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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Kiddie may well say she c'd outdistance any hoss


His

first relay station was at Hot Springs, and it took him less than a minute to change mounts. He rode eight different ponies on this trip, and each of them satisfied him. Their pace depended upon the nature of the ground.

Where the trail was good, as across Laramie Plain, and could be taken at the gallop, the speed was something like twenty-five miles an hour, but where the way was rugged, as among the Porcupine Mountains, fifteen, or even ten miles in an hour was considered good going.

When Kiddie reached the station at Sweetwater Bridge he had gained by six minutes. Gideon Birkenshaw had come down from the homestead to greet him, and the fresh pony was held by young Rube Carter. Kiddie's Highland deerhound, Sheila, was also on the trail. As he dismounted, she raised herself on her hind feet and put her paws on his shoulders to lick his chin.

"Down, Sheila, down!" commanded Kiddie, drawing away from her. "I'm on duty. I've not come home to you."

Sheila walked majestically apart from him.

"Amazin' wise, that animal is," said Gideon, taking the bridle of the tired pony, and watching Kiddie leap to the saddle of the fresh one. "Built same's a racehorse, she is. Them long legs of hers, they'd cover a heap o' ground, eh? What kinder work did she do in her own country, Kiddie? Huntin'?"

justify;">"Yes, deer hunting," Kiddie answered. "She could race any stag--outdistance any horse. Has a pedigree as long's your arm, Gid. She's quite an aristocrat."

"Splendidest dog I ever see in my life," commented Rube, patting the hound's shaggy head. He seized her collar and held her in a firm grip while Kiddie started. She strained against him as her master went farther and farther away.

Rider and pony were quickly out of sight in a fold of the trail, but again they appeared on the farther rise. Sheila pulled harder now, but Rube dug his heels in the ground, and dragged her back.

"No, you ain't goin' ter foller him," he protested.

But with a sudden strong wrench the hound broke away, and bounded off along the trail, sending Rube flying backward into the bushes. Rube scrambled to his feet.

"Look! look, Boss!" he cried, excitedly. "Gee! did y'ever see a critter run like that? My! jus' look! Kiddie may well say she c'd outdistance any hoss. D'you reckon a railroad train c'd go faster'n that, Gideon!"

"Dunno," said Gideon, watching the animal racing at full stretch through a cloud of dust. "I ain't just certain 'bout that railroad train; but I sure never seen a critter go along quicker'n that hound's goin' now. Why, she'll overtake Kiddie inside of half an hour, for all his long start of her!"

Kiddie, indeed, had not gone half a dozen miles before the deerhound was galloping at his pony's heels. The pony's ears were twitching nervously, and there was a change in the measure of its headlong stride. Kiddie felt instinctively that he was being closely followed, yet there were no hungry wolves about at this time of year.

An impatient yelping bark reached him. He glanced round over his shoulder. The dog soon came level with him.

"Go back--back, Sheila!" he called.


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