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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Rube ran back to where Kiddie had slept


"Seems

he don't intend us ter get that honeycomb, Rube," he said calmly.

"Do keep back, Kiddie!" pleaded Rube. "Them fangs 'ld go clean through your moccasins or your buckskins. What you gonner do--shoot him?"

"Ain't got my gun," Kiddie answered. "It's in my belt alongside my tunic. Fetch it, if you like; may as well."

Rube ran back to where Kiddie had slept, and returned with the loaded revolver. He was astonished and alarmed at what he now saw. The rattlesnake had come wholly out from the tree, and Kiddie stood directly over it with his right foot planted across the thicker part of its writhing body, and the toasting fork, held firmly in his left hand, gripping the reptile by the neck. The snake's mouth was wide open--it seemed almost to be snarling angrily; the long body was wriggling, and all the time came the ominous rattling sound from the ringed tail.

"Get round by the back of me, and give me the gun in my right hand," ordered Kiddie. "Don't be scared. I've got him, sure; he ain't goin' ter wriggle away."

[Illustration: "I've got him, sure; he ain't goin' ter wriggle away."]

Rube passed the revolver and watched. He expected Kiddie to discharge the weapon close to the rattlesnake's head. To his surprise, Kiddie removed his right foot, drew away the forked stick,

and stepped back a couple of paces. The snake, now at unhindered liberty, raised its head several inches from the ground and coiled round, with jaws wide open, ready to strike. Kiddie then pressed his trigger, and the bullet, entering between the two poison fangs, came out at the back of the serpent's skull.

"Say, what in thunder did you let it go loose for?" questioned Rube. "It might have escaped! It might have bitten you!"

"Which means that you figure I might have missed my aim?" said Kiddie. "Not very complimentary to my shootin'. Why did I let it go loose? Well, I jest notioned it would be some cowardly ter shoot while I held the brute that way. Beside, I didn't want ter shatter the skull too much. Biggest rattler I've seen--seven feet long if it's an inch, and worth preservin'. Say, those bees look like givin' us trouble. Best hustle through with breakfast, and then get along to the traps. The honey c'n wait. That sulphur of yours is goin' ter do the trick."

They went together to make the round of the traps, first going some way up the creek to the willows where Rube had set his beaver traps in the midst of a colony of these busy animals. Rube was in hope that every trap would be filled; but there were only two beavers--one of them quite young and small, the other, a large male in prime condition.

"Best let it go, as it ain't hurt any," Kiddie advised, liberating the smaller one. "You c'n take the bigger chap and we'll cook the tail. Where did you set your snares?"

"In amongst the scrub, thar," Rube pointed.

There was a fine jack-rabbit in the first snare they came to. Rube gave the animal a sharp knock on the back of the head, killing it instantly.

"Guess we'll have this yer feller for dinner," he said; "stewed with plenty of onions an' some taters."

"You see," observed Kiddie, "we're already beginnin' ter be self-supportin'. Fish, meat, honey--there wasn't any occasion t' bring a butcher's shop along with us. We c'd even make our own bread at a pinch. I'm plannin' ter make a fruit pudding. Thar's a bush 'most breakin' down with its weight of ripe and juicy thimbleberries, back of the old cedar tree. Bees have been at 'em."


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