The Ridin
242 Pages
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The Ridin' Kid from Powder River

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242 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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Project Gutenberg's The Ridin' Kid from Powder River, by Henry Herbert Knibbs This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: The Ridin' Kid from Powder River Author: Henry Herbert Knibbs Illustrator: Stanley L. Wood and R. M. Brinkerhoff Release Date: August 14, 2005 [EBook #16530] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE RIDIN' KID FROM POWDER RIVER *** Produced by Al Haines [Frontispiece: The Ridin' Kid] THE RIDIN' KID FROM POWDER RIVER By HENRY HERBERT KNIBBS WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BOSTON AND NEW YORK. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 1919 COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY HENRY HERBERT KNIBBS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED CONTENTS I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. YOUNG PETE FIREARMS AND NEW FORTUNES A WARNING JUSTICE A CHANGE OF BASE NEW VISTAS PLANS SOME BOOKKEEPING ROWDY—AND BLUE SMOKE "TURN HIM LOOSE!" POP ANNERSLEY'S BOY IN THE PIT GAME THE KITTY-CAT FOUR MEN THE OPEN HOLSTER A FALSE TRAIL THE BLACK SOMBRERO XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. XXVII. XXVIII. XXIX. XXX. XXXI. XXXII. XXXIII. XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI. XXXVII. XXXVIII. XXXIX. XL. XLI. XLII. XLIII. XLIV. XLV. XLVI. THE SPIDER BULL MALVEY BOCA DULZURA "A DRESS—OR A RING—PERHAPS" THE DEVIL-WIND "A RIDER STOOD AT THE LAMPLIT BAR" "PLANTED—OUT THERE" THE OLLA OVER THE LINE A GAMBLE QUERY BRENT'S MISTAKE FUGITIVE EL PASO THE SPIDER'S ACCOUNT DORIS "CAUGHT IT JUST IN TIME" WHITE-EYE "CLOSE THE CASES" GETTING ACQUAINTED A PUZZLE GAME THE MAN DOWNSTAIRS "A LAND FAMILIAR" "OH, SAY TWO THOUSAND" A NEW HAT—A NEW TRAIL THE OLD TRAIL HOME FOLKS THE RIDIN' KID FROM POWDER RIVER ILLUSTRATIONS THE RIDIN' KID . . . . Colored Frontispiece Drawn by Stanley L. Wood "SAY, AIN'T WE PARDNERS?" PETE COTTON HEARD PETE'S HAND STRIKE THE BUTT OF HIS GUN AS THE HOLSTER TILTED UP "OF A TRUTH, NO!" SAID BOCA, AND SHE SWUNG THE BOTTLE Drawn by R. M. Brinkerhoff The Ridin' Kid from Powder River CHAPTER I YOUNG PETE With the inevitable pinto or calico horse in his string the horse-trader drifted toward the distant town of Concho, accompanied by a lazy cloud of dust, a slat-ribbed dog, and a knock-kneed foal that insisted on getting in the way of the wagon team. Strung out behind this indolently moving aggregation of desert adventurers plodded an indifferent lot of cayuses, their heads lowered and their eyes filled with dust. Young Pete, perched on a saddle much too large for him, hazed the tired horses with a professional "Hi! Yah! Git in there, you doggone, onnery, three-legged pole-cat you!" A gratuitous command, for the three-legged pole-cat referred to had no other ambition than to shuffle wearily along behind the wagon in the hope that somewhere ahead was good grazing, water, and chance shade. The trader was lean, rat-eyed, and of a vicious temper. Comparatively, the worst horse in his string was a gentleman. Horse-trading and whiskey go arm-in-arm, accompanied by their copartners, profanity and tobacco-chewing. In the right hand of the horse-trader is guile and in his left hand is trickery. And this squalid, slovenlybooted, and sombrero'd gentleman of the outlands lived down to and even beneath all the vicarious traditions of his kind, a pariah of the waste places, tolerated in the environs of this or that desert town chiefly because of Young Pete, who was popular, despite the fact that he bartered profanely for chuck at the stores, picketed the horses in pasturage already preempted by the natives, watered the horses where water was scarce and for local consumption only, and lied eloquently as to the qualities of his master's caviayard when a trade was in progress. For these manful services Young Pete received scant rations and much abuse. Pete had been picked up in the town of Enright, where no one seemed to have a definite record of his immediate ancestry. He was quite willing to go with the trader, his only stipulation being that he be allowed to bring along his dog, another denizen of Enright whose ancestry was as vague as were his chances of getting a square meal a day. Yet the dog, despite lean rations, suffered less than Young Pete, for the dog trusted no man. Consequently he was just out of reach when the trader wanted to kick something. Young Pete was not always so fortunate. But he was not altogether unhappy. He had responsibilities, especially when the trader was drunk and the horses needed attention. Pete learned much profanity without realizing its significance. He also learned to chew tobacco and realized its immediate significance. He mastered the art, however, and became in his own estimation a man grown—a twelve-year-old man who could swear, chew, and show horses to advantage when the trader could not, because the horses were not afraid of Young Pete. When Pete got kicked or cuffed he cursed the trader heartily. Once, after a brutal beating, Young Pete backed to the wagon, pulled the rifle from beneath the seat, and threatened to kill the trader. After that the rifle was never left loaded. In his tough little heart Pete hated his master, but he liked the life, which offered much variety and promised no little romance of a kind. Pete had barely existed for twelve years. When the trader came along with his wagon and ponies and cajoled Pete into going with him, Pete gladly turned his face toward wider horizons and the great adventure. Yet for him the great adventure was not to end in the trading of horses and drifting from town to town all his life. Old man Annersley held down a quarter-section on the Blue Mesa chiefly because he liked the country. Incidently he gleaned a living by hard work and thrift. His homestead embraced the only water for miles in any direction, water that the upland cattlemen had used from time immemorial. When Annersley fenced this water he did a most natural and necessary thing. He had gathered together a few head of cattle, some chickens, two fairly respectable horses, and enough timber to build a comfortable cabin. He lived alone, a gentle old hermit whose hand was clean to every man, and whose heart was tender to all living things despite many hard years in desert and range among men who dispensed such law as there was with a quick forefinger and an uncompromising eye. His gray hairs were honorable in that he had known no wastrel years. Nature had shaped him to a great, rugged being fitted for the simplicity of mountain life and toil. He had no argument with God and no petty dispute with man. What he found to do he did heartily. The horse-trader, camped near Concho, came to realize this. Old man Annersley was in need of a horse. One of his team had died that winter. So he unhooked the pole from the buckboard, rigged a pair of shafts, and drove to Concho, where he heard of the trader and finally located that worthy drinking at Tony's Place. Young Pete, as usual, was in camp looking after the stock. The trader accompanied Annersley to the camp. Young Pete, sniffing a customer, was immediately up and doing. Annersley inspected the horses and finally chose a horse which Young Pete roped with much swagger and unnecessary language, for the horse was gentle, and quite familiar with Young Pete's professional vocabulary. "This here animal is sound, safe, and a child could ride him," asserted Young Pete as he led the languid and underfed pony to the wagon. "He's got good action." Pete climbed to the wagon-wheel and mounted bareback. "He don't pitch, bite, kick, or balk." The horse, used to being shown, loped a few yards, turned and trotted back. "He neckreins like a cow-hoss," said Pete, "and he can turn in a ten-cent piece. You can rope from him and he'll hold anything you git your rope on." "Reckon he would," said Annersley, and his eyes twinkled. "'Specially a hitchin'rail. Git your rope on a hitchin'-rail and I reckon that hitchin'-rail would never git away from him." "He's broke right," reasserted Young Pete. "He's none of your ornery, half-broke cayuses. You ought to seen him when he was a colt! Say, 't wa'n't no time afore he could outwork and outrun any hoss in our bunch." "How old be you?" queried Annersley. "Twelve, goin' on thirteen." "Uh-huh. And the hoss?" "Oh, he's got a little age on him, but that don't hurt him none." Annersley's beard twitched. "He must 'a' been a colt for quite a spell. But I ain't lookin' for a cow-hoss. What I want is a hoss that I can work. How does he go in harness?" "Harness! Say, mister, this here hoss can pull the kingpin out of a wagon without sweatin' a hair. Hook him onto a plough and he sure can make the ole plough smoke." Annersley shook his head. "That's a mite too fast for me, son. I'd hate to have to stop at the end of every furrow and pour water on that there plough-point to keep her cool." "'Course if you're lookin' for a cheap hoss," said Young Pete, nothing abashed, "why, we got 'em. But I was showin' you the best in the string." "Don't know that I want him. What you say he was worth?" "He's worth a hundred, to any man. But we're sellin' him cheap, for cash—forty dollars." "Fifty," said the trader, "and if he ain't worth fifty, he ain't worth puttin' a halter on. Fifty is givin' him to you." "So? Then I reckon I don't want him. I wa'n't lookin' for a present. I was lookin' to buy a hoss." The trader saw a real customer slipping through his fingers. "You can put a halter on him for forty—cash." "Nope. Your pardner here said forty,"—and Annersley smiled at Young Pete. "I'll look him over ag'in for thirty." Young Pete knew that they needed money badly, a fact that the trader was apt to ignore when he was drinking. "You said I could sell him for forty, or mebby less, for cash," complained Young Pete, slipping from the pony and tying him to the wagonwheel. "You go lay down!" growled the trader, and he launched a kick that jolted Pete into the smouldering camp-fire. Pete was used to being kicked, but not before an audience. Moreover, the hot ashes had burned his hands. Pete's dog, hitherto asleep beneath the wagon, rose bristling, anxious to defend his young master, but afraid of the trader. The cowering dog and the cringing boy told Annersley much. Young Pete, brushing the ashes from his over-alls, rose and shaking with rage, pointed a trembling finger at the trader. "You're a doggone liar! You're a doggone coward! You're a doggone thief!" "Just a minute, friend," said Annersley as the trader started toward the boy. "I reckon the boy is right—but we was talkin' hosses. I'll give you just forty dollars for the hoss —and the boy." "Make it fifty and you can take 'em. The kid is no good, anyhow." This was too much for Young Pete. He could stand abuse and scant rations, but to be classed as "no good," when he had worked so hard and lied so eloquently, hurt more than mere kick or blow. His face quivered and he bit his lip. Old man Annersley slowly drew a wallet from his overalls and counted out forty dollars. "That hoss ain't sound," he remarked and he recounted the money. He's got a couple of wind-puffs, and he's old. He needs feedin' and restin' up. That boy your boy?" "That kid! Huh! I picked him up when he was starvin' to death over to Enright. I been feedin' him and his no-account dog for a year, and neither of 'em is worth what he eats." "So? Then I reckon you won't be missin' him none if I take him along up to my place." The horse-trader did not want to lose Young Pete, but he did want Annersley's money. "I'll leave it to him," he said, flattering himself that Pete dare not leave him. "What do you say, son?"—and old man Annersley turned to Pete. "Would you like to go along up with me and help me to run my place? I'm kind o' lonesome up there, and I was thinkin' o' gettin' a pardner." "Where do you live?" queried Pete, quickly drying his eyes. "Why, up in those hills, which don't no way smell of liquor and are tellin' the truth from sunup to sunup. Like to come along and give me a hand with my stock?" "You bet I would!" "Here's your money," said Annersley, and he gave the trader forty dollars. "Git right in that buckboard, son." "Hold on!" exclaimed the trader. "The kid stays here. I said fifty for the outfit." "I'm goin'," asserted Young Pete. "I'm sick o' gettin' kicked and cussed every time I come near him. He licked me with a rawhide last week." "He did, eh? For why?" "'Cause he was drunk—that's why!" "Then I reckon you come with me. Such as him ain't fit to raise young 'uns." Young Pete was enjoying himself. This was indeed revenge—to hear some one tell the trader what he was, and without the fear of a beating. "I'll go with you," said Pete. "Wait till I git my blanket." "Don't you touch nothin' in that wagon!" stormed the trader. "Git your blanket, son," said Annersley. The horse-trader was deceived by Annersley's mild manner. As Young Pete started toward the wagon, the trader jumped and grabbed him. The boy flung up his arms to protect his face. Old man Annersley said nothing, but with ponderous ease he strode forward, seized the trader from behind, and shook that loose-mouthed individual till his teeth rattled and the horizon line grew dim. "Git your blanket, son," said Annersley, as he swung the trader round, deposited him face down in the sand, and sat on him. "I'm waitin'." "Goin' to kill him?" queried Young Pete, his black eyes snapping. "Shucks, no!" "Kin I kick him—jest onct, while you hold him down?" "Nope, son. That's too much like his way. You run along and git your blanket if you're goin' with me." Young Pete scrambled to the wagon and returned with a tattered blanket, his sole possession, and his because he had stolen it from a Mexican camp near Enright. He scurried to the buckboard and hopped in. Annersley rose and brought the trader up with him as though the latter were a bit of limp tie-rope. "And now we'll be driftin'," he told the other. Murder burned in the horse-trader's narrow eyes, but immediate physical ambition was lacking. Annersley bulked big. The horse-trader cursed the old man in two languages. Annersley climbed into the buckboard, gave Pete the lead-rope of the recent purchase, and clucked to his horse, paying no attention whatever to the volley of invectives behind him. "He'll git his gun and shoot you in the back," whispered Young Pete. "Nope, son. He'll jest go and git another drink and tell everybody in Concho how he's goin' to kill me—some day. I've handled folks like him frequent." "You sure kin fight!" exclaimed Young Pete enthusiastically. "Never hit a man in my life. I never dast to," said Annersley. "You jest set on 'em, eh?" "Jest set on 'em," said Annersley. "You keep tight holt to that rope. That fool hoss acts like he wanted to go back to your camp." Young Pete braced his feet and clung to the rope, admonishing the horse with outland eloquence. As they crossed the arroyo, the led horse pulled back, all but unseating Young Pete. "Here, you!" cried the boy. "You quit that—afore my new pop takes you by the neck and the—pants and sits on you!" "That's the idea, son. Only next time, jest tell him without cussin'." "He always cusses the hosses," said Young Pete. "Everybody cusses 'em." "'Most everybody. But a man what cusses a hoss is only cussin' hisself. You're some young to git that—but mebby you'll recollect I said so, some day." "Didn't you cuss him when you set on him?" queried Pete. "For why, son?" "Wa'n't you mad?" "Shucks, no." "Don't you ever cuss?" "Not frequent, son. Cussin' never pitched any hay for me." Young Pete was a bit disappointed. "Didn't you never cuss in your life?" Annersley glanced down at the boy. "Well, if you promise you won't tell nobody, I did cuss onct, when I struck the plough into a yellow-jacket's nest which I wa'n't aimin' to hit, nohow. Had the reins round my neck, not expectin' visitors, when them hornets come at me and the hoss without even ringin' the bell. That team drug me quite a spell afore I got loose. When I got enough dirt out of my mouth so as I could holler, I set to and said what I thought." "Cussed the hosses and the doggone ole plough and them hornets—and everything!" exclaimed Pete. "Nope, son, I cussed myself for hangin' them reins round my neck. What you say your name was?" "Pete." "What was the trader callin' you—any other name besides Pete?" "Yes, I reckon he was. When he is good 'n' drunk he would be callin' me a doggone little—" "Never mind, I know about that. I was meanin' your other name." "My other name? I ain't got none. I'm Pete." Annersley shook his head. "Well, pardner, you'll be Pete Annersley now. Watch out that hoss don't jerk you out o' your jacket. This here hill is a enterprisin' hill and leads right up to my place. Hang on! As I was sayin', we're pardners, you and me. We're goin' up to my place on the Blue and tend to the critters and git washed up and have supper, and mebby after supper we'll mosey around so you kin git acquainted with the ranch. Where'd you say your pop come from?" "I dunno. He ain't my real pop." Annersley turned and looked down at the lean, bright little face. "You hungry, son?" "You bet!" "What you say if we kill a chicken for supper—and celebrate." "G'wan, you're joshin' me!" "Nope. I like chicken. And I got one that needs killin'; a no-account ole hen what