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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

But what if Kiddie himself were in danger


Then

for a long time there was no sign of Kiddie, and Rube began to fear that he had been killed or seriously wounded. So much did this fear oppress him that he resolved to risk his own safety by riding forward to make a search. He knew that Kiddie's main object in posting him here where he waited was to keep him out of danger. But what if Kiddie himself were in danger, or badly wounded, and needed help?

Rube Carter had often said that what he wanted more than anything else was to be of vital help to Kiddie in some situation of great peril, and the idea that such a situation was now at hand so took possession of him that caution and obedience alike were put aside. With the impulsive recklessness of boyhood, he started off to search for Kiddie in the very midst of the fighting. He had only the very vaguest notion of where Kiddie might be. He was aiming at getting to the place where he had last seen him riding at the head of a large company of the Crows to encounter an equally large company of the Sioux. The fighting at this point had now ceased, and the ground was covered with dead and dying horses and fallen warriors.

Rube did not reflect that his mount was a trained Indian war-horse, accustomed to the excitement of battle, and when he tugged and pulled at the halter rein to make the pony stop and let him dismount to go on foot amongst the wounded, the animal tossed its mane and galloped on and on to join

a troop of its fellows charging across the battle front.

All Rube's efforts to keep out of the actual fighting were useless. Wholly against his will he was carried into it. Arrows and spears were flying about his head; bullets hummed past him; he saw tomahawks raised aloft to strike at him.

Suddenly the horse immediately in front of him staggered and rolled over. Rube's own mount reared and swerved to clear the obstacle. His knees lost their grip, and he was thrown to the ground.

The long halter rope, wound round his wrist, almost wrenched out his arm. He was dragged for a little distance, but his hand was open, and the loops of the lariat uncoiled themselves as the horse plunged onward, leaving him behind.

The fighting continued round about him for a while, but the Crows pressed their enemies back and back until none remained excepting those who had lost their horses; and these, instead of following the battle on foot, went among the killed and wounded collecting scalp locks.

Some of the braves seized riderless ponies, leapt on their backs, and galloped off to join the throng. Rube also looked round in search of a pony that might carry him back to the rear. There was one not many yards away, tugging at the halter that held it.

Rube rose to his knees, only to realize that in his fall he had injured his hip, and could not even crawl. How, then, could he hope to mount a strange horse without help?

He was still on his knees, trying to rise to his feet, when something like the sting of a whip struck his right cheek and ear. He put up his hand to his face, and drew it away wet and stained. The warm crimson moisture trickled down his neck, and dripped from his chin. He opened and shut his mouth.


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