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Her Prairie Knight

B. M. Bower

  Produced by Mary Starr


  By B.M. Sinclair, AKA B. M. Bower


  1. Stranded on the Prairie 2. Handsome Cowboy to the Rescue 3. Tilt With Sir Redmond 4. Beatrice Learns a New Language 5. The Search for Dorman 6. Mrs. Lansell's Lecture 7. Beatrice's Wild Ride 8. Dorman Plays Cupid 9. What It Meant to Keith 10. Pine Ridge Range Ablaze 11. Sir Redmond Waits His Answer 12. Held Up by Mr. Kelly 13. Keith's Masterful Wooing 14. Sir Redmond Gets His Answer


  CHAPTER 1. Stranded on the Prairie.

  "By George, look behind us! I fancy we are going to have a storm." Fourheads turned as if governed by one brain; four pairs of eyes, of variedcolor and character, swept the wind-blown wilderness of tender green,and gazed questioningly at the high-piled thunderheads above. Asmall boy, with an abundance of yellow curls and white collar, almostprecipitated himself into the prim lap of a lady on the rear seat.

  "Auntie, will God have fireworks? Say, auntie, will He? Can I sayprayers widout kneelin' down'? Uncle Redmon' crowds so. I want to prayfor fireworks, auntie. Can I?"

  "Do sit down, Dorman. You'll fall under the wheel, and then auntie wouldnot have any dear little boy. Dorman, do you hear me? Redmond, dotake that child down! How I wish Parks were here. I shall have nervousprostration within a fortnight."

  Sir Redmond Hayes plucked at the white collar, and the small boy retiredbetween two masculine forms of no mean proportions. His voice, however,rose higher.

  "You'll get all the fireworks you want, young man, without all thathullabaloo," remarked the driver, whom Dorman had been told, at thedepot twenty miles back, he must call his Uncle Richard.

  "I love storms," came cheerfully from the rear seat--but the voice wasnot the prim voice of "auntie." "Do you have thunder and lightning outhere, Dick?"

  "We do," assented Dick. "We don't ship it from the East in refrigeratorcars, either. It grows wild."

  The cheerful voice was heard to giggle.

  "Richard," came in tired, reproachful accents from a third voice behindhim, "you were reared in the East. I trust you have not formed thepernicious habit of speaking slightingly of your birthplace."

  That, Dick knew, was his mother. She had not changed appreciably sinceshe had nagged him through his teens. Not having seen her since, he wascertainly in a position to judge.

  "Trix asked about the lightning," he said placatingly, just as he wasaccustomed to do, during the nagging period. "I was telling her."

  "Beatrice has a naturally inquiring mind," said the tired voice, layingreproving stress upon the name.

  "Are you afraid of lightning, Sir Redmond?" asked the cheerfulgirl-voice.

  Sir Redmond twisted his neck to smile back at her. "No, so long as itdoesn't actually chuck me over."

  After that there was silence, so far as human voices went, for a time.

  "How much farther is it, Dick?" came presently from the girl.

  "Not more than ten--well, maybe twelve--miles. You'll think it's twenty,though, if the rain strikes 'Dobe Flat before we do. That's just whatit's going to do, or I'm badly mistaken. Hawk! Get along, there!"

  "We haven't an umbrella with us," complained the tired one. "Beatrice,where did you put my raglan?"

  "In the big wagon, mama, along with the trunks and guns and saddles, andMartha and Katherine and James."

  "Dear me! I certainly told you, Beatrice--"

  "But, mama, you gave it to me the last thing, after the maids were inthe wagon, and said you wouldn't wear it. There isn't room here foranother thing. I feel like a slice of pressed chicken."

  "Auntie, I want some p'essed chicken. I'm hungry, auntie! I want somechicken and a cookie--and I want some ice-cream."

  "You won't get any," said the young woman, with the tone of finality."You can't eat me, Dorman, and I'm the only thing that looks good enoughto eat."

  "Beatrice!" This, of course, from her mother, whose life seemedprincipally made up of a succession of mental shocks, brought on by heryoungest, dearest, and most irrepressible.

  "I have Dick's word for it, mama; he said so, at the depot."

  "I want some chicken, auntie."

  "There is no chicken, dear," said the prim one. "You must be a patientlittle man."

  "I won't. I'm hungry. Mens aren't patient when dey're hungry." A small,red face rose, like a tiny harvest moon, between the broad, masculinebacks on the front seat.

  "Dorman, sit down! Redmond!"

  A large, gloved hand appeared against the small moon and it setignominiously and prematurely, in the place where it had risen. SirRedmond further extinguished it with the lap robe, for the storm,whooping malicious joy, was upon them.

  First a blinding glare and a deafening crash. Then rain--sheets of it,that drenched where it struck. The women huddled together under thedoubtful protection of the light robe and shivered. After that, windthat threatened to overturn the light spring wagon; then hail thatbounced and hopped like tiny, white rubber balls upon the ground.

  The storm passed as suddenly as it came, but the effect remained. Theroad was sodden with the water which had fallen, and as they went downthe hill to 'Dobe Flat the horses strained at the collar and ploddedlike a plow team. The wheels collected masses of adobe, which stuck likeglue and packed the spaces between the spokes. Twice Dick got out andpoked the heavy mess from the wheels with Sir Redmond's stick--whichwas not good for the stick, but which eased the drag upon the horseswonderfully--until the wheels accumulated another load.

  "Sorry to dirty your cane," Dick apologized, after the second halt. "Youcan rinse it off, though, in the creek a few miles ahead."

  "Don't mention it!" said Sir Redmond, somewhat dubiously. It was hisfavorite stick, and he had taken excellent care of it. It was finelypolished, and it had his name and regiment engraved upon the silverknob--and a date which the Boers will not soon forget, nor the English,for that matter.

  "We'll soon be over the worst," Dick told them, after a time. "When weclimb that hill we'll have a hard, gravelly trail straight to the ranch.I'm sorry it had to storm; I wanted you to enjoy this trip."

  "I am enjoying it," Beatrice assured him. "It's something new, at anyrate, and anything is better than the deadly monotony of Newport."

  "Beatrice!" cried her mother "I'm ashamed of you!"

  "You needn't be, mama. Why won't you just be sorry for yourself, andlet it end there? I know you hated to come, poor dear; but you wouldn'tthink of letting me come alone, though I'm sure I shouldn't have minded.This is going to be a delicious summer--I feel it in my bones."


  "Why, mama? Aren't young ladies supposed to have bones?"

  "Young ladies are not supposed to make use of unrefined expressions.Your poor sister."

  "There, mama. Dear Dolly didn't live upon stilts, I'm sure. Even whenshe married."


  "Dear me, mama! I hope you are not growing peevish. Peevish elderlypeople--"

  "Auntie! I want to go home!" the small boy wailed.

  "You cannot go home now, dear," sighed his guardian angel. "Look at thepretty--" She hesitated, groping vaguely for some object to which shemight conscientiously apply the adjective.

  "Mud," suggested Beatrice promptly "Look at the wheels, Dorman; they'replaying patty-cake. See, now they say, 'Roll 'em, and roll 'em,' andnow, 'Toss in the oven to bake!' And now--"

  "Auntie, I want to get out an' play patty-cake, like de wheels. I wantto awf'lly!"

  "Beatrice, why did you put that into his head?" her mother demanded,fretfully.

  "Never mind, honey," called Beatrice cheeringly. "You and I will makehundreds of mud pies when we get to Uncle
Dick's ranch. Just think, hon,oodles of beautiful, yellow mud just beside the door!"

  "Look here, Trix! Seems to me you're promising a whole lot you can'tmake good. I don't live in a 'dobe patch."

  "Hush, Dick; don't spoil everything. You don't know Dorman.'

  "Beatrice! What must Miss Hayes and Sir Redmond think of you? I'm sureDorman is a sweet child, the image of poor, dear Dorothea, at his age."

  "We all think Dorman bears a strong resemblance to his father," said hisAunt Mary.

  Beatrice, scenting trouble, hurried to change the subject. "What's this,Dick--the Missouri River?"

  "Hardly. This is the water that didn't fall in the buggy. It isn't deep;it makes bad going worse, that's all."

  Thinking to expedite matters, he struck Hawk sharply across the flank.It was a foolish thing to do, and Dick knew it when he did it; tenseconds later he knew it better.

  Hawk reared, tired as he was, and lunged viciously.

  The double-trees snapped and splintered; there was a brief intervalof plunging, a shower of muddy water in that vicinity, and then twodraggled, disgusted brown horses splashed indignantly to shore and tookto the hills with straps flying.

  "By George!" ejaculated Sir Redmond, gazing helplessly after them. "Butthis is a beastly bit of luck, don't you know!"

  "Oh, you Hawk--" Dick, in consideration of his companions, finished theremark in the recesses of his troubled soul, where the ladies could notoverhear.

  "What comes next, Dick?" The voice of Beatrice was frankly curious.

  "Next, I'll have to wade out and take after those--" This sentence,also, was rounded out mentally.

  "In the meantime, what shall we do?"

  "You'll stay where you are--and thank the good Lord you were notupset. I'm sorry,"--turning so that he could look deprecatingly at MissHayes--"your welcome to the West has been so--er--strenuous. I'll tryand make it up to you, once you get to the ranch. I hope you won't letthis give you a dislike of the country."

  "Oh, no," said the spinster politely. "I'm sure it is a--a very nicecountry, Mr. Lansell."

  "Well, there's nothing to be done sitting here." Dick climbed down overthe dashboard into the mud and water.

  Sir Redmond was not the man to shirk duty because it happened to bedisagreeable, as the regiment whose name was engraved upon his canecould testify. He glanced regretfully at his immaculate leggings andfollowed.

  "I fancy you ladies won't need any bodyguard," he said. Looking back, hecaught the light of approval shining in the eyes of Beatrice, and afterthat he did not mind the mud, but waded to shore and joined in thechase quite contentedly. The light of approval, shining in the eyes ofBeatrice, meant much to Sir Redmond.