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

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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

"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

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.


"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

"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

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."


"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.



"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,

"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

"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

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?"


"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.


"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

"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.



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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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!"


"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

"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

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

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

"Afraid?" questioned Ned jeeringly.

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

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

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.



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

"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

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

"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

"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

"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

"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.



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

"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

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."


"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.


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

"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

"---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."


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

"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

"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."



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

"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

"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!



The land end of the rope fell limp in the hands of Jim Nance and Ned

"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

"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

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

"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

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

"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.


"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.


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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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

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