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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

'tain't possible fer me to be that


"'Tain't

a whole lot wide o' the truth, for all that, Kiddie," interposed the Boss. "But never heed it fer the present. Come right in an' have suthin' ter eat. We're all hungry."

Kiddie walked with young Rube, with a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"No, you mustn't think I'm all that, Rube," he said. "I've made many a false step, fallen into many a mistake I ought to have avoided. Only this morning, you know, I made the mistake of shoving Broken Feather into the lean-to without looking if there was a loophole for his escape."

"My fault as much as yours, sir," said Rube. "I oughter ha' fastened the trap-door."

"Well, anyhow," resumed Kiddie, "you and I are going to be good friends. You see, we have a good deal in common. You've spent your boyhood in this camp, so did I mine. Your father was an English gentleman, so was mine. Your mother is a Pawnee Indian, so was mine."

"It's a proud day fer me, sir, your comin' back here, an' me walkin' alongside o' you," faltered Rube. "An' if you're shapin' ter stay here for a while, I shall learn a lot. You c'n teach me heaps about trappin' the wild critters, an' livin' in the woods, an' scoutin'; about horses, too, an' buffaloes an' Injuns."

He paused, surprised at the length of his speech.

"Yes," nodded

Kiddie. "We'll go on the trail together. We'll go trapping and fishing and shooting. You shall be my boy scout."

"But thar's one thing as I'm hankerin' to learn more'n all else, sir," Rube went on boldly. "You was sayin' right now as my father was a English gentleman. Well, 'tain't possible fer me to be that, seein' as I was born here in th' United States; but I guess thar's such a thing as a 'Merican gentleman, an' maybe you'd teach me how ter be one o' them."

Kiddie was silent for some moments as they crossed the clearing in front of the cabin. But at length he said--

"Rather a tall order, Rube, my lad. And it's not just like teaching you to master a bucking broncho or to trap beaver. It's a longer process. But at least it's an experiment worth attempting, and we'll try it together."

"That big bay pony of yours don't feel anyways at home in the stall where I've put him," said Rube, as they went up the veranda steps. "I've given him a drink an' a feed, an' I've put his saddle an' bridle in the best bedroom, where they won't take no harm. I'm sorry t' say, sir, as thar's a scratch of a bullet on the saddle. Leather's some torn; but I reckon mother c'n fix it up; same's she done my moccasins when I tore 'em in the bush, trackin' a lynx."

"The saddle is of no consequence if Regent is all right," Kiddie assured him. "Regent is the name of the bay. He's an English hunter; doesn't know anything about the work of a prairie pony."

Rube's mother had done her best to provide a good meal for the hungry men. They lingered at the table, all listening in wonder to what Kiddie told them of England and of the cities of Europe and Asia. He had been for a journey round the world, and had much to tell of his travels in foreign lands. Gradually as he talked, he dropped the precise English manner of speech and reverted to the homely phrases and drawling intonation of the West. And so they ceased to think of him as Lord St. Olave, regarding him without restraint as their familiar and unaltered Kiddie.

Towards tea time he took out his watch. Gideon Birkenshaw noticed that it was a very ordinary one, with a gun metal case, held by a leather thong.


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