chased by goats?" shouted the Professor.

"Who said anything about goats?" retorted Stacy.  "I said g-h-o-s-t-s,
spooks, spookees or spookors or whatever you've a mind to call them."

"Oh, I hope you are not losing your mind, Stacy."

"Might as well lose my mind as to lose my life.  Mind wouldn't be any
use to me after I was dead, would it?"

"The storm is dying out," called Ned.

Tad started to step from under the shelf, Nance grasped and hauled him
back.  Just then a great boulder, weighing many tons, struck the rock
just above their heads, then bounded off into the river, which it
struck with a mighty splash.  The contact with the rocks sent off a
shower of sparks, a perfect rain of them.

"I---I guess I need a guardian," said the lad rather weakly.

"Yes, you probably would have been killed by the smaller pieces that
broke off," answered Nance.  "Be content to stay where you are."

"How long have we got to stay cooped up in this half cave?" demanded
Stacy.

"All night, maybe," answered Dad.

"Good night!" said the fat boy, Slipping down until he had assumed a
sitting posture.  He lay down and was asleep in a short time.  Stacy
woke with a start when another giant rock smote the wall just above
their cave, exploding into thousands of pieces from the violent contact.

"Stop that noise!  How do you suppose a fellow's going to sleep
when-----"

Stacy struggled slowly to his feet when he saw the drawn faces of his
companions.

"Was that another of them?" he asked hesitatingly.

"Yes," answered Tad, with a nod.  "It is grand, but terrible."

"I don't see anything grand about it.  I guess I won't lie down again.
I never can sleep any more after being awakened from my first nap,"
declared the fat boy.

No one slept for the rest of the night.  The bombardment continued at
intervals all through the black, terrifying night.  The Colorado, into
which billions of gallons of water had been dumped, was rising rapidly,
an angry, threatening flood.

"Is there any danger of the river overflowing on us?" asked Professor
Zepplin.

"No.  No single night's rain would do it.  The rain is pretty nearly
ended now, as you can see for yourself.  But there's no telling how long
those fellows will continue to roll down.  I've seen the same thing
before, but this is the worst," declared Dad.

"All on account of the Pony Rider Boys," piped Stacy.  "Miss Nature
is determined to give us our money's worth in experience.  I've had
mine already.  She can't quit any too soon to suit me."

After a time the guide crept out, his ears keyed sharply to catch
warning sounds from above.  Nance had been out but a moment when he
darted back under the protecting ledge.  He was just in time.  A giant
boulder struck the earth right in front of their place of refuge.  From
that moment on no one ventured out.  About an hour before daylight, the
storm having lulled, the failing boulders coming down with less
frequency, all hands sank down on their wet blankets one by one, and
dropped off to sleep.

When they awakened the day had dawned.  The sun was glowing on the peaks
of Pluto Pyramid and the Algonkin Terraces far above them on the opposite
side of the gorge.  Tad Butler was the first to open his eyes that
morning.  He sprang up with a shout.

"Sleepy heads! Turn out!"

Dad was on his feet with a bound.  Then came the Professor, Ned and
Walter in the order named, with Stacy Brown limping along painfully at
the rear.

"How do you feel this fine morning?" glowed Tad, nodding at Stacy.

"I?  Oh, I'm all bunged up.  How's the weather?"

"Nature is smiling," answered Tad.

"All right.  As long as she doesn't grin, I won't kick.  If she grins
I'm blest if I'll stand for it."

"Whose turn is it to get breakfast?" questioned Ned.

"What little there is to get I will attend to," said Tad.  "We are long
on experience but short on food."

Still, breakfast was a cheerful meal, even though all were still wet,
their muscles stiffened from sleeping in puddles, from which they were
obliged to dip the water for their coffee.  They enjoyed the meal just
as much as if it had been a banquet, however.

Dad's face did not reflect the general joy that was apparent on the
faces of the others.  Tad observed this, but made no comment.  Finally
Stacy Brown discovered something of the sort, too.

"Dad, you've got a grouch on this lovely morning," said Stacy.

"No, I never have a grouch."

"Your whiskers are rising.  I thought you had."

"I'd rather have my whiskers standing out some of the time than to have
my tongue hanging out all of the time," replied the guide witheringly.

"I guess that will be about all for you, Chunky," jeered Ned.

"Do we start as soon as we have finished here?" asked the Professor of
Nance.

"We do not," was the brief reply.

"May I ask why not?"

"Because we can't start."

"Can't?" wondered Professor Zepplin.

Tad saw that something was wrong.  What that something was he had not
the remotest idea.

"No, we won't go up Bright Angel Trail to-day."

"Why not?  Why won't we?" piped Stacy.

"Because there isn't any Bright Angel Trail to go up," returned the
guide grimly.  "The bad place in the trail was all torn out by the
ripping boulders last night.  Nothing short of a bird could make its
way over that stretch of trail now."

"Then what are we going to do?" cried the Professor.

"Do?  We're going to stay here.  Escape is for the present wholly cut
off-----"

"Can't we climb up a trail lower down?" asked Ned.

"Ain't no trail this side of the wall by the river, and the river is
just as bad as the wall.  I reckon we'll stay here for a time at least."

The Pony Rider Boys looked at each other solemnly.  Theirs was, indeed,
a serious predicament, much more so than they realized.



CHAPTER XI

A TRYING TIME


For a moment following the announcement no one spoke.

The Professor gazed straight into the stern face of the guide, whose
whiskers were still drooping.

"We are prisoners here?  Is that it, Nance?" stammered Professor Zepplin.

"That's about it, I reckon.  The trail's busted.  There ain't no other
way to get out that I know of and I reckon I know these canyons pretty
well."

"Then what shall we do?"

"Well, I reckon we'll wait till somebody misses us and comes down
after us."

"Oh, well, they will do that this morning.  Of course they will miss
us," declared the Professor, as if the matter were entirely settled.

The expression on Dad's face plainly showed that he was not quite so
confident as was the Professor.  There was one factor that Professor
Zepplin had not taken into consideration.  Food!  There was barely
enough left for a meal for one person.  Dad surmised this, so he asked
Tad just how much food they had left.

"Our supply," said Tad, "consists of three biscuit, one orange and two
lemons."

The boys groaned.

"I'll take the biscuit.  You can have the rest," was Chunky's liberal
offer.  "How about it?"

"You will get a lemon handed to you at twelve o'clock noon to-day,"
jeered Ned Rector.

"Then I'll pass it along to the one who needs it the most," retorted
Stacy quickly.

"The question is," said the Professor, "is there nothing that we can do
to attract the attention of others?"

"I have been thinking of that," answered Nance.  "I wish now that we had
brought our rifles."

"Why?"

"To shoot and attract attention of whoever may be on the rim."

"We might shoot our revolvers," suggested Tad.

"We will do that.  It is doubtful if the reports can be heard above, and
even then I am doubtful about any of the tenderfeet understanding what
the shots mean.  About our only hope is that some one who knows will
come down the trail.  They won't go further than the Gardens, but
finding our mustangs there a mountaineer would understand."

"Shall I take a shot?" asked Walter.

"Yes."

Walter fired five shots into the river.  After an interval Chunky let
go five more.  This continued until each had fired a round of five
shots.  After each round they listened for an answering shot from
above, but none came.  Thus matters continued until noon, when the
remaining food was distributed among the party.

"This is worse than nothing," cried Chunky.  "This excites my appetite.
If you see me frothing at the mouth don't think I've got a dog bite.
That's my appetite fighting with my stomach.  I'll bet my gun that the
appetite wins too."

The day wore away slowly.  Tad made frequent trips down the river as
far as he could get before being stopped by a great wall of rock that
rose abruptly for nearly a thousand feet above him.  He gazed up this
glittering expanse of rock until his neck ached, then he went back to
camp.  An idea was working in Tad's mind, but it was as yet undeveloped.

At intervals the shots were tried again, though no reply followed.  Night
came on.  Before dark Dad had gathered some driftwood that he found in
crevices of the rocks.  The wood was almost bone dry and a crackling,
cheerful fire was soon burning.

"If we only had something to eat now, we'd be all right," said Walter
mournfully.

"You want something to eat?" questioned Chunky.

"I should say I do."

"Oh, well, that's easily fixed."

Stacy stepped over to a rock, made a motion as if ringing a telephone
bell, then listened.

"Hello! hello!  Is that the hotel, El Tovar Hotel?  Very well; this
is Brown.  Brown!  Yes.  Well, we want you to send out dinner for six.
Six!  Can't you understand plain English?  Yes, six.  Oh, well, I
think we'll have some porter house steak smothered in onions.  Smothered!
We'll have some corn cakes and honey, some--some---um---some baked
potatoes, about four quarts of strawberries.  And by the way, got any
apple pie?  Yes?  Well, you might send down a half dozen pies and-----"

Chunky got no further.  With a howl, Ned Rector, Tad Butler and Walter
Perkins made a concerted rush for him.

Ned fell upon the unfortunate fat boy first.  Stacy went down in a heap
with Ned jamming his head into the dirt that had been washed up by the
river at flood time.  A moment more and Ned was at the bottom of the
heap with Stacy, the other two boys having piled on top.

"Here, here!" shouted the Professor.

"Let 'em scrap," grinned Dad.  "They'll forget they're hungry."

They did.  After the heap had been unpiled, the boys got up, their
clothes considerably the worse for the conflict, their faces red, but
smiling and their spirits considerably higher.

"You'll get worse than that if you tantalize us in that way again,"
warned Tad.  "We can stand for your harmless jokes, but this is
cruel-----"

"---ty to animals," finished Chunky.

"What you'll get will make you sure of that."

"Come over here and get warm, Brown," called the guide.

"Oh, he's warmed sufficiently," laughed Tad.  "We have attended to that.
He won't get chills to-night, I promise you."

Breathing hard, their eyes glowing, the boys squatted down around the
camp fire.  No sooner had they done so than a thrilling roar sounded
off somewhere in a canyon to their right, the roar echoing from rock
to rock, from canyon to canyon, dying away in the far distance.

"For goodness' sake, what is that?" gasped Stacy.

"Mountain lion," answered the guide shortly.

"Can---can he get here?" stammered Walter.

"He can if he wants to."

"I---I hope he changes his mind if he does want to," breathed Stacy.

"I wish we had our rifles," muttered Ned.

"What for?" demanded Dad.

"To shoot lions, of course."

"Humph!"

"Couldn't we have a lion hunt while we are out here?" asked Tad
enthusiastically.

"You could if the lion didn't hunt you."

"Wouldn't that be great, fellows?" cried Tad.  "The Pony Rider Boys as
lion hunters."

"Great," chorused the boys.  "When shall it be?" added Ned.

"It won't be till after we get out of this hole," declared Dad.  "And
from present indications, that won't be to-night."

"Tell us something about the lions," urged Walter.  "Are they ugly?"

"Well, they ain't exactly household pets," answered the guide, with
a faint smile.

"Is it permitted to hunt them?" interjected the Professor.

"Yes, there's no law against it.  The lions kill the deer and the
government is glad to be rid of the lions.  But you won't get enough
of them to cause a flurry in the lion market."

"No, there's more probability of there being a panic in the Pony Rider
market," chuckled Tad.

"I'm not afraid," cried Stacy.

"No, Chunky isn't afraid," jeered Ned.  "He doesn't want to go home
when the marbles roll down from the mountain!  Oh, no, he isn't afraid!
He's just looking for dangerous sport."

Their repartee was interrupted by another roar, louder than the first.
But though they listened for a long time there was no repetition of the
disturbing roar of the king of the canyons.

Soon after that the lads went to bed.  Tonight they slept soundly, for
they had had little sleep the previous night, as the reader knows.
When they awakened on the following morning the conditions had not
changed.  They were still prisoners in the Grand Canyon not far from
the foot of Bright Angel Trail.  All hands awoke to the consciousness
that unless something were done, and at once, they would find themselves
face to face with starvation.  It was not a cheerful prospect.

There was no breakfast that morning, though Chunky, who had picked
up a cast-away piece of orange peel, was munching it with great
satisfaction, rolling his eyes from one to the other of his companions.

"Don't.  You might excite your appetite again," warned Ned.

Tad, who had been out for another exploring tour along the river, had
returned, walking briskly.

"Well, did you find a trail?" demanded Chunky.

"No, but I have found a way out of this hole," answered Tad, with
emphasis.

"What?" exclaimed Dad, whirling on him almost savagely.

"Yes, I have found a way.  I'm going to carry out a plan and I promise
that with good luck I'll get you all out of here safely.  I shall need
some help, but the thing can be done, I know."

"What is your plan?" asked the Professor.

"I'll tell you," said Tad.  "But don't interrupt me, please, until I
have finished."



CHAPTER XII

BRAVING THE ROARING COLORADO


The Pony Riders drew closer, Dad leaned against the rocky wall of the
Canyon, while the Professor peered anxiously into the lad's face.

"I'll bet it's a crazy plan," muttered Stacy.

"We will hear what you have to say and decide upon its feasibility
afterwards," announced the Professor.

"Mr. Nance, if a man were below the horseshoe down the Canyon there, he
would be able to make his way over to the Bright Angel Trail, would
he not?"

"Yes.  A fellow who knew how to climb among the rocks could make it."

"He could get right over on our own trail, could he not?"

"Sure! But what good would that do us?"

"Couldn't he let down ropes and get us out?"

"I reckon he could at that."

"You don't think we are going to be discovered here until perhaps it is
too late, do you, Mr. Nance?"

"We always have hopes.  There being nothing we can do, the only thing
for us is to sit down and hope."

"And starve?  No, thank you.  Not for mine!"

"Nor mine.  It's time we men did something," declared Stacy pompously.

"As I have had occasion to remark before, children should be seen and
not heard," asserted Ned Rector.

"Kindly be quiet.  We are listening to Master Tad," rebuked the
Professor.  "Go ahead, Tad."

"There isn't much to say, except that I propose to get on the other
side of the horseshoe and climb back over the rocks to our trail.  If I
am fortunate enough to get there the rest will be easy and I'll have
you up in a short time.  How about it, Dad?" asked the boy lightly,
as if his proposal were nothing out of the ordinary.

Dad took a few steps forward.

"How do ye propose to get across that stretch of water there to reach
the other side of the horseshoe?"

"Swim it, of course."

The guide laughed harshly.

"Swim it?  Why, kid a boat wouldn't live in that boiling pot for two
minutes.  What could a mere man hope to do against that demon?"

"It is my opinion that a man would do better for a few moments against
the water than a boat would.  I think I can do it."

"No, if anybody does that kind of a trick it will be Jim Nance."

"Do you swim?"

"Like a chunk of marble.  Living on the plains all a fellow's life
doesn't usually make a swimmer of him."

"I thought so.  That makes me all the more determined to do this thing."

"Somebody hold me or I'll be doing it myself," cried Chunky.

No one paid any attention to the fat boy's remark.

"I can't permit it, Tad," said the Professor, with an emphatic shake of
the head.  "No, you could never make it.  It would be suicide."

"I'm going to try it," insisted the Pony Rider.

"You most certainly are not."

"But there is little danger.  Don't you see I should be floating down
with the current.  Almost before I knew it I should be on the other
side of the horseshoe there.  Besides you would have hold of the rope."

"Rope?" demanded Dad.

"Yes, of course."

"Where are you going to get ropes?  They're all up there on the
mountainside."

"We still have our lassoes."

"Explain.  I don't understand," urged Professor Zepplin.

"It is my plan to tie the lassoes together.  We have six of them.  That
will make nearly two hundred feet.  One or two of you can take hold of
the free end of the rope, the other end being about my waist.  In case
I should be carried away from the shore, why all you have to do will
be to haul me back.  Isn't that a simple proposition?"

"It's a crazy one," nodded the Professor.

"Come to think it over, I believe it could be done," reflected Nance.
"If I could swim at all I'd do it myself, but I'd drown inside of
thirty seconds after I stepped a foot in the water.  Why, I nearly
drown every time I wash for breakfast."

Stacy was about to make a remark, but checked himself.  It was evidently
not a seemly remark.  It must have been more than ordinarily flippant
to have caused Chunky to restrain himself.

"I move we let Tad try it, Professor," proposed Ned.

"I don't approve of it at all.  No, sir, I most emphatically do not."

"But surely, Professor, there can be no danger in it at all.  It is
very simple," urged young Butler.

Tad knew better.  It was not a simple thing to do.  It was distinctly a
perilous, if not a foolhardy feat.  Nance knew this, too, but he had
grown to feel a great confidence in Tad Butler.  He believed that if
anyone could brave those swirling waters and come out alive, that one
was Tad Butler.  But it was a desperate chance.  Still, with the rope
tied around the lad's waist, it was as the boy had said, they could
haul him back quickly.

"Professor, I am in favor of letting him try it if he is a good
swimmer," announced the guide.

"Pshaw, you couldn't drown Tad," declared Ned.

"No, you couldn't drown Tad," echoed Chunky.  "Not any more than you
could drown me."

"Perhaps you would like to try it yourself?" grinned Nance.

"Yes, I can hardly hold myself.  I am afraid every minute that I'll jump
right into that raging flood there and strike out for the other side of
the horseshoe," returned Stacy, striking a diving attitude.

They laughed, but as quickly sobered.  Tad was already at work making
firm splices in the two ropes that he held in his hand.

"Pass over your ropes, boys.  We have no time to lose.  The river is
getting higher every minute now, and there's no telling what condition
it will be in an hour from now."

The others passed over their ropes, some willingly enough, others with
reluctance.  Tad spliced them together, tested each knot with all his
strength and nodded his approval.

"I guess they will hold now," he said, stripping off his coat after
having thrown his hat aside and tossed off his cartridge belt and
revolver.

"Walt, you take care of those things for me, please, and in case I get
you folks out, fetch them up with you."

Walter Perkins nodded as he picked up the belongings of his chum.

"Mr. Nance," said Tad, "I think you and Ned are the strongest, so I'll
ask you two to take hold of the rope when I get started.  If you need
help the Professor will lend a hand."

Professor Zepplin shook his head.  He did not approve of this at all.
However, it seemed their only hope.  Tad started for the lower end of
the walled-in enclosure, the others following him.  The lad made the
rope fast around his waist, twisting it about so that the knot was on
the small of his back.  Thus the rope would not interfere with his
swimming.  He then uncoiled the rope, stretching it along the ground to
make sure that there were no kinks in it.

"There, everything appears to be in working order.  Don't you envy me
my fine swim, boys?" Tad laughed cheerfully.

"Yes, we do," chorused the boys.

It must not be thought that Tad Butler did not fully realize the peril
into which he was so willingly going.  He knew there was a big chance
against his ever making his goal, but he was willing to take the slender
remaining chance that he might make it.

"All ready," he said coolly.

Dad and Ned took hold of the rope.

"Don't hold on to it at all unless I shout to you to do so.  I must be
left free.  Let me be the judge if I am to be hauled back or not."

With a final glance behind, to see that all was in readiness, Tad
stepped to the edge of the water.  Chunky pressed up close to him.

"Is there any last request that you want me to make to relatives or
friends, Tad?" asked the fat boy solemnly.

"Tell them to be good to my Chunky, for he's such a tender plant that
he will perish unless he has the most loving care.  Here I go!"

With a wave of his hand, Tad plunged into the swirling waters.  Though
his plunge was seen, the sound of it was borne down by the thunderous
roar of the river.  As Butler vanished it was as though he had gone to
his instant doom.

Instinctively the two men holding the rope tightened their grip,
beginning to haul in.  But Tad's head showed and they eased off again.

Just a few moments more, and Tad was seized by the waters and hurled up
into the air.

"He jumps like a bass," chuckled Chunky.

"Quit that talk!" ordered Ned sharply.  "Poor Tad, we've let him go to
a hopeless death!"

All watched Tad breathlessly---whenever they could see him.  More often
the boy was invisible to those on land.

A strong swimmer, and an intelligent one, Tad had more than found his
match in these angry, cruel waters.  Though the current was in the
direction that he wanted to go, the eddies seemed bent on dragging him
out to the middle of the stream, where he must be most helpless of all.

Tad was fighting with all the strength that remained to him when an
up-wave met him, caught him and hurled him back fully ten feet.  Butler
now found his feet entangled in the rope.

"He's having a fearful battle!" gasped Walter, whose face had gone
deathly pale.

Professor Zepplin nodded, unable to speak.  By a triumph of strength,
backed by his cool head and keen judgment, Tad brought himself out of
this dangerous pocket of water, only to meet others.  His strength
seemed to be failing now.

"Haul him back!" ordered the Professor hoarsely.  "Haul him back!"

They tried, but at that moment the rope parted---sawed in two over a
sharp edge of rock!



CHAPTER XIII

A BATTLE MIGHTILY WAGED


The land end of the rope fell limp in the hands of Jim Nance and Ned
Rector.

"It's gone---gone!" wailed Ned.

"That settles him," answered the guide in a hopeless tone.

"Oh, he's lost, he's lost!" cried Walter.  "Can no one do anything?"

Chunky, with sudden determination, threw off his coat, and started on a
run for the river.  Dodging the Professor's outstretched hands, Chunky
sprang into the water.

With a roar Dad hurled the rope toward the fat boy.  The guide had no
time in which to fashion a loop, but he had thrown the rope doubled.
Fortunately the coil caught Chunky's right foot and the lad was hauled
back feet first, choking, half drowned, his head being dragged under
water despite his struggles to get free.

The instant they hauled him to the bank the Professor seized the lad
and began shaking him.

"Leggo! Lemme go, I tell you.  I'm going after Tad!"

Stacy Brown was terribly in earnest this time.  He was fighting mad
because they had pulled him back from what would have been sure death
to him.  They had never given Stacy credit for such pluck, and Ned and
Walter gazed at him with new interest in their eyes.  It was necessary
to hold the fat boy.  He was still struggling, determined to go to
Tad's rescue.

In the meantime their attention had been drawn from Tad for the moment.
When they looked again they failed to find him.

"There he is," shouted Ned, as the boy was seen to rise from the water
and plunge head foremost into it again.  Tad did not appear to be
fighting now.

"He's helpless!  He's hurt!" cried the Professor.

"I reckon that's about the end of the lad," answered Nance in a low
tone.  "There's nothing we can do but to wait."

"I see him again!" shouted Walter.

They could see the lad being tumbled this way and that, hurled first
away from the shore, then on toward it.  Nance was regarding the
buffeted Pony Rider keenly.  He saw that Tad was really nearing the
shore, but that he was helpless.

"What has happened to him?" demanded the Professor hoarsely.  "Is he
drowned?"

"It's my opinion that he has been banged against a rock and knocked
out.  I can't tell what'll be the end of it, but it looks mighty bad.
There he goes, high and dry!" fairly screamed Dad, while his whiskers
tilted upwards at a sharp angle.

Tad had been hurled clear of the water, hurled to the dry rocks on which
he had been flung as if the river wanted no more of him.  The watchers
began to shout.  They danced about almost beside themselves with anxiety.
No one could go to Tad's assistance, if, indeed, he were not beyond
assistance.

A full twenty minutes of this nerve-racking anxiety had passed when Dad
thought he saw a movement of Tad's form.  A few moments later the boy
was seen to struggle to a sitting posture, where he sat for a short
time, both hands supporting his head.

Such a yell as the Pony Rider Boys uttered might have been heard clear
up on the rim of the Grand Canyon had there been any one there to hear
it.  Dad danced a wild hornpipe, the Professor strode up and down,
first thrusting his hands into his pockets, then withdrawing and waving
them above his head.  Stacy had settled down on the rocks with the
tears streaming down his cheeks.  Stacy wasn't joking now.  This
emotion was real.

They began to shout out Tad's name.  It was plain that he heard them,
for he waved a listless hand then returned to his former position.

"That boy is all iron," breathed the admiring guide.

The noise of the river was so great that they could not ask him if he
were hurt seriously.  But Tad answered the question himself a few
minutes later by getting up.  He stood for a moment swaying as if he
would fall over again, then staggered to the wall, against which he
leaned, still holding his head.

"He must have got an awful wallop," declared Dad.

Shortly after that Tad appeared to have recovered somewhat, for he was
seen to be gazing up over the rocks, apparently trying to choose a
route for himself.

"How can he ever make that dizzy climb in his condition?" groaned the
Professor.

"We'll see.  I think he can do anything," returned Nance.

Tad walked back and forth a few times, exercising his muscles, then
turned toward the rocks which he began to climb.  He proceeded slowly
and with great caution, evidently realizing the peril of his undertaking,
but taking no greater chances than he was obliged to do.

Little by little he worked his way upward, Now and then halting, clinging
to the rocks for support while he rested.  After a time he looked down
at his companions.  Nance waved a hand, signaling Tad to turn to the
right.  Tad saw and understood the signal and acted accordingly.

Once he stood up and gazed off over the rugged peaks, sharp knife-like
edges and sheer wails before him.  There seemed not sufficient foothold
for a bird where he was standing, and though a thousand feet above the
river, he seemed not to feel the height at all nor to be in the least
dizzy.

It was dangerous work, exhausting work; but oh! what self-reliance, what
pluck and levelheadedness was Tad Butler displaying.  Had he never
accomplished anything worth while in his life, those who saw him now
could but admire the lad's wonderful courage.

They hung upon his movements, scarcely breathing at all, as little by
little the lad crept along, now swinging by his hands from one ledge
to another, now creeping around a sharp bend on hand and knees, now
hanging with nothing more secure than thin air underneath him, with face
flattened against a rock, resting.  It was a sight to thrill and to
make even strong men shiver.

For a long time Tad disappeared from view.  The watchers did not know
where he had gone, but Nance explained that he had crept around the
opposite side of the butte where he had last been seen, hoping to
discover better going there, which Jim was of the opinion he would find.

This proved to be the case when after what seemed an interminable time,
the Pony Rider once more appeared, creeping steadily on toward the
trail above the broken spot.

This went on for the greater part of two hours.

"He's safe.  Thank God!" cried the guide.

The Pony Rider Boys whooped.

"You stay here!" directed the guide.  Nance began clambering up the
rocky trail to a point from which he would be able to talk to the boy.
Arriving at this spot, Dad waited.  At last Tad appeared, dragging
himself along.

"Good boy! Fine boy!  Dad's Canyon is proud of you, boy!"

Tad sank down, shaking his head, breathing hard, as the guide could
see, even at that distance.  After a time Tad recovered his wind
sufficiently to be able to talk.

"What happened to you?" called Dad.

"I got a bump.  I don't really know what did occur.  The ropes are all
washed away, Dad.  I don't know how I'm going to help you up here now
that I have got up.  Aren't there any vines of which I could make a
ladder?"

"Nary a vine that'll make a seventy-five-foot ladder."

"Then there is only one thing for me to do."

"What's that?"

"Hurry to the rim and get ropes."

"I reckon you'll have to do that, kid, if you think you're able.  Are
you much knocked out?"

"I'm all right.  Tell them not to worry.  I may be gone some time, but
I shall be back."

"Good luck! I wish I could help you."

"I don't need help now.  There is no further danger.  Are my friends
down there hungry?"

"Stacy Brown is thinking of nibbling rocks."

Tad laughed, then began climbing up the trail.  Nance, watching him
narrowly, saw that the boy was very weary, being scarcely able to drag
himself along.  After a time Tad passed out of sight up what was left
of Bright Angel Trail.  Nance, with a sigh, turned to begin retracing
his steps down to the Pony Rider Boys' party.

"Well, he made it, didn't he?" cried Ned.  "We have been watching him
all the time."

"There's a real man," answered the guide, with an emphatic nod.  "Pity
there aren't more like him."

"There is one like him," spoke up Chunky.

"Who?"

"Little me," answered the fat boy, tapping his chest modestly.

"That's so; Chunky did jump into the raging flood," said Walter.  "We
mustn't forget that he acted the part of a brave man while we were
standing there shivering and almost gasping for breath."

"Brave?" drawled Ned sarcastically.

"Ned Rector, you know you were scared stiff," retorted Walter.

"Well, I'll be honest with you, I was.  Who wouldn't have been?  Even
the Professor's mustache changed color for the moment."

The afternoon passed.  It was now growing dark, for the night came on
early down there in the Canyon.  On the tops of the peaks the lowering
sun was lighting up the red sandstone, making it appear like a great
flame on the polished walls.

"Isn't it time Tad were getting back?" asked the Professor anxiously.

"Well, it's a long, hard climb, you know.  All of seven miles the way
one has to go.  That makes fourteen miles up and back, and they're real
miles, as you know."

"I hope nothing has happened to the boy."

"Leave it to him.  He knows how to take care of himself."

No one thought of lying down to sleep.  In the first place, all were
too hungry.  Then, again, at any moment Tad might return.  Midnight
arrived.  Suddenly Nance held up his hands for silence.

"Whoo-oo!"

It was a long-drawn, far-away call.

"That's Tad," said Nance.  "We'd better gather up our belongings and
get up to the break in the trail."

The guide answered the call by a similar "whoo-oo," after which all
began climbing cautiously.  In the darkness it was dangerous business,
but a torch held in the hands of Jim Nance aided them materially.  Far
up on the side of the Canyon they could see three flickering points of
light.

"It's the kid.  He's got somebody with him.  I thought he'd do that.
He's a wise one," chuckled the guide.

The climb was made in safety.  The party ar rived at the base at last,
the boys shouting joyously as they saw Tad waving a torch at them.  At
least they supposed it was Tad.

"What do you think about waiting until daylight for the climb?" shouted
Butler.

"I'll see what they say," answered Nance.  "What about it, gentlemen?"

"I think it perhaps would be safer." This from the Professor.

"What, spend another night in this hole?" demanded Stacy.  "No, sirree."

"Please let us go on up, Professor," begged Walter.

"Yes, we don't want to stay down here.  We can climb at night as well
as in daylight," urged Chunky.

"What have you got, ropes?" called Nance.

"I've brought down some rope ladders, which I have spliced-----"

"I hope you've done a better job on the splicing than you did on your
own rope when you sailed across the horseshoe bend," shouted Stacy.
"If you haven't, I refuse to trust my precious life to your old rope."

"Too bad about your precious life," laughed Ned.  "Well, Professor,
what do you say?"

"Is it safe, Nance?"

"As safe now as at any other time."

"All right."

"Let down your ladder," called the guide.  "Be sure that it is well
secured.  How many have you with you?"

"Three men, if that is what you mean."

"Very good."

The rope ladder was let down.  Those below were just able to reach it
with their hands.  It came within less than a foot of being too short.

"Who is going up first?" asked the guide.

"The Professor, of course," replied Chunky magnanimously.

"That is very thoughtful of you, Stacy," smiled Professor Zepplin.

"Yes, you are the heaviest.  If the rope doesn't break with you, it's
safe for the rest of us," answered Chunky, whereat there was a general
laugh.

"Very good, young man.  I will accommodate you," announced the Professor
grimly, grasping the rope and pulling himself up with the assistance of
Nance and the boys.

The rope swayed dizzily.

"Hold it there!" shouted the Professor.

Nance had already grasped the end of the ladder and was holding to it
with his full weight.  After a long time a shout from above told them
that Professor Zepplin had arrived safely at the top.  Walter went up
next, then Chunky and Ned, followed finally by Jim Nance himself after
their belongings had been hauled to the top.

Professor Zepplin embraced Tad immediately upon reaching the trail
above.  The boys joked Butler about being such a poor swimmer.  About
that time they discovered that Tad had a gash nearly four inches long
on his head where he had come in contact with the sharp edge of a rock
in the river.  Tad had lost much blood and was still weak and pale from
his terrific experiences.  Nance wrung Tad Butler's hand until Tad
winced.

"Ain't a man in the whole Grand who could have done what you did,
youngster," declared Dad enthusiastically.

"The question is, did you fetch down anything to eat?" demanded Chunky.

"Yes, of course I did."

"Where is it?  Lead me to it," shouted the fat boy.

"I left the stuff up at the Garden, where the mustangs are.  We will go
up there, the Professor and Mr. Nance approving."

The Professor and Mr. Nance most certainly did approve of the suggestion,
for both were very hungry.  The men who had come down with Tad led the
way with their torches.  It was a long, hard climb, the use of the ropes
being found necessary here and there for convenience and to save time.
Tad had had none of these conveniences when he went up.  How he had
made the trip so easily as he appeared to make it set the boys to
wondering.

Baskets of food were found at the Garden.  The party did full justice
to the edibles, then, acting on the suggestion of Nance, they rolled
up in their blankets and went to sleep.  First, however, Professor
Zepplin had examined the wound in Tad's head.  He found it a scalp
wound.  The Professor washed and dressed the wound, after which Tad
went to bed.

On the following morning they mounted their mustangs and started slowly
for the rim, where they arrived some time after noon.  The Pony Rider
Boys instantly went into camp near the hotel, for it had been decided
to take a full day's rest before starting out on the long trip.  This
time they were to take their pack train with them and cut off from
civilization for the coming few weeks, they would live in the Canyon,
foraging for what food they were unable to carry with them.

The guests at the hotel, after hearing of Tad Butler's bravery, tried
to make a hero of the lad, but Tad would have none of it.  He grew red
in the face every time anyone suggested that he had done anything out
of the ordinary.  And deep down in his heart the lad did not believe
that he had.  Professor Zepplin, however, called a surgeon, who took
five stitches in the scalp wound.

On the following morning camp was struck and the party started out for
Bright Angel Gulch and Cataract Canyon, in both of which places some
interesting as well as exciting experiences awaited them.  Nance had
brought three of his hunting dogs with him in case any game were started.

The boys were looking forward to shooting a lion, though, there being
no snow on the ground, it would be difficult for the dogs to strike
and follow a trail.  How well they succeeded we shall see.



CHAPTER XIV

THE DOGS PICK UP A TRAIL


The man in charge of the pack train having deserted them before the
travelers got back from the rim, Dad picked up a half breed whom the
boys named Chow, because he was always chewing.  If not food, Chow was
forever munching on a leaf or a twig or a stick.  His jaws were ever
at work until the boys were working their own jaws out of pure sympathy.

The march was taken up to Bass Trail, which they reached about noon of
the second day and started down.  No unusual incident occurred during
this journey.  They found the trail in good condition, and though steep
and precipitous in places, it gave the Pony Rider Boys no worry.  After
having experienced the perils of the other trail, this one seemed tame.

From Bass Trail they worked their way down and across into Bright Angel
Gulch, where they made camp and awaited the arrival of Chow and the
mules with their tents and provisions.

Chow arrived late the same day.  Tents were pitched and settled.  It was
decided for the present to make this point their base of supplies.  When
on short journeys they would travel light, carrying such equipment as
was absolutely necessary, and no more.

This gulch was far from the beaten track of the ordinary explorer, a
vast but attractive gash in the plateau.  In spots there was verdure,
and, where the water courses reached in, stretches of grass with here
and there patches of gramma grass, grease wood and creosote plants with
a profusion of flowers, mostly red, in harmony with the prevailing
color of the rocks that towered high above them.  At this point the
walls of the Canyon reached nearly seven thousand feet up into the air.

Down there on the levels the sun glared fiercely at midday, but along
toward night refreshing breezes drifted through the Canyon, making the
evenings cool and delightful.  But there were drawbacks.  There were
snakes and insects in this almost tropical lower land.  The boys were
not greatly disturbed over these things.  By this time they were pretty
familiar with insects and reptiles, for it will be remembered that they
had spent much time in the wilder places of their native country.

For the first twenty-four hours of their stay in "Camp Butler," as they
had named their base in honor of Tad himself, they did little more than
make short excursions out into the adjoining canyons.  The Professor
embraced the opportunity to indulge in some scientific researches into
the geology of the Canyon, on which in the evening he was wont to dwell
at length in language that none of the boys understood.  But they
listened patiently, for they were very fond of this grizzled old
traveler who had now been their companion for so long.

The third night the dogs appeared restless.  They lay at the end of
their leashes growling and whipping their tails angrily.

"What is the matter with the dogs?" demanded Tad Butler.

"I think they must have fleas," decided Chunky wisely.

"No, it isn't fleas," said Dad, who had been observing them for the
past few minutes.  "It's my opinion that there's game hereabouts."

"Deer?" questioned Ned.

"No.  More likely it's something that is after the deer."

"Lions?" asked Tad.

"I reckon."

"Have you seen any signs of them?"

"What you might call a sign," Nance nodded.  "I found, up in Mystic
Canyon this afternoon, all that was left of a deer.  The lions had
killed it and stripped all the best flesh from the deer.  So it's plain
enough that the cats are hanging around.  I thought we'd come up with
some of them down here."

"Wow for the king of beasts!" shouted Chunky, throwing up his sombrero.

"Nothing like a king," retorted Jim Nance.  "The mountain lion isn't
in any class with African lions.  The lion hereabouts is only a part
as big.  A king---this mountain lion of ours?  You'd better call the
beast a dirty savage, and be satisfied with that."

"But we're going to go after some of them, aren't we?" asked Ned.

"Surely," nodded Nance.

"When?" pressed Walter.

"Is it safe?" the more prudent Professor Zepplin wanted to know.

"Safe?" repeated Jim Nance.  "Well, when it comes to that, nothing down
in this country can be called exactly safe.  All sorts of trouble can
be had around here for the asking.  But I reckon that these young
gentlemen will know pretty well how to keep themselves reasonably
safe---all except Mr. Brown, who'll bear some watching."

Even long after they had turned in that night the boys kept on talking
about the coming hunts of the next few days.  They fairly dreamed lions.
In the morning the hunt was the first thing they thought of as they ran
to wash up for breakfast.  In the near distance could be heard the
baying of hounds, for Dad's dogs were no longer chained up.

"I let the dogs loose," Nance explained, noting the eager, questioning
glances.  "The dogs have got track of something.  Hustle your breakfasts!
We'll get away with speed."

Breakfast was disposed of in a hurry that morning.  Then the boys
hustled to get ready for the day's sport.  When, a few minutes later,
they set off on their ponies, with rifles thrust in saddle boots,
revolvers bristling from their belts, ropes looped over the pommels of
their saddles, the Pony Rider Boys presented quite a warlike appearance.

"If you were half as fierce as you look I'd run," declared Dad, with
a grin.

"Which way do we go?" questioned the Professor.

"We'll all hike up into the Mystic Canyon.  There we'll spread out, each
man for himself.  One of us can't help but fall to the trail of a beast
if he is careful."

After reaching the Mystic they heard the dogs in a canyon some distance
away.  Ned and Walter were sent off to the left, Tad to the north, while
the rest remained in the Mystic Canyon to wait there, where the chase
should lead at some time during the day.

"Three shots are a signal to come in, or to come to the fellow who
shoots," announced the guide.  "Look out for yourselves."

Silence soon settled down over Mystic Canyon.  Chunky was disappointed
that he had not been assigned to go out with one of his companions, he
found time hanging heavily on his hands with Nance and the Professor,
but he uttered no complaint.

The Professor and guide had dismounted from their ponies and were seated
on a rock busily engaged in conversation.  Chunky, after glancing at
them narrowly, shouldered his rifle and strolled off, leaving his pony
tethered to a sapling.

He walked further than he had intended, making his way to a rise of
ground about a quarter of a mile away, with the hope that he might
catch a glimpse of some of his companions.  Once on the rise, which was
quite heavily wooded, he seemed to hear the hounds much more plainly
than before.  It seemed to Stacy that they were approaching from the
other side, opposite to that which the rest were watching.  He glanced
down into the canyon, but could see neither of the two older men.

"Most exciting chase I've ever been in," muttered the fat boy in disgust,
throwing himself down on the ground with rifle across his knees.
"Lions!  I don't believe there are any lions in the whole country.
Dad's been having dreams.  It's my private opinion that Dad's got an
imagination that works over time once in a while.  I think-----"

The words died on the fat boy's lips.  His eyes grew wide, the pupils
narrowed, the whites giving the appearance of small inverted saucers.

Stacy scarcely breathed.

There, slinking across an open space on the rise, its tail swishing its
ears laid flat on its cruel, cat-like head, was a tawny, lithe creature.

Stacy Brown recognized the object at once.  It was a mountain lion, a
large one.  It seemed to Chunky that he never had seen a beast as large
in all his life.  The lion was alternately listening to the baying of
the hounds and peering about for a suitable tree in which to hide itself.

Stacy acted like a man in a trance.  Without any clear idea as to what
he was doing, he rose slowly to his feet.  At that instant the lion
discovered him.  It crouched down, its eyes like sparks of fire,
scintillating and snapping.

All at once Stacy threw his gun to his shoulder and pulled the trigger.
At least he thought he did.  But no report came.

A yellow flash, a swish and the beast had leaped clear of the rise and
disappeared even more suddenly than he had come.

"Wha---wha-----" gasped Chunky.  Then he made a discovery.

Chunky was holding the rifle by the barrel with the muzzle against his
shoulder, having aimed the butt at the crouching lion.  Chunky had had
a severe attack of "buck fever."

With a wild yell that woke the echoes and sent Jim Nance and Professor
Zepplin tearing through the bushes, Stacy dashed down the steep slope,
forgetting to take his rifle with him in his hurried descent.

He met the two men running toward him.

"What is it?  What's happened?" shouted the Professor.

"I saw him!  I saw him!" yelled Stacy, almost frantic with excitement.

Nance grabbed the boy by the shoulder, shaking him roughly.

"Speak up.  What did you see?"

"I su---su---saw a lu---lu---lion, I di---did."

"Where?" demanded Nance.

"Up there."

Chunky's eyes were full of excitement.

"Why didn't you shoot him?"

"I---I tried to, but the gu---gun wouldn't go off.  I---I had it wrong
end to."

Dad relaxed his grip on the fat boy's arm and sat down heavily.

"Of all the tarnal idiots---of all!  Professor, if we don't tie that boy
to a tree he'll be killing us all with his fool ways.  Why, you baby,
you ain't fit to carry a pop-gun.  By the way, where is your gun?"

"I---I guess, I lost it up---up there," stammered Stacy.

Dad started for the top of the rise in long strides, Chunky gazing after
him in a dazed sort of way.

"I---I guess I did make a fool of myself, didn't I, Professor?" he
mourned.

"I am inclined to think you did---several different varieties of them,"
answered Professor Zepplin in a tone of disgust.



CHAPTER XV

THE MYSTERY OF THE RIFLE


"I can't help it, I saw a lion, anyway," muttered the fat boy.

"Come up here!" It was Dad's voice calling to them.  "Where's that
rifle?"

"I---I dropped it, I told you."

"Where did you drop it?"

"Right there."

"Show me."

Stacy climbed to the top of the rise and stepped confidently over to
where he had let go the rifle before rushing down after having tried
to shoot the lion.  He actually stooped over to pick up the gun, so
confident was he as to its location.  Then a puzzled expression appeared
on Stacy's face.

"Oh, it's there, is it?"

"Why---I---I------- Say, you're trying to play a joke on me."

"I rather think you've played it on yourself," jeered the guide.  "Where
did you leave it?"

"Right there, I tell you."

"Sure you didn't throw it over in the bushes down the other side?"

"I guess I know what I did with it," retorted Chunky indignantly.

"Well, it isn't here." Dad was somewhat puzzled by this time.  He saw
that Stacy was very confident of having left the gun at that particular
place, but it could not be found.

"Maybe somebody's stolen it," suggested the boy.

"Nonsense!  Who is there here to steal it, in the first place?  In the
second, how could any one slip in here at the right moment and get
away with your rifle?"

"You have no---no idea what has become of it---no theory?" asked the
Professor.

"Not the least little bit," replied the guide.

"Most remarkable---most remarkable," muttered Professor Zepplin.  "I
cannot understand it."

"We'll look around a bit," announced Dad.

The three men searched everywhere, even going all the way down to the
base of the rise on either side, but nowhere did they find the slightest
trace of the missing rifle.  After they had returned to the summit, Dad,
a new idea in mind, went over the rocks and the ground again in search
of footprints.  The only footprints observable were those of their own
party.  There was more in the mystery than Dad could fathom.

"Well, this gets me," declared the guide, wiping the perspiration from
his forehead.  "This certainly does."

"Is---is my rifle lost?" wailed Chunky.

"I reckon you'll never see that pretty bit of firearms again," grinned
Jim.

"But it must be here," insisted Stacy.

"But it isn't.  Fortunately we have plenty of guns with us.  You can get
another when we go back to camp."

"Yes, but this one is mine-----"

"Was yours," corrected Nance.

"It is mine, and I'm going to have it before I leave this miserable old
hole," declared the boy.

"I hope you find it.  I'd like to know how the thing ever got away in
that mysterious manner."

"Maybe the lion took it."

"Mebby he did.  Funny I hadn't thought of that," answered Nance gravely.
Then both he and the Professor burst into a shout of laughter.

They made their way slowly back to the point where they were to meet
the others of the party.  Chunky, now being without a rifle, was well
content to remain with the guide and the Professor.

While all this was going on Tad and Walter were picking their way over
the rough ridges, through narrow canyons, riding their ponies where a
novice would hardly have dared to walk.  The ponies seemed to take to
the work naturally.  Not a single misstep was made by either of them.
They, too, could hear the dogs, but the latter were far away most of
the time, even though, for all the riders knew, they might have been
just the other side of the rocky wall along which the two boys were
traveling.

They kept on in this way until late in the afternoon, when they stopped
and dismounted, deciding that they would have a bite to eat.

"It doesn't look as if we were going to have any luck, does it, Tad?"
asked Walter in a disappointed tone.

"No, it doesn't.  But one never can tell.  In hunting game you know it
comes upon one suddenly.  You have to be ever on the alert.  We know
that the dogs have been on the trail of something."

"Perhaps deer," suggested Walter.

"Yes, it is possible, though I don't know whether those dogs will trail
deer or not.  You know they may be trained to hunt lions.  I didn't
hear Mr. Nance say."

They were munching biscuit and eating oranges as they rested, which
must have tasted good to them.  The temperature was going down with
the day, though the light was strong in the canyon where they were
standing.  Above them the jagged, broken cliffs rose tier on tier until
they seemed to disappear far up in the fleecy clouds that were drifting
lazily over the Canyon.

All at once Silver Face, Tad's pony, exhibited signs of restlessness,
which seemed to be quickly communicated to the other animal.  The pintos
stamped, shook their heads and snorted.

"Whoa! What's wrong with you fellows?" demanded Tad, eyeing the ponies
keenly.  "Smell something, eh?"

"Maybe they smell oats," suggested Walter.

"I guess not.  They are a long way from oats at the present moment."

Tad paused abruptly.  A pebble had rattled down the rocky wall and
bounded off some yards to the front of them.  Silver Face started and
would have bounded away had not a firm hand been at that instant laid
on the bridle rein.

To one unaccustomed to the mountains the incident might have passed
unnoticed.  By this time Tad Butler was a pretty keen woodsman as well
as plainsman.  He had learned to take notice of everything.  Even the
most trivial signs hold a meaning all their own for the man who
habitually lives close to Nature.

The lad glanced sharply at the rocks.

"See anything?" asked Walter.

"No."

"What did you think you heard?"

"I didn't hear anything but that pebble.  The horses smelled something,
though."

While he was speaking the lad's glances were traveling slowly over the
rocks above.  All at once he paused.

"Don't stir, Walt.  Look up."

"Where?"

"In line with that cloud that looks like a dragon.  Then lower your
glance slowly.  I think you will see something worth while."

It was a full moment before Walter Perkins discovered that to which
his attention had been called.

"It's a cat," breathed Walt, almost in awe.

"Yes, that's a lion.  He is evidently hiding up there, where he has gone
to get away from the dogs.  We will walk away a bit as if we were
leaving.  Then we'll tether the horses securely.  Don't act as if you
saw the beast.  I know now what was the matter with the mustangs.  They
scented that beast up there."

The ponies were quickly secured, after which the boys crouched in the
brush and sought out the lion again.  He was still in the same place,
but was now standing erect, head toward them, well raised as if in a
listening attitude.

"My, isn't he a fine one!" whispered Walt.  Walter Perkins was not
suffering from the same complaint that Chunky had caught when he first
saw his lion over in the other canyon, an offshoot from the Bright
Angel Canyon, and where he had lost his rifle so mysteriously.

"Take careful aim; then, when he turns his side toward us, let him
have it," directed Tad.

"Oh, no, you discovered him.  He is your game.  You shoot, Tad."

Butler shook his head.

"I want you to shoot.  I have already killed a cougar.  This is your
chance to distinguish yourself."

Walter's eyes sparkled.  He raised his rifle, leveling it through the
crotch of a small tree.

"Wait till he turns," whispered Tad, fingering his own rifle anxiously.
He could hardly resist the temptation to take a shot at the animal
where it stood facing them far up the side of the canyon wall.

"Now!" Tad's tone was calm, steady and low.

Walter's rifle barked.

"You've hit him!" yelled Tad.  "Look out!  He's up again!" warned the
boy.

The beast had not been killed by the shot.  He had been bowled over,
dropping down to a lower crag, where he sprang to his feet and with a
roar of rage bounded up the mountainside.

"Shoot! Shoot!" cried Butler.

But Walter did not even raise his rifle.  A sudden fit of trembling had
taken possession of him.  His was the "buck fever" in another form.

Bang!

Butler had let go a quick shot.

A roar followed the shot.

"Bang!"

"There, I guess that settled him," decided Tad Butler, lowering his
rifle.

"I---I should say it did," gasped Walter.

The tawny beast was throwing himself this way and that, the boys
meanwhile watching him anxiously.

"I'm afraid he's going to stick up there," cried Walter, dancing about
shouting excitedly.

"No, he isn't.  There he comes."

"Hurray!"

"Duck!"

Tad grabbed his companion, jerking the latter back and running with him.
They were just at the spot where the ponies had been tethered, when a
heavy body struck the ground not far from where they had been standing.
Silver Face leaped right up into the air, then settled back on his
haunches in an attempt to break the hitching rope.

Tad struck the animal against the flank with the flat of his hand,
whereat the mustang bounded to his feet.

"Whoa, you silly old animal!" cried Tad.  "Look out, Walt, don't get
too near that lion.  You may lose some of your clothes if he shouldn't
happen to be dead.  I'll be there in a moment, as soon as I can get
these horses quieted down."

In a moment Tad was running toward his companion.

"Is he settled?"

"I don't know.  His---his eyes are open," stammered Walter, standing off
a safe distance from the prostrate beast.

Tad poked the animal with the muzzle of his rifle.

"Yes, he's a dead one.  One less brute to make war on the deer.  Won't
old Dad be surprised when we trail into camp with this big game?"
exulted the Pony Rider boy.

"Yes, but---but how are we going to get the fellow there?" wondered
Walter.

"Get him there?  Well, I guess we'll do it somehow.  I'll tell you
what, I'll take him over the saddle in front of me.  That's the idea.
You bring out Silver Face and we'll see how he feels about it.  I
wouldn't be surprised if he raised a row."

Silver Face did object most emphatically.  The instant the pony came
in sight of the dead lion he sat down on his haunches.  Tad urged and
threatened, but not another inch would the pinto budge.

"I guess I know how to fix you," gritted the boy.

He was on the back of the sitting mustang, his feet in the stirrups,
before the pony realized what had happened.  A reasonably sharp rowel,
pressed into the pinto's side, brought him a good two feet clear of
the ground.

Then began a lively battle between the boy and the horse.

"Don't let him tread on the beast," shouted Walter.

"N-n-no danger of that," stammered Tad.  It was a lively battle while
it lasted, but Silver Face realized, as he had never done before, that
he had met his master.  After some twenty minutes of fight, in which
the pinto made numerous futile attempts to climb the sheer side of
the canyon at the imminent danger of toppling over backwards and
crushing his master, the brute gave up.

"Now you hold him while I load on the beast," directed Tad, riding up.

This called for more disturbance.  Silver Face fought against taking
a lion on his back.  He drew the line at that.  Just the same, after
another lively scrimmage, Mr. Lion was loaded on, but no sooner had
Tad swung into the saddle than he swung out again.  He hadn't even
time to get his toes in the stirrups before he was flying through the
air, head first.  Walter had difficulty in determining which was boy
and which was lion.  The lion struck the ground first, Tad landing on
top of him.

With rare presence of mind, Walter had seized the pinto and was having
a lively set-to with the beast, with the odds in favor of Silver Face,
when Tad sprang up and ran to his companion's assistance.

Tad's temper was up.  The way he grilled Silver Face that animal
perhaps never forgot.  Not that Tad abused his mount.  He never would
be guilty of abusing a horse.  He was too fond of horseflesh to do
such a thing, but he knew how to punish an animal in other and more
effective ways.  Silver Face was punished.

"Now, my fine fellow, let's see who's boss here!" laughed Tad.  "Hold
him while I put aboard the baggage, Walt."

The pony submitted to the ordeal a second time.  This time there was
no bucking, and shortly afterwards the lads started for their
companions bearing the trophy of their hunt with them.



CHAPTER XVI

A NEW WAY TO HUNT LIONS


Long before they reached the meeting point they heard the long-drawn
"Woohoo!" of Jim Nance calling them in.  They were the only ones
out at that time.  Tad set up a series of answering "woos-hoos" that
caused Silver Face to wiggle his ears disapprovingly, as if this were
some new method of torture invented for his special benefit.

As they got in sight of the rest of the party, the boys set up a shout.
Their companions, about that time, discovered that Tad was carrying
something before him on the pony.  Chunky and Ned started on a run to
meet Tad and Walter.  How Chunky did yell when he discovered what that
something was.

"They've got a cat!  They've got a cat!" he howled, dancing about and
swinging his arms.  "I tell you, they've got a cat!"

Tad rode into camp smiling, flinging the lion to the ground, which
caused Tad's pony to perform once more.

"Who shot him?" cried the Professor, fully as excited as the boys.

"This is a partnership cat," laughed Tad.  "We both have some bullets
in him.  How many did you fellows get?"

"Well, I had one, but he got away," answered Stacy, his face sobering
instantly.  "And---and he carried off my rifle too."

"What's that?" demanded Tad.

Chunky explained briefly.  But he had little opportunity to talk.  Dad,
who had been examining the dead lion, straightened up and looked at Tad.

"Good job, boys.  It's a dandy.  Must weigh nigh onto three hundred
pounds.  Have much of a tussle with him?"

"Not any.  He was dead when he got down to us."

"Very fine specimen," decided the Professor, examining the dead beast
from a respectable distance.  "You lads are to be congratulated."

"Say, I'm going with you to-morrow," cried Stacy.  "These folks don't
know how to hunt lions."

"Do you?" demanded Nance witheringly.

Stacy colored violently.

"At least I know how to stalk them," he answered.  "If I lose my gun in
the excitement that doesn't mean that I'm not a natural born lion
chaser.  Anybody can shoot a lion, but everybody can't sit still and
charm the lion right up to him."

They admitted that the fat boy was right in this assertion.  Chunky
had done all of that.  Upon their return to camp, Walter and Tad had
asked numerous questions about the loss of the gun.  There was little
additional information that either Stacy or the two men could give
them.  The gun had most mysteriously disappeared, that was all.  Nance
was more puzzled than any of the others and he groped in vain for an
explanation of the mystery, but no satisfactory explanation suggested
itself to his mind.

After supper the guide cut some meat from the cat and fed it to the
weary dogs, who had not succeeded in treeing a single lion, though they
had come near doing so several times.  But they had sent the cats
flying for cover, which had given Chunky and the other two boys
opportunity to use their guns, though Stacy Brown, in his excitement,
had failed to take advantage of the opportunity offered to him.

It was decided that the hunt should be taken up again on the following
morning.  Nance said Stacy might go with Tad this time, Nance taking
charge of the other three boys.  This was satisfactory to Chunky
and Tad.

The morning found the camp awake at an early hour.  Chunky and Tad set
off together, the former having been equipped with a rifle from the
extra supply carried by the party, the guide having administered a
sarcastic suggestion that Chunky tie the rifle to his back so that he
would not lose this one.

Chunky made appropriate reply, after which they rode away.  The early
part of the day was devoid of success.  They did not even hear the
bay of a hound all the forenoon.  Tad took their quest coolly,
undisturbed.  He had already gotten one lion and could well afford not
to get one this time.  It was different with Stacy.  He was anxious
to distinguish himself, to make amends for his blunders of the
previous day.

About an hour after they had eaten their lunch they heard the bounds
for the first time.  Tad listened intently for a few minutes.

"I think they are coming this way, Chunky."

"If they do, you give me the first shot.  I've simply got to meet
another cat."

"You shall have it, providing you are on the job and ready.  These cats
don't wait around for a fellow to get ready to shoot, as you have no
doubt observed."

"Don't remind me of disagreeable things, please," growled Stacy.  "I've
had my chance and I lost it.  Next time I see a cat I'm going to kill
him on the spot.  Wait; I'm going to take an observation."

"Don't go far," warned Tad.

"No, I won't.  Just want to have a look at the landscape," flung back
Stacy, hurrying away, while Tad stretched out for a little rest, well
satisfied to have Stacy do the moving about until there was something
real to be done, when Tad would be on hand on the jump.

Stacy had not taken his gun.  In fact, he wholly forgot to do so, not
thinking for an instant that he would have opportunity to use it.  This
was where the fat boy made another serious mistake.  A hunter should
never be beyond reaching distance of his gun when out on the trail
for game.  It is a mistake that has cost some men their lives, others
the loss of much coveted game.

Choosing a low, bushy pinyon tree as best suited to the purposes of a
lazy climber, Stacy climbed it, grunting and grumbling unintelligibly.
He had hopes that he might discover something worth while, something
that would distinguish him from his fellows on that particular day.

"I feel as if something were going to happen," he confided to the tree,
seating himself in a crotch formed by a limb extending out from the
main body of the tree, then parting the foliage for a better view.
"It's funny how a fellow feels about these things some times.  Hello,
there, I actually believe those are deer running yonder.  Or maybe
they're cows," added Stacy.  "Anyhow I couldn't shoot them, whichever
they are, so I won't get excited over them."

Chunky fixed his eyes on the opposite side of the tree a little above
where he was perched.

"I thought I saw something move there.  Hello, I hear the hounds again.
They've surely gotten on track of something.  And-----"

Once more the fat boy paused.  He saw something yellow lying along a
limb of the tree, something at first sight that he took to be a snake.
But he knew of no snakes that had fur on their bodies.  The round, furry
thing that he thought might be a snake at first now began whipping up
and down on the limb, curling at its end, twisting, performing strange
antics.

What could it mean?  Stacy parted the foliage a little more, then once
again, as had been the case on the previous day, his eyes opened wide.

He saw now what was at the other end of the snake-like appendage.  And
seeing he understood that he was in a predicament.  But Chunky's voice
failed him.

There on the opposite limb of the tree, less than ten feet away,
crouched the biggest mountain lion Stacy Brown ever had seen.  And
it grew larger with the seconds.  The beast was working its tail, its
whiskers bristled, its eyes shone like points of steel.  It seemed as
if the beast were trying to decide whether to attack the boy within
such easy reach or to leap to the ground and flee.  The deep baying of
the dogs in the distance evidently decided the cat against the latter
plan.  Then, too, perhaps the howls that Chunky now emitted had
something to do with the former question.

Tad Butler, stretched out on the ground, found himself standing bolt
upright as if he had been propelled to that position by a spring.  The
most unearthly howls he had ever heard broke upon the mountain stillness.

"Wow!  Ow-wow-wow!  Tad!  Help, help, help!  Quick!"

Tad was off like a shot himself, not even pausing to snatch up his gun
which lay so near at hand.  And how he did run!

"Where, Chunky?  Where are you?  Shout quick!"

"Wow!  Ow-wow-wow!" was the only answer Stacy Brown could make, but the
sound of his voice unerringly guided Tad to the location.  But Stacy
could not be found.

"In the name of-----"

"Wow!  Ow-wow-wow!" howled the agonized voice of the fat boy from the
branches of the pinyon tree.

Tad peered up between the branches.  He saw Stacy looking down upon him
with panic stricken gaze.

"For the love of goodness, what's the matter, Stacy?  You nearly
frightened me to death."

"Look out!" The words, shouted at the top of the fat boy's voice, were
so thrilling that Tad leaped back instinctively.

"See here, don't make a fool of me, too.  What's the matter with you?
Come down out of that."

"I can't.  He'll get me."

"What will get you?  Nothing will get you, you ninny!"

"The lion will get me."

"Have you gone raving mad on the subject of lions?" jeered Butler.

"Look, if you don't believe me.  He's up here.  He's trying to get a
bite out of me.  Shoot him, as you love me, Tad; shoot and shoot
straight or I'm a dead one."

For the first time since his arrival on the scene Tad began to realize
that Stacy was not having fun with him.  Something really was up that
tree---something besides a Pony Rider boy.

"You don't mean to tell me there's a cat up there-----"

"Yes, yes!  He's over there on the other side.  Shoot, shoot!"

"I haven't my gun with me."

The fat boy groaned helplessly.

"I'm a dead one!  Nothing can save me.  Tell them I died like a man;
tell them I never uttered a squeal."

Tad had sprung around to the side of the pinyon tree indicated by Chunky.
Up there on a bushy limb, clear of the heavier foliage, lay a sleek,
but ugly looking cat, swishing its tail angrily.  First, its glances
would shoot over to Stacy Brown, then down to Tad Butler.  The lion,
as Tad decided on the spot, had gone into the tree to hide from the
dogs as had the one that had been shot on the canyon wall the previous
afternoon.  This time the proposition was a different one.  Both boys
were in dire peril, as Tad well knew.  At any second the cat might
spring, either at him or at Stacy.  And neither boy had a gun in
his hands.

Tad's mind worked with lightning-like rapidity.  It was a time for quick
thinking if one expected to save one's skin from being torn by those
needle-like claws.  Butler thought of a plan.  He did not know whether
there were one chance in a million of the plan working.  He wanted that
lion a great deal more than the lion wanted him.  He was going to take
a desperate chance.  An older and more experienced man might not have
cared to try what Tad Butler was about to attempt.

The Pony Rider boy's hand slipped down to the lasso hanging from his
belt.  He was thankful that he had that.  The lasso was always there
except when he was in the saddle, when it was usually looped over the
pommel.

"Chunky, yell!  Make all the noise you can."

"I am.  Wow-ow-wow.  Y-e-o-w wow!"

"That's right, keep it up.  Don't stop.  Make faces at him, make believe
you're going to jump at-----"

"Say, anybody would think this were a game of croquet and that I was
trying to make the other fellow miss the wicket.  Don't you think-----"

"I'm trying to get you to attract his attention-----"

"I don't want to attract his attention.  I want the beast to look the
other way," wailed the fat boy.  "I want to get out of here."

"Well, why haven't you?"

"I dassent."

While carrying on this conversation with his chum, Tad was watching the
cat narrowly.  The animal was showing signs of greater excitement now.
The boy decided that the beast was preparing to jump one way or
another---which way was a matter of some concern to both boys at that
particular instant.

The cat took two long paces in Stacy's direction.  Stacy emitted the
most blood-curdling yell Tad had ever heard.  It served Butler's very
purpose.  The beast halted with one hind foot poised in the air, glaring
at Stacy, who was howling more lustily than ever.

Swish!

Tad's lariat shot through the air.  His aim was true, his hand steady
and cool.



CHAPTER XVII

THE WHIRLWIND BALL OF YELLOW


When the startled cat felt the touch of the raw-hide rope against its
leg it made a tremendous leap straight ahead.

"Too late!" clicked Tad.  "That loop is taut on you now!"

"M-m-murder! Look out!" bellowed Stacy.

For the cat's leap had carried it straight at the fat boy.  In fact one
sharp set of claws raked the lad from shoulder to waist, though without
more than breaking the skin.

That blow settled Stacy.

"I'm dead---ripped to pieces!" he yelled.

Without waiting to jump from the tree, Stacy simply fell.  Over and
over on the ground he rolled until he was a dozen yards away from the
tree.

"If you're dead," Tad grinned, "get up and come over here, and tell me
about it."

Stacy slowly rose to his feet.  He was badly shaken, covered with dirt
and with some blood showing through the rents in his clothes.

"Nothing but my presence of mind and my speed saved me, anyway,"
Chunky grumbled ruefully.

All in a twinkling that whirling yellow ball shot out of the tree,
striking the ground before Tad Butler could draw the rope taut.
However, the rope still hung over a limb.  How the dirt flew!  Tad
realized that swift action must come ere the beast should make a leap
at them.

Stacy started away, but Butler's sharp tone halted him.

"Chunky!" Tad panted.

"What?"

"Get hold of this rope with me.  Shake yourself.  What ails you?  Have
you got a streak of yellow in you?"

"I can thrash the fellow who says I have?" roared the fat boy, springing
to his feet.

"That's the way to talk.  Come, hurry---get hold here!  He's too much
for me and he's going to get away from me if you don't lend a hand."

"Wh-what do you want me to do?"

"Grab hold of this rope, I tell you."

Chunky did so, but keeping a wary eye on the rolling, tumbling, spitting
yellow ball, which was a full grown mountain lion, and an ugly brute.
The king of the canyons, however, was in a most humiliating position
for a king of any sort.  He had been roped by his left hind foot, the
other end of the rope being in the hands of the intrepid Pony Rider boy,
Thaddeus Butler.  Tad knew well that he had a good thing and he proposed
to hang on as long as there was an ounce of strength left in his body.
By this time Stacy had gotten a grip on the rope.

"Now pull steadily until I tell you to stop."

Slowly, digging his claws into the dirt, biting at the rope that held
him fast, the cat was drawn toward the pinyon tree despite all his
struggles.  Tad's object was to pull the beast off its feet, in which
position it would be unable to do very much damage.

Perhaps the cat realized something of this, for all of a sudden it
sprang to the base of the tree and with a roar landed up among the
lower limbs.

Ere the beast even felt the touch of the tree limb under its feet, the
brave Chunky was several rods away peering from behind a rock, howling
like a Comanche Indian.

Tad, too, had made some lively moves.  The instant he saw that the cat
was going to jump he took a quick twist about the tree, shortening the
rope until it was taut.  He made a quick knot, then leaped back out of
the way.  But none too soon.  The cat pounced on the spot where he had
been standing, narrowly missing the boy.  But the rope was free of the
limb of the tree over which it had been first drawn.  The beast was
free to gambol about as far as the rope would permit.

The boy's mind was still working rapidly.

"Run to the guns, Chunky.  Shoot and keep shooting until you attract
the attention of the rest of the party.  We've got to have help.  We
never shall be able to handle him ourselves, and I want to save him."

Stacy hesitated.

"Run, I tell you!" shouted Butler.  "Don't stand there like a statue.
Go!"

Chunky jumped as if he had been hit, and ran limping toward the place
where they had left their weapons and their mustangs.  He found both,
though Chunky was too excited to notice the ponies at all.  Already
they were restless, having scented the mountain lion.

Snatching up his own rifle, Stacy fired six shots in rapid succession.
Then grabbing the other gun, he let six more go, but continued snapping
the firing pin on the empty chamber after all the cartridges had been
exploded, before he realized that he was not shooting at all.  Stacy
in trying to reload fumbled and made a mess of it, spilling a lot of
shells on the ground, most of which he was unable to find again.

"We got him!  We got him!" the fat boy kept chuckling to himself.  "We
certainly have done it this time."

Finally he got one gun loaded, and had fired it off six times when he
heard Tad Butler's "Whoo-e-e-e-e."

Chunky hurried back to his companion.

"They've answered," called Tad.

In the meantime the latter had been having a lively time.  He knew that
were he to give the least possible chance the beast would bite the
rope off and escape even if he did no worse.  It was to prevent this
that the boy exerted all his ingenuity and effort.  This consisted of
whoops and howls, throwing rocks at the animal, dodging in now and then
to whack the lion with a piece from a limb that had been broken down
by the cat in its thrashing above.

The dust was flying.  At times it seemed as if the lion must have gotten
the hardy Pony Rider boy.  At such times the lithe, active form of Tad
Butler could be seen leaping from the cloud of dust while the beast
followed with savage lunges to the end of its rope.  It seemed
impossible to tire out either boy or cat.

It was this condition of affairs that Stacy Brown came upon on his
return.  He stood gazing at the scene, fascinated.

"Look out, Tad!  He'll get you!" shouted the boy.

"Get in here and give him a poke in the ribs," cried Butler.

"Not for a million dollars, badly as I need money," returned the fat
boy.  "What do you take me for, an animal trainer?"

"Then I'll have to keep on doing it till Mr. Nance gets here to help
me.  This is the greatest thing we've ever done, old boy!"

"Yes, it'll be a great thing when the brute hands you one from those
garden rakes of his.  Get away and I'll shoot him," directed Stacy,
swinging his rifle into position.

"Put that gun down!" thundered Tad.  "You'll be winging me next thing
you do.  Put it down, I say!"

Stacy grumblingly obeyed.  Meanwhile the gymnastic exercise continued
with unabated vigor.  There was not an instant's pause.  The mountain
lion was busier perhaps than it ever had been in its life.  It was
battling for its life, too, and it knew it.

Once Tad was raked from head to foot by a vicious claw, but the Pony
Rider boy merely laughed.  His endurance, too, was most remark able.
Stacy would hardly get within gun-shot of the beast, always standing
near a tree convenient for climbing.  Tad was not saying much now.  He
was rather too busy for conversation.  At last the report of a rifle
was heard not far away.

"Answer them.  It's the gang," called Tad.  Chunky fired a shot into
the air, following it with four others.  It was only a short time
before Jim Nance with Professor Zepplin and the two other boys came
dashing up, shouting to know where Tad and Chunky were.  They saw
Chunky first, on guard with his rifle as if holding off an enemy.

"What's the trouble?" cried Nance.

"We've got him!  We've got him!" yelled Stacy.

About that time Nance discovered the swirling cloud of dust, from which
at intervals emerged a yellow ball.  The guide caught the significance
of the scene at a single glance.

"It's a cat," howled Ned.  "Let me shoot him."

"Put away your guns.  I guess we know how to catch lions in a scientific
manner," declared Stacy.

"They've roped the cat," snapped the guide.  "Beats anything I ever
heard of."  He was off his mustang instantly and running toward Tad.
"Keep him busy, keep him busy, boy.  I'll fix him for you in a minute."

"I don't want you to kill him."

"I'm not going to.  We've got to stretch him."

Tad did not know what stretching meant in this particular instance, but
he was soon to learn.  Nance got off to one side of the busy scene, then
directed Tad to ease up a bit.  The boy did so.  He saw that Dad, too,
was planning to use his lariat, though the boy had no idea in what way.
The cat instantly sat down and began tearing at its bonds.  All at once
Nance's rope shot through the air.  It caught the lion fairly around
the neck.

For a few moments the air was full of streaks of yellow.  The cat was
now fast at both ends.  The neck hold was the worse of the two, for it
choked the beast and soon tired him out.

"Now stretch him," directed the guide.

"How do you mean?"

"Take a single hitch about the tree with your rope, so that we can
straighten him out."

This Tad did, while Nance performed a similar service on his own line,
being careful not to choke the lion to death.  During this latter part
of the proceeding the party that had up to that time held off, now
approached.

"Will he bite?" asked Walter.

"Stick your finger in his mouth and see?" jeered Chunky.  "He can
scratch, too.  But we got him, didn't we?  We're the original lion
tamers from the wild and woolly West."

"Come, who is going to tie those claws together, Stacy?" demanded the
guide.

"Do what?"

"Tie the cat's feet together."

"Let the Professor do it.  He hasn't done anything yet on this trip.
Besides, I've got to stand here ready to shoot if the lion gets away.
If it weren't for that I'd tie his feet."

"Here, you tie his feet, then.  I'll handle the gun," volunteered Ned,
stepping forward.

Chunky drew back.

"If some one will hold my end of the line I'll attend to that little
matter," said Tad.

"I guess it's time I did something around here," interjected Ned.
"What do you want me to do, Mr. Nance?"

"Take your rope, watch your opportunity and rope the forward legs.
After that is done have somebody hold the rope while you tie the feet
securely together."

Ned roped the feet without further question, then handing the line to
Walter Perkins, he calmly tied together the feet of the snarling,
spitting beast.  The same was done with the hind feet, though the
latter proved to be much more dangerous than the forward feet.  But
the mouth of the animal was still free.  He could bite and he did make
desperate efforts to get at his captors.  They took good care that
he did not reach them.  Chunky suggested that they pull the cat's
teeth, so he couldn't bite.  Tad wanted to know if they couldn't
put a muzzle on.

"The question is what are you going to do with him, now that you have
him?" demanded the Professor.

"That's the first sane word that's been spoken since we arrived here,"
grinned Nance.

"We are going to take him back to camp, of course," declared Tad.

"Of course we are.  Don't you understand, we're going to take him back
to camp," affirmed Stacy.

"What's your plan, Butler?" asked Nance.

"If you leave it to me, I'll show you."

"Go ahead."

Tad cut a long, tough sapling.  This, after some effort, he managed to
pass through the loop made by the bound legs of the lion.  This strung
the beast on the pole.

"Now, we'll fasten the two ends to two ponies," decided the lad.

Silver Face and Walter's pony having been broken in on the previous
day, these two were chosen to carry the prize.  They did not object,
and in a short time the procession started off for camp, with the lion,
back down, strung on the pole between two ponies, snarling, spitting,
roaring out his resentment, while Chunky, leading the way, was
singing at the top of his voice:

_"Tad Butler is the man; he goes to all the shows, he sticks his
head in the lion's mouth and tells you all he knows. Who-o-o-pe-e-e!"_



CHAPTER XVIII

THE UNWILLING GUEST DEPARTS


Jim Nance didn't say much, but from the way he looked at Tad Butler,
a quizzical smile playing about the corners of his mouth, it was plain
that he was filled with admiration for the young Pony Rider who could
take a lion practically single-handed.

As yet the story of the capture had not been told.  Their prize must
first be taken care of.  This part of the affair Nance looked after
personally.  He found a few strands of wire in his kit and with these
he made a collar and a wire leader that led out to where the tough
lariat began.  To this the lion was fastened, his forefeet left bound,
the hind feet being liberated In this condition he was tied to a tree
in the camp in Bright Angel Gulch.

Chunky was not sure that he liked the arrangement.  He was wondering
whether lions were gifted with the proverbial memory of elephants.
If so, and if the big cat should get loose in the night, Chunky knew
what would happen to himself.  The boy determined to sleep with one
eye open, his rifle beside his bed.  He would die fighting bravely for
his life.  He was determined upon that.

Around the camp fire a jolly party of boys gathered that night after
supper, their merry conversation interrupted occasionally by a snarling
and growling from the captive.

"Now, young gentlemen, we are anxious to hear the story of the capture,"
said the Professor.

"Oh, it was nothing," answered Stacy airily.  "It was nothing for us.
Shooting cats is too tame for such hunters as Tad and me.  We just saw
him up a tree---that is, I saw him, and-----"

"Where were you?" interrupted Nance.

"I was up the same tree," answered Stacy.

"I'll bet the cat treed him," shouted Ned Rector.  "How about it, Tad?"

"Chunky's telling the story.  Let him tell it in his own way."

"I'll tell you about it, fellows.  I was up a tree looking for lions.
I found one.  He was sitting in the same tree with me.  He was licking
his chops.  You see, he wanted a slice of me, I'm so tender and so
delicious-----"

"So is a rhinoceros," interjected Ned.

"If the gentleman will wait until I have finished he may have the floor
to himself.  Well, that's about all.  I yelled for Tad.  He came
running, and he roped the cat."

"Then what did you do?" questioned Walter.

"Oh, I fell out of the tree.  Look at this!" shouted Stacy as soon as
he was able to make himself heard above the laughter, pointing to his
ripped clothes.  "That's where the beast made a pass at me.  I'm wounded,
I am; wounded in a hand-to-hand conflict with the king of the canyon.
How would that read in the Chillicothe 'Gazette' I'm going to dash off
something after this fashion to send them: 'Stacy Brown, our
distinguished fellow citizen, globe-trotter, hunter of big game and
nature lover, was seriously wounded last week in the Grand Canyon of
Arizona-----'"

"In what part of your anatomy is the Grand Canyon located?" questioned
Ned Rector.  "I rise for information."

"The Grand Canyon is where the Pony Rider Boys store their food,"
returned Stacy quickly.  "Where did I leave off?"

"You were lost in the Canyon," reminded Walter.

"Oh, yes.  'Was seriously wounded in the Grand Canyon in a desperate
battle with the largest lion ever caught in the mountains.  Assisted
by Thaddeus Butler, also of Chillicothe, Mr. Brown succeeded in
capturing the lion alive, after his bloodstained garments had been
nearly stripped from his person.'"

"The lion's bloodstained garments?" inquired Walter mildly.

"No, mine, of course.  'Mr.  Brown, it is said, will recover from his
wounds, though he will bear the scars of the conflict the rest of his
life.' Ahem!  I guess that will hold the boys on our block for a
time," finished Chunky, swelling out his chest.  "Yes, that'll make
them prisoners for life," agreed Ned Rector.

"I think I shall have to edit that account before it goes to the paper,"
declared Professor Zepplin.

"How can you edit it when you didn't see the affair?" demanded Chunky.

"Editors are not supposed to see beyond the point of the pencil they
are using," answered Ned.  "But they know the failings of the fellows
who do the writing."

"What do you know about it?  You never were an editor," scoffed Stacy.

"No, but I'd like to be for about an hour after your article reached
the 'Gazette' office."

"How about giving that cat something to eat, Mr. Nance?" asked Tad, thus
changing the subject.

The guide shook his head.

"He wouldn't eat; at least not for a while."

"What do lions eat?" asked Walter.

"That one tried to eat me," replied Stacy.  "I don't like the look in
his eye at all.  It says, just as plain as if it were printed, 'I'd like
to have you served up _a-la-mode_.'"

At this juncture, Jim Nance walked over; with a burning brand in hand,
to look at the cat's fastenings.  The lion jumped at him.  Jim poked
the firebrand into the animal's face, which sent the cat back the
full length of his tether.  After examining the fastenings carefully,
Nance pronounced them so secure that the beast would not get away.

The ponies had been tethered some distance from where the prize was
tied, the dogs being placed with the ponies so that they might not be
disturbed by the captive during the night and thus keep the camp awake
with their barks and growls.

After a time all hands went to bed, crawling into their blankets,
where they were soon fast asleep.  Late in the night Nance sat up.
He thought he had heard the lion growl.  Stepping to the door of the
tent he listened.  Not a sound could be heard save the mysterious
whisperings of the Canyon.  Jim went back to bed, not to awaken until
the sun was up on the following morning.

Tad Butler, hearing the guide rise after daylight, turned out at the
same time.  Tad stepped outside, his first thought being for the
captive.  The Pony Rider boy's eyes grew large as he gazed at the tree
where the cat had been left the evening before.  There was no lion there.

"Hey, Mr. Nance, did you move the cat?"

"No.  Why?"

"He isn't where we left him last night."

"What?" Nance was out on the jump.  "Sure as you're alive he's gone.
Now doesn't that beat all?"

Tad had hurried over to the place where he stood gloomily surveying
the scene.

"I wonder where the rope and wire are?"

"That's so.  He must have carried the whole business with him."

"How could he?  How could he have untied the wire from the tree?  There
is something peculiar about this affair, Dad."

Whatever Dad's opinion might have been, he did not express it at the
moment.  Instead he got down on all fours, examining the ground
carefully, going over every inch of it for several rods about the scene.

"Well this does git me," he declared, standing up, scratching his head
reflectively.

By that time the rest of the party had come out.

"The lion's gone," shouted Tad.

"What, my lion got away?" wailed Chunky.  "And he didn't take a chunk
out of me to carry away with him?"

"I had no idea we could hold him.  Of course he gnawed the rope in
two," nodded the Professor.

"He didn't get loose of his own accord, sir," replied the guide.

"Then you don't mean to tell me that some person or persons liberated
him?"

"I don't mean to tell you anything, because I don't know anything about
it.  I never was so befuddled in my life.  I'm dead-beat, Professor."

Tad was gloomy.  He had hoped to take the lion home with them, having
already planned where he would keep the beast until the town, which he
thought of presenting it to, had prepared a place for the gift.  Now his
hopes had been dashed.  He had no idea that they would be able to get
another lion.  It was not so easy as all that.  But how had the beast
gotten away?  There was a mystery about it fully as perplexing as had
been the loss of Stacy's rifle.  Tad was beginning to think, with Dad,
that mysterious forces were, indeed, at work in the Grand Canyon.

While he was brooding over the problem, Chunky, emulating the movements
of the guide, was down on hands and knees, examining the ground.

"Find any footprints?" called Ned in a jeering voice.

Stacy did not reply.  His brow was wrinkled; his face wore a wise
expression.

"Look out that you don't get bitten," warned Walter mischievously.

"By what?" demanded Stacy, glancing up.

"Footprints," answered Ned.

"Could any person have gotten in here and let the cat go without our
having heard him, Mr. Nance?" asked Tad Butler.

"I reckon he couldn't."

"Did you hear anything in the night, Nance?" questioned the Professor.

"Come to think of it, I did get up once.  I heard the cat growling, or
thought I did, but after I had looked out and seen nothing, nor heard
anything, I went back to bed again and didn't know anything more till
sun-up.  I guess I'm pretty slow.  I'm getting old for a certainty."

"No; there is something peculiar, something very strange about this
affair, Professor," spoke up Tad.

"Due wholly to natural causes," declared the Professor.

"No, I reckon you're wrong there, Professor," said Nance.  "I'd have
understood natural causes.  It's the unnatural causes that gets a
fellow."

"I've spotted it, I've spotted it!  I know who freed the lion!"
howled Stacy.

All hands rushed to him.

"Who, what, how, where, when?" demanded five voices at once.

"Yes, sir, I've found it.  That lion-----"

"Don't joke," rebuked the Professor.

"I'm not joking.  I know what I'm talking about.  That cat was let go
by a one-legged Indian.  Now maybe you won't say I'm not a natural born
sleuth," exclaimed the fat boy proudly.



CHAPTER XIX

THE FAT BOY DOES A GHOST DANCE


"A one-legged Indian?" chorused the lads.

"He's crazy," grumbled Dad.  "He has cat on the brain."

"That's better than having nothing but hair on the brain," retorted
Stacy witheringly.

"How do you know a one-legged Indian has been here?" questioned Tad,
seeing that Chunky was in earnest.

"Look here," said the boy, pointing to a moccasin print in the soft
turf at that point.  "There's the right foot.  Where's the left?  Why
there wasn't any left, of course.  He had only one foot."

"Then he must have carried a crutch," laughed Ned.  "Look for the crutch
mark and then you'll have the mystery solved."

Jim Nance chuckled.  Stacy regarded the guide with disapproving eyes.

"Tell me so I can laugh too," begged Chunky soberly.

"Why, you poor little tenderfoot, don't you know how that one track got
there?"

Chunky shook his head.

"Well, that cowardly half breed that you call Chow was crossing the
rocks here when the cat made a pass at him.  Chow made a long leap.
One foot struck there, the other about ten feet the other side.  He
hadn't time to put the second foot down else the cat would have got
him.  A one-legged Indian!  Oh, help!"

"Haw-haw-haw!" mocked Stacy, striding away disgustedly while the shouts
of his companions were ringing in his burning ears.

But the mystery was unsolved.  Tad did not believe it ever would be,
though he never ceased puzzling over it for a moment.  That day no one
got a lion, though on the second day following Ned Rector shot a small
cat.  Tad did not try to shoot.  He wandered with Chunky all over the
peaks and through the Canyon in that vicinity trying to rope more lions.

"You let that job out," ordered the guide finally.  "Don't you know
you're monkeying with fire?  First thing you know you won't know
anything.  One of these times a cat'll put you to sleep for a year of
Sundays."

"I guess you are right.  Not that I am afraid, but there is no sense
in taking such long chances.  I'll drop it.  I ought to be pretty well
satisfied with what I have done."

Tad kept his word.  He made no further attempts to rope mountain lions.
In the succeeding few days three more cats were shot.  It was on the
night of the fourth day after the escape of the captive that at
something very exciting occurred in Camp Butler.

The camp was silent, all its occupants sound asleep, when suddenly they
were brought bounding from their cots by frightful howls and yells of
fear.  The howls came from the tent of Stacy Brown.  Stacy himself
followed, leaping out into what they called the company street, dancing
up and down, still howling at the top of his voice.  Clad in pajamas,
the fat boy was unconsciously giving a clever imitation of an Indian
ghost dance.

Professor Zepplin was the first to reach the fat boy.  He gave Chunky
a violent shaking, while Nance was darting about the camp to see that
all was right.  He saw nothing unusual.

"What is the meaning of this, young man?" demanded the Professor.

"I seen it, I seen it," howled Stacy.

"What did you see?"

"A ghost!  I seen a ghost!"

"You mean you 'saw' a ghost, not you 'seen'," corrected the Professor.

"I tell you I _seen_ a ghost.  I guess if you'd seen a ghost you
wouldn't stop to choose words.  You'd just howl like a lunatic in your
own natural language-----"

Dad hastily threw more wood on the dying camp fire.

"I guess you had a nightmare," suggested Tad.

"It wasn't a mare, it was a man," persisted Stacy.

"He's crazy.  Pity he doesn't catch sleeping sickness," scoffed Ned.

"Tell us what you did see," urged the Professor in a milder tone.

"I---I was sleeping in---in there when all at once I woke up-----"

"You thought you did, perhaps," nodded Walter.

"I didn't think anything of the sort.  I know I did.  Maybe I'd heard
something.  Well, I woke up and there---and there-----" Chunky's eyes
grew big, he stared wildly across the camp fire as if the terrifying
scene were once more before him.  "I woke up."

"You have told us that before," reminded Dad, who had joined the group.

"I woke up-----"

"That makes four times you woke up," laughed Ned.  "You must, indeed,
have had a restless night."

"I woke up-----"

"What again?"

"You wouldn't laugh if you'd seen what I saw" retorted the fat boy, with
serious face.  "There, right at the entrance of the tent, was a ghost!"

"What kind of a ghost?" asked Dad.

"Just a ghost-ghost.  It was all white and shiny and---br-r-r-r!"
shivered the boy.  "It grinning.  I could see right through it!"

"You must be an X-ray machine," declared Tad, chuckling.

"It didn't need anything of that sort.  He was so shimmery that you
could see right through him."

"What became of the spook?  Did he fly up?" asked the guide.

"No, the spook just spooked," replied Stacy.

"How do you mean?" questioned Professor Zepplin.

"He thawed out like a snowball, just melted away when I yelled."

"Very thrilling, very thrilling.  Most remarkable.  A matter for
scientific investigation," muttered the Professor, but whether he
were in earnest or not the boys could not gather from his expressionless
countenance.

"What did Chunky have for supper?" asked Walter.

"What didn't he have?" scoffed the guide.  "We have to eat fast or we
wouldn't get enough to keep up our strength."

"I guess I don't get any more than my share," retorted Stacy.  "I have
to work for that, too."

"Well, I'm going to bed," announced Ned Rector.  "You fellows may sit
up here and tell ghost stories all the rest of the night if you want
to.  It's me for the feathers."

"You're right, Ned," agreed Tad.  "We are a lot of silly boys to be
so upset over a fellow who has had a crazy nightmare.  Professor, don't
you think you ought to give Stacy some medicine?"

"Yes, give him something to make him sleep," chuckled Walter.

The boy was interrupted by a roar from Ned Rector's tent.  Ned was
shouting angrily.  He burst out into the circle of light shed by
the camp fire, waving his hands above his head.

"They've got mine, they've got mine!" he yelled, dancing about with
a very good imitation of the ghost dance so recently executed by the
fat boy.

"Got what?" demanded Dad sternly, striding forward.

"Somebody's stolen my rifle.  The spook's robbed me.  It's gone and
all my cartridges and my revolver and-----"

The camp was in an uproar instantly.  Chunky was nodding with
satisfaction.

"It wasn't stolen.  The spook just spooked it, that's all," he
declared convincingly.

"But you must be in error, Ned," cried the Professor.

"I'm not.  It's gone.  I left it beside my bed.  It isn't there now.
I tell you somebody's been in this camp and robbed me!"

A sudden silence settled over the camp.  The boys looked into each
other's faces questioningly.  Was this another mystery of the Bright
Angel Gulch?  They could not understand.

"Mebby the kid did see a ghost after all," muttered the guide.

"The kid did.  And I guess the kid ought to know," returned Stacy
pompously.



CHAPTER XX

IN THE HOME OF THE HAVASUPAIS


An investigation showed that Ned Rector was right in his assertion.
His rifle had been taken, likewise his revolver and his cartridges.
It lent color to Stacy's statement that he had seen something, but no
one believed that that something had been a ghost, unless perhaps the
guide believed it, for having lived close to Nature so long, he might
be a superstitious person.

There was little sleep in the camp of the Pony Rider Boys for the rest
of the night.  They were too fully absorbed in discussing the events
of the evening and the mysteries that seemed to surround them.  First,
Stacy had lost his rifle, the captive lion had mysteriously disappeared,
and now another member of their party had lost his rifle and revolver.
Dad directed the boys not to move about at all.  He hoped to find a
trail in the morning, a trail that would give him a clue in case
prowlers had been in the camp.

A search in the morning failed to develop anything of the sort.  Not
the slightest trace of a stranger having visited the camp was discovered.
They gave up---the mystery was too much for them.

That day Nance decided to move on.  Their camp was to remain at the same
place, but the half breed was directed to sleep by day and to stay on
guard during the night.  Jim proposed to take his charges into the
wonderful Cataract Canyon, where they would pay a visit to the village
of the Havasupai Indians.

This appealed to the Pony Riders.  They had seen no Indians since
coming to the Grand Canyon.  They did not know that there were Indians
ranging through that rugged territory, red men who were as familiar
with the movements of the Pony Rider Boys as were the boys themselves.

They arrived at the Cataract Canyon on the morning of the second day,
having visited another part of Bright Angel Gulch for a day en route.

At the entrance to the beautiful canyon the guide paused to tell them
something about it.

"I will tell you," he said, "how the Havasupais came to select this
canyon for their home.  When the several bands of red men, who
afterwards became the great tribes of the south-west, left their
sacred Canyon---mat-aw-we'-dit-ta---by direction of their
Moses---Ka-that-ka-na'-ve---to find new homes, the Havasupai family
journeyed eastward on the trail taken by the Navajos and the Hopi.
One night they camped in this canyon.  Early the next day they took
up their burdens to continue on their journey.  But as they were
starting a little papoose began to cry.  The Kohot of the family,
believing this to be a warning from the Great Spirit, decided to
remain in the canyon.

"They found this fertile valley, containing about five hundred acres of
level land.  They called the place Ha-va-sua, meaning 'Blue Water,' and
after a time they themselves were known, as Havasupai---'Dwellers By the
Blue water'.  They have been here ever since."

"Most interesting, most interesting," breathed the Professor.  "But how
comes it that this level stretch of fertile land is found in this rugged,
rocky canyon, Nance?"

"That's easily answered.  During hundreds of years the river has
deposited vast quantities of marl at the upper ends of this valley.  Thus
four great dams have been built up forming barriers across the canyon.
These dams have quite largely filled up, leaving level stretches of land
of great richness."

"Do they work the land?" asked Tad.

"In a primitive way, they do, probably following the methods they
learned from the cliff dwellers, who occupied the crude dwellings you
have seen all along these walls in the canyons here."

The Cataract Canyon proved to be the most interesting of all that the
boys had seen for variety and beauty.  The Havasu River, foaming in
torrents over Supai and Navajos Falls, fifty and seventy-five feet high,
respectively, they found gliding through a narrow canyon for half a
mile, in a valley matted with masses of trees, vines and ferns, the
delicate green of whose foliage contrasted wonderfully with the dead
gray walls of the deep, dark canyon at that point.

For some three miles below this the Pony Riders followed the
smoothly-gliding stream through a canyon whose straight up and down
walls of gray limestone seemed to meet overhead in the blue of the sky.
Below they seemed to be in the tropics.  During that first day in the
Cataract they saw another wonder, that of the filmy clouds settling down
and forming a roof over the Canyon.  It was a marvelous sight before
which the Pony Rider Boys were lost in wonder.

The Bridal Veil Falls they thought the most beautiful wonder of its
kind they had ever seen.  Here they saw the crystal waters dashing in
clouds of spray through masses of ferns, moss and trees, one hundred
and seventy-five feet perpendicularly into a seething pool below.

Their delight was in the innumerable caves found along the Canyon.  In
these were to be seen flowers fashioned out of the limestone,
possessing wonderful colors, scintillating in the light of the torches,
reds that glowed like points of fire, stalactites that glistened like
the long, pointed icicles they had seen hanging from the eaves of
their homes in Chillicothe.  They discovered lace-work in most delicate
tints, masses and masses of coral and festoons of stone sponges in all
the caves they visited.  There were little caves leading from larger
caves, caves within caves, caves below caves, a perfect riot of caves
and labyrinths all filled with these marvelous specimens of limestone.

"I think I would be content to live here always," breathed Tad after
they had finished their explorations of the caves and passed on into a
perfect jungle of tropical growth on their way to Ko-ho-ni-no, the
canyon home of the Havasupais.

"You'd never be lonesome here," smiled Nance.

"Why don't you live down here, then?" asked Ned.

"Perhaps I don't live so far from here, after all," rejoined the guide.

"Do they have ghosts in this canyon?" asked Chunky apprehensively.

"Full of them!"

"Br-r-r!" shivered the fat boy.

"A wonderful place for scientific research," mused the Professor.

"Why don't you stay in Bright Angel for a while and study ghosts?"
suggested Stacy.

"I decline to be drawn into so trivial a discussion," answered Professor
Zepplin severely.

"You wouldn't think it was trivial were you to see one of those things."

"Perhaps the Professor, too, has overloaded his stomach some time before
going to bed," spoke up Tad Butler.

"You are mistaken, young man.  I never make a glutton of myself," was
the grim retort.

"Now will you be good, Tad Butler?" chuckled Walter Perkins.

"Yes, I have nothing more to say," answered Tad, with a hearty laugh.

"We are getting down on the level now," the guide informed them.

Halting suddenly, Nance pointed to an overhanging ledge about half a
mile down the valley.  The boys gazed, shading their eyes, wondering
what Nance saw.

"I see," said Tad.

"Then you see more than do the rest of us," answered Ned.  "What is it?"

"It looks to me like a man."

"You have good eyes," nodded Nance.

"Is it a---a man?" questioned Chunky.

"Yes, it is an Indian lookout.  He sees us and is trying to decide
whether or not our mission is a friendly one."

"Indians! Wow!" howled Chunky.

"We are in their home now, so behave yourself," warned Nance.

The Havasu River, which the riders followed, extended right on through
the village, below which were many scattering homes of the red men, but
the majority of them lived in the village itself.  Almost the entire
length of the creek, both in the village and below, the river is
bordered with cottonwood, mesquite and other green trees, that furnish
shade for the quaint village nestling in the heart of the great
Canyon.

The boys followed the water course until finally they were approached
by half a dozen men---indians---who had come out to meet them.

Nance made a sign.  The Indians halted, gazed, then started forward.
In the advance was the Kohot or native chief.

"Hello, Tom," greeted the guide.

"How!" said the chief.

"Tom is a funny name for an Indian," observed Chunky.

"His name is Chick-a-pan-a-gi, meaning 'the bat'," answered Jim
smilingly.

"He looks the part," muttered the fat boy.

"Tom, I've brought some friends of mine down to see you and your folks.
Have you anything to eat?"

"Plenty eat."

"Good."

"Plenty meala, meula.  Kuku.  No ski," answered the chief, meaning that
they were stocked with flour, sugar, but no bacon.

"I know that language," confided Stacy to Tad.  "It's Hog Latin."

"Magi back-a-tai-a?" asked the chief.

"Higgety-piggety," muttered Chunky.

"He means, 'have we come from the place of the roaring sound?'"
translated Nance.

"You bet we have.  Several of them," spoke up Ned.

"Doesn't he speak English?" asked Walter.

"Yes, he will soon.  He likes a confidential chat with me in his own
language first.  By 'the place of the roaring sound' he means the big
Canyon.  How is Jennie, Tom?"

"Chi-i-wa him good."

"That's fine.  We'll be moving along now.  We are tired and want to
rest and make peace with Chick-a-pan-gi and his people," said Nance.

The Kohot bowed, waved a hand to his followers, who turned, marching
stolidly back toward the village, followed by the chief, then by
Nance and his party.

"This sounds to me as if it were going to be a chow-chow party,"
grinned Stacy.

"For goodness' sake, behave yourself.  Don't stir those Indians up.
They are friendly enough, but Indians are sensitive," advised Tad.

"So am I," replied Chunky.

"You may be sorry that you are if you are not careful.  I shall be
uneasy all the time for fear you'll put your foot in it," said Tad.

"Just keep your own house in order.  Mine will take care of itself.
There's the village."

"Surely enough," answered Tad, gazing inquiringly toward the scattered
shacks or ha-was, as the native houses were called.  These consisted
of posts set up with a slight slant toward the center, over which was
laid in several layers the long grass of the canyon.  Ordinarily a
bright, hued Indian blanket covered the opening.  A tall man could not
stand upright in a Havasupai ha-wa.  They were merely hovels, but they
were all sufficient for these people, who lived most of their lives out
in the open.

The street was full of gaunt, fierce-looking dogs that the boys first
mistook for coyotes.  The dogs, ill-fed, were surly, making friends
with no one, making threatening movements toward the newcomers in
several instances.  One of them seized the leg of Chunky's trousers.

"Call your dog off, Chief Chickadee!" yelled the fat boy.

The Indian merely grunted, whereupon the fat boy laid a hand on the
butt of his revolver.  A hand gripped his arm at the same time.  The
hand was Tad Butler's.

"You little idiot, take your hand away from there or I'll put a head
on you right here!  The dog won't hurt you." Tad was angry.

"No, you've scared him off, now.  Of course he won't bite me, but he
would have done so if he hadn't caught sight of you."

"I must be good dog medicine then," replied Tad grimly.  "But, never
mind," he added, with a smile, "just try to behave yourself for a
change."

About that time Chief Tom was leading out his squaw by an ear.

"White man see Chi-i-wa," grinned the chief.

Chi-i-wa gave them a toothless smile.  She was the most repulsive-looking
object the boys ever had looked upon.  Chi-i-wa's hair came down to the
neck, where it had been barbered off square all the way around.  This
was different from her august husband's.  His hair lay in straight
strands on his shoulders, while a band of gaudy red cloth, the badge of
his office, was twisted over The forehead, binding the straight, black
locks at the back of the head.

The squaw wore baggy trousers bound at the bottom with leggings, while
over her shoulder was draped a red and white Indian blanket that was
good to look upon.  The brilliant reds of the blankets all through the
village lent a touch of color that was very pleasing to the eye.

The chief's son was then brought out to shake hands with the white
men, while Chi-i-wa squatted down and appeared to lose all interest
in life.  Dogs and children were by this time gathered about in great
numbers regarding the new comers with no little curiosity.

The chief's son was introduced to the boys by Nance as "Afraid Of His
Face."

Stacy surveyed the straight-limbed but ugly faced young buck critically.

"I don't blame him," said the fat boy.

"Don't blame him for what?" snapped Nance.

"For being afraid of his face.  So am I."

The boys snickered, but their faces suddenly sobered at a sharp glance
from the piercing eyes of the Kohot.

"Mi-ki-u-la," said Afraid Of His Face, pointing to the much-soiled
trousers of Stacy Brown.

"He likes your trousers, he says," grinned the guide.

"Well, he can't have them, though he certainly does need trousers,"
decided Stacy reflectively, studying the muscular, half-naked limbs of
the young buck.  "He couldn't very well appear in polite society in
that rig, could he, Tad?"

"Not unless he were going in swimming," smiled Tad.

It was at this point that Tad Butler himself came near getting into
difficulties.  The chief's son, having been ordered in a series of
explosive guttural sounds to do something, had started away when a
yellow, wolfish looking cur got in way.  Afraid Of His Face gave the
dog a vicious kick, then as if acting upon second thought he grabbed
up the snarling dog, and twisting its front legs over on its back,
dropped the yelping animal, giving it another kick before it touched
the ground.

Tad's face went fiery red.  He could not stand idly and witness the
abuse of an animal.  The lad leaped forward and stood confronting the
young buck with flaming face.  Tad would have struck the Indian had
Nance not been on the spot.  With a powerful hand he thrust Tad behind
him, saying something in the Indian language to Afraid Of His Face,
which caused the buck to smile faintly and proceed on his mission.

"If you had struck him you never would have gotten out of here alive,"
whispered the guide.  Stacy had been a witness to the proceeding.  He
smiled sarcastically when Tad came back to where the fat boy was
standing.

"Folks who live in glass houses, should not shy rocks," observed the
fat boy wisely.

By that time the squaws were setting out corn cakes, dried peaches and
a heap of savory meat that was served on a bark platter.  The meal was
spread on a bright blanket regardless of the fact that grease from the
meat was dripping over the beautiful piece of weaving.  The boys thought
it a pity to see so wonderful a piece of work ruined so uselessly, but
they made no comment.  Then all sat down, the Indians squatting on
their haunches, while the white men seated themselves on the ground.
There were neither knives nor forks.  Fingers were good enough for the
noble red man.

First, before beginning the meal, the Kohot lighted a great pipe and
took a single puff.  Then he passed it to Professor Zepplin, who, with
a sheepish look at the Pony Rider Boys, also took a puff.

Stacy came next.  The chief handed the pipe to the fat boy in person.
Stacy's face flushed.

"Thank you, but I don't smoke," he said politely.  The lines of the
chief's face tightened.  It was an insult to refuse to smoke the pipe
of peace when offered by the Kohot.



CHAPTER XXI

CHUNKY GETS A TURKISH BATH


"Put it to your lips.  You don't have to smoke it," whispered Dad.  "It
won't do to refuse."

Stacy placed the stem to his lips, then, to the amazement of his
fellows, drew heavily twice, forcing the smoke right down into his
lungs.

Stacy's face grew fiery red, his cheeks puffed out.  Smoke seemed to
be coming out all over him.  Ned declared afterwards that Stacy must
be porous, for the smoke came out of his pockets.  Then all of a
sudden the fat boy coughed violently, and tumbled over backwards,
choking, strangling, howling, while the Professor hammered him between
the shoulders with the flat of his hand.

"You little idiot, why did you draw any of the stuff in?" whispered
Professor Zepplin.

"Da---Da---Dad to---to---told me to!  Ackerchew!  Oh, wow!"

More choking, more sneezing and more strangling.  The Professor laid
the boy on the grass a little distance from the table, where not a
smile had appeared on a single face.  The Indians were grave and
solemn, the Pony Rider Boys likewise, although almost at the
explosive point.  The others had merely passed the Pipe of peace
across their lips and handed it on to the next.  In this manner it had
gone around the circle.

Then all hands began dipping into the meat with their fingers.  This
was too much for the red-faced boy lying on the grass.  He sat up,
uttered a volley of sneezes then unsteadily made his way back to the
blanket table and sat down in his place.  The Indians paid no
attention to him, though sly glances were cast in his direction by
his companions.  For once, Ned Rector was discreet enough not to make
any remarks.  He knew that any such would call forth unpleasant words
from Stacy.

The fat boy helped himself liberally to the meat.  He tasted of it
gingerly at first, then went at it greedily.

"That is the finest beef I ever ate," he said enthusiastically.

"You shouldn't make remarks about the food," whispered Tad.  "They may
not like it."

"I hope they don't like it.  There'll be all the more left for me."

"I don't mean the food, I mean your remarks about it."

"Oh!"

"How many persons are there in your tribe, chief?" asked the Professor
politely.

The chief looked at Dad.

"Two hundred and fifty, Professor," the guide made answer for their host.
"They are a fine lot of Indians, too."

"Including the squaws, two hundred and fifty?"

"Yes."

"Do they not sit down with us?" asked Professor Zepplin, glancing up
at Chi-i-wa and some of her sisters, who were standing muffled in their
blankets, despite the heat of the day, gazing listlessly at the diners.

"Certainly not in the presence of the white man or heads of other
tribes," answered Jim.

"Say, what is this meat?" whispered Chunky again, helping himself to
another slice.

"Don't you know what that is?" answered Ned Rector.

"No.  If I did, I shouldn't have asked."

"Why, that's lion meat."

"Li---li---lion meat?" gasped the boy.

"Sure thing."

Stacy appeared to suffer a sudden loss of appetite.  He grew pale about
the lips, his head whirled dizzily.  Whether it were from the pipe of
peace or the meat, he never knew.  He did know that he was a sick boy
almost on the instant.  With a moan he toppled over on his back.

"I'm going to die," moaned the fat boy.  "Carry me off somewhere.  I
don't want to die here," he begged weakly.

They placed him under the shade of a tree but instead of getting better
the boy got worse: The Professor was disturbed.

"Put pale-face boy in to-hol-woh," grunted the chief.  "To-hol-woh!"
he exclaimed sharply.

Three squaws ran to a low structure of branches that were stuck into
the ground, bent in and secured at the middle until it resembled an
Esquimo hut in shape.  The frame made by the branches was uncovered,
but the women quickly threw some brightly colored blankets over the
frame, the boys watching the proceeding with keen interest.  They
then hauled some hot rocks from a fire near by, thrusting these under
the blankets into the enclosure, after which a pail of water also was
put inside.

"Put fat boy in," commanded the Kohot.  "Take um clothes off."

Chunky demurred feebly at this.  The Professor glanced at Dad inquiringly.
Dad nodded, grinning from ear to ear.

"It's a sort of Russo-Turkish bath.  It'll do him good.  Wouldn't mind
one myself right now," said Nance.

"All right, boys, fix him up and get him in."

"Dress him down, you mean," chuckled Ned.

At a word from the chief the squaws stumped listlessly to their ha-was
and were seen no more for some time.  About this time the Medicine man,
a tall, angular, eagle-eyed Havasu, appeared on the scene, examining
the to-hol-woh critically.

"What shall we do with him now?" called Tad, after they had stripped
off all of Chunky's clothes except his underwear.

"Chuck him in," ordered the guide.

The Pony Rider Boys were filled with unholy glee at the prospect.  They
picked up the limp form of their companion, Stacy being too sick to
offer more than faint, feeble protests.  They tumbled him into what
Ned called "The Hole In The Wall."

By this time the hot stones in the enclosure had raised the temperature
of the to-hol-woh considerably.  Stacy did not realize how hot it was
at first, but he was destined to learn more about it a few minutes later.

Now the Medicine Man began to chant weirdly, calling upon the Havasupai
gods, Hoko-ma-ta and To-cho-pa, which translated by the guide was:

_"Let the heat come and enter within us, reach head, face and lungs,
Go deep down in stomach, through arms, body, thighs.  Thus shall we be
purified, made well from all ill, Thus shall we be strengthened to keep
back all that can harm, For heat alone gives life and force."_

_"Let heat enter our heads, Let heat enter our eyes, Let heat
enter our ears, Let heat enter our nostrils---"_

Up to this time no sounds had come from the interior of the to-hol-woh.
But now the fat boy half rolled out, gasping for breath.  Ned, having
picked up a paddle that lay near this impromptu Turkish bath,
administered a resounding slap on Stacy's anatomy, while Tad and
Walter threw him back roughly into the to-hol-woh.

Chunky moaned dismally.

"I'm being burned alive," he groaned.  "They're torturing me to death."

_"Let heat enter the feet, Let heat enter the knees, Let heat enter
the legs---"_

"Lemme out of here!" yelled the sick boy, thrusting a tousled head
through between the blankets covering the opening.

They pushed him back.

"It's the paddle for yours, and hard, if you come out before we tell
you," cried Ned.

"Stay in as long as you can, Stacy.  I am satisfied the treatment will
benefit you," advised the Professor.

"I'm cooking," wailed Chunky.

"That's what you need.  You've been underdone all your life," jeered
Rector.

Throughout all of this the Havasus had sat about apparently taking
no particular interest in the performance.  They had all seen it
before so many, many times.  But Jim Nance's sides were shaking with
laughter, and the Pony Rider Boys were dancing about in high glee.
They did not get such a chance at Stacy Brown every day in the year,
and were not going to miss a single second of this sort of fun.

"A brave lion tamer ought not to be afraid of a little heat," suggested
Walt.

"That's so," agreed Ned.

"For heat alone gives life and force," crooned the Medicine Man.

He repeated the words of his chant twice over, naming pretty much every
member in the body.  It was a long process, but no one save Stacy
Brown himself wearied of it.

At the conclusion of the second round of the chant, the Medicine Man,
stooping over, sprinkled water upon the hot stones, reaching in under
the blankets to do so.

Instantly the to-hol-woh was filled with a cloud of fierce, biting
steam, that made each breath seem a breath of fire.

The Pony Rider Boys, understanding what this meant to the boy inside,
unable to restrain themselves longer, gave vent to ear-splitting shouts
of glee.  Even the Indians turned to gaze at them in mild surprise.

"Take me out!  I'm on fire!" yelled the fat boy lustily.

The Medicine Man thrust half a dozen other hot stones in, then sprinkled
more water upon them.

"There's one more steaming for Chunky," sang Tad.

"There's one more roast for him," chanted Ned.

"We'll roast him till he's done," added Walter.

The Medicine Man sprinkled on more water.

"Ow, wow!  Yeow, wow-wow!"

Anguished howls burst from the interior of the to-hol-woh.  Then
something else burst.  The peak of the bath house seemed to rise right
into the air.  The sides burst out, flinging the blankets in all
directions.  Then a red-faced boy leaped out, and with a yell, fled
on hot feet to the silvery Havasu River, where he plunged into a deep
pool, the water choking down his howls of rage and pain.

The fat boy's Russo-Turkish bath had succeeded beyond the fondest
expectations of his torturers.



CHAPTER XXII

A MAGICAL CURE


Pandemonium reigned in the Havasu village for a few minutes.  The
Medicine Man had been bowled over in Stacy's projectile-like flight.
The Medicine Man leaped to his feet, eyes flashing.  Some one pointed
toward the creek.  The Medicine Man leaped for the river.

Dad spoke sharply to the chief, whereupon the latter fired a volley of
gutturals at the fleeing Medicine Man, who stopped so suddenly that he
nearly lost his balance.

"Is the water deep in there?" cried the Professor.

"About ten feet," answered the guide.

"He'll drown!"

"No he won't drown, Professor," called Tad.  "Chunky can swim like a
fish.  There he is now."

A head popped up from the water, followed by a face almost as red as
the sandstone rocks on the great cliffs glowing off there in the
afternoon sun.

"Oh, wow!" bellowed Stacy chokingly, as the waters swallowed him up
again.  He came up once more and struck out for the bank, up which he
struggled, then began racing up and down the edge of the stream yelling:

"I'm skinned alive!  I'm flayed, disfigured!  I'm parboiled!  Pour a
bottle of oil over me.  I tell you I'm-----"

"You're all right.  Stop it!" commanded Tad sharply.

"Sprinkle me with flour the way mother used to do."

Tad walked over and laid a firm hand on the arm of the fat boy.

"You go back there and wipe off, then put on your clothes, or I'll skin
you in earnest.  I wouldn't be surprised if they'd scalp you if you
continue to carry on in this way."

"Sea---scalp me?" stammered Stacy.

"Yes.  You surely have done enough to them to make them want to.  Did
you know you knocked over the Medicine Man?"

"Did I?"

"You did."

Stacy grinned.

"I'm glad of it.  But that isn't a circumstance to what I'd like, to do
to him if I could do it and get away with it.

"Well, how does it feel to be roasted?" questioned the grinning Ned
Rector, approaching them at this juncture.

"Who put up this job on me?" demanded Stacy angrily.

"Job?  Why, it wasn't a job.  You were a very sick man.  Your case
demanded instant treatment---"

"Say, what was that meat we had for dinner, Tad?" asked Chunky suddenly.

"Deer meat."

"Oh, fiddle!  Ned said it was cat meat and I---I got sick.  I'll get
even with him for that."

"How do you feel?" asked the smiling Professor, coming up and slapping
the fat boy on the shoulder.

"I---I guess I'm well, but I don't believe I'll be able to sit down or
lie down all the rest of the summer.  No, don't ask me to put on my
clothes.  I can't wear them.  My skin's all grown fast to my underwear.
I'll have to wear these underclothes the rest of the season if I don't
want to lose my skin.  Oh, I'm in an awful fix."

"But you're well, so what's the odds?" laughed Tad.

"It does brace a fellow up to have that---that---what do you call it?"

"Hole In The Wall bath," nodded Ned.

"That's just the trouble.  There wasn't any hole in the wall to let the
heat out.  Oh, it was awful.  If you don't think it was, then some of
you fellows get in there for a roast.  Oh, I'm sore!"

Stacy limped off by himself, then stood leaning against a rock, still
in his underwear, gazing moodily at the waters of Havasu River.  Stacy
was much chastened for the time being.

All at once the lad started.  Ned Rector had laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Oh, it's you?"

"Yes.  You aren't angry with me, are you, Chunky?"

"Angry with you?"

"Yes."

"Did you ever have a sore lip, Ned?"

"Of course I have," laughed Rector.

"When you couldn't have laughed at the funniest story you ever heard?"

"I guess that about describes it."

"Well, I've got a sore lip all over my body.  If I were to be cross with
you I'd crack the one big, sore lip and then you'd hear me yell,"
answered the fat boy solemnly.  "No, I'm not angry with you, Ned."

Rector laughed softly.

"I don't want you to be.  I'm always having a lot of fun with you and
I expect to have a lot more, for you are the biggest little idiot I
ever saw in my life."

"Yes, I am," agreed Stacy thoughtfully.  "But how can you blame me,
with the company I keep?"

"I've got nothing more to say, except that if you'll come back to
what's his name's camp I'll help you put on your clothes.  Come along.
Don't miss all the fun."

Stacy decided that he would.  By the time he had gotten on his clothes
he felt better.  He wandered off to another part of the village, where
his attention was drawn to a game going on between a lot of native
children who had squatted down on the ground.

Stacy asked what the game was.  They told him it was "Hui-ta-qui-chi-ka,"
which he translated into "Have-a-chicken."

Most of these children were pupils at a school established by the
United States government in the Canyon, and could speak a little
English.  Chunky entered into conversation with them at once, asking
the names of each, but he never remembered the name of any of them
afterwards.  There was little Pu-ut, a demure faced savage with a
string of glass beads around her neck; Somaja, round and plump,
because of which she got her name, which, translated meant "watermelon."
Then there was Vesna and many other names not so easy.  Chunky decided
that he would like to play "Have-a-chicken," too.  The little savages
were willing, so he took a seat in the semicircle with them.

Before the semicircle was a circle of small stones, with an opening
at a certain point.  This opening was called, Chunky learned,
"Yam-si-kyalb-yi-ka," though the fat boy didn't attempt to pronounce
it after his instructor.  In the centre of the circle was another flat
stone bearing the musical name of "Taa-bi-chi."

Sides were chosen and the game began.  The first player begins by
holding three pieces of short stick, black on one side, white on the
other.  These sticks are called "Toh-be-ya."  The count depends upon
the way the sticks fall.  For instance, the following combinations will
give an idea as to how the game is counted:

Three white sides up, 10; three blacks, 5; two blacks and a white up, 3;
two whites and a black up, 2, and so on in many different combinations.

The reader may think this a tame sort of game, but Chunky didn't find
it so.  It grew so exciting that the fat boy found himself howling
louder than any of the savages with whom he was playing.  He was as
much a savage as any of them, some of whom were of his own age.  Every
time he made a large point, Stacy would perform a war dance, howling,
"Have-a-chicken!  Have-a-chicken!"

The chief's son, who also had come into the game without being invited,
was playing next to Stacy.  Stacy in one of these outbursts trod on the
bare feet of the young buck.

Afraid Of His Face, adopting the methods of his white brethren, rose
in his might and smote the fat boy with his fist.  Now, the spot
where the fist of Afraid Of His Face landed had been parboiled in the
"Hole In The Wall."  Stacy Brown howled lustily, then he sailed in,
both fists working like windmills.  The Indian youngsters set up a
weird chorus of yells and war whoops, while all hands from the chief's
ha-wa started on a run for the scene.



CHAPTER XXIII

STACY AS AN INDIAN FIGHTER


In the meantime there was a lively scrimmage going on near the
"Have-a-chicken" circle.  The stones of the circle had been kicked
away, the younger savages forming a human ring about the combatants.

Afraid Of His Face was much the superior of the fat boy in physical
strength, but he knew nothing of the tricks of the boxer.  Therefore
Stacy had played a tattoo on the face of the Indian before the latter
woke up to the fact that he was getting the worst of it.

In an unguarded moment the young buck put a smashing blow right on
Stacy's nose, now extremely sensitive from its near boiling in the
"Hole In The Wall."

Not being fast enough in the get away, the young buck received on his
own face some of the blood that spurted from Brown's nose.

"Ow-wow!" wailed Chunky, rendered desperate by the severe pain at this
tender point.  But his rage made him cooler.  Chunky made a feint.
As Afraid Of His Face dodged the feint Stacy bumped the young
Indian's nose.

"Have another," offered Stacy dryly, as his left drove in a blow that
sent the young Indian to his back on the turf.  Frightened screams came
from some of the young Indian girls, who gazed dismayed at the human
whirlwind into which Stacy had been transformed.

"Ugh!" roared Afraid Of His Face, and reached his feet again.  "Ugh!
Boy heap die!  Plenty soon!"

Again the combatants closed in.  There was a rattling give-and-take.

"Here!  Stop that!" ordered Professor Zepplin, striding forward.  The
chief and his Indians were coming up also.  The chief caught at one of
the Professor's waving arms and drew him back.

"Let um fight," grunted the chief.  He next spoke a few guttural words
of command to his own people, who fell back, giving the combatants
plenty of room.

"Yes, let 'em have it out!" roared the boys.  "Stacy never will learn
to behave, but this ought to help."

Stacy, having it all his own way with his fists, now received a kick
from the buck that nearly ended the fight.

"Wow! That's your style, is it?" groaned Chunky, then he ducked, came
up and planted a smashing blow on the buck's jaw that sent the latter
fairly crashing to earth.

That ended the fight.  Afraid Of His Face made a few futile struggles
to get to his feet, then lay back wearily.  Chunky puffed out his chest
and strutted back and forth a few times.

"Huh!" grunted Chick-a-pan-a-gi.  "Fat boy heap brave warrior."

"You bet I am.  But it's nothing.  You ought to see me in a real fight."

"Hurrah for Chunky!" shouted Ned Rector.  "Hip, hip, hurrah!"

Professor Zepplin now strode forward, laying a heavy hand on the fat
boy's shoulder.

"Ouch!" groaned Chunky.  "Don't do that Don't you know I haven't any
skin on my body?"

"You don't deserve to have any.  Be good enough to explain how this
trouble arose?"

The chief was asking the same question of the other young savages in
his own language and they were telling him in a series of guttural
explosions.

"It was this way, I was playing the game with them when I stepped on
Elephant Face's foot.  He didn't like it.  I guess he has corns on his
feet as well as on his face.  He punched me.  I punched him back.  Then
the show began.  We had a little argument, with the result that you
already have observed," answered Stacy pompously.

"You needn't get so chesty about it," rebuked Ned.

"Chief," said the Professor, turning to Chick-a-pan-a-gi, "I don't
know what to say.  I am deeply humiliated that one of our party should
engage in a fight with---"

"I didn't engage in any fight," protested Stacy.  "It wasn't a fight,
it was just a little argument."

"Silence!" thundered the Professor.

"I trust you will overlook the action of this boy.  He was very much
excited and-----"

"Fat boy him not blame.  Fat boy him much brave warrior," grunted the
chief.  "Afraid Of His Face he go ha-wa.  Stay all day, all night.  Him
not brave warrior."

The chief accentuated his disgust by prodding his homely son with the
toe of a moccasin.  Afraid Of his Face got up painfully, felt gingerly
of his damaged nose, and with a surly grunt limped off toward his own
ha-wa, there to remain in disgrace until the following day.

"Fat boy come smoke pipe of peace," grunted the chief.

"No, thank you.  No more pieces of pipe for mine.  I've had one
experience.  That's enough for a life time," answered Stacy.

"Stacy, if I see any more such unseemly conduct I shall send you home
in disgrace," rebuked the Professor as they walked back to the village.

"The boy wasn't to blame, Professor," interceded Dad.  "The buck pitched
into him first.  He had to defend himself."

"No, don't be too hard on Chunky," begged Tad.  "You must remember that
he wasn't quite himself.  First to be boiled alive, then set upon by
an Indian, I should say, would be quite enough to set anyone off his
balance."

The Professor nodded.  Perhaps they were right, after all.  So long as
the chief was not angry, why should he be?  The chief, in his
unemotional way, seemed pleased with the result of the encounter.
But Professor Zepplin, of course, could not countenance fighting.
That was a certainty.  With a stern admonition to Chunky never to
engage in another row while out with the Pony Rider Boys, the Professor
agreed to let the matter drop.

The day was well spent by that time, and the party was invited to pass
the night in the village, which they decided to do.  The chief gave
the Professor a cordial invitation to share his ha-wa with him, but
after a sniff at the opening of the hovel Professor Zepplin decided
that he would much prefer to sleep outside on the ground.  The others
concluded that they would do the same.  The odors coming from the
ha-was of the tribe were not at all inviting.

After sitting about the camp fire all the evening, the Pony Rider Boys
wrapped themselves in their blankets and lay down to sleep under the
stars with the now gloomy walls of the Canyon towering above them, the
murmur of the silvery Havasu in their ears.



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION


The night was a restful one to most of the party, except as they were
aroused by the barking of the dogs at frequent intervals, perhaps
scenting some prowling animal in search of food.

Chunky was awakened by Tad at an early hour.  The fat boy uttered a
familiar "Oh, wow!" when he sought to get up, then lay back groaning.

"Why, what's the matter?" demanded Butler.

"My skin's shrunk," moaned Stacy.  "It fits me so tight I---I can't
move."

"His skin's shrunk," chorused the Pony Rider Boys.  "His skin is a
misfit."

"Take it back and demand a new suit if you don't like it," laughed Ned
Rector.

"It isn't any laughing matter.  I tell you it's shrunk," protested Stacy.

"All right, it will do you good.  You'll know you've got a skin.  Last
night you said it was all roasted off from you."

"It was.  This is the new skin, about a billionth of an inch thick,
and oh-h-h-h," moaned the lad, struggling to his feet.  "I wish you had
my skin, Ned Rector.  No, I don't, either I---I wish yours were drawn
as tightly as mine."

"Come on for a run and you will feel better" cried Tad, grasping the
fat boy by an arm and racing him down to the river and back,
accompanied by a series of howls from Stacy.  But the limbering-up
process was a success.  Stacy felt better.  He was able to do full
justice to the breakfast that was served on the greasy blanket shortly
afterwards.  For breakfast the white men shared their bacon with the
chief, which the Indian ate, grunting appreciatively.

Before leaving, the boys bought some of the finer specimens of the
Indian blankets, which they got remarkably cheap.  They decided to do
up a bale of these and send them home to their folks when they reached
a place where there was a railroad.  At present they were a good many
miles from a railway, with little prospect even of seeing one for a
matter of several weeks.

After breakfast they bade good-bye to the chief.  Chunky wanted to
shake hands with Afraid Of His Face, but the chief would not permit
his young buck to leave the ha-wa.  Chi-i-wa, the chief's wife, bade
them a grudging good-bye without so much as turning her head, after
which the party rode away, Chunky uttering dismal groans because the
saddle hurt him, for the fat boy was still very tender.

"I know what I'll do when I get home," he said.

"So do I," laughed Tad.

"Well, what'll I do, if you know so much about it?"

"Why, you will puff out your chest and strut up and down Main Street
for the edification of the natives of Chillicothe," answered Tad.

"That's what he'll do, for sure," jeered Ned.  "But we'll be on hand
to take him down a peg or two.  Don't you forget that, Chunky."

Joking and enjoying themselves to the fullest, these brown-faced,
hardy young travelers continued on, making camp that night by the
roaring river, reaching Camp Butler the following forenoon.

Chow, the half breed pack-train man, met them with a long face.  The
party saw at once that something was wrong.

"What's happened?" snapped Nance.

"The dogs."

"What about them?  Speak up."

"Him dead," announced the half breed stolidly.

"Dead?" cried Dad and the boys in one voice.

"Him dead."

"What caused their death?"

The half breed shook his head.  All he knew was that two mornings before
he had come in for breakfast, and upon going out again found the dogs
stretched out on the ground dead.  That there was another mystery
facing them the boys saw clearly.  Nance examined the carcasses of the
dead hounds.  His face was dark with anger when he had finished.

"It's my opinion that those hounds were poisoned," he declared.

"Poisoned!" exclaimed the boys.

"Yes.  There's some mysterious work being done around this camp.  I'm
going to find out who is at the bottom of it; then you'll hear something
drop that will be louder than a boulder falling off the rim of the
Grand Canyon."

"This is a most remarkable state of affairs." said the Professor.
"Surely you do not suspect the man Chow?"

"No, I don't suspect him.  It's someone else.  I had a talk with Chief
Tom.  He told me some things that set me thinking."

"What was it?" asked Tad.

"I'm not going to say anything about it just now, but I am going to have
this camp guarded after to-night.  We'll see whether folks can come in
here and play tag with us in this fashion without answering to
Jim Nance."

"I'll bet the ghost has been here again," spoke up Stacy.

"Ghost nothing!" exploded Nance.

"That's what you said before, or words to that effect," answered the
fat boy.  "You found I was right, though.  Yes, sir, there are spirits
around these diggings.  One of them carried away my gun."

"We will divide the night into watches after this.  I am not going to
be caught napping again," announced Nance.

That night the guide sat up all night.  Nothing occurred to arouse
his suspicion.  Next day they went out lion hunting without dogs.
Nance got a shot at a cat, but missed him.  The next day the Professor
killed a cub that was hiding in a juniper tree.  It was his first kill
and put the Professor in high good humor.  He explained all about it
that night as they sat around the camp fire.  Then the boys made him
tell the story over again.

Nance took the first watch that night, remaining on duty until three
in the morning, when he called Tad.  The latter was wide awake on the
instant, the mark of a good woodsman.  Taking his rifle, he strolled
out near the mustangs, where he sat down on a rock.  Tad was shivering
in the chill morning air, but after a time he overcame that.  He grew
drowsy after a half hour of waiting with nothing doing.

All of a sudden the lad sat up wide awake.  He knew that he had heard
something.  That something was a stealthy footstep.  The night was
graying by this time, so that objects might be made out dimly.  Tad
stood up, swinging his rifle into position for quick use.  For some
moments he heard nothing further, then out of the bushes crept a
shadowy figure.

"Chunky's ghost," was the thought that flashed into the mind of the
young sentry.  "No, I declare, if it isn't an Indian!"

It was an Indian, but the light was too dim to make anything out of
the intruder.  The Indian was crouched low and as Tad observed was
treading on his toes, choosing a place for each step with infinite
care.  The watcher now understood why no moccasin tracks had been
found about the camp, for he had no doubt that this fellow was the
one who was responsible for all the mysterious occurrences in camp
up to that time.

The Pony Rider boy did not move.  He wanted to see what the Indian
was going to do.  Step by step the red man drew near to the canvas
covered storage place, where they kept their supplies, arms, ammunition
and the like.  Into this shack the Indian slipped.  Tad edged closer.

"I wonder what he's after this time?" whispered the lad.  Tad thrilled
with the thought that it had been left for him to solve the mystery.

His question was answered when, a few moments later, the silent figure
of the Indian appeared creeping from the opening.  He had something in
his hands.

"I actually believe the fellow is carrying away our extra rifles,"
muttered the boy.

That was precisely what the redskin was doing.  After glancing cautiously
about, he started away in the same careful manner.  Tad could have shot
the man, but he would not do it, instead, he raised the rifle.

"Halt!" commanded the Pony Rider boy sharply.

For one startled instant the Indian stood poised as if for a spring.
Then he did spring.  Still gripping the rifles, he leaped across the
opening and started away on fleet feet.  He was running straight toward
where the ponies were tethered.

Tad fired a shot over the head of the fleeing man, then started in
pursuit.  The Indian slashed the tether of Buckey, Stacy Brown's
mustang, and with a yell to startle the animal, leaped on its back and
was off.

"That's a game two can play at," gritted the Pony Rider, freeing his
own pony in the same way and springing to its back.

The shot and the yell had brought the camp out in a twinkling.  No one
knew what had occurred, but the quick ears of the guide catching the
pounding hoofs of the running mustangs, he knew that Tad was chasing
someone.

"Everybody stay here and watch the camp!" he roared, running for his
own pinto, which he mounted in the same way as had the Indian and Tad
Butler.

Tad, in getting on Silver Face, had fumbled and dropped his rifle.
There was no time to stop to recover it if he expected to catch the
fleeing Indian.  Under ordinary circumstances the boy knew that Silver
Face was considerably faster than Buckey.  But pursuit was not so easy,
though the Indian, for the present, could go in but one direction.

The spirited mustang on which Tad Butler was mounted, appearing to
understand what was expected of him, swept on with the speed of the
wind.  Small branches cut the face of the Pony Rider like knife-blades
as he split through a clump of junipers, then tore ahead, fairly
sailing over logs, boulders and other obstructions.

The Pony Rider boy uttered a series of earsplitting yells.  His object
was to guide Jim Nance, who, he felt sure, would be not far behind
him.  The yells brought the guide straight as an arrow.  Tad could
plainly hear the foot beats of Buckey as the two riders tore down the
Canyon, each at the imminent risk of his life.

"If he has a loaded gun, I'm a goner," groaned the lad.  "But the
ones he stole are empty, thank goodness!  There he goes!"

The Indian had made a turn to the left into a smaller canyon.  By
this time the light was getting stronger.  Tad was able to make out his
man with more distinctness.  The boy urged his pony forward with short,
sharp yelps.  The Indian was doing the same, but Tad was gaining on him
every second.  Now the boy uttered a perfect volley of shouts, hoping
that Nance would understand when he got to the junction of the smaller
canyon, that both pursued and pursuer had gone that way.

Nance not only understood, but he could hear Tad's yells up the canyon
upon arriving at the junction.

"Stop or I'll shoot!" cried the boy.

The Indian turned and looked back.  Then he urged Buckey on faster.
That one act convinced Tad that the redskin had no loaded rifle, else
he would have used it at that moment.

With a yell of triumph the boy touched the pony with the rowels of his
spurs.  Silver Face shot ahead like a projectile.  He was a tough
little pony, and besides, his mettle was up.  Now Tad gained foot by
foot.  He was almost up to the Indian, yelling like an Indian himself.

The redskin tried dodging tactics, hoping that Tad would shoot past him.
Tad did nothing of the sort.  The boy was watching his man with keen
but glowing eyes.  The call of the wild was strong in Tad Butler at that
moment.

Suddenly the boy drew alongside.  Utterly regardless of the danger to
himself, he did a most unexpected thing.  Tad threw himself from his
own racing pony, landing with crushing force on top of the Indian.

Of course the two men tumbled to the ground like a flash.  Then
followed a battle, the most desperate in which Tad ever had been
engaged.  The boy howled lustily and fought like a cornered mountain
lion.  Of course his strength was as nothing compared with that of the
Indian.  All Tad could hope to do would be to keep the Indian engaged
until help arrived.

Help did arrive within two minutes; help in the shape of Jim Nance, who,
with the thought of his slain hounds rankling in his mind, was little
better than a savage for the time being.

"Here!" shouted Tad.  "Take him---hustle!"

Then young Butler drew back, for Nance, seeing things red before his
eyes, was hardly capable of knowing friend from foe.

Whack! bump! buff!

How those big fists descended!

For three or four seconds only did the redskin make any defense.  Then
he cowered, stolidly, taking a punishment that he could not prevent.

"Don't kill the poor scoundrel, Dad!" yelled Tad, dancing about the pair.

But still Nance continued to hammer the now unresisting Indian.

"Stop it, Dad---stop it!" Tad called sternly.

Then, as nothing else promised to avail, Tad rushed once more into
the fray.

Dad was weakening from his own enormous expenditure of strength.

"Don't go any farther, Dad," Tad coaxed, catching one of Nance's arm
and holding on.

"I guess I have about given the fellow what he needed," admitted the
guide, rising.

As he stood above the Indian, Dad saw that the man did not move.

"I hope you didn't kill him, Dad," Tad went on swiftly.

"Why?" asked Jim Nance curiously.

"I don't like killings," returned Tad briefly.  He bent over the Indian,
finding that the latter had been only knocked out.

"We'd better take the redskin back to camp, hadn't we?" queried Tad, and
Jim silently helped.  In camp, the Indian was bound hand and foot.  The
camp fire was lighted and Tad went to work to resuscitate the red man.

At last the camp's prisoner was revived.

"Now, let's ask him about the thieveries that have been going on,"
suggested Ned Rector.

"Humph!" grinned Dad.  "If you think you can make an Indian talk when
he has been caught red-handed, then you try it."

Not a word would the Indian say.  He even refused to look at his
questioners, but lay on the ground, stolidly indifferent.

"He's a prowling Navajo," explained Nance.  "You may be sure this is
the fellow, Brown's 'spirit,' behind all our troubles.  He's the chap
who stole Brown's rifle, who raided this camp, who set the lion free
and who poisoned my dogs---so they wouldn't give warning."

"But why should he want to turn the lion loose?" Tad wanted to know.

"Because the Navajo Indians hold the mountain lion as sacred.  The
Navajo believes that his ancestors' spirits have taken refuge in the
bodies of the mountain lions."

"I believe there must be a strong strain of mountain lion in this
fellow, by the way he fought me," grimaced Tad.

"What shall we do with this redskin?" Chunky asked.  "Shall we give
him a big thrashing, or make him run the gauntlet?"

"Neither, I guess," replied Jim Nance, who had cooled down.  "The
wisest thing will be for us to take him straight to the Indian Agency.
Uncle Sam pays agents to take care of Indian problems."

It was late that afternoon when the boys and their poisoner arrived
at the Agency.

"I'll talk to him," said the agent, after he had ordered that the
Indian be taken to a room inside.

An hour later the agent came out.

"The Navajo confesses to all the things you charge against him,"
announced the government official.  "I thought I could make him talk.
The redskin justifies himself by saying that your party made an effort
to kill Navajo ancestors at wholesale."

"Humph!" grunted Jim Nance.

"What happens to the Navajo?" Walter asked curiously.

"He'll be kept within bounds after this," replied the agent.  "For a
starter he will be locked up for three months.  Some other Navajos
were out, but we got them all back except this one.  Going back into
the Canyon?"

Indeed they were.  Late that afternoon the Pony Rider Boys began their
journey of one hundred miles to the lower end of the Canyon.

From that latter point they were to go on into still newer fields of
exploration, in search of new thrills, and were far more certain than
they realized at that time of experiencing other adventures that should
put all past happenings in the shade.

For the time being, however, we have gone as far as possible with the
lads.  We shall next meet them in the following volume of this series,
which is published under the title, "_The Pony Rider Boys With The
Texas Rangers; Or, On the Trail of the Border Bandits_."

A rare treat lies just ahead for the reader of this new narrative, in
which acquaintance will also be made with one of the most famous bodies
of police in all the world, the Texas Rangers.

THE END





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