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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Which Rube very well understood


"If

it's only the fog that's kept him, he ought to be back in camp within another hour," he told himself, as the moon broke through a rack of drifting clouds.

He waited for a while, and then renewed his whistling, sending messages in the Morse code, which Rube very well understood.

But no answer came; only the repeated echoes of his own shrill whistle.

An hour went by, and yet another hour.

"Rube's wise in his way," Kiddie meditated. "I guess he's having a sleep up there rather than risk his neck by climbing down that precipice in the dark. There's no moonlight deep down in the canyon. Quite right of him to wait until sunrise."

Thus arguing, Kiddie entered the teepee, dropped the door-flap, and turned into his sleeping-bag.

But he did not sleep. All the while he lay listening and at the same time trying to realize just what had happened to Rube. It was his excellent habit when puzzling out any such problem as this to imagine himself to be the other person and to figure himself in that other person's situation. He did not consider what he himself would do in the circumstances, but what the other, having a different character, would attempt.

And so it was now. He imagined himself to be Rube Carter climbing across the face of a steep precipice

overhanging a chasm so deep and narrow that the level strip of rocky ground at the base of it could not be seen. A false step, a slip of foot or hand, would mean a fall to certain death.

But Rube was too good and cautious a climber to make a mistake. He had got near enough to the eagles to startle them into flight, and this had happened just before the mist had rolled down the mountain sides into the canyon.

Now, Rube knew well that to climb down a precipice is always more difficult than the ascent; and that to attempt the descent in a thick mist was doubly perilous. Kiddie argued, therefore, that Rube had either remained where he was when overtaken by the mist, or else that he had climbed farther up the mountain. This, indeed, was in any case the safer way, and although it would mean a long and weary tramp back to camp, still he might be expected soon after daybreak.

From earliest dawn until long after sunrise, Kiddie waited in hope, and when Rube did not return he resolved to go out in search of him.

If Rube were seriously hurt, it would be necessary to take him home to Birkenshaw's with the least possible delay. Kiddie therefore packed up the teepee and the stores in the canoe and left the latter ready for launching. He took his rifle and revolvers with him, filled his haversack with food, and did not neglect to take his pocket box of surgical dressings. In case Rube should return in his absence, he left a message in picture-writing on the paddle of the canoe.

He followed Rube's direction over the shoulder of the mountain, and then began to look for tracks, finding them now and again, and particularly at the point where Rube had left the hill-side to begin his difficult climb across the face of the precipice. Here he had dropped a stick that he had carried, and he had evidently sat down to tighten the thongs of his moccasins. Kiddie had now no doubt of his way. He knew that Rube would instinctively take the easiest and quickest course to the eagles' nest.


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