Rosemary Allen Does A Small Sum In Addition





Miss Rosemary Allen, having wielded a wet gunny sack until her eyes were

red and smarting and her lungs choked with cinders and her arms so tired

she could scarcely lift them, was permitted by fate to be almost the

first person who discovered that her quarter of the four-room shack

built upon the four contiguous corners of four claims, was afire in the

very middle of its roof. Miss Rosemary Allen stood still and watched it

burn, and was a trifle surprised because she felt so little regret.



Other shacks had caught fire and burned hotly, and she had wept with

sympathy for the owners. But she did not weep when her own shack began

to crackle and show yellow, licking tongues of flame. Those three old

cats--I am using her own term, which was spiteful--would probably give

up now, and go back where they belonged. She hoped so. And for herself--



"By gracious, I'm glad to see that one go, anyhow!" Andy Green paused

long enough in his headlong gallop to shout to her. "I was going to

sneak up and touch it off myself, if it wouldn't start any other way.

Now you and me'll get down to cases, girl, and have a settlement. And

say!" He had started on, but he pulled up again. "The Little Doctor's

back here, somewhere. You go home with her when she goes, and stay till

I come and get you."



"I like your nerve!" Rosemary retorted ambiguously.



"Sure--folks generally do. I'll tell her to stop for you. You know

she'll be glad enough to have you--and so will the Kid."



"Where is Buck?" Rosemary was the first person who asked that question.

"I saw him ride up on the bench just before the fire started. I was

watching for him, through the glasses--"



"Dunno--haven't seen him. With his mother, I guess." Andy rode on to

find Patsy and send him back down the line with the water wagon. He did

not think anything more about the Kid, though he thought a good deal

about Miss Allen.



Now that her shack was burned, she would be easier to persuade into

giving up that practically worthless eighty. That was what filled the

mind of Andy Green to the exclusion of everything else except the fire.

He was in a hurry to deliver his message to Patsy, so that he could hunt

up the Little Doctor and speak her hospitality for the girl he meant to

marry just as soon as he could persuade her to stand with him before a

preacher.



He found the Little Doctor still fighting a dogged battle with death for

the life of the woman who laughed wildly because her home was a heap

of smoking embers. The Little Doctor told him to send Rosemary Allen on

down to the ranch, or take her himself, and to tell the Countess to send

up her biggest medicine case immediately. She could not leave, she said,

for some time yet. She might have to stay all night--or she would if

there was any place to stay. She was half decided, she said, to have

someone take the woman in to Dry Lake right away, and up to the hospital

in Great Falls. She supposed she would have to go along. Would Andy tell

J. G. to send up some money? Clothes didn't matter--she would go the way

she was; there were plenty of clothes in the stores, she declared. And

would Andy rustle a team, right away, so they could start? If they went

at all they ought to catch the evening train. The Little Doctor was

making her decisions and her plans while she talked, as is the way with

those strong natures who can act promptly and surely in the face of an

emergency.



By the time she had thought of having a team come right away, she had

decided that she would not wait for her medicine-case or for money. She

could get all the money she needed in Dry Lake; and she had her little

emergency case with her. Since she was going to take the woman to a

hospital, she said, there was no great need of more than she had with

her. She was a thoughtful Little Doctor. At the last minute she detained

Andy long enough to urge him to see that Miss Allen helped herself

to clothes or anything she needed; and to send a goodbye message to

Chip--in case he did not show up before she left--and a kiss to her

manchild.



Andy was lucky. He met a man driving a good team and spring wagon, with

a barrel of water in the back. He promptly dismounted and helped the man

unload the water-barrel where it was, and sent him bumping swiftly over

the burned sod to where the Little Doctor waited. So Fate was kinder to

the Little Doctor than were those who would wring anew the mother heart

of her that their own petty schemes might succeed. She went away with

the sick woman laughing crazily because all the little black shacks

were burned and now everything was black so everything matched

nicely--nicely, thank you. She was terribly worried over the woman's

condition, and she gave herself wholly to her professional zeal and

never dreamed that her manchild was at that moment riding deeper and

deeper into the Badlands with a tricky devil of a man, looking for a

baby bear cub for a pet.



Neither did Chip dream it, nor any of the Happy Family, nor even Miss

Rosemary Allen, until they rode down into Flying U Coulee at supper-time

and were met squarely by the fact that the Kid was not there. The Old

Man threw the bomb that exploded tragedy in the midst of the little

group. He heard that "Dell" had gone to take a sick woman to the

hospital in Great Falls, and would not be back for a day or so,

probably.



"What'd she do with the Kid?" he demanded. "Take him with her?"



Chip stared blankly at him, and turned his eyes finally to Andy's face.

Andy had not mentioned the Kid to him.



"He wasn't with her," Andy replied to the look. "She sent him a kiss and

word that he was to take care of Miss Allen. He must be somewhere around

here."



"Well, he ain't. I was looking fer him myself," put in the Countess

sharply. "Somebody shut the cat up in the flour chest and I didn't study

much on what it was done it! If I'd a got my hands on 'im--"



"I saw him ride up on the hill trail just before the fire started,"

volunteered Rosemary Allen. "I had my opera glasses and was looking for

him, because I like to meet him and hear him talk. He said yesterday

that he was coming to see me today. And he rode up on the hill in sight

of my claim. I saw him." She stopped and looked from one to the other

with her eyebrows pinched together and her lips pursed.



"Listen," she went on hastily. "Maybe it has nothing to do with

Buck--but I saw something else that was very puzzling. I was going to

investigate, but the fire broke out immediately and put everything else

out of my mind. A man was up on that sharp-pointed knoll off east of

the trail where it leaves this coulee, and he had field glasses and

was looking for something over this way. I thought he was watching the

trail. I just caught him with the glasses by accident as I swung them

over the edge of the benchland to get the trail focused. He was watching

something--because I kept turning the glasses on him to see what he was

doing.



"Then Buck came into sight, and I started to ride out and meet him. I

hate to leave the little mite riding alone anywhere--I'm always afraid

something may happen. But before I got on my horse I took another look

at this man on the hill. He had a mirror or something bright in his

hands. I saw it flash, just exactly as though he was signaling to

someone--over that way." She pointed to the west. "He kept looking that

way, and then back this way; and he covered up the piece of mirror with

his hand and then took it off and let it shine a minute, and put it in

his pocket. I know he was making signals.



"I got my horse and started to meet little Buck. He was coming along

the trail and rode into a little hollow out of sight. I kept looking and

looking toward Dry Lake--because the man looked that way, I guess. And

in a few minutes I saw the smoke of the fire--"



"Who was that man?" Andy took a step toward her, his eyes hard and

bright in their inflamed lids.



"The man? That Mr. Owens who jumped your south eighty."



"Good Lord, what fools!" He brushed past her without a look or another

word, so intent was he upon this fresh disaster. "I'm going after the

boys, Chip. You better come along and see if you can pick up the Kid's

trail where he left the road. It's too bad Florence Grace Hallman ain't

a man! I'd know better what to do if she was."



"Oh, do you think--?" Miss Rosemary looked at him wide-eyed.



"Doggone it, if she's tried any of her schemes with fire and--why,

doggone it, being a woman ain't going to help her none!" The Old Man,

also, seemed to grasp the meaning of it almost as quickly as had Andy.

"Chip, you have Ole hitch up the team. I'm going to town myself, by

thunder, and see if she's going to play any of her tricks on this outfit

and git away with it! Burnt out half her doggoned colony tryin' to git

a whack at you boys! Where's my shoes? Doggone it, what yuh all standin'

round with your jaws hangin' down for? We'll see about this fire-settin'

and this--where's them shoes?"



The Countess found his shoes, and his hat, and his second-best coat and

his driving gloves which he had not worn for more months than anyone

cared to reckon. Miss Rosemary Allen did what she could to help, and

wondered at the dominant note struck by this bald old man from the

moment when he rose stiffly from his big chair and took the initiative

so long left to others.



While the team was being made ready the Old Man limped here and there,

collecting things he did not need and trying to remember what he must

have, and keeping the Countess moving at a flurried trot. Chip and Andy

were not yet up the bluff when the Old Man climbed painfully into the

covered buggy, took the lines and the whip and cut a circle with the

wheels on the hard-packed earth as clean and as small as Chip himself

could have done, and went whirling through the big gate and across the

creek and up the long slope beyond. He shouted to the boys and they rode

slowly until he overtook them--though their nerves were all on edge and

haste seemed to them the most important thing in the world. But habit is

strong--it was their Old Man who called to them to wait.



"You boys wait to git out after that Owens," he shouted when he passed

them. "If they've got the Kid, killing's too good for 'em!" The brown

team went trotting up the grade with back straightened to the pull of

the lurching buggy, and nostrils flaring wide with excitement. The Old

Man leaned sidewise and called back to the two loping after him in the

obscuring dust-cloud he left behind.



"I'll have that woman arrested on suspicion uh setting prairie fires!"

he called. "I'll git Blake after her. You git that Owens if you have-to

haze him to hell and back! Yuh don't want to worry about the Kid,

Chip--they ain't goin' to hurt him. All they want is to keep you boys

huntin' high and low and combin' the breaks to find 'im. I see their

scheme, all right."





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