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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Tell him it's Lord Saint Olave


He

stabled his pony in the town, and, as the night was fine and it was not yet late, he strolled out on foot for a walk along the Little Laramie River. At a distance of about a mile he entered a pine wood, made his way among the trees, and at length halted in front of a cunningly hidden shanty. He stood listening and watching. He heard the rattle of dice. There was a screened light in the window, but it was hurriedly extinguished when he knocked.

After a long delay the door was cautiously opened by a man wearing a mask. A strong smell of tobacco smoke and spirits came from within.

"Nick Undrell is here," said Kiddie, looking into the muzzle of a revolver held close to his face. "I heard his voice. Put aside that gun and tell him to come to the door. Tell him it's Lord Saint Olave."

The masked man within the doorway scrutinized the unexpected and evidently unwelcome visitor, at whom he still held his menacing revolver.

"Tell him it's Lord Saint Olave," Kiddie repeated in a level, insistent voice.

At mention of this name the man slowly lowered his gun and drew back a step, opening the door a trifle wider.

"Lord Saint Olave?" he muttered in surprise. "Lord Saint Olave--here--at this time o' night! Wantin' ter see----" He removed the black cloth mask that had hidden

his face--"Wantin' ter see me?"

"Yes, Nick. That's why I'm here," returned Kiddie. "I want to see you kind of private. You've no occasion t' be alarmed. I'm not in the vigilance service, you know. Thought I'd just saunter along and have a jaw with you, that's all."

"Come right in, sir," said Nick, now holding the door wide open. "I got a few friends here; but they was jus' quittin' when you knocked."

Kiddie followed him within the darkness. The light in the room was then turned up, and he saw four evil-looking men busily pulling off their masks, putting away their pistols, and sweeping their playing cards, dice-box, and a "pool" of coins and greenbacks from the table.

"The four o' you kin quit, soon's you likes," said Nick Undrell. "His lordship an' me we've got a private pow-wow on hand, an' we don't want no listeners mussin' around."

The men emptied their glasses, stood up, hitched their belts, and went slowly past him and out at the door.

Kiddie knew them by sight. They had all been of Nick's gang in the defence of the mule wagons. One still had a patch of sticking-plaster across his cheek which Kiddie himself had put there over an arrow wound. When they were gone outside he turned to Nick.

"Any partic'lar reason why you and your convivial guests should hide your countenances behind masks?" he inquired in a casual tone, glancing about with curious calculation.


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