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The Pony Rider Boys in the Grand Canyon by Frank Gee Patchin

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Produced by Jim Ludwig

The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch

Frank Gee Patchin


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



"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

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

"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

"Now, Ned, proceed," said Tad.

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

"Of the Colorado?"


"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,

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

"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?"


"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?"


"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---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

"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?"


"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

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.

"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

"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

"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

"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

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.



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

"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

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,

"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

"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

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.



"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

"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

"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.



"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

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

"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

"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

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!"



"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!

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

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

"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

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.



"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.



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.

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