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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 6. "Timothy Brophy, Esq., At Your Service"
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The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 6. 'Timothy Brophy, Esq., At Your Service' Post by :asdfgh Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :July 2011 Read :2164

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The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 6. "Timothy Brophy, Esq., At Your Service"


At first thought, the abrupt departure of Tim Brophy may seem an imprudent thing, since it left only one man to look after the safety of Mrs. Starr and their little one; but it will be remembered that the hope of safety lay not in fighting, but in flight; and the presence or absence of the young Irishman could not affect that one way or the other.

Accordingly, with a pause only long enough to draw a substantial lunch from the provision bag and to bid his friends good-by, Tim wheeled his horse and was off like a shot. He took good care to avoid the neighborhood of the bucks, and soon left the ranch far behind, speeding along the trail over which Warren Starr was at that moment galloping toward him.

The youth drove his task through with all the impetuosity of his nature. He was devotedly attached to the son of his employer, and was ready at any time, as he had always been, to risk his life for him. Believing as he did that he was in more imminent peril than anyone else, he bent every energy toward reaching and turning him aside before it was too late.

In this essay, Tim committed a mistake which Warren Starr narrowly avoided. He acted on the theory that the only real danger was in the immediate neighborhood of the ranch, and that none existed near the ridges between which the trail led. The consequence was that, when he was not dreaming of any such thing, he suddenly became the target for a fusillade from Sioux rifles that were waiting to receive young Starr, and therefore were not fully prepared for him. By desperate work and good fortune he and his pony ran the gauntlet unscathed, and continued their flight southward. The whinny of his friend's pony, he supposed, came from one of the horses of his enemies, and therefore he galloped on without paying any heed to it.

Meanwhile, as will be remembered, young Starr had pushed through the falling snow and gathering darkness until he and his horse reached the primitive shelter among the rocks, bowlders, and trees which he had used when on previous hunting expeditions. After he and Jack had disposed themselves for the night they were disturbed by the approach of someone. Rising to his feet, Warren hurried stealthily to the door, where he ran directly against the intruder, whom he was unable to recognize in the gloom.

"Who are you?" he asked, holding his revolver ready for instant use, but unwilling to fire until sure he was facing an enemy.

"Timothy Brophy, Esq., at your service," replied his friend, identifying the other by his voice.

"Why, Tim, I can't tell you how glad I am to see you," exclaimed the delighted Warren: "I have thought a score of times, when on the way, how pleasant it would be to meet you. What brought you here?"

"My horse, and I presume that yours did the same for yersilf."

"Where is he?"

"Outside, near by, wid the bist shelter I could give him: I didn't saa your own."

"He's inside, sharing my couch with me, or, rather, was doing so when you disturbed us."

Tim broke into laughter.

"That's a good idaa; I niver heerd of anything like it before. Is there room for Billy, too?"

"I'm afraid we would be crowded; but come inside till I strike a match and show you how things are fixed."

The two entered, and Warren ignited another lucifer. Jack was evidently puzzled, raising his head and looking at them in a way which suggested that he would like to come to his feet.

"Lie down, old fellow!" commanded his master; "there's nothing to be disturbed about; you couldn't have better quarters, and you will be wise to stay where you are; you're better off than Billy."

Now that Tim had arrived with his blanket, it was decided that the pony should be left where he was, while the youths lay down on the other covering, which was wrapped about them.

Then they curled up and made themselves as comfortable as on their previous stay in the rude shelter.

Lying thus, they naturally talked over what had taken place since their last meeting. Warren's voice trembled when he told the story of Bruno, who gave his life for him and his friends, and Tim related what had befallen the others during the day.

Young Starr was filled with alarm for his parents and little sister, but Tim was hopeful that everything would come out right, and that, by the time the sun rose, they would be so far advanced on their way to Fort Meade that the danger would be virtually over.

"Ye knows," he continued, "that yer fayther is acquainted wid the way as well as yerself; the horses are frish and strong, and he'll not spare thim; the road, too, is not as long as by the rig'lar route that we've follyed so often."

"That is true, but it must be all of thirty miles, and is really much greater because of the ridges, hills, streams, and difficult places in the path, which will compel many detours."

"And the same will have to be observed by the spalpeens that may be thrying to overtake thim."

"But they understand the business better."

"I'm not so sartin of that," sturdily replied Tim; "yer fayther is no green hand."

"That isn't what I mean; I'm thinking of mother and Dot; he will have to accommodate himself to them, and in case the Indians do come up with them----"

"Arrah, now, what are ye thinking of?" demanded Tim impatiently; "if ye want to go to specylatin' and 'ifing,' ye may refar to oursilves and say that if the spalpeens come down here wid Sitting Bull laading the same, and they sit fire to this ilegant risidence, what will become of us?"

"That is very well, Tim, and you mean right, but I shall not rest a minute until I know they have reached the fort. It's strange, too, about Plummer."

"It's my opinion," remarked the Irishman, lowering his voice, as though afraid of being overheard, "that he's in throuble."

"Why do you think so?"

"Because he did not show up before we lift; he hadn't any farther to go than mesilf, and it was nearly an hour after I got back before we come away, but there was no sign of him."

"Did you hear no firing?"

"Not that I remimber; which reminds me that it was also quaar that the Sioux could have shot down the cattle as they did, so near the house, widout any of us noting the noise of their guns."

"It was singular, but perhaps you were all inside at the time, busy at something. At any rate, instead of our hurrying back to the fort, we will do our best to find father and mother, and stick by them to the end."

"I'm wid ye there," was the hearty response of Tim; "I'd like to give Plummer a helping hand, but see no way to do the same, and it is likely that he can get along better widout us than wid us."

The two talked a long time, for their hearts were full. It was not until midnight that a feeling of drowsiness began creeping over them. Tim's remarks began to grow slower and more disconnected, until finally he failed to answer at all. Finding that he was asleep, Warren composed himself as comfortably as he could, and soon joined him in the land of dreams.

The snow continued sifting softly downward, and rattled against the branches and leaves which composed a portion of their house. The temperature sank as the night progressed, and the situation of the couple, no less than that of their friends, became anything but hopeful.

They were still a long way from the post, where they could feel secure, and the Indians were certain to press them hard. They were so much more numerous than the little band of fugitives that the advantage lay wholly with them.

But the night passed without disturbance. Then the pony and the two youths awoke simultaneously, for they were aroused by one of the most startling causes that can be conceived: It was the screaming whinny of Tim Brophy's horse--a cry rarely heard from the animal, and only when in the very extremity of mortal terror.

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