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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 5. Leaving The Ranch
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The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 5. Leaving The Ranch Post by :hmblack Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :July 2011 Read :1970

Click below to download : The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 5. Leaving The Ranch (Format : PDF)

The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 5. Leaving The Ranch

CHAPTER V. LEAVING THE RANCH

Now that everything was ready, Mr. Starr felt anxious about the absent Jared Plummer. He ought to have learned of the danger before this, and should have been almost, if not quite, as prompt as Tim Brophy in hastening to the house. His continued absence gave ground for fear that harm had befallen him, but his friends were powerless to give him help.

"It won't do to wait," remarked the rancher gravely, "and he will be as able to do without as with us."

"Why not lave a missage for him?" asked Tim.

"The idea is a good one," replied Mr. Starr, who, sitting down, hurriedly penned the following upon a slip of paper, and pinned it on the front door of the dwelling, where it was sure to catch the eye of the absent one in the event of his return:


TO JARED PLUMMER:

The presence of the Sioux, and the certainty that they will attack the ranch before long, leave no choice for us but to flee at once. I have waited as long as I dare. We shall take a south-west course and will aim to reach Fort Meade. Follow as soon as you can, and we will look out for each other; but give your thoughts and energies to taking care of yourself. More than likely we shall not see each other until we meet at the post, if it be God's will that we shall safely arrive there.

GEORGE STARR.


Little Dot watched her father with great interest while he was fastening this piece of paper to the door of their home.

"What's that for, papa?" she asked.

"It is something for Mr. Plummer to read when he comes back."

"Don't you want anyone else to read it?"

"Of course not," replied the parent with a smile, lovingly patting the chubby cheek.

"But if the bad Indians you and mamma have been talking about come here, they will read it too."

The father started. He had not thought of that. The next moment, however, he laughed.

"The Indians don't know how to read writing or print, so it won't do them any good."

"But Starcus can read as well as anybody."

"He has been to school and learned, and then he is a good Indian, too, and I wouldn't care if he did read it."

"But maybe he will become bad like the other Indians," persisted the child.

The husband looked significantly at his wife, who was also watching his actions and listening to the conversation. She replied with a motion of the head, which said there might be something in the words of the little one.

Starcus was a young Indian that had been attending the Carlisle school for a couple of years, and had acquired a fair English education, being able to read, write, and talk intelligently. He had called at the house several times, and interested the family by his pleasing ways and kind words.

He remarked on his last visit, some weeks before, that he was likely to remain some time with his people, and possibly would not return again to the East. Many things were more unlikely than that he would be carried away by the craze that was affecting his tribe, and become one of the most ferocious foes of the Caucasian race.

"Tim," said Mr. Starr, turning to the Irishman, "did you notice whether he was among the group you saw?"

"I didn't observe him, but they were fixed out in war-paint and toggery so that I wouldn't have knowed the gintleman onless I was inthrodooced to the same. Thin, too, he might have been one of the spalpeens who were stampeding the cattle."

"Well, there's no use in thinking of that; we must take the chances; the Sioux will find out what course we follow without asking anyone to translate this message for them."

Mrs. Starr caught the arm of her husband, and as he turned he noticed that her face was pale with emotion.

"What is it, wife?" he asked in alarm.

"Warren," she replied in a whisper.

"What about him?"

"This is the day he said he would leave the fort for home; he must be on the way now; unless he is warned he will ride to his death without suspecting it."

The father forgot their own danger for the moment in his alarm for his son. It took but a few minutes to act upon the plan of which the reader has learned long since. Another letter was pencilled and secured to the collar of Bruno, whose instructions were so minute that they would have been ludicrous, but for their warrant in the wonderful intelligence of the animal. The hound sped away like an arrow from the bow, and the faithfulness with which he did his work need not be retold.

There was no call for further delay. Mr. Starr mounted his fine animal, armed with Winchester and revolver, after he had assisted his wife upon another horse and placed Dot in front of her. The mother was a superior horsewoman, and this arrangement was intended to leave the husband free to act without hinderance, in the event of an emergency. Tim Brophy was equally at liberty, and with the pack animal well laden the party left the home, each oppressed by a great fear that they would not only never look upon it again, but would probably be struck down before reaching the nearest point of safety, many miles away, at the base of the Black Hills.

More than one eye anxiously turned toward the elevation, beyond which Tim Brophy had seen the bucks listening to the impassioned harangue of their leader, and the relief was not great when they rode over another swell in the plain, which shut them out from the sight of any of the serpent-eyed Sioux concealed there; for there could be no certainty that the fugitives had not been observed by them. It was not the custom of their people to attack openly; more likely they would set some ambush into which the whites might ride with no thought of danger.

But in one sense the Rubicon was crossed. They had turned their backs on the ranch, and it was to be dismissed from their thoughts until they should reach some place of safety.

There was little said by any member of the party, for the occasion was not one to induce conversation. Even little Dot was oppressed by the general gloom, and nestled close to her mother, whose arm lovingly encircled and held her close to her breast, which would gladly receive any blow intended for that precious one.

Tim Brophy remained a brief distance at the rear, with the pack animal, on the alert for the first sign of danger, while Mr. Starr gave his attention to the front, selecting the course, and doing all in his power to avoid leading his companions into danger.

When, however, a half mile had been passed, during which several ridges were crossed, a feeling of hope arose that after all they might elude their vengeful enemies. With the coming of night, it would be impossible for the Sioux to trail them. They must wait until the following morning, and before that time the fugitives ought to be so near Fort Meade that the pursuit would be in vain.

It was a striking proof of parental affection that now, when the cloud was partly lifted from the father and mother, their anxiety should be transferred to the absent son on his way to join them. He was in the minds of both, and despite his exceptional skill in woodcraft, the conviction grew upon the parents that he was in greater peril than they. Finally, the mother uttered the thoughts in her mind.

"I agree with you, Molly," the husband replied. "Bruno will do his best, but I believe the chances are a hundred to one that he will fail, and Warren will ride straight to his death."

"Can't we do something, George?"

The husband turned his head, and beckoned to his employe to ride up between them.

"Tim, you know the regular trail to the fort as well as the way to your own bedroom. I want you to set out to meet Warren, and prevent his running into the hands of the Sioux."

"Whin would ye like me to start?"

"Now."

"I'm riddy and waiting to ride to me death for the boy, if nade be."

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