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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Rube was eager to tell Kiddie of his discovery


"That

don't explain why he should come prowlin' around here," pursued Abe. "What did he want here, anyway? What's your idea?"

"This," said Rube. "Broken Feather calculated he wouldn't find Kiddie here to-day. He knew that Kiddie was ridin' with the Express. That was his chance--ter come here while Kiddie was away and ter prowl around in search of that hound--meanin' ter shoot her at sight with that heavy six-shooter that he carried. That was his errand, sure as mud."

"If that's so," resumed Abe Harum, "why do you want the hound let loose? She'll get on his track. She'll go up ter him where he's most likely lyin' in hiding. Then he'll put a bullet inter her. You'd best ha' kept her chained up, sure."

Rube shook his head.

"Broken Feather's too cunnin' ter do her any harm now that he knows he's been seen. He didn't want t' be seen. He didn't expect t' be. He happened upon me quite sudden, when he was sneakin' round ter git past where you was busy fellin' that tree. I'd seen his shadder 'fore he knew I was thar at the bench. No, Abe, he won't hurt the dog. I've a notion he's gone right away."

"Leavin' no proof that he's the man that tried ter kill Kiddie," added Abe.

"Wait till the hound comes along," said Rube; "then we shall have proof. Just wait."

justify;">When at length the deerhound came limping eagerly towards them from among the trees, her nose was lowered to the ground and her tail slashing to and fro. Rube called her, but she went on sniffing the grass, until she got on to Broken Feather's track. Then she bounded forward in pursuit of him. Rube Carter followed her down to the creek, where she stopped.

"Checked!" muttered Rube. "He's too clever for us. Not a bit o' use trying ter pick up his scent in runnin' water, Sheila. Never mind, you've given proof that he's the man that dealt you the cut on the shoulder."

Rube was eager to tell Kiddie of his discovery, and he sat up that night with Abe Harum, waiting for Kiddie to ride along the trail and change ponies at Birkenshaw's station.

Towards two o'clock in the morning, when the eastern bound Express was due, Abe got ready the relay pony, and led it down to the trail. Rube accompanied him. The night was very dark, a thin rain was falling, and they took shelter under the trees. Abe presently struck a match, to see his watch.

"It's time," he said. "D'ye hear him comin'?"

"No," Rube answered. "Mebbe your ticker's a bit fast."

"It's exactly right," Abe assured him. "An' Kiddie's four minutes behind time. 'Tain't like Kiddie t' be late. Dessay his relay wasn't ready at Three Crossings. Keep yer ears open. Wind's comin' this way. We ought t' ha' heard him long ago."

Abe was at first merely interested in the fact of Kiddie being slightly behind schedule time. Then he became impatient, then anxious, and finally seriously alarmed.

"Suthin's happened," he declared. "Never knew Kiddie t' be late like this. Suthin's sure happened."

CHAPTER VIII

KIDDIE'S LUCK

"Say, now, d'you expect me t' ride a spick an' span, over-fed, highly decorated critter like that? My! I ain't entered for a horse show, Cully. I want a pony that can run without thinkin' of takin' prizes on points. And a dandy saddle with fancy stitchin' and finery don't help any in gettin' the mails through on time. What's the matter with the regulation Express pony--the piebald cayuse that you gave me on the last trip? That was a critter that knew how ter go, that was. What's the matter with her?"


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