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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Case of set a thief to catch a thief


"At

last we heard a strange horse comin' along at an easy trot. By the sound of its feet we c'd tell it was no or'nary prairie cayuse, an' soon, sure enough, Broken Feather came inter view, with the goods in a gunny sack slung over his shoulder. Before he guessed we were there--before he c'd whip out his gun--we'd dropped on him."

"Ah," said Sheriff Blagg, stroking his chin. "I allow you did that business with considerable credit, Nick Undrell. Case of set a thief to catch a thief. I'm only regrettin' that I wasn't present on the occasion to make a formal arrest."

"'Tain't too late yet," smiled Kiddie. "You c'n ride back to Fort Laramie along with Nick an' conclude the business in proper legal form. No need to caution you to see that the prisoner cannot escape, and when the trial takes place, I guess you'll count upon me to be there to give evidence against him."

"What d'you reckon they'll give him, Kiddie?" Rube Carter wanted to know.

"Dunno," Kiddie shrugged his shoulders: "two or three years in penal servitude, I expect. Anyhow, Broken Feather's ambitious career doesn't look as if it would materialize. He'll be put out of the way of doin' further mischief, and we can settle down in our peaceful solitude, happy and undisturbed."

He turned to Nick Undrell.

"By the way,

Nick," he said, "you told me a while back that you'd lost that cattle ranch of yours over a game of cards. You gambled it away to an Indian, didn't you?"

"That's so, your lordship," returned Nick. "An' the Injun referred to was Broken Feather. I ain't sure, but I've allus had a notion that he cheated in that game of poker. Why d'you ask about the ranch?"

"Because," said Kiddie, "it came into the market the other day and I bought it. Now that the estate is mine, I don't find that I've any use for it. I don't want it. D'you reckon you could run it for a season or two, Nick?"

"As your lordship's manager?" Nick asked.

"No," Kiddie answered, "as my workin' partner."

"Could you trust me?" questioned Nick.

"Down to the ground," said Kiddie, holding forth his hand.

Nick Undrell seized it.

"Kiddie," he faltered, "you're making a new man of me. You found me when I was lost. You blazed a new trail for me, an' I kept to it. I shall keep to it until the very end."

* * * * * *

During the rest of that same day, while Rube Carter was occupied in the work of unloading the canoe and setting the cabin in order, Kiddie engaged himself in opening his delayed correspondence and writing letters.

Many of the letters he opened were business communications from his lawyers in London, requiring immediate attention. Some were letters from friends in England, regretting his absence and imploring him to return. The one that he left to the last was addressed in a familiar handwriting, and he read it with close interest.


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