Bowling Green, Mo. — Two 12-year-old Amish boys who set out on an adventure, perhaps inspired by Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, were found late Wednesday afternoon after they were missing overnight, authorities said.
The boys, who had walked about 15 miles toward the Mississippi River, were found by an area resident who had heard they were missing and found them passing through a field. She brought them to the sheriff's office, Pike County Sheriff Jim Wells said.
"They just wanted to hike over to the Mississippi and they wanted to get home," he said. "They talked about this adventure. I think it was just a little mission they were on."
Authorities had feared the boys were trying to reach the river because of their love for Mark Twain's fictional characters. The boys had talked recently about floating down the river in a raft, Wells said, just like the floating trip in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
The town that inspired the setting for the books, Hannibal, is about 30 miles north of Bowling Green.
"One of the young men has been reading a lot of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn books," Wells said earlier in the day, as 200 searchers, dogs, a helicopter and a horse and buggy fanned out into the thick woods of Pike County to look for them.
The boys were last seen near school Tuesday afternoon, after they were sent to throw out garbage. They didn't return to class.
During their adventure, the boys spent the night in a barn. They had sandwiches with them but were very hungry when they were found.
Samuel Girod, the 40-year-old father of one of the boys, said the families were extremely worried because of the weather. The boys were out in temperatures that hovered around the freezing mark, and rain fell most of the morning.
"William is an adventurous guy. He loves stories about Huckleberry Finn and all of that," said his aunt, Katie Girod. "It's kind of rainy to be out there. I don't think they fully realized how cold it would be."