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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Staring at the fallen Expressman


Kiddie,

indeed, received no injury from the madly pounding hoofs. But his back was badly bruised; he was not sure that one or two of his ribs were not broken; and his right ankle was certainly sprained.

It was evident that the Indians had not expected him to be thrown, for they raced past him, and several moments went by before they could swing round.

In those moments Kiddie rolled painfully over on to his knees and elbows. There was no time for him to cut the stirrup strap, or to attempt to get his hurt foot free. All that he could do was to be ready to defend the two precious satchels containing the mails.

Moving himself forward a few inches, so that he could stretch out his right leg and rest his weight on his left knee and elbow, he drew his revolver and levelled it.

He could not now see the Indians. They were hidden beyond a screen of trees and rock. But he heard them as they checked their wild onrush and turned to ride back and do their worst. He was quite ready for them; he had six bullets in his gun, and none should be wasted.

Suddenly amid the confused clatter of hoofs there came to him the sharp, unmistakable crackle of rifle and pistol shots. Then the Indians rushed into sight, galloping in hot haste.

Kiddie fired at two of them, and was shifting his aim to a third,

when he realized that they were in flight--that they were being pursued by a horseman who had newly come upon the scene, and who was firing at them with his six-shooter.

Only now did Kiddie reflect that in the ordinary course of his eastward bound trip he would have met the westward going Express rider just at about this same place.

"Alf! Alf Kearney!" he shouted.

The Expressman pulled up short. He had already emptied his revolver, and the Redskins were continuing their flight.

"Frizzle me if it ain't Kiddie of the Camp!" cried Kearney, dismounting and standing with his hands on his knees, staring at the fallen Expressman. "Say, now, are you hurt bad, pardner? I seen your riderless pony hustlin' along with that crowd of yellin' Injuns at its heels. I guessed suthin' had sure happened t' yer, though it ain't a regulation Express pony. Where 're you hurt? You're in luck if you ain't killed right out."

[Illustration: "Frizzle me if it ain't Kiddie of the Camp!" cried Kearney.]

"I'm in sure luck by your happening along," responded Kiddie, trying with difficulty to move. "Say, if you c'n rip open that boot and disentangle my sprained foot from that rotten saddle, I shall be obliged. Then I reckon I c'n lie here while you ride along the trail with your mails and send help, see?"

Alf Kearney demurred to the suggestion, but at once proceeded to liberate Kiddie's foot, first cutting the stirrup-strap and then ripping open the stout leather boot.


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