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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Afterwards bringing along the buckboard


you manage ter mount behind me?" he questioned. "My pony's fit ter carry us both, I guess. Like as not, Broken Feather and his gang'll come back. You ain't anyways safe lyin' here, rain comin' on; an' the sooner a doctor sees you the better."

"Broken Feather?" Kiddie repeated. "If that's the rustler wearin' the war-bonnet and ridin' a piebald broncho, then he ain't liable ter come back--not with my bullet in him. I didn't catch sight of his face--didn't savee it was Broken Feather. No, Alf, thank you, I ain't able ter mount. Leave me right here, hustle along with the Express, and send help from your first relay station."

The long, weary night that followed was very dark, and the two men sent along the trail to give help searched in vain for Kiddie in the driving rain. They had brought a buckboard cart with them in which to carry him home to Sweetwater Bridge.

They searched for hours, but even when they discovered some rain-washed hoof prints it was too dark for them to follow the tracks. It was not until daybreak that they found Kiddie asleep under his blanket, with the saddle for a pillow and his arms, with their red shirt sleeves, folded over his chest.

He awoke when they whistled. They ran up to him, afterwards bringing along the buckboard, into which they tenderly lifted him. The jolting of the cart was painful to him, but when

at length they arrived at Birkenshaw's camp he declared that he wasn't at all badly hurt.

"Just leave me alone, boys," he said, "I don't want you ter make any fuss over me. There's nothing serious the matter--a few bruises, a sprained ankle, a kinder gen'ral shakin' up; that's all. I shall be ready to go with the Express again before Jim Thurston, even now."

"No occasion ter worry any 'bout the Express, Kiddie," said Abe Harum, massaging the injured ankle with embrocation. "I'm notionin' ter take a spell at it myself fer a while, a kinder change for me, see?--good as a holiday. Besides, thar's two individuals I'm anxious ter meet. One of 'em's the rooster as palmed off that rotten saddle on you. The other's Broken Feather. You'd a legitimate chance of puttin' his light out, Kiddie. Nobody e'd have blamed you any if you'd aimed at a vital section of his anatomy; but you let him off with little more'n a scratch. And that ambush was all planned. Rube here's just hungerin' an' thirstin' ter tell you all about Broken Feather's friendly call along at your woodland cabin while he knew you was absent. Ain't that so, Rube?"

"Yes," Rube answered, coming forward to Kiddie's side.

Rube then told the whole story of Broken Feather's surreptitious visit to the forest clearing, of the discovery that it was he who shot the poisoned arrow and of his threat that Kiddie would never come back.

"So you see, Kiddie," supplemented Abe Harum, "the skunk meant ter do you in. When he quitted the clearin', 'fore the hound struck his trail, he went right away ter put his rascally plan into operation. He an' his braves lay in wait for you ter gallop along. As I remarked before, it's a pity you didn't plant that bullet of yours where it would sure be fatal. It's your way, I know. You'd sooner cripple than kill. You show mercy even to a Injun--even to your deadliest enemy. An' Broken Feather's your enemy. You're what's called hereditary enemies, if I knows the meaning of the term."

"That's so, Abe," said Kiddie. "His father, Eye-of-the-Moon, shot my mother dead. It was Eye-of-the-Moon who killed my father, Buckskin Jack, in the Custer fight. On the other hand, it was my maternal grandfather, Spotted Tail, who killed Eye-of-the-Moon in their duel on horseback that I've so often told you about. And now it seems Broken Feather and I are at enmity."

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