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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Nick Undrell has jus' canoodled you


the Old Man muttered. "I was expectin', Kiddie, as you'd be wearin' a real gold timepiece with a heavy gold chain. But that article you're handlin' ain't wuth more'n my own, as I've wore for twenty year. An' you ain't got no di'mond rings on yer fingers. But what d'ye want ter look at the time for, anyhow?"

"I'm going to ride back as far as Fort Laramie," Kiddie answered. "My outfit will be coming along the trail in a day or two, and I'm warned that it would be well to get a squad of cowboys together to guard it across the plain."

"Anythin' valu'ble as you're afraid of gettin' stole?" asked Isa Blagg. "Couldn't it be brought along safe in one o' Gid's farm carts?"

Kiddie smiled.

"Not quite," he answered. "There's too much of it. There's three mule wagons full, and there's a bunch of English horses. There's new sporting rifles and beaver traps, there's trunks full of clothing and personal fixings, material for building and furnishing a new cabin, to say nothing of money and other valuable property. But it's the horses I'm anxious about, Isa. If Laramie Plain is what it used to be, there's Indians and road agents hanging around who wouldn't think twice about helping themselves if the outfit isn't well protected."

"Best be on the safe side, anyhow," cautioned Gideon.


so," continued Kiddie, "I'm going to see Nick Undrell and get him to undertake the job."

"What?" cried Isa Blagg. "Nick Undrell? Gee! The last man along the hull trail ter trust with a job like that."

"Why, what's the matter with Nick?" Kiddie asked in surprise. "He used to be a steady, honest man, and an excellent scout--a friend of Buckskin Jack's, and that's good enough for me."

"Ah," interposed Abe Harum. "But Nick's a altered man since them days. He's what y'might call degenerated; a bit too fonder fire-water an' playin' poker. Ain't above takin' a hand in the road agency business, either."

"Meaning that he's a drunkard, a gambler, and a highwayman," nodded Kiddie. "Well, I'll go along and see him, anyhow."

"No need," said Abe. "He's here in this yer camp, right now, with the boys that hev just rounded up an' corralled Gid's stolen ponies; only he ain't figurin' ter meet you as knowed him only as a honest man. He ain't a whole lot proud of hisself, these times, ain't Nick Undrell."

Kiddie reached for his hat, strode across the veranda, and turned towards the corral. He looked exceedingly tall and handsome as he went out.

"It's all right," he announced on his return, a quarter of an hour later. "Nick's going to muster a gang of his pals, and they'll act as armed escort. It seems that the word of the coming of my outfit has already been passed along the trail, and that even the Indians have gotten wind of it."

"Kiddie," said Isa Blagg, "you're makin' a all-fired mistake. Nick Undrell has jus' canoodled you. That's about th' size of it. I knows Nick 's well as any one, an' I wouldn't trust him with a cent. Time after time in my capacity of sheriff of the Sweetwater district I've had him up before me--once fer stealin' a hoss, once fer robbin' the mail, once fer shootin' a man in a gamblin' saloon. He's just a desperado, Kiddie, an' I wouldn't have no truck with him."

"Of course, I shall be there myself," Kiddie explained. "Young Rube and I will be there."

"Git!" exclaimed the sheriff. "What's one man agin a hull gang o' scoundrels? You'll sure come a cropper, Kiddie; take my word. As fer the boy, why, takin' him along o' you's only a added responsibility, a added danger."

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