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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Even if I suspected Nick Undrell of shooting that arrow


"Dunno,"

answered Rube. "Never thought of that."

"Because," pursued Kiddie, "if it was robbery, an experienced frontiersman like Nick Undrell wouldn't calculate on finding much boodle on a Pony Express rider. He'd find it a heap more profitable to do the robbery right here where all my valuables are. Besides, Nick is too slick a hand with the pistol to have any truck with an Injun's bow and arrows. No, Rube, my boy, your idea isn't worth a whole lot, come to analyze it. Even if I suspected Nick Undrell of shooting that arrow, the fact remains that when I started on that ride I left him in Fort Laramie, that he had no relays of ponies, as I had, waiting ready along the trail, and that he couldn't anyhow have got to Medicine Creek in front of me. It wasn't humanly possible. Any other solution ter suggest, Rube?"

Rube shook his head decisively.

"No," he answered. "I'm just more puzzled than ever. Can't straighten it out nohow. Can't think who it could be, or why he did it. Thar's only one thing t' be said, Kiddie, an' that's this: the man as tried ter take your life was either a Injun wearin' white man's boots, or else a white man usin' a Injun's bow an' arrow. Beyond that, I'm makin' up my mind ter look out fer a individual--red or white--goin' around with his left arm in a sling."

"Don't hold too tight t' th' idea that it was in the arm

he was bitten--" Kiddie cautioned. "Sheila might have seized on any other part of his anatomy. My own notion is that the hound herself will spot him sooner'n you or I could do."

"Thar's a lot in that notion," Rube acknowledged. "Guess I'll keep my eye on the hound all the time. An' when I sees her bristles rise an' her teeth showin' an' hears a growl rumblin' up from her throat, I shall sure know that the skunk ain't a far way off."

CHAPTER VII

RUBE CARTER'S VISITOR

"Hullo!"

Rube Carter was studying the architect's plan of Kiddie's woodland cabin. The portable sections of the building were all precisely numbered; but they were nevertheless perplexing, and he wanted, above all things, to avoid mistakes.

Usually when in doubt he could apply for an explanation to Kiddie himself, but on this particular day Kiddie was absent on duty with the Pony Express, and Rube had to puzzle out the difficulty unhelped. He had one of the elevation plans spread out in front of him on the working bench, and was trying to ascertain the exact position of a window casement, when a moving shadow crossed the sheet of paper.

He had not heard any one approaching. The only sounds he had been conscious of were the mumbling of his pet bear cub lying beside him chained to a log, busily licking the inside of an empty honey jar, and the regular strokes of the woodman's axe as Abe Harum worked at the felling of a pine tree some distance away. The shadow came from behind him and stopped on the sunlit expanse of paper.

Rube turned sharply round and looked up at the intruder.

[Illustration: Rube turned sharply round and looked up at the intruder.]

"Hullo!" he exclaimed. "Where did you blow in from, I'd like ter know? An' what 're you doin' here, anyway? You aware as you're trespassin'?"

He stood confronting a tall, handsome young Indian, who was dressed in fringed buckskins with a red shirt, and a close-fitting cap of beaver fur. There was a finely-plaited leather belt about his waist, from which was suspended a holster containing a heavy revolver. His moccasins, of white deerskin, were gaily decorated with an intricate design in beads and coloured silks and little bits of looking-glass. They were so dainty, it seemed almost that their wearer wanted to draw special attention to his feet. Rube, however, stared inquisitively into the stranger's ruddy brown face, noticing how closely together his piercing black eyes were set and how sharp and thin was his nose. He was an unusually handsome person.


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