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´╗┐Title: The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch - or Little Folks on Ponyback
Author: Garis, Howard Roger, 1873-1962
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch - or Little Folks on Ponyback" ***

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Internet Archive)



_The_ CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH

HOWARD R. GARIS



    [Illustration: "YOU'VE GOT TO GROAN AND PRETEND YOU'VE BEEN SHOT."
    _The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch_      _Page 7_]



    THE CURLYTOPS
    AT
    UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH

    OR

    _Little Folks on Ponyback_

    BY

    HOWARD R. GARIS

    AUTHOR OF "THE CURLYTOPS SERIES," "BEDTIME
    STORIES," "UNCLE WIGGILY SERIES," ETC.

    _Illustrations by
    JULIA GREENE_

    NEW YORK
    CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY



    THE CURLYTOPS SERIES

    By HOWARD R. GARIS

    12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

        _THE CURLYTOPS AT CHERRY FARM

        _THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND

        _THE CURLYTOPS SNOWED IN

        _THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH

    CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York



    COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY
    CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

    THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH

    Printed in U. S. A.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER PAGE

        I TROUBLE'S TUMBLE             1

       II NICKNACK AND TROUBLE        13

      III OFF FOR THE WEST            28

       IV THE COLLISION               40

        V AT RING ROSY RANCH          55

       VI COWBOY FUN                  63

      VII BAD NEWS                    72

     VIII A QUEER NOISE               87

       IX THE SICK PONY              101

        X A SURPRISED DOCTOR         114

       XI TROUBLE MAKES A LASSO      122

      XII THE BUCKING BRONCO         140

     XIII MISSING CATTLE             153

      XIV LOOKING FOR INDIANS        167

       XV TROUBLE "HELPS"            175

      XVI ON THE TRAIL               189

     XVII THE CURLYTOPS ALONE        196

    XVIII LOST                       209

      XIX THE HIDDEN VALLEY          222

       XX BACK TO RING ROSY          237



THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH



CHAPTER I

TROUBLE'S TUMBLE


"Say, Jan, this isn't any fun!"

"What do you want to play then, Ted?"

Janet Martin looked at her brother, who was dressed in one of his
father's coats and hats while across his nose was a pair of spectacles
much too large for him. Janet, wearing one of her mother's skirts, was
sitting in a chair holding a doll.

"Well, I'm tired of playing doctor, Jan, and giving your make-believe
sick doll bread pills. I want to do something else," and Teddy began
taking off the coat, which was so long for him that it dragged on the
ground.

"Oh, I know what we can do that'll be lots of fun!" cried Janet, getting
up from the chair so quickly that she forgot about her doll, which fell
to the floor with a crash that might have broken her head.

"Oh, my _dear_!" cried Janet, as she had often heard her mother call
when Baby William tumbled and hurt himself. "Oh, are you hurt?" and
Janet clasped the doll in her arms, and hugged it as though it were a
real child.

"Is she busted?" Ted demanded, but he did not ask as a real doctor might
inquire. In fact, he had stopped playing doctor.

"No, she isn't hurt, I guess," Jan answered, feeling of her doll's head.
"I forgot all about her being in my lap. Oh, aren't you going to play
any more, Ted?" she asked as she saw her brother toss the big coat on a
chair and take off the spectacles.

"No. I want to do something else. This is no fun!"

"Well, let's make-believe you're sick and I can be a Red Cross nurse,
like some of those we saw in the drugstore window down the street,
making bandages for the soldiers. You could be a soldier, Ted, and I
could be the nurse, and I'd make some sugar pills for you, if you don't
like the rolled-up bread ones you gave my doll."

Teddy Martin thought this over for a few seconds. He seemed to like it.
And then he shook his head.

"No," he answered his sister, "I couldn't be a soldier."

"Why not?"

"'Cause I haven't got a gun and there isn't any tent."

"We could make a tent with a sheet off the bed like we do lots of times.
Put it over a chair, you know."

"But I haven't a gun," Teddy went on. He knew that he and Janet could
make a tent, for they had often done it before.

"Couldn't you take a broom for a gun?" Janet asked. "I'll get it from
the kitchen."

"Pooh! What good is a broom for a gun? I want one that shoots! Anyhow I
haven't a uniform, and a soldier can't go to war without a uniform or a
sword or a gun. I'm not going to play that!"

Janet did not know what to say for a few seconds. Truly a soldier would
not be much of one without a gun or a uniform, even if he was in a tent.
But the little girl had not given up yet.

The day was a rainy one. There was no school, for it was Saturday, and
staying in the house was no great fun. Janet wanted her brother to stay
and play with her and she knew she must do something to make him. For a
while he had been content to play that he was Dr. Thompson, come to give
medicine to Jan's sick doll. But Teddy had become tired of this after
paying half a dozen visits and leaving pills made by rolling bread
crumbs together.

Teddy laid aside his father's old hat and scratched his head. That is he
tried to, but his head was so covered with tightly twisted curls that
the little boy's fingers were fairly entangled in them.

"Say!" he exclaimed, "I wish my hair didn't curl so much! It's too long.
I'm going to ask mother if I can't have it cut."

"I wish I could have mine cut," sighed Janet. "Mine's worse to comb than
yours is, Ted."

"Yes, I know. And it always curls more on a rainy day."

Both children had the same curly hair. It was really beautiful, but they
did not quite appreciate it, even though many of their friends, and some
persons who saw them for the first time, called them "Curlytops." Indeed
the tops of their heads were very curly.

"Oh, I know how we can do it!" suddenly cried Janet, just happening to
think of something.

"Do what?" asked her brother.

"Play the soldier game. You can pretend you were caught by the enemy and
your gun and uniform were taken away. Then you can be hurt and I'll be
the Red Cross nurse and take care of you in the tent. I'll get some real
sugar for pills, too! Nora'll give me some. She's in the kitchen now
making a cake."

"Maybe she'd give you a piece of cake, too," suggested Teddy.

"Maybe," agreed Janet. "I'll go and ask her."

"Ask her for some chocolate," added Ted. "I guess, if I've got to be
sick, I'd like chocolate pills 'stead of sugar."

"All right," said Janet, as she hurried downstairs from the playroom to
the kitchen. In a little while she came back with a plate on which were
two slices of chocolate cake, while on one edge of it were some crumbs
of chocolate icing.

"I'll make pills of that after we eat the cake," Janet said. "You can
pretend the cake made you sick if you want to, Ted."

"Pooh! who ever heard of a soldier getting sick on cake? Anyhow they
don't have cake in the army--lessen they capture it from the enemy."

"Well, you can pretend you did that," said Janet. "Now I'll put my doll
away," she went on, as she finished her piece of cake, "and we'll play
the soldier game. I'll get some red cloth to make the cross."

Janet looked "sweet," as her mother said afterward, when she had wound a
white cloth around her head, a red cross, rather ragged and crooked,
being pinned on in front.

The tent was made by draping a sheet from the bed across two chairs, and
under this shelter Teddy crawled. He stretched out on a blanket which
Janet had spread on the floor to be the hospital cot.

"Now you must groan, Ted," she said, as she looked in a glass to see if
her headpiece and cross were on straight.

"Groan? What for?"

"'Cause you've been hurt in the war, or else you're sick from the cake."

"Pooh! a little bit of cake like _that_ wouldn't make _me_ sick. You've
got to give me a _lot_ more if you want me to be real sick."

"Oh, Teddy Martin! I'm not going to play if you make fun like that all
the while. You've got to groan and pretend you've been shot. Never mind
about the cake."

"All right. I'll be shot then. But you've got to give me a lot of
chocolate pills to make me get better."

"I'm not going to give 'em to you all at once, Ted Martin!"

"Well, maybe in two doses then. How many are there?"

"Oh, there's a lot. I'm going to take some myself."

"You are not!" and Teddy sat up so quickly that he hit the top of the
sheet-tent with his head and made it slide from the chair.

"There! Look what you did!" cried Janet. "Now you've gone and spoiled
everything!"

"Oh, well, I'll fix it," said Ted, rather sorry for what he had done.
"But you can't eat my chocolate pills."

"I can so!"

"You cannot! Who ever heard of a nurse taking the medicine from a sick
soldier?"

"Well, anyhow--well, wouldn't you give me some chocolate candy if you
had some, and I hadn't?" asked Janet.

"Course I would, Jan. I'm not stingy!"

"Well, these pills are just like chocolate candy, and if I give 'em all
to you----"

"Oh, well, then I'll let you eat _some_," agreed Ted. "But you wanted me
to play this game of bein' a sick soldier, and if I'm sick I've got to
have the medicine."

"Yes, I'll give you the most," Janet agreed. "Now you lie down and groan
and I'll hear you out on the battlefield and come and save your life."

So, after Janet had fixed the sheet over him again, Teddy lay back on
the blanket and groaned his very best.

"Oh, it sounds as real as anything!" exclaimed the little girl in
delight. "Do it some more, Ted!"

Thereupon her brother groaned more loudly until Janet stopped him by
dropping two or three chocolate pills into his opened mouth.

"Oh! Gurr-r-r-r! Ugh! Say, you 'most choked me!" spluttered Ted, as he
sat up and chewed the chocolate.

"Oh, I didn't mean to," said Janet as she ate a pill or two herself.
"Now you lie down and go to sleep, 'cause I've got a lot more sick
soldiers to go to see."

"Don't give 'em any of my chocolate pills," cautioned Ted. "I need 'em
all to make me get better."

"I'll only make-believe give them some," promised Janet.

She and her brother played this game for a while, and Teddy liked it--as
long as the chocolate pills were given him. But when Janet had only a
few left and Teddy was about to say he was tired of lying down, someone
came into the playroom and a voice asked:

"What you doin'?"

"Playing soldier," answered Janet. "You mustn't drop your 'g' letters,
Trouble. Mother doesn't like it."

"I want some chocolate," announced the little boy, whose real name was
William Martin, but who was more often called Trouble--because he got in
so much of it, you know.

"There's only one pill left. Can I give it to him, Ted?" asked Janet.

"Yes, Janet. I've had enough. Anyhow, I know something else to play now.
It's lots of fun!"

"What?" asked Janet eagerly. It was still raining hard and she wanted
her brother to stay in the house with her.

"We'll play horse," went on Ted. "I'll be a bucking bronco like those
Uncle Frank told us about on his ranch. We'll make a place with chairs
where they keep the cow ponies and the broncos. I forget what Uncle
Frank called it."

"I know," said Janet. "It's cor--corral."

"Corral!" exclaimed Ted. "That's it! We'll make a corral of some chairs
and I'll be a bucking bronco. That's a horse that won't let anybody ride
on its back," the little boy explained.

"I wants a wide!" said Baby William.

"Well, maybe I'll give you a ride after I get tired of bucking," said
Teddy, thinking about it.

They made a ring of chairs on the playroom floor, and in this corral
Teddy crept around on his hands and knees, pretending to be a wild
Western pony. Janet tried to catch him and the children had much fun,
Trouble screaming and laughing in delight.

At last Teddy allowed himself to be caught, for it was hard work
crawling around as he did, and rearing up in the air every now and
then.

"Give me a wide!" pleaded Trouble.

"Yes, I'll ride him on my back," offered Teddy, and his baby brother was
put up there by Janet.

"Now don't go too fast with him, pony," she said.

"Yes, I wants to wide fast, like we does with Nicknack," declared Baby
William. Nicknack was the Curlytops' pet goat.

"All right, I'll give you a fast ride," promised Teddy.

He began crawling about the room with Trouble on his back. The baby
pretended to drive his "horse" by a string which Ted held in his mouth
like reins.

"Go out in de hall--I wants a big wide," directed Trouble.

"All right," assented Teddy. Out into the hall he went and then
forgetting, perhaps, that he had his baby brother on his back, Teddy
began to buck--that is flop up and down.

"Oh--oh! 'top!" begged Trouble.

"I can't! I'm a Wild-West pony," explained Ted, bucking harder than
ever.

He hunched himself forward on his hands and knees, and before he knew
it he was at the head of the stairs. Then, just how no one could say,
Trouble gave a yell, toppled off Teddy's back and the next instant went
rolling down the flight, bump, bump, bumping at every step.



CHAPTER II

NICKNACK AND TROUBLE


"Oh, Teddy!" screamed Janet. "Oh, Trouble!"

Teddy did not answer at once. Indeed he had hard work not to tumble down
the stairs himself after his little brother. Ted clung to the banister,
though, and managed to save himself.

"Oh, he'll be hurt--terrible!" cried Janet, and she tried to get past
her older brother to run downstairs after Trouble.

But Mrs. Martin, who was in the dining-room talking to Nora Jones, the
maid, heard the noise and ran out into the hall.

"Oh, children!" she cried. "Teddy--Janet--what's all that noise?"

"It's Trouble, Mother!" announced Teddy. "I was playing bucking bronco
and----"

"Trouble fell downstairs!" screamed Janet.

While everyone was thus calling out at once, Baby William came flopping
head over heels, and partly sidewise, down the padded steps, landing
right at his mother's feet, sitting up as straight as though in his
high-chair.

"Oh, darling!" cried Mrs. Martin, catching the little fellow up in her
arms, "are you hurt?"

Trouble was too much frightened to scream or cry. He had his mouth open
but no sound came from it. He was just like the picture of a sobbing
baby.

"Oh, Nora!" cried Mrs. Martin, as she hurried into the dining-room with
her little boy in her arms. "Trouble fell downstairs! Get ready to
telephone for his father and the doctor in case he's badly hurt," and
then she and the maid began looking over Baby William to find out just
what was the matter with him, while Ted and Janet, much frightened and
very quiet, stood around waiting.

And while Mrs. Martin is looking over Trouble it will be a good chance
for me to tell those of you who meet the Curlytops for the first time in
this book something about them, and what has happened to them in the
other volumes of this series.

The first book is named "The Curlytops at Cherry Farm," and in that I
had the pleasure of telling you about Ted and Janet and Trouble Martin
and their father and mother, when they went to Grandpa Martin's place,
called Cherry Farm, which was near the village of Elmburg, not far from
Clover Lake.

There the children found a goat, which they named Nicknack, and they
kept him as a pet. When hitched to a wagon he gave them many nice rides.
There were many cherry trees on Grandpa Martin's farm, and when some of
the other crops failed the cherries were a great help, especially when
the Lollypop Man turned them into "Chewing Cherry Candy."

After a good time on the farm the children had more fun when, as told in
the second book, named "The Curlytops on Star Island," they went camping
with grandpa. On Star Island in Clover Lake they saw a strange blue
light which greatly puzzled them, and it was some time before they knew
what caused it.

The summer and fall passed and Ted and Janet went home to Cresco, where
they lived, to spend the winter. What happened then is told in the third
volume, called "The Curlytops Snowed In." The big storm was so severe
that no one could get out and even Nicknack was lost wandering about in
the big drifts.

The Curlytops had a good time, even if they were snowed in. Now spring
had come again, and the children were ready for something else. But I
must tell you a little bit about the family, as well as about what
happened.

You have already met Ted, Jan and Trouble. Ted's real name was Theodore,
but his mother seldom called him that unless she was quite serious about
something he had done that was wrong. So he was more often spoken to as
Ted or Teddy, and his sister Janet was called Jan. Though oftener still
they were called the "Curlytops," or, if one was speaking to one or the
other he would say "Curlytop." That was because both Teddy and Janet had
such very, very curly hair.

Ted's and Jan's birthdays came on the same day, but they had been born a
year apart, Teddy being about seven years old and his sister a year
younger. Trouble was aged about three years.

I have spoken of the curly hair of Teddy and Janet. Unless you had seen
it you would never have believed hair could be so curly! It was no
wonder that even strangers called the children "Curlytops."

Sometimes, when Mother Martin was combing the hair of the children, the
comb would get tangled and she would have to pull a little to get it
loose. That is one reason Ted never liked to have his hair combed.
Janet's was a little longer than his, but just as curly.

Trouble's real name, as I have mentioned, was William. His father
sometimes called him "A bunch of trouble," and his mother spoke of him
as "Dear Trouble," while Jan and Ted called him just "Trouble."

Mr. Martin, whose name was Richard, shortened to Dick by his wife (whose
name was Ruth) owned a store in Cresco, which is in one of our Eastern
states.

Nora Jones, a cheerful, helpful maid-of-all-work had been in the Martin
family a long while, and dearly loved the children, who were very fond
of her. The Martins had many relatives besides the children's
grandfather and grandmother, but I will only mention two now. They were
Aunt Josephine Miller, called Aunt Jo, who lived at Clayton and who had
a summer bungalow at Mt. Hope, near Ruby Lake. She was a sister of Mrs.
Martin's. Uncle Frank Barton owned a large ranch near Rockville,
Montana. He was Mr. Martin's uncle, but Ted and Janet also called him
their uncle.

Now that you have met the chief members of the family, and know a little
of what has happened to them in the past you may be interested to go
back to see what the matter is with Trouble.

His mother turned him over and over in her arms, feeling of him here and
there. Trouble had closed his mouth by this time, having changed his
mind about crying. Instead he was very still and quiet.

"Trouble, does it hurt you anywhere?" his mother asked him anxiously.

"No," he said. "Not hurt any place. I wants to wide on Teddy's back some
more."

"The little tyke!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin with a sigh of relief. "I don't
believe he is hurt a bit."

"The stairs are real soft since we put the new carpet on them," remarked
Nora.

"They are well padded," agreed Mrs. Martin. "I guess that's what kept
him from getting hurt. It was like rolling down a feather bed. But he
might have got his arm or leg twisted under him and have broken a bone.
How did he happen to fall."

"We were playing Red Cross nurse," began Janet, "and Ted was a soldier
in a tent and----"

"But how could William fall downstairs if you were playing that sort of
game?" asked her mother.

"Oh, we weren't playing it then," put in Ted. "We'd changed to another
game. I was a wild Western bronco, like those on Uncle Frank's ranch,
and I was giving Trouble a ride on my back. I gave a jump when I was
near the stairs, and I guess he must have slipped off."

"There isn't any guessing about it--he _did_ slip off," said Mrs. Martin
with a smile, as she put Trouble in a chair, having made sure he was not
hurt, and that there was no need of telephoning for his father or the
doctor. "You must be more careful, Teddy. You might have hurt your
little brother."

"Yes'm," Teddy answered. "I won't do it again."

"But we want to play something," put in Janet. "It's no fun being in the
house all day."

"I know it isn't. But I think the rain is going to stop pretty soon. If
you get your rain-coats and rubbers you may go out for a little while."

"Me go too?" begged Trouble.

"Yes, you may go too," agreed his mother. "You'll all sleep better if
you get some fresh air; and it's warm, even if it has been raining."

"Maybe we can take Nicknack and have a ride!" exclaimed Teddy.

"If it stops raining," said his mother.

Ted, Jan and Trouble ran up and down in front of the house while the
rain fell softly and the big drops dripped from the trees. Then the
clouds broke away, the sun came out, the rain stopped and with shouts
and laughter the children ran to the barn next to which, in a little
stable of his own, Nicknack, the goat, was kept.

"Come on out, Nicknack!" cried Janet. "You're going to give us a ride!"

And Nicknack did, being hitched to the goat-cart in which there was room
and to spare for Janet, Ted and Trouble. Up and down the street in
front of their home the Martin children drove their pet goat.

"Whee, this is fun!" cried Ted, as he made Nicknack run downhill with
the wagon.

"Oh, Teddy Martin, don't go so fast!" begged Janet.

"I like to go fast!" answered her brother. "I'm going to play Wild West.
This is the stage coach and pretty soon the Indians will shoot at us!"

"Teddy Martin! if you're going to do that I'm not going to play!"
stormed Janet. "You'll make Trouble fall out and get hurt. Come on,
Trouble! Let us get out!" she cried. Nicknack was going quite fast down
the hill.

"Wait till we get to the bottom," shouted Ted. "G'lang there, pony!" he
cried to the goat.

"Let me out!" screamed Janet. "I want to get out."

At the foot of the hill Teddy stopped the goat and Janet, taking Trouble
with her, got out and walked back to the house.

"What's the matter now?" asked Mrs. Martin from the porch where she had
come out to get a little fresh air.

"Ted's playing Wild West in the goat-wagon," explained Janet.

"Oh, Ted! Don't be so rough!" begged his mother of her little son, who
drove up just then.

"Oh, I'm only playing Indians and stage coach," he said. "You've got to
go fast when the Indians are after you!" and away he rode.

"He's awful mean!" declared Janet.

"I don't know what's come over Ted of late," said Mrs. Martin to her
husband, who came up the side street just then from his store.

"What's he been doing?" asked Mr. Martin.

"Oh, he's been pretending he was a bucking bronco, like those Uncle
Frank has on his ranch, and he tossed Trouble downstairs. But the baby
didn't get hurt, fortunately. Now Ted's playing Wild West stagecoach
with Nicknack and Janet got frightened and wouldn't ride."

"Hum, I see," said Ted's father slowly. "Our boy is getting older, I
guess. He needs rougher play. Well, I think I've just the very thing to
suit him, and perhaps Janet and all of us."

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Martin, as her husband drew a letter from his
pocket.

"This is an invitation from Uncle Frank for all of us to come out to his
ranch in Montana for the summer," was the answer. "We have been talking
of going, you know, and now is a good chance. I can leave the store for
a while, and I think it would do us all good--the children especially--to
go West. So if you'd like it, we'll pack up and go."

"Go where?" asked Ted, driving around near the veranda in time to hear
his father's last words.

"Out to Uncle Frank's ranch," said Mr. Martin.

"How would you like that?" added his mother.

"Could we have ponies to ride?" asked Ted.

"Yes, I think so."

"Oh, what fun!" cried Janet. "I love a pony!"

"You'd be afraid of them!" exclaimed Ted.

"I would not! If they didn't jump up and down the way you did with
Trouble on your back, I wouldn't be afraid."

"Pooh! that's the way bucking broncos always do, don't they, Daddy? I'm
going to have a bronco!"

"Well, we'll see when we get there," said Daddy Martin. "But since you
all seem to like it, we'll go out West."

"Can we take Nicknack?" asked Teddy.

"You won't need him if you have a pony," his father suggested.

"No, that's so. Hurray! What fun we'll have!"

"Are there any Indians out there?" asked Janet.

"Well, a few, I guess," her father answered. "But they're docile
Indians--not wild. They won't hurt you. Now let's go in and talk about
it."

The Curlytops asked all sorts of questions of their father about Uncle
Frank's ranch, but though he could tell them, in a general way, what it
looked like, Mr. Martin did not really know much about the place, as he
had never been there.

"But you'll find lots of horses, ponies and cattle there," he said.

"And can we take Nicknack with us, to ride around the ranch?" asked Jan,
in her turn.

"Oh, you won't want to do that," her father said. "You'll have ponies to
ride, I think."

"What'll we do with Nicknack then?" asked Ted.

"We'll have to leave him with some neighbor until we come back,"
answered his father. "I was thinking of asking Mr. Newton to take care
of him. Bob Newton is a kind boy and he wouldn't harm your goat."

"Yes, Bob is a good boy," agreed Teddy. "I'd like him to have Nicknack."

"Then, if it is all right with Mr. Newton, we'll take the goat over a
few days before we leave for the West," said Mr. Martin. "Bob will have
a chance to get used to Nicknack, and Nicknack to him, before we go
away."

"Nicknack not come wif us?" asked Trouble, not quite understanding what
the talk was about.

"No, we'll leave Nicknack here," said his father, as he cuddled the
little fellow up in his lap. Trouble said nothing more just then but,
afterward, Ted remembered that Baby William seemed to be thinking pretty
hard about something.

A few days later, when some of the trunks had been partly packed, ready
for the trip West, Mr. Martin came home early from the store and said to
Jan and Ted:

"I think you'd better get your goat ready now and take him over to Bob's
house. I spoke to Mr. Newton about it, and he said there was plenty of
room in his stable for a goat. Bob is delighted to have him."

"But he'll give him back to us when we come home, won't he?" asked
Janet.

"Oh, yes, of course! You won't lose your goat," said her father with a
laugh.

But when they went out to the stable to harness Nicknack to the wagon,
Ted and Janet rubbed their eyes and looked again.

"Why, Nicknack is gone!" exclaimed Ted.

"He is," agreed his sister. "Maybe Bob came and got him."

"No, he wouldn't do that without telling us," went on Ted. "I wonder
where that goat is?"

He looked around the stable yard and in the barn. No Nicknack was in
sight.

When the Curlytops were searching they heard their mother calling to
them from the house, where their father was waiting for them to come up
with Nicknack. He was going over to Mr. Newton's with them.

"Ho, Ted! Janet! Where are you?" called Mrs. Martin.

"Out here, Mother!" Teddy answered.

"Is Trouble there with you?"

"Trouble? No, he isn't here!"

"He isn't!" exclaimed his mother. "Where in the world can he be? Nora
says she saw him going out to the barn a little while ago. Please find
him!"

"Huh!" exclaimed Ted. "Trouble is gone and so is Nicknack! I s'pose
they've gone together!"

"We'll have to look," said Janet.



CHAPTER III

OFF FOR THE WEST


The Curlytops hurried toward the house, leaving open the empty little
stable in which Nicknack was usually kept. They found their father and
their mother looking around in the yard. Mrs. Martin had a worried air.

"Couldn't you find him?" asked Daddy Martin.

"We didn't look--very much," answered Teddy. "Nicknack is gone, and----"

"Nicknack gone!" cried Mrs. Martin. "I wonder if that little tyke of
ours has gotten into trouble with him."

"Nicknack wouldn't make any trouble," declared Jan. "He's such a nice
goat----"

"Yes, I know!" said Mrs. Martin quickly. "But it looks very much as
though Trouble and Nicknack had gone off together. Is the goat's harness
in the stable?"

"We didn't look," answered Teddy.

"The wagon's gone," Janet said. "I looked under the shed for that and it
wasn't there."

"Then I can just about guess what has happened," said Daddy Martin.
"Trouble heard us talking about taking Nicknack over to Mr. Newton's
house, where he would be kept while we are at Uncle Frank's ranch, and
the little fellow has just about taken the goat over himself."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin. "Trouble couldn't hitch the goat to
the wagon and drive off with him."

"Oh, yes he could, Mother!" said Teddy. "He's seen me and Janet hitch
Nicknack up lots of times, and he's helped, too. At first he got the
straps all crooked, but I showed him how to do it, and I guess he could
'most hitch the goat up himself now all alone."

"Then that's what he's done," said Mr. Martin. "Come on, Curlytops,
we'll go over to Mr. Newton's and get Trouble."

"I hope you find him all right," said Mrs. Martin, with a sigh.

"Oh, we'll find him all right--don't worry," her husband answered.

Laughing among themselves at the trick Trouble had played, Janet, Teddy
and Mr. Martin started for the home of Mr. Newton, which was three or
four long streets away, toward the edge of the town.

On the way they looked here and there, in the yards of houses where the
children often went to play.

"For," said Mr. Martin, "it might be possible that when Trouble found he
could drive Nicknack, which he could do, as the goat is very gentle, he
might have stopped on the way to play."

"Yes, he might," said Jan. "He's so cute!"

But there was no sign of the little boy, nor the goat, either.

Finally Mr. Newton's house was reached. Into the yard rushed Janet and
Teddy, followed by their father. Bob Newton was making a kite on the
side porch.

"Hello, Curlytop!" he called to Ted. "Want to help me fly this? It's
going to be a dandy!"

"Yes, I'll help you," agreed Ted. "But is he here?"

"Who here?" asked Bob, in some surprise.

"Nicknack, our goat," answered Teddy.

"What! Is he lost?" exclaimed Bob in some dismay, for he was counting on
having much fun with the goat when the Curlytops went West.

"Nicknack----" began Ted.

"Have you seen Trouble?" broke in Janet.

"Is he lost, too?" Bob inquired. "Say, I guess----"

"Our goat and little boy seem to have gone off together," explained Mr.
Martin to Mrs. Newton who came out on the porch just then. "We'd been
talking before Trouble about bringing Nicknack over here, and now that
both are missing we thought maybe Baby William had brought the goat over
himself."

"Why, no, he isn't here," said Mrs. Newton slowly. "You didn't see
anything of Trouble and the goat, did you?" she asked her son.

"No. I've been here making the kite all morning, and I'd have seen
Nicknack all right, and Trouble, too, if they had come here."

"Well, that's funny!" exclaimed Mr. Martin. "I wonder where he can have
gone?"

"Maybe Nicknack ran away with him," suggested Bob.

"Oh, don't say such things!" exclaimed his mother.

"I don't think that can have happened," returned Mr. Martin. "Nicknack
is a very gentle goat, and Trouble is used to playing with him all
alone. He never yet has been hurt. Of course we are not sure that the
two went away together. Trouble disappeared from the house, and he was
last seen going toward the stable.

"When Ted and Jan went out to get Nicknack he was gone, too, and so was
the wagon and harness. So we just thought Trouble might have driven his
pet over here."

"Yes, I think it likely that the two went away together," said Mrs.
Newton; "but they're not here. Bob, put away that kite of yours and help
Mr. Martin and the Curlytops look for Trouble. He may have gone to Mrs.
Simpson's," she went on. "He's often there you know."

"Yes, but we looked in their yard coming over," put in Ted. "Trouble
wasn't there."

"That's strange," murmured Bob's mother. "Well, he can't be far, that's
sure, and he can't get lost. Everybody in town knows him and the goat,
and he's sure to be seen sooner or later."

"I guess so," agreed Mr. Martin. "His mother was a little worried,
though."

"Yes, I should think she would be. It's horrible to have anything happen
to your children--or fear it may. I'll take off my apron and help you
look."

"Oh, don't bother," said Mr. Martin. "We'll find him all right." But
Mrs. Newton insisted on joining the search.

There was a barn on the Newton place--a barn in which Bob was counting
on keeping Nicknack--and this place was first searched lest, perchance,
Trouble might have slipped in there with the goat without anyone having
seen him, having come up through a back alley.

But there was no goat inside; and Bob, the Curlytops, Mr. Martin and
Mrs. Newton came out again, and looked up and down the street.

"I'll tell you what we'd better do," said Bob's mother. "Ted, you come
with Bob and me. You know Trouble's ways, and where he would be most
likely to go. Let Janet go with her father, and we'll go up and down the
street, inquiring in all the houses we come to. Your little brother is
sure to be near one of them."

"That's a good idea," said Mr. Martin. "Jan, you come with me. I expect
your mother will be along any minute now. She won't wait at home long
for us if we don't come back with Trouble."

So the two parties started on the search, one up and the other down the
street. Bob, Teddy and Mrs. Newton inquired at a number of houses, but
no one in them had seen Trouble and Nicknack that day. Nor did Janet and
her father get any trace of the missing ones.

"I wonder where he is," murmured Teddy, and he was beginning to feel
afraid that something had happened to Trouble.

"Let's go down the back street," suggested Bob. "You know there's quite
a lot of wagons and automobiles go along this main street where we've
been looking. Maybe if Trouble hitched up Nicknack and went for a ride
he'd turn down the back street 'cause it's quieter."

"Yes, he may have done that," agreed Mrs. Newton.

So down the back street the three went. There were several vacant lots
on this street and as the grass in them was high--tall enough to hide a
small boy and a goat and wagon--Bob said they had better look in these
places.

This they did. There was nothing in the first two vacant lots, but in
the third--after they had stopped at one or two houses and had not found
the missing ones--Teddy suddenly cried out:

"Hark!"

"What'd you hear?" asked Bob.

"I thought I heard a goat bleating," was the answer.

"Listen!" whispered Mrs. Newton.

They kept quiet, and then through the air came the sound:

"Baa-a-a-a-a!"

"That's Nicknack!" cried Teddy, rushing forward.

"I hope your little brother is there, too," said Mrs. Newton.

And Trouble was. When they got to the lower end of the vacant lot there,
in a tangle of weeds, was the goat-wagon, and Nicknack was in a tangle
of harness fast to it.

"Look at Trouble!" cried Teddy.

There lay the little fellow, sound asleep in the goat-wagon, his head
pillowed on his arm, while Nicknack was bleating now and then between
the bites of grass and weeds he was eating.

"Oh, Trouble!" cried Mrs. Newton as she took him up in her arms.

"Yes--dis me--I's Trouble," was the sleepy response. "Oh, 'lo, Teddy,"
he went on as he saw his brother. "'Lo, Bob. You come to find me?"

"I should say we _did_!" cried Bob. "What are you doing here?"

"Havin' wide," was the answer. "Everybody go 'way--out West--I not have
a goat den. I no want Nicknack to go 'way."

"Oh, I see what he means!" exclaimed Teddy, after thinking over what his
little brother said. "He heard us talking about bringing Nicknack over
to your house, Bob, to keep him for us. Trouble likes the goat and I
guess he didn't want to leave him behind. Maybe he thought he could
drive him away out to Montana, to Uncle Frank's ranch."

"Maybe," agreed Bob. "That'd be a long drive, though."

"I should say so!" agreed Mrs. Newton. "But I guess you're right, Teddy.
Your little brother started off to hide the goat and wagon so you
couldn't leave it behind. He's a funny baby, all right!"

"And look how he harnessed him!" exclaimed Bob.

Nicknack really wasn't harnessed. The leather straps and the buckles
were all tangled up on him, but Trouble had managed to make enough of
them stick on the goat's back, and had somehow got part of the harness
fast to the wagon, so Nicknack could pull it along.

"I had a nice wide," said Trouble, as Bob and Teddy straightened out the
goat's harness. "Den I got s'eepy an' Nicknack he got hungry, so we
comed in here."

"And we've been looking everywhere for you!" exclaimed Mrs. Newton.
"Well, I'm glad we've found you. Come along, now. Ted, you and Bob hurry
along and tell the others. Your mother'll be worried."

And indeed Mrs. Martin was worried, especially when she met Mr. Martin
and Janet, who had not found Trouble.

But Teddy and Bob soon met with the other searchers and told them that
Baby William had been found.

"Oh, what will you do next?" cried Mrs. Martin, as she clasped the
little fellow in her arms. "Such a fright as you've given us!"

"No want Nickback to go 'way!" said Trouble.

"I guess that's what he did it for--he thought he could hide the goat so
we wouldn't leave him behind," said Daddy Martin. "But we'll have to,
just the same. Trouble won't miss him when we get out on the ranch."

So the goat and wagon were left at Bob's house, and though Trouble cried
when he realized what was happening, he soon got over it.

The next few days were filled with busy preparations toward going West.
Daddy Martin bought the tickets, the packing was completed, last visits
to their playmates were paid by Janet and Teddy, whose boy and girl
friends all said that they wished they too were going out West to a big
ranch.

"We're going to see cowboys and Indians!" Ted told everyone.

Then came the last day in Cresco--that is the last day for some time for
the Curlytops. The house was closed, Nora going to stay with friends.
Skyrocket, the dog, and Turnover, the cat, were sent to kind neighbors,
who promised to look after them. Bob had already started to take care of
Nicknack.

"All aboard!" called the conductor of the train the Curlytops and the
others took. "All aboard!"

"All aboard for the West!" echoed Daddy Martin, and they were off.



CHAPTER IV

THE COLLISION


"Won't we have fun, Jan, when we get to the ranch?"

"I guess so, Teddy. But I don't like it about those Indians."

"Oh, didn't you hear Daddy say they were tame ones--like the kind in the
circus and Wild West show? They won't hurt you, Jan."

"Well, I don't like 'em. They've got such funny painted faces."

"Not the tame ones, Jan. Anyhow I'll stay with you."

The Curlytops were talking as they sat together in the railroad car
which was being pulled rapidly by the engine out toward the big West,
where Uncle Frank's ranch was. In the seat behind them was Mother
Martin, holding Trouble, who was asleep, while Daddy Martin was also
slumbering.

It was quite a long ride from Cresco to Rockville, which was in Montana.
It would take the Curlytops about four days to make the trip, perhaps
longer if the trains were late. But they did not mind, for they had
comfortable coaches in which to travel. When they were hungry there was
the dining-car where they could get something to eat, and when they were
sleepy there was the sleeping-car, in which the colored porter made such
funny little beds out of the seats.

Jan and Ted thought it quite wonderful. For, though they had traveled in
a sleeping-car before, and had seen the porter pull out the seats, let
down the shelf overhead and take out the blankets and pillows to make
the bed, still they never tired of watching.

There were many other things to interest the Curlytops and Trouble on
this journey to Uncle Frank's ranch. Of course there was always
something to see when they looked out of the windows of the cars. At
times the train would pass through cities, stopping at the stations to
let passengers get off and on. But it was not the cities that interested
the children most. They liked best to see the fields and woods through
which they passed.

In some of the fields were horses, cows or sheep, and while the children
did not see any such animals in the woods, except perhaps where the wood
was a clump of trees near a farm, they always hoped they might.

Very often, when the train would rattle along through big fields, and
then suddenly plunge into a forest, Jan would call:

"Maybe we'll see one now, Ted!"

"Oh, maybe so!" he would exclaim.

Then the two Curlytops would flatten their noses against the window and
peer out.

"What are you looking for?" asked Mother Martin, the first time she saw
the children do this.

"Indians," answered Teddy, never turning around, for the train was still
in the wood and he did not want to miss any chance.

"Indians!" exclaimed his mother. "Why, what in the world put into your
head the idea that we should see Indians?"

"Well, Uncle Frank said there were Indians out West, even if they
weren't wild ones," answered Teddy, "and me and Jan wants to see some."

"Oh, you won't find any Indians around _here_," said Daddy Martin with a
laugh, as he laid aside the paper he was reading. "It is true there are
some out West, but we are not there yet, and, if we were, you would
hardly find the Indians so near a railroad."

"Can't we ever see any?" Jan wanted to know. "I don't just like Indians,
'cause they've always got a gun or a knife--I mean in pictures," she
hastened to add. "Course I never saw a _real_ Indian, 'ceptin' maybe in
a circus."

"You'll see some real ones after a while," her mother told her, and then
the children stopped pressing their noses flat against the car windows,
for the train had come out of the wood and was nearing a large city.
There, Jan and Ted felt sure, no Indians would be seen.

"But we'll keep watch," said Jan to her brother, "and maybe I'll see an
Indian first."

"And maybe I will! We'll both watch!" he agreed.

Something else that gave the children enjoyment was the passage through
the train, every now and then, of the boy who sold candy, books and
magazines. He would pass along between the seats, dropping into them, or
into the laps of the passengers, packages of candy, or perhaps a paper
or book. This was to give the traveler time to look at it, and make up
his or her mind whether or not to buy it.

A little later the boy would come along to collect the things he had
left, and get the money for those the people kept for themselves. Ted
and Jan were very desirous, each time, that the boy should sell
something, and once, when he had gone through the car and had taken in
no money, he looked so disappointed that Jan whispered to her father:

"Won't you please buy something from him?"

"Buy what?" asked Mr. Martin.

"A book or some candy from the newsboy," repeated the little girl. "He
looks awful sorry."

"Hum! Well, it _is_ too bad if he didn't sell anything," said Mr.
Martin. "I guess I can buy something. What would you like, something to
read or something to eat?"

"Some pictures to look at," suggested Teddy. "Then we can show 'em to
Trouble. Mother just gave us some cookies."

"Then I guess you've had enough to eat," laughed Mr. Martin. "Here,
boy!" he called. "Have you any picture books for these Curlytops of
mine?"

"Yes, I have some nice ones," answered the boy, and with a smile on his
face he went into the baggage car, where he kept his papers, candy and
other things, and soon came back with a gaily colored book, at the sight
of which Ted and Jan uttered sighs of delight.

"Dat awful p'etty!" murmured Trouble, and indeed the book did have nice
pictures in it.

Mr. Martin paid for it, and then Ted and Jan enjoyed very much looking
at it, with Trouble in the seat between them. He insisted on seeing each
picture twice, the page being no sooner turned over than he wanted it
turned back again.

But at last even he was satisfied, and then Ted and Jan went back to
their first game of looking out of the window for Indians or other
sights that might interest them.

Trouble slipped out of his seat between his brother and sister and went
to a vacant window himself. For a time he had good fun playing with the
window catch, and Mrs. Martin let him do this, having made sure, at
first, that he could not open the sash. Then they all forgot Trouble
for a while and he played by himself, all alone in one of the seats.

A little later, when Teddy and Janet were tired of looking for the
Indians which they never saw, they were talking about the good times
they had had with Nicknack, and wondering if Uncle Frank would have a
goat, or anything like it, when Trouble came toddling up to their seat.

"What you got?" asked Teddy of his little brother, noticing that Baby
William was chewing something. "What you got, Trouble?"

"Tandy," he said, meaning candy, of course.

"Oh, where'd you get it?" chimed in Jan.

"Nice boy gived it to me," Trouble answered. "Here," and he held the
package out to his brother and sister.

"Oh, wasn't that good of him!" exclaimed Jan. "It's nice chocolate
candy, too. I'll have another piece, Trouble."

They all had some and they were eating the sweet stuff and having a good
time, when they saw their father looking at them. There was a funny
smile on his face, and near him stood the newsboy, also smiling.

"Trouble, did you open a box of candy the boy left in your seat?" asked
Mr. Martin.

"Yes, he's got some candy," answered Jan. "He said the boy gave it to
him."

"I didn't mean for him to _open_ it," the boy said. "I left it in his
seat and I thought he'd ask his father if he could have it. But when I
came to get it, why, it was gone."

"Oh, what a funny little Trouble!" laughed Mother Martin. "He thought
the boy meant to give the candy to him, I guess. Well, Daddy, I think
you'll have to pay for it."

And so Mr. Martin did. The candy was not a gift after all, but Trouble
did not know that. However, it all came out right in the end.

They had been traveling two days, and now, toward evening of the second
day, the Curlytops were talking together about what they would do when
they got to Uncle Frank's ranch.

"I hope they have lots to eat there," sighed Ted, when he and Jan had
gotten off the subject of Indians. "I'm hungry right now."

"So'm I," added his sister. "But they'll call us to supper pretty
soon."

The children always eagerly waited for the colored waiter to come
through the coaches rumbling out in his bass voice:

"First call fo' supper in de dinin'-car!"

Or he might say "dinner" or "breakfast," or make it the "last call,"
just as it happened. Now it was time for the first supper call, and in a
little while the waiter came in.

"Eh? What's that? Time for supper _again_?" cried Daddy Martin,
awakening from a nap.

Trouble stretched and yawned in his mother's arms.

"I's hungry!" he said.

"So'm I!" cried Ted and Jan together.

"Shall we have good things to eat on Uncle Frank's ranch?" asked Teddy,
as they made ready to walk ahead to the dining-car.

"Of course!" his mother laughed. "Why are you worrying about that?"

"Oh, I just wanted to know," Teddy answered. "We had so many good things
at Cherry Farm and when we were camping with grandpa that I want some
out on the ranch."

"Well, I think we can trust to Uncle Frank," said Mr. Martin. "But if
you get too hungry, Teddy, you can go out and lasso a beefsteak or catch
a bear or deer and have him for breakfast."

"Is there bears out there, too?" asked Janet in a good deal of
excitement. "Bears and Indians?"

"Well, there may be a few bears here and there," her father said with a
smile, "but they won't hurt you if you don't hurt them. Now we'll go and
see what they have for supper here."

To the dining-car they went, and as they passed through one of the
coaches on their way Teddy and Janet heard a woman say to her little
girl:

"Look at those Curlytops, Ethel. Don't you wish you could have some of
their curl put into your hair?"

It was evening and the sun was setting. As the train sped along the
Curlytops could look through the windows off across the fields and woods
through which they passed.

"Isn't it just wonderful," said Mother Martin, "to think of sitting down
to a nice meal which is being cooked for us while the train goes so
fast? Imagine, children, how, years ago, the cowboys and hunters had to
go on horses all the distance out West, and carry their food on their
pony's back or in a wagon called a prairie schooner. How much easier and
quicker and more comfortable it is to travel this way."

"I'd like to ride on a pony," said Teddy. "I wouldn't care how slow he
went."

"I imagine you wouldn't like it when night came," said his mother, as
she moved a plate so the waiter could set glasses of milk in front of
the children. "You wouldn't like to sleep on the ground with only a
blanket for a bed, would you?"

"'Deed I would!" declared Teddy. "I wish I had----"

Just then the train went around a curve, and, as it was traveling very
fast, the milk which Teddy was raising to his mouth slopped and spilled
down in his lap.

"Oh, Teddy!" cried his mother.

"I--I couldn't help it!" he exclaimed, as he wiped up as much of the
milk as he could on a napkin with which the waiter hastened to him.

"No, we know it was the train," said Daddy Martin. "It wouldn't have
happened if you had been traveling on ponyback, and had stopped to camp
out for the night before you got your supper; would it, Ted?" he asked
with a smile.

"No," said the little boy. "I wish we could camp out and hunt Indians!"

"Oh my goodness!" exclaimed his mother. "Don't get such foolish notions
in your head. Anyway there aren't any Indians to hunt on Uncle Frank's
ranch, are there, Dick?" she asked her husband.

"Well, no, I guess not," he answered slowly. "There are some Indians on
their own ranch, or government reservation, not far from where Uncle
Frank has his horses and cattle, but I guess the Redmen never bother
anyone."

"Can we go to see 'em?" asked Teddy.

"I guess so," said Mr. Martin.

"Me go, too! Me like engines," murmured Trouble, who had also spilled a
little milk on himself.

"He thinks we're talking about _engines_--the kind that pull this
train!" laughed Ted. "I don't believe he ever saw a real _Indian_."

"No, Indians do not walk the streets of Cresco," said Mrs. Martin. "But
finish your suppers, children. Others are waiting to use the table and
we must not keep them too long."

There were many travelers going West--not all as far as the Curlytops
though--and as there was not room in the dining-car for all of them to
sit down at once they had to take turns. That is why the waiter made
one, two, and sometimes three calls for each meal, as he went through
the different coaches.

Supper over, the Martins went back to their place in the coach in which
they had ridden all day. They would soon go into the beds, or berths, as
they are called, to sleep all night. In the morning they would be
several hundred miles nearer Uncle Frank's ranch.

The electric lights were turned on, and then, for a while, Jan, Ted and
the others sat and talked.

They talked about the fun they had had when at Cherry Farm, of the good
times camping with grandpa and how they were snowed in, when they
wondered what had become of the strange lame boy who had called at Mr.
Martin's store one day.

"I wish Hal Chester could come out West with us," said Teddy, as the
porter came to tell them he would soon make up their beds. "He'd like to
hunt Indians with me."

Hal was a boy who had been cured of lameness at a Home for Crippled
Children, not far from Cherry Farm.

"I suppose you'll _dream_ of Indians," said Teddy's mother to him.
"You've _talked_ about them all day. But get ready for bed, now.
Traveling is tiresome for little folks."

Indeed after the first day Ted and Janet found it so. They wished, more
than once, that they could get out and run about, but they could not
except when the train stopped longer than usual in some big city. Then
their father would take them to the platform for a little run up and
down.

True they could walk up and down the aisle of the car, but this was not
much fun, as the coach swayed so they were tossed against the sides of
the seats and bruised.

"I'll be glad when we get to Uncle Frank's ranch," said Janet as she
crawled into the berth above her mother, who slept with Trouble.

"So'll I," agreed Teddy, who climbed up the funny little ladder to go to
bed in the berth above his father. "I want a pony ride!"

On through the night rumbled and roared the train, the whistle sounding
mournfully in the darkness as the engineer blew it at the crossings.

Ted and Janet were sleeping soundly, Janet dreaming she had a new doll,
dressed like an Indian papoose, or baby, while Ted dreamed he was on a
wild pony that wanted to roll over and over instead of galloping
straight on.

Suddenly there was a loud crash that sounded through the whole train.
The engine whistled shrilly and then came a jar that shook up everyone.
Teddy found himself rolling out of his berth and he grabbed the curtains
just in time to save himself.

"Oh, Daddy!" he cried, "what's the matter?"

"What is it?" called Jan from her berth, while women in the coach were
screaming and men were calling to one another.

"What is it, Dick?" cried Mrs. Martin.

"I think we've had a collision," answered her husband.

"Did our train bunk into another?" asked Ted.

"I'm afraid so," replied his father.



CHAPTER V

AT RING ROSY RANCH


There was so much noise in the sleeping-car where the Curlytops
and others had been peacefully traveling through the night, that, at
first, it was hard to tell what had happened.

All that anyone knew was that there had been a severe jolt--a "bunk"
Teddy called it--and that the train had come to a sudden stop. So
quickly had it stopped, in fact, that a fat man, who was asleep in a
berth just behind Mr. Martin, had tumbled out and now sat in the aisle
of the car, gazing about him, a queer look on his sleepy face, for he
was not yet fully awake.

"I say!" cried the fat man. "Who pushed me out of bed?"

Even though they were much frightened, Mrs. Martin and some of the other
men and women could not help laughing at this. And the laughter did
more to quiet them than anything else.

"Well, I guess no one here is much hurt--if at all," said Daddy Martin,
as he put on a pair of soft slippers he had ready in the little hammock
that held his clothes inside the berth. "I'll go and see if I can find
out what the matter is."

"An', Daddy, bring me suffin t'eat!" exclaimed Trouble, poking his head
out between the curtains of the berth where he had been sleeping with
his mother when the collision happened.

"There's one boy that's got sense," said a tall thin man, who was
helping the fat man to get to his feet. "He isn't hurt, anyhow."

"Thank goodness, no," said Mrs. Martin, who, as had some of the other
women, had on a dressing gown. Mrs. Martin was looking at Trouble, whom
she had taken up in her arms. "He hasn't a scratch on him," she said,
"though I heard him slam right against the side of the car. He was next
to the window."

"It's a mercy we weren't all of us tossed out of the windows when the
train stopped so suddenly, the way it did," said a little old woman.

"It's a mercy, too," smiled another woman who had previously made
friends with Jan and Teddy, "that the Curlytops did not come hurtling
down out of those upper berths."

Mr. Martin, after making sure his family was all right, partly dressed
and went out with some of the other men. The train had come to a
standstill, and Jan and Ted, looking out of the windows of their berths,
could see men moving about in the darkness outside with flaring torches.

"Maybe it's robbers," said Teddy in a whisper.

"Robbers don't stop trains," objected Janet.

"Yes they do!" declared her brother positively. "Train robbers do. Don't
they, Mother?"

"Oh, don't talk about such things now, Teddy boy. Be thankful you are
all right and hope that no one is hurt in the collision."

"That's what I say!" exclaimed the fat man. "So it's a collision, is it?
I dreamed we were in a storm and that I was blown out of bed."

"Well, you fell out, which is much the same thing," said the thin man.
"Our car doesn't seem to be hurt, anyhow."

Ted and Janet came out into the aisle in their pajamas. They looked all
about them but, aside from seeing a number of men and women who were
greatly excited, nothing else appeared to be the matter. Then in came
their father with some of the other men.

"It isn't a bad collision," said Daddy Martin. "Our engine hit a freight
car that was on a side track, but too close to our rails to be passed
safely. It jarred up our engine and the front cars quite a bit, and our
engine is off the track, but no one is hurt."

"That's good!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin. "I mean that no one is hurt."

"How are they going to get the engine back on the track?" Teddy wanted
to know. "Can't I go out and watch 'em?"

"I want to go, too!" exclaimed Janet.

"Indeed you can't--in the dark!" exclaimed her father. "Besides, the
railroad men don't want you in the way. They asked us all to go to our
coaches and wait. They'll soon have the engine back on the rails they
said."

Everyone was awake now, and several children in the car, like Trouble,
were hungry. The porter who had been hurrying to and fro said he could
get the children some hot milk from the dining-car, and this he did.

Some of the grown folks wanted coffee and sandwiches, and these having
been brought in, there was quite a merry picnic in the coach, even if
the train had been in a collision.

Then there was much puffing and whistling of the engine. The Curlytops,
looking out of the window again, saw more men hurrying here and there
with flaring torches which flickered and smoked. These were the trainmen
helping to get the engine back on the rails, which they did by using
iron wedges or "jumpers," much as a trolley car in your city streets is
put back on the rails once it slips off.

At last there was another "bunk" to the train, as Teddy called it. At
this several women screamed.

"It's all right," said Daddy Martin. "They've got the engine back on the
rails and it has just backed up to couple on, or fasten itself, to the
cars again. Now we'll go forward again."

And they did--in a little while. It did not take the Curlytops or
Trouble long to fall asleep once more, but some of the older people were
kept awake until morning, they said afterward. They were afraid of
another collision.

But none came, and though the train was a little late the accident
really did not amount to much, though it might have been a bad one had
the freight car been a little farther over on the track so the engine
had run squarely into it.

All the next day and night the Curlytops traveled in the train, and
though Jan and Ted liked to look out of the windows, they grew tired of
this after a while and began to ask:

"When shall we be at Uncle Frank's ranch?"

"Pretty soon now," said their father.

I will not tell you all that happened on the journey to the West. Truth
to say there was not much except the collision. The Curlytops ate their
meals, drank cupful after cupful of water, and Trouble did the same, for
children seem to get very thirsty when they travel--much more so than at
home.

Then, finally, one afternoon, after a long stop when a new engine was
attached to the train, Daddy Martin said:

"We'll be at Rockville in an hour now. So we'd better begin to get
together our things."

"Shall we be at Uncle Frank's ranch in an hour?" asked Teddy.

"No, but we'll be at Rockville. From there we go out over the prairies
in a wagon."

"A wagon with ponies?" asked Janet.

"Yes, real Western ponies," said her father. "Then we'll be at the
ranch."

And it happened just that way. On puffed the train. Then the porter came
to help the Martin family off at Rockville.

"Rockville! Rockville! All out for Rockville!" joked Daddy Martin.

"Hurray!" cried Teddy. "Here we are!"

"And I see Uncle Frank!" exclaimed Janet, looking from the window toward
the station as the train slowed up to stop.

Out piled the Curlytops, and into the arms of Uncle Frank they rushed.
He caught them up and kissed them one after the other--Teddy, Janet and
Trouble.

"Well, well!" he cried, "I'm glad to see you! Haven't changed a bit
since you were snowed in! Now pile into the wagon and we'll get right
out to Circle O Ranch."

"Where's that?" asked Teddy.

"Why, that's the name of my ranch," said Uncle Frank. "See, there's the
sign of it," and he pointed to the flank of one of the small horses, or
ponies, hitched to his wagon. Ted and Janet saw a large circle in which
was a smaller letter O.

"We call it Circle O," explained the ranchman. "Each place in the West
that raises cattle or horses has a certain sign with which the animals
are branded, or marked, so their owners can tell them from others in
case they get mixed up. My mark is a circle around an O."

"It looks like a ring-around-the-rosy," said Janet.

"Say! So it does!" laughed Uncle Frank. "I never thought of that. Ring
Rosy Ranch! That isn't a half bad name! Guess I'll call mine that after
this. Come on to Ring Rosy Ranch!" he invited as he laughed at the
Curlytops.

And the name Janet gave Uncle Frank's place in fun stuck to it, so that
even the cowboys began calling their ranch "Ring Rosy," instead of
"Circle O."



CHAPTER VI

COWBOY FUN


Into the big wagon piled the Curlytops, Mrs. Martin and Trouble, while
Daddy Martin and Uncle Frank went to see about the baggage.

Jan and Ted looked curiously about them. It was the first time they had
had a chance to look quietly since they had started on the journey, for
they had been traveling in the train nearly a week, it seemed.

What they saw was a small railroad station, set in the midst of big
rolling fields. There was a water tank near the station, and not far
from the tank was a small building in which a pump could be heard
chug-chugging away.

"But where is the ranch?" asked Janet of her brother. "I don't see any
cows and horses."

"Dere's horses," stated Trouble, pointing to the two sturdy ponies
hitched to the wagon.

"Yes, I know," admitted Janet. "But Uncle Frank said he had more'n a
hundred horses and----"

"And a thousand steers--that's cattle," interrupted Ted. "I don't see
any, either. Maybe we got off at the wrong station, Mother."

"No, you're all right," laughed Mrs. Martin. "Didn't Uncle Frank meet us
and didn't Daddy tell us we'd have to drive to the ranch!"

"What's the matter now, Curlytops?" asked their father's uncle, as the
two men came back from having seen about the baggage, which had arrived
safely. "What are you two youngsters worrying about, Teddy and Janet?"

"They're afraid we're at the wrong place because they can't see the
ranch," answered their mother.

"Oh, that's over among the hills," said Uncle Frank, waving his hand
toward some low hills that were at the foot of some high mountains. "It
wouldn't do," he went on, "to have a ranch too near a railroad station.
The trains might scare the horses and cattle. You will soon be there,
Curlytops. We'll begin to travel in a minute."

Ted and Janet settled themselves in the seat, where they were side by
side, and looked about them. Suddenly Janet clasped her brother by the
arm and exclaimed:

"Look, Ted! Look!"

"Where?" he asked.

"Right over there--by the station. It's an _Indian_!"

"A real one?" asked Teddy, who, at first, did not see where his sister
was pointing.

"He _looks_ like a real one," Janet answered. "He's _alive_, 'cause he's
moving!"

She snuggled closer to her brother. Then Teddy saw where Janet pointed.
A big man, whose face was the color of a copper cent, was walking along
the station platform. He was wrapped in a dirty blanket, but enough of
him could be seen to show that he was a Redman.

"Is that a _real_ Indian, Uncle Frank?" asked Teddy in great excitement.

"What? Him? Oh, yes, he's a real Indian all right. There's a lot of 'em
come down to the station to sell baskets and bead-work to the people who
go through on the trains."

"Is he a _tame_ Indian?" the little boy next wanted to know.

"Oh, he's 'tame' all right. Hi there, Running Horse!" called Uncle Frank
to the copper-faced man in the blanket, "sell many baskets to-day?"

"Um few. No good business," answered the Indian in a sort of grunt.

"Oh, do you know him?" asked Ted in surprise.

"Oh, yes. Running Horse often comes to the ranch when he's hungry.
There's a reservation of the Indians not far from our place. They won't
hurt you, Jan; don't be afraid," said Uncle Frank, as he saw that the
little girl kept close to Teddy.

"Was he wild once?" she asked timidly.

"Why, yes; I guess you might have called him a wild Indian once," her
uncle admitted. "He's pretty old and I shouldn't wonder but what he had
been on the warpath against the white settlers."

"Oh!" exclaimed Janet. "Maybe he'll get wild again!"

"Oh, no he won't!" laughed Uncle Frank. "He's only too glad now to live
on the reservation and sell the baskets the squaws make. The Indian men
don't like to work."

Running Horse, which was the queer name the Indian had chosen for
himself, or which had been given him, walked along, wrapped in his
blanket, though the day was a warm one. Perhaps he thought the blanket
kept the heat out in summer and the cold in winter.

"Get along now, ponies!" cried Uncle Frank, and the little horses began
to trot along the road that wound over the prairies like a dusty ribbon
amid the green grass.

On the way to Ring Rosy Ranch Uncle Frank had many questions to ask,
some of the children and some of Mr. and Mrs. Martin. Together they
laughed about the things that had happened when they were all snowed in.

"Tell Uncle Frank of Trouble's trying to hide Nicknack away so we
wouldn't leave him behind," suggested Mrs. Martin.

"Ha! Ha! That was pretty good!" exclaimed the ranchman when Ted and
Janet, by turns, had told of Trouble's being found asleep in the
goat-wagon. "Well, it's too bad you couldn't bring Nicknack with you.
He'd like it out on the ranch, I'm sure, but it would be too long a
journey for him. You'll have rides enough--never fear!"

"Pony rides?" asked Teddy.

"Pony rides in plenty!" laughed Uncle Frank. "We'll soon be there now,
and you can see the ranch from the top of the next hill."

The prairies were what are called "rolling" land. That is there were
many little hills and hollows, and the country seemed to be like the
rolling waves of the ocean, if they had suddenly been made still.

Sometimes the wagon, drawn by the two little horses, would be down in a
hollow, and again it would be on top of a mound-like hill from which a
good view could be had.

Reaching the top of one hill, larger than the others, Uncle Frank
pointed off in the distance and said:

"There's Circle O Ranch, Curlytops, or, as Jan has named it, Ring Rosy
Ranch. We'll be there in a little while."

The children looked. They saw, off on the prairie, a number of low, red
buildings standing close together. Beyond the buildings were big fields,
in which were many small dots.

"What are the dots?" asked Janet.

"Those are my horses and cattle--steers we call the last," explained
Uncle Frank. "They are eating grass to get fat. You'll soon be closer to
them."

    [Illustration: "LOOK, TED! LOOK!" "IT'S AN INDIAN."
    _The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch_      _Page 65_]

"Are the Indians near here?" Teddy inquired.

"No, not very near. It's a day's ride to their reservation. But don't
worry about them. They won't bother you if you don't bother them," said
Uncle Frank.

Teddy was not fully satisfied with this answer, for he hoped very much
that the Indians would "bother him"--at least, he thought that was what
he wanted.

When the Curlytops drew closer to the ranch they could see that one of
the buildings was a house, almost like their own in the East, only not
so tall. It was all one story, as were the other buildings, some of
which were stables for the horses and some sleeping places, or "bunk
houses," for the cowboys, while from one building, as they approached
closer, there came the good smell of something cooking.

"That's the cook's place," said Uncle Frank, pointing with his whip.
"All the cowboys love him, even if he is a Chinaman."

"Have you a Chinese cook?" asked Mrs. Martin.

"Yes, and he's a good one," answered Uncle Frank. "Wait until you taste
how he fries chicken."

"I hope we taste some soon," said Daddy Martin. "This ride across the
prairies has made me hungry."

"I hungry, too!" exclaimed Trouble. "I wants bread an' milk!"

"And you shall have all you want!" laughed the ranchman. "We've plenty
of milk."

"Oh, this is a dandy place!" exclaimed Teddy, as the wagon drove up to
the ranch house. "We'll have lots of fun here, Janet!"

"Maybe we will, if--if the Indians don't get us," she said.

"Pooh! I'm not afraid of them," boasted Teddy, and then something
happened.

All at once there came a lot of wild yells, and sounds as if a
Fourth-of-July celebration of the old-fashioned sort were going on.
There was a popping and a banging, and then around the corner of the
house rode a lot of roughly-dressed men on ponies which kicked up a
cloud of dust.

"Ki-yi! Ki-yi! Yippi-i-yip!" yelled the men.

"Bang! Bang! Bang!" exploded their revolvers.

"Oh, dear!" screamed Janet.

Teddy turned a little pale, but he did not make a sound.

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Martin, hugging Trouble and his sister closer
to her. "Oh, what is it?"

"Don't be afraid!" laughed Uncle Frank. "Those are the cowboys making
you welcome to Ring Rosy Ranch. That's their way of having fun!"



CHAPTER VII

BAD NEWS


On came the cowboys, yelling, shouting and shooting off their big
revolvers which made noises like giant firecrackers. The men, some of
whom wore big leather "pants," as Teddy said afterward, and some of whom
had on trousers that seemed to be made from the fleece of sheep, swung
their hats in the air. Some of them even stood up in their saddles,
"just like circus riders!" as Janet sent word to Aunt Jo, who was
spending the summer at Mt. Hope.

"Are they shooting real bullets, Uncle Frank?" asked Teddy, as soon as
the noise died down a little and the cowboys were waving their hats to
the Curlytops and the other visitors to Ring Rosy Ranch.

"Real bullets? Bless your heart, no!" exclaimed Mr. Barton. "Of course
the cowboys sometimes have real bullets in their 'guns,' as they call
their revolvers, but they don't shoot 'em for fun."

"What makes them shoot?" asked Janet.

"Well, sometimes it's to scare away bad men who might try to steal my
cattle or horses, and again it's to scare the cattle themselves. You
see," explained Uncle Frank, while the cowboys jumped from their horses
and went to the bunk house to wash and get ready for supper, "a ranch is
just like a big pasture that your Grandfather Martin has at Cherry Farm.
Only my ranch is ever so much bigger than his pastures, even all of them
put together. And there are very few fences around any of my fields, so
the cattle or horses might easily stray off, or be taken.

"Because of that I have to hire men--cowboys they are called--to watch
my cattle and horses, to see that they do not run away and that no white
men or Indians come and run away with them.

"But sometimes the cattle take it into their heads to run away
themselves. They get frightened--'stampeded' we call it--and they don't
care which way they run. Sometimes a prairie fire will make them run and
again it may be bad men--thieves. The cowboys have to stop the cattle
from running away, and they do it by firing revolvers in front of them.
So it wouldn't do to have real bullets in their guns when the cowboys
are firing that way. They use blank cartridges, just as they did now to
salute you when they came in."

"Is that what they did?" asked Teddy. "Saluted us?"

"That's it. They just thought they'd have a little fun with you--see if
they could scare you, maybe, because you're what they call a
'tenderfoot,' Teddy."

"Pooh, I wasn't afraid!" declared Teddy, perhaps forgetting a little. "I
liked it. It was like the Fourth of July!"

"I didn't like it," said Janet, with a shake of her curly head. "And
what's a soft-foot, Uncle Frank?"

"A soft-foot? Oh, ho! I see!" he laughed. "You mean a tenderfoot! Well,
that's what the Western cowboys call anybody from the East--where you
came from. It means, I guess, that their feet are tender because they
walk so much and don't ride a horse the way cowboys do. You see out here
we folks hardly ever walk. If we've only got what you might call a block
to go we hop on a horse and ride. So we get out of the way of walking.

"Now you Eastern folk walk a good bit--that is when you aren't riding in
street cars and in your automobiles, and I suppose that's why the
cowboys call you tenderfeet. You don't mind, though, do you, Teddy?"

"Nope," he said. "I like it. But I'm going to learn to ride a pony."

"So'm I!" exclaimed Janet.

"I wants a wide, too!" cried Trouble. "Can't I wide, Uncle Frank? We
hasn't got Nicknack, but maybe you got a goat," and he looked up at his
father's uncle.

"No, I haven't a goat," laughed Uncle Frank, "though there might be some
sheep on some of the ranches here. But I guess ponies will suit you
children better. When you Curlytops learn to ride you can take Trouble
up on the saddle with you and give him a ride. He's too small to ride by
himself yet."

"I should say he was, Uncle Frank!" cried Mrs. Martin. "Don't let _him_
get on a horse!"

"I won't," promised Mr. Barton with a laugh. But Trouble said:

"I likes a pony! I wants a wide, Muzzer!"

"You may ride with me when I learn," promised Janet.

"Dat nice," responded William.

Uncle Frank's wife, whom everyone called Aunt Millie, came out of the
ranch house and welcomed the Curlytops and the others. She had not seen
them for a number of years.

"My, how big the children are!" she cried as she looked at Janet and
Teddy. "And here's one I've never seen," she went on, as she caught
Trouble up in her arms and kissed him.

"Now come right in. Hop Sing has supper ready for you."

"Hop Sing!" laughed Mother Martin. "That sounds like a new record on the
phonograph."

"It's the name of our Chinese cook," explained Aunt Millie, "and a very
good one he is, too!"

"Are the cowboys coming in to eat with us?" asked Teddy, as they all
went into the house, where the baggage had been carried by Uncle Frank
and Daddy Martin.

"Oh, no. They eat by themselves in their own building. Not that we
wouldn't have them, for they're nice boys, all of them, but they'd
rather be by themselves."

"Do any Indians come in?" asked Janet, looking toward the door.

"Bless your heart, no!" exclaimed Aunt Millie. "We wouldn't want them,
for they're dirty and not at all nice, though some of them do look like
pictures when they wrap themselves around in a red blanket and stick
feathers in their hair. We don't want any Indians. Now tell me about
your trip."

"We were in a collision!" cried Janet.

"In the middle of the night," added Teddy.

"An' I mos' fell out of my bed!" put in Trouble.

Then, amid laughter, the story of the trip from the East was told.
Meanwhile Hop Sing, the Chinese cook, cried out in his funny, squeaky
voice that supper was getting cold.

"Well, we'll eat first and talk afterward," said Uncle Frank, as he led
the way to the table. "Come on, folks. I expect you all have good
appetites. That's what we're noted for at Ring Rosy Ranch."

"What's that?" asked Aunt Millie. "Have you given Circle O a new name?"

"One of the Curlytops did," chuckled Uncle Frank. "They said my branding
sign looked just like a ring-round-the-rosy, so I'm going to call the
ranch that after this."

"It's a nice name," said Aunt Millie. "And now let me see you
Curlytops--and Trouble, too--though his hair isn't frizzy like Ted's and
Janet's--let me see you eat until you get as fat as a Ring Rosy
yourselves. If you don't eat as much as you can of everything, Hop Sing
will feel as though he was not a good cook."

The Curlytops were hungry enough to eat without having to be told to,
and Hop Sing, looking into the dining-room now and then from where he
was busy in the kitchen, smiled and nodded his head as he said to the
maid:

"Lil' chillens eat velly good!"

"Indeed they do eat very good," said the maid, as she carried in more of
the food which Hop Sing knew so well how to cook.

After supper the Curlytops and the others sat out on the broad porch of
the ranch house. Off to one side were the other buildings, some where
the farming tools were kept, for Uncle Frank raised some grain as well
as cattle, and some where the cowboys lived, as well as others where
they stabled their horses.

"I know what let's do," said Jan, when she and her brother had sat on
the porch for some time, listening to the talk of the older folks, and
feeling very happy that they were at Uncle Frank's ranch, where, they
felt sure, they could have such good times.

"What can we do?" asked Teddy. Very often he let Jan plan some fun, and
I might say that she got into trouble doing this as many times as her
brother did. Jan was a regular boy, in some things. But then I suppose
any girl is who has two nice brothers, even if one is little enough to
be called "Baby."

"Let's go and take a walk," suggested Jan. "My legs feel funny yet from
ridin' in the cars so much."

"Ri-_ding!_" yelled Teddy gleefully. "That's the time you forgot your g,
Janet."

"Yes, I did," admitted the little girl. "But there's so much to look at
here that it's easy to forget. My forgetter works easier than yours
does, Ted."

"It does not!"

"It does, too!"

"It does not!"

"I--say--it--does!" and Janet was very positive.

"Now, now, children!" chided their mother. "That isn't nice. What are
you disputing about now?"

"Jan says her forgetter's better'n mine!" cried Ted.

"And it is," insisted Janet. "I can forget lots easier than Ted."

"Well, forgetting isn't a very good thing to do," said Mr. Martin.
"Remembering is better."

"Oh, that's what I meant!" said Jan. "I thought it was a forgetter.
Anyhow mine's better'n Ted's!"

"Now don't start that again," warned Mother Martin, playfully shaking
her finger at the two children. "Be nice now. Amuse yourselves in some
quiet way. It will soon be time to go to bed. You must be tired. Be nice
now."

"Come on, let's go for a walk," proposed Jan again, and Ted, now that
the forget-memory dispute was over, was willing to be friendly and kind
and go with his sister.

So while Trouble climbed up into his mother's lap, and the older folks
were talking among themselves, the two Curlytops, not being noticed by
the others, slipped off the porch and walked toward the ranch buildings,
out near the corrals, or the fenced-in places, where the horses were
kept.

There were too many horses to keep them all penned in, or fenced around,
just as there are too many cattle on a cattle ranch. But the cowboys who
do not want their horses which they ride to get too far away put them in
a corral. This is just as good as a barn, except in cold weather.

"There's lots of things to see here," said Teddy, as he and his sister
walked along.

"Yes," she agreed. "It's lots of fun. I'm glad I came."

"So'm I. Oh, look at the lots of ponies!" she cried, as she and Ted
turned a corner of one of the ranch buildings and came in sight of a new
corral. In it were a number of little horses, some of which hung their
heads over the fence and watched the Curlytops approaching.

"I'd like to ride one," sighed Teddy wistfully.

"Oh, you mustn't!" cried Jan. "Uncle Frank wouldn't like it, nor mother
or father, either. You have to ask first."

"Oh, I don't mean ride now," said Ted. "Anyhow, I haven't got a saddle."

"Can't you ride without a saddle?" asked Janet.

"Well, not very good I guess," Ted answered. "A horse's back has a bone
in the middle of it, and that bumps you when you don't have a saddle."

"How do you know?" asked Janet.

"I know, 'cause once the milkman let me sit on his horse and I felt the
bone in his back. It didn't feel good."

"Maybe the milkman's horse was awful bony."

"He was," admitted Ted. "But anyhow you've got to have a saddle to ride
a horse, lessen you're a Indian and I'm not."

"Well, maybe after a while Uncle Frank'll give you a saddle," said
Janet.

"Maybe," agreed her brother. "Oh, see how the ponies look at us!"

"And one's following us all around," added his sister. For the little
horses had indeed all come to the side of the corral fence nearest the
Curlytops, and were following along as the children walked.

"What do you s'pose they want?" asked Teddy.

"Maybe they're hungry," answered Janet.

"Let's pull some grass for 'em," suggested Teddy, and they did this,
feeding it to the horses that stretched their necks over the top rail of
the fence and chewed the green bunches as if they very much liked their
fodder.

But after a while Jan and Ted tired of even this. And no wonder--there
were so many horses, and they all seemed to like the grass so much that
the children never could have pulled enough for all of them.

"Look at that one always pushing the others out of the way," said Janet,
pointing to one pony, larger than the others, who was always first at
the fence, and first to reach his nose toward the bunches of grass.

"And there's a little one that can't get any," said her brother. "I'd
like to give him some, Jan."

"So would I. But how can we? Every time I hold out some grass to him the
big horse takes it."

Teddy thought for a minute and then he said:

"I know what we can do to keep the big horse from getting it all."

"What?" asked Janet.

"We can both pull some grass. Then you go to one end of the fence, and
hold out your bunch. The big horse will come to get it and push the
others away, like he always does."

"But then the little pony won't get any," Janet said.

"Oh, yes, he will!" cried Teddy. "'Cause when you're feeding the big
horse I'll run up and give the _little_ horse my bunch. Then he'll have
some all by himself."

And this the Curlytops did. When the big horse was chewing the grass
Janet gave him, Ted held out some to the little horse at the other end
of the corral. And he ate it, but only just in time, for the big pony
saw what was going on and trotted up to shove the small animal out of
the way. But it was too late.

Then Janet and Teddy walked on a little further, until Janet said it was
growing late and they had better go back to the porch where the others
were still talking.

Evening was coming on. The sun had set, but there was still a golden
glow in the sky. Far off in one of the big fields a number of horses and
cattle could be seen, and riding out near them were some of the cowboys
who, after their supper, had gone out to see that all was well for the
night.

"Is all this your land, Uncle Frank?" asked Teddy as he stood on the
porch and looked over the fields.

"Yes, as far as you can see, and farther. If you Curlytops get lost,
which I hope you won't, you'll have to go a good way to get off my
ranch. But let me tell you now, not to go too far away from the house,
unless your father or some of us grown folks are with you."

"Why?" asked Janet.

"Well, you _might_ get lost, you know, and then--oh, well, don't go off
by yourselves, that's all," and Uncle Frank turned to answer a question
Daddy Martin asked him.

Ted and Janet wondered why they could not go off by themselves as they
had done at Cherry Farm.

"Maybe it's because of the Indians," suggested Jan.

"Pooh, I'm not afraid of them," Teddy announced.

Just then one of the cowboys--later the children learned he was Jim
Mason, the foreman--came walking up to the porch. He walked in a funny
way, being more used to going along on a horse than on his own feet.

"Good evening, folks!" he said, taking off his hat and waving it toward
the Curlytops and the others.

"Hello, Jim!" was Uncle Frank's greeting. "Everything all right?"

"No, it isn't, I'm sorry to say," answered the foreman. "I've got bad
news for you, Mr. Barton!"



CHAPTER VIII

A QUEER NOISE


The Curlytops looked at the ranch foreman as he said this. Uncle Frank
looked at him, too. The foreman stood twirling his big hat around in his
hand. Teddy looked at the big revolver--"gun" the cowboys called
it--which dangled from Jim Mason's belt.

"Bad news, is it?" asked Uncle Frank. "I'm sorry to hear that. I hope
none of the boys is sick. Nobody been shot, has there, during the
celebration?"

"Oh, no, the boys are all right," answered the foreman. "But it's bad
news about some of your ponies--a lot of them you had out on grass over
there," and he pointed to the west--just where Ted and Janet could not
see.

"Bad news about the ponies?" repeated Uncle Frank. "Well, now, I'm
sorry to hear that. Some of 'em sick?"

"Not as I know of," replied Jim. "But a lot of 'em have been taken
away--stolen, I guess I'd better call it."

"A lot of my ponies stolen?" cried Uncle Frank, jumping up from his
chair. "That is bad news! When did it happen? Why don't you get the
cowboys together and chase after the men who took the ponies?"

"Well, I would have done that if I knew where to go," said the foreman.
"But I didn't hear until a little while ago, when one of the cowboys I
sent to see if the ponies were all right came in. He got there to find
'em all gone, so I came right over to tell you."

"Well, we'll have to see about this!" exclaimed Uncle Frank. "Who's the
cowboy you sent to see about the ponies?"

"Henry Jensen. He just got in a little while ago, after a hard ride."

"And who does he think took the horses?"

"He said it looked as if the Indians had done it!" and at these words
from the foreman Ted and Janet looked at one another with widely opened
eyes.

"Indians?" said Uncle Frank. "Why, I didn't think any of them had come
off their reservation."

"Some of 'em must have," the foreman went on. "They didn't have any
ponies of their own, I guess, so they took yours and rode off on 'em."

"Well, this is too bad!" said Uncle Frank in a low voice. "I guess we'll
have to get our boys together and chase after these Indians," he went
on. "Yes, that's what I'll do. I've got to get back my ponies."

"Oh, can't I come?" cried Teddy, not understanding all that was going
on, but enough to know that his uncle was going somewhere with the
cowboys, and Teddy wanted to go, too.

"Oh, I'm afraid you couldn't come--Curlytop," said the foreman, giving
Teddy the name almost everyone called him at first sight, and this was
the first time Jim Mason had seen Teddy.

"No, you little folks must stay at home," added Uncle Frank.

"Are you really going after Indians?" Teddy wanted to know.

"Yes, to find out if they took any of my ponies. You see," went on Uncle
Frank, speaking to Daddy and Mother Martin as well as to the Curlytops,
"the Indians are kept on what is called a 'reservation.' That is, the
government gives them certain land for their own and they are told they
must stay there, though once in a while some of them come off to sell
blankets and bark-work at the railroad stations.

"And, sometimes, maybe once a year, a lot of the Indians get tired of
staying on the reservation and some of them will get together and run
off. Sometimes they ride away on their own horses, and again they may
take some from the nearest ranch. I guess this time they took some of
mine."

"And how will you catch them?" asked Mrs. Martin.

"Oh, we'll try to find out which way they went and then we'll follow
after them until we catch them and get back the ponies."

"It's just like hide-and-go-seek, isn't it, Uncle Frank?" asked Janet.

"Yes, something like that. But it takes longer."

"I wish I could go to hunt the Indians!" murmured Teddy.

"Why, The-o-dore Mar-tin!" exclaimed his mother. "I'm _surprised_ at
you!"

"Well, I would like to go," he said. "Could I go if I knew how to ride
a pony, Uncle Frank?"

"Well, I don't know. I'm afraid you're too little. But, speaking of
riding a pony, to-morrow I'll have one of the cowboys start in to teach
you and Janet to ride. Now I guess I'll have to go see this Henry Jensen
and ask him about the Indians and my stolen ponies."

"I hope he gets them back," said Teddy to his sister.

"So do I," she agreed. "And I hope those Indians don't come here."

"Pooh! they're tame Indians!" exclaimed Teddy.

"They must be kind of wild when they steal ponies," Janet said.

A little later the Curlytops and Trouble went to bed, for they had been
up early that day. They fell asleep almost at once, even though their
bed was not moving along in a railroad train, as it had been the last
three or four nights.

"Did Uncle Frank find his ponies?" asked Teddy the next morning at the
breakfast table.

"No, Curlytop," answered Aunt Millie. "He and some of the cowboys have
gone over to the field where the ponies were kept to see if they can
get any news of them."

"Can we learn to ride a pony to-day?" asked Janet.

"As soon as Uncle Frank comes back," answered her father. "You and Ted
and Trouble play around the house now as much as you like. When Uncle
Frank comes back he'll see about getting a pony for you to ride."

"Come on!" called Ted to his sister after breakfast. "We'll have some
fun."

"I come, too!" called Trouble. "I wants a wide! I wish we had Nicknack."

"It would be fun if we had our goat here, wouldn't it?" asked Janet of
her brother.

"Yes, but I'd rather have a pony. I'm going to be a cowboy, and you
can't be a cowboy and ride a _goat_."

"No, I s'pose not," said Janet. "But a goat isn't so high up as a pony,
Ted, and if you fall off a goat's back you don't hurt yourself so much."

"I'm not going to fall off," declared Teddy.

The children wandered about among the ranch buildings, looking in the
bunk house where the cowboys slept. There was only one person in there,
and he was an old man to be called a "boy," thought Janet. But all men,
whether young or old, who look after the cattle on a ranch, are called
"cowboys," so age does not matter.

"Howdy," said this cowboy with a cheerful smile, as the Curlytops looked
in at him. He was mending a broken strap to his saddle. "Where'd you get
that curly hair?" he asked. "I lost some just like that. Wonder if you
got mine?"

Janet hardly knew what to make of this, but Teddy said:

"No, sir. This is _our_ hair. It's fast to our heads and we've had it a
long time."

"It was always curly this way," added Janet.

"Oh, was it? Well, then it can't be mine," said the cowboy with a laugh.
"Mine was curly only when I was a baby, and that was a good many years
ago. Are you going to live here?"

"We're going to stay all summer," Janet said. "Do you live here?"

"Well, yes; as much as anywhere."

"Could you show us where the Indians are that took Uncle Frank's
ponies?" Teddy demanded.

"Wish I could!" exclaimed the cowboy. "If I knew, I'd go after 'em
myself and get the ponies back. I guess those Indians are pretty far
away from here by now."

"Do they hide?" asked Teddy.

"Yes, they may hide away among the hills and wait for a chance to sell
the ponies they stole from your uncle. But don't worry your curly heads
about Indians. Have a good time here. It seems good to see little
children around a place like this."

"Have you got a lasso?" asked Teddy.

"You mean my rope? Course I got one--every cowboy has," was the answer.

"I wish you'd lasso something," went on Teddy, who had once been to see
a Wild West show.

"All right, I'll do a little rope work for you," said the cowboy, with a
good-natured smile. "Just wait until I mend my saddle."

In a little while he came riding into the yard in front of the bunk
house on a lively little pony. He made the animal race up and down and,
while doing this, the cowboy swung his coiled rope, or lasso, about his
head, and sent it in curling rings toward posts and benches, hauling the
latter after him by winding the rope around the horn of his saddle
after he had lassoed them.

"Say! that's fine!" cried Teddy with glistening eyes. "I'm going to
learn how to lasso."

"I'll show you after a while," the cowboy offered. "You can't learn too
young. But I must go now."

"Could I just have a little ride on your pony's back?" asked Teddy.

"To be sure you could," cried the cowboy. "Here you go!"

He leaped from the saddle and lifted Teddy up to it, while Janet and
Trouble looked on in wonder. Then holding Ted to his seat by putting an
arm around him, while he walked beside the pony and guided it, the
cowboy gave the little fellow a ride, much to Teddy's delight.

"Hurray!" he called to Janet "I'm learning to be a cowboy!"

"That's right--you are!" laughed Daddy Martin, coming out just then.
"How do you like it?"

"Dandy!" Teddy said. "Come on, Janet!"

"Yes, we ought to have let the ladies go first," said the cowboy. "But I
didn't know whether the leetle gal cared for horses," he went on to Mr.
Martin.

"I like horses," admitted Janet. "But maybe I'll fall off."

"I won't let you," the cowboy answered, as he lifted her to the saddle.
Then he led the pony around with her on his back, and Janet liked it
very much.

"I wants a wide, too!" cried Trouble.

"Hi! that's so! Mustn't forget you!" laughed the cowboy, and he held
Baby William in the saddle, much to the delight of that little fellow.

"Now you mustn't bother any more," said Daddy Martin. "You children have
had fun enough. You'll have more ponyback rides later."

"Yes, I'll have to go now," the cowboy said, and, leaping into the
saddle, he rode away in a cloud of dust.

The Curlytops and Trouble wandered around among the ranch buildings.
Daddy Martin, seeing that the children were all right, left them to
themselves.

"I'se hungry," said Trouble, after a bit.

"So'm I," added Teddy. "Do you s'pose that funny Chinaman would give us
a cookie, Jan?"

"Chinamen don't know how to make cookies."

"Well, maybe they know how to make something just as good. Let's go
around to the cook house--that's what Aunt Millie calls it."

The cook house was easy to find, for from it came a number of good
smells, and, as they neared it, the Curlytops saw the laughing face of
the Chinese cook peering out at them.

"Lil' gal hungly--li' boy hungly?" asked Hop Sing in his funny talk.

"Got any cookies?" inquired Teddy.

"No glot clooklies--glot him clake," the Chinese answered.

"What does he say?" asked Janet of her brother.

"I guess he means cake," whispered Teddy, and that was just what Hop
Sing did mean. He brought out some nice cake on a plate and Trouble and
the Curlytops had as much as was good for them, if not quite all they
wanted.

"Glood clake?" asked Hop Sing, when nothing but the crumbs were
left--and not many of them.

"I guess he means was it good cake," then whispered Janet to her little
brother.

"Yes, it was fine and good!" exclaimed Teddy. "Thank you."

"You mluch welclome--clome some mo'!" laughed Hop Sing, as the children
moved away.

They spent the morning playing about the ranch near the house. They made
a sea-saw from a board and a barrel, and played some of the games they
had learned on Cherry Farm or while camping with Grandpa Martin. Then
dinner time came, but Uncle Frank and the cowboys did not come back to
it.

"Won't they be hungry?" asked Teddy.

"Oh, they took some bacon, coffee and other things with them," said Aunt
Millie. "They often have to camp out for days at a time."

"Say, I wish I could do that!" cried Teddy.

"Wait until you get to be a cowboy," advised his father.

That afternoon Trouble went to lie down with his mother to have a nap,
and Teddy and Janet wandered off by themselves, promising not to go too
far away from the house.

But the day was so pleasant, and it was so nice to walk over the soft
grass that, before they knew it, Teddy and Janet had wandered farther
than they meant to. As the land was rolling--here hills and there
hollows--they were soon out of sight of the ranch buildings, but they
were not afraid, as they knew by going to a high part of the prairie
they could see their way back home--or they thought they could. There
were no woods around them, though there were trees and a little stream
of water farther off.

Suddenly, as the Curlytops were walking along together, they came to a
place where there were a lot of rocks piled up in a sort of shelter.
Indeed one place looked as though it might be a cave. And as Teddy and
Janet were looking at this they heard a strange noise, which came from
among the rocks.

Both children stopped and stood perfectly still for a moment.

"Did you hear that?" asked Jan, clasping her brother's arm.

"Yes--I did," he answered.

"Did--did it sound like some one groaning?" she went on.

Teddy nodded his head to show that it had sounded that way to him. Just
then the noise came again.

"Oh!" exclaimed Janet, starting to run. "Maybe it's an Indian! Oh,
Teddy, come on!"



CHAPTER IX

THE SICK PONY


Teddy Martin did not run away as Jan started to leave the pile of rocks
from which the queer sound had come. Instead he stood still and looked
as hard as he could toward the hole among the stones--a hole that looked
a little like the cave on Star Island, but not so large.

"Come on, Teddy!" begged Janet. "Please come!"

"I want to see what it is," he answered.

"Maybe it's something that--that'll bite you," suggested the little
girl. "Come on!"

Just then the noise sounded again. It certainly was a groan.

"There!" exclaimed Janet. "I _know_ it's an Indian, Ted! Maybe it's one
of the kind that took Uncle Frank's ponies. Oh, please come!"

She had run on a little way from the pile of rocks, but now she stood
still, waiting for Teddy to follow.

"Come on!" she begged.

Janet did not want to go alone.

"It can't be an Indian," said Teddy, looking around but still not seeing
anything to make that strange sound.

"It could so be an Indian!" declared Janet.

"Well, maybe a sick Indian," Teddy admitted. "And if he's as sick as all
that I'm not afraid of him! I'm going to see what it is."

"Oh, The-o-dore Mar-tin!" cried Janet, much as she sometimes heard her
mother use her brother's name. "Don't you dare!"

"Why not?" asked Teddy, who tried to speak very bravely, though he
really did not feel brave. But he was not going to show that before
Janet, who was a girl. "Why can't I see what that is?"

"'Cause maybe--maybe it'll--bite you!" and as Janet said this she looked
first at the rocks and then over her shoulder, as though something might
come up behind her when she least expected it.

"Pooh! I'm not afraid!" declared Teddy. "Anyhow, if it does bite me
it's got to come out of the rocks first."

"Well, maybe it will come out."

"If it does I can see it and run!" went on the little boy.

"Would you run and leave me all alone?" asked Janet.

"Nope! Course I wouldn't do _that_," Teddy declared. "I'd run and I'd
help you run. But I don't guess anything'll bite me. Anyhow, Indians
don't bite."

"How do you know?" asked Janet. "Some Indians are wild. I heard Uncle
Frank say so, and wild things bite!"

"But not Indians," insisted Teddy. "A Indian's mouth, even if he is
wild, is just like ours, and it isn't big enough to bite. You've got to
have an awful big mouth to bite."

"Henry Watson bit you once, I heard mother say so," declared Janet, as
she and her brother still stood by the rocks and listened again for the
funny sound to come from the stones. But there was silence.

"Well, Henry Watson's got an awful big mouth," remarked Teddy. "Maybe
he's wild, and that's the reason."

"He couldn't be an Indian, could he?" Janet went on.

"Course not!" declared her brother. "He's a boy, same as I am, only his
mouth's bigger. That's why he bit me. I 'member it now."

"Did it hurt?" asked Janet.

"Yep," answered her brother. "But I'm going in there and see what that
noise was. It won't hurt me."

Teddy began to feel that Janet was asking so many questions in order
that he might forget all about what he intended to do. And he surely did
want to see what was in among the rocks.

Once more he went closer to them, and then the noise sounded more loudly
than before. It came so suddenly that Teddy and Janet jumped back, and
there was no doubt but what they were both frightened.

"Oh, I'm not going to stay here another minute!" cried Janet. "Come on,
Ted, let's go home!"

"No, wait just a little!" he begged. "I'll go in and come right out
again--that is if it's anything that bites. If it isn't you can come in
with me."

"No, I'm not going to do that!" and Janet shook her head very decidedly
to say "no!" Once more she looked over her shoulder.

"Well, you don't have to come in," Teddy said. "I'll go alone. I'm not
scared."

Just then Janet looked across the fields, and she saw a man riding along
on a pony.

"Oh, Teddy!" she called to her brother. "Here's a man! We can get him to
go in and see what it is."

Teddy looked to where his sister pointed. Surely enough, there was a man
going along. He was quite a distance off, but the Curlytops did not mind
that. They were fond of walking.

"Holler at him!" advised Janet. "He'll hear us and come to help us find
out what's in here."

Teddy raised his voice in the best shout he knew how to give. He had
strong lungs and was one of the loudest-shouting boys among his chums.

"Hey, Mister! Come over here!" cried Teddy.

But the man kept on as if he had not heard, as indeed he had not. For on
the prairies the air is so clear that people and things look much nearer
than they really are. So, though the man seemed to be only a little
distance away, he was more than a mile off, and you know it is quite
hard to call so as to be heard a mile away; especially if you are a
little boy.

Still Teddy called again, and when he had done this two or three times,
and Jan had helped him, the two calling in a sort of duet, Teddy said:

"He can't hear us."

"Maybe he's deaf, like Aunt Judy," said Janet, speaking of an elderly
woman in the town in which they lived.

"Well, if he is, he can't hear us," said Teddy; "so he won't come to us.
I'm going in anyhow."

"No, don't," begged Janet, who did not want her brother to go into
danger. "If he can't hear us, Teddy, we must go nearer. We can walk to
meet him."

Teddy thought this over a minute.

"Yes," he agreed, "we can do that. But he's a good way off."

"He's coming this way," Janet said, and it did look as though the man
had turned his horse toward the children, who stood near the pile of
rocks from which the queer noises came.

"Come on!" decided Ted, and, taking Janet's hand, he and she walked
toward the man on the horse.

For some little time the two Curlytops tramped over the green, grassy
prairies. They kept their eyes on the man, now and then looking back
toward the rocks, for they did not want to lose sight either of them or
of the horseman.

"I'm going to holler again," said Teddy. "Maybe he can hear me now.
We're nearer."

So he stopped, and putting his hands to his mouth, as he had seen Uncle
Frank do when he wanted to call to a cowboy who was down at a distant
corral, the little boy called:

"Hi there, Mr. Man! Come here, please!"

But the man on the horse gave no sign that he had heard. As a matter of
fact, he had not, being too far away, and the wind was blowing from him
toward Teddy and Jan. If the wind had been blowing the other way it
might have carried the voices of the children toward the man. But it did
not.

Then Teddy made a discovery. He stopped, and, shading his eyes with his
hands, said:

"Jan, that man's going away from us 'stid of coming toward us. He's
getting littler all the while. And if he was coming to us he'd get
bigger."

"Yes, I guess he would," admitted the little girl. "He is going away,
Teddy. Oh, dear! Now he can't help us!"

Without a word Teddy started back toward the rocks, and his sister
followed. He was close to them when Janet spoke again.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"I'm going in there and see what that noise was," Teddy replied.

"Oh, you mustn't!" she cried, hoping to turn him away. But Teddy
answered:

"Yes, I am, too! I'm going to see what it is!"

"I'm not!" cried Janet. "I'm going home. You'd better come with me!"

But, though she turned away and went a short distance from the rocks in
the direction she thought the ranch house of Ring Rosy Ranch should be,
she very soon stopped. She did not like going on alone. She looked back
at Ted.

Teddy had walked a little way toward the hole in the rocks. Now he
called to his sister.

"The noise comes from in here," he said. "It's in this little cave."

"Are you going in?" asked Janet, trying to pretend she was not afraid.

"I want to see what made that noise," declared Teddy. Since he and his
sister had gone camping with Grandpa Martin they were braver than they
used to be. Of course, Ted, being a year older than his sister, was a
little bolder than she was.

Janet, not feeling that she ought to run on home and leave Teddy there
and yet not feeling brave enough to go close to the cave among the rocks
with him, hardly knew what to do. She walked back a little way and then,
suddenly, the noise came, more loudly than at first.

"Oh, there it goes again!" cried Janet, once more running back.

"I heard it," Teddy said. "It didn't war-whoop like an Indian."

"If he's sick he couldn't," explained Janet.

"And if he's sick he can't hurt us," went on Teddy. "I'm going to holler
at him and see what he wants."

"You'd better come back and tell daddy or Uncle Frank," suggested Janet.

Teddy rather thought so himself, but he did not like to give up once he
had started anything. He felt it would be a fine thing if he, all
alone, could find one of the Indians.

"And maybe it is one of those who took Uncle Frank's ponies," thought
Teddy to himself.

Again the groan sounded, this time not quite so loud, and after it had
died away Teddy called:

"Who's in there? What's the matter with you?"

No answer came to this. Then Ted added:

"If you don't come out I'm going to tell my uncle on you. He owns this
ranch. Come on out! Who are you?"

This time there came a different sound. It was one that the Curlytops
knew well, having heard it before.

"That's a horse whinnying!" cried Teddy.

"Or a pony," added Janet. "Yes, it did sound like that. Oh, Ted, maybe
it's a poor horse in there and he can't get out!" she went on.

Again came the whinny of a horse or a pony. There was no mistake about
it this time.

"Come on!" cried Teddy. "We've got to get him out, Janet. He's one of
Uncle Frank's cow ponies and he's hurt in that cave. We've got to get
him out!"

"But how can you?" Janet inquired. "It's an awful little cave, and I
don't believe a pony could get in there."

"A little pony could," said Teddy.

Janet looked at the cave. She remembered that she had seen some quite
small ponies, not only on Ring Rosy Ranch but elsewhere. The cave would
be large enough for one of them.

"I'm going in," said Teddy, as he stood at the mouth of the hole among
the piled-up rocks.

"He might kick you," warned Janet.

"If he's sick enough to groan that way he can't kick very hard," replied
Teddy. "Anyhow, I'll keep out of the way of his feet. That's all you've
got to do, Uncle Frank says, when you go around a strange horse. When he
gets to know you he won't kick."

"Well, you'd better be careful," warned Janet again.

"Don't you want to come in?" Teddy asked his sister.

"I--I guess not," she answered. "I'll watch you here. Oh, maybe if it's
a pony we can have him for ours, Teddy!" she exclaimed.

"Maybe," he agreed. "I'm going to see what it is."

Slowly he walked to the dark place amid the rocks. The whinnyings and
groanings sounded plainer to him than to Janet, and Teddy was sure they
came from a horse or a pony. As yet, though, he could see nothing.

Then, as the little boy stepped out of the glaring sun into the shadow
cast by the rocks, he began to see better. And in a little while his
eyes became used to the gloom.

Then he could see, lying down on the dirt floor of the cave amid the
rocks, the form of a pony. The animal raised its head as Teddy came in
and gave a sort of whinnying call, followed by a groan.

"Poor pony!" called Ted. "Are you hurt? I'm so sorry! I'll go get a
doctor for you!"

"Who are you talking to?" asked Janet.

She had drawn nearer the cave.

"There's a sick pony in here all right," Teddy told his sister. "Come on
in and look."

"I--I don't b'lieve I want to."

"Pooh! he can't hurt you! He's sick!" cried Teddy.

So, after waiting a half minute, Janet went in. In a little while she,
too, could see the pony lying down in the cave.

"Oh, the poor thing!" she cried. "Teddy, we've got to help him!"

"Course we have," he said. "We've got to go for a doctor."

"And get him a drink," added Janet. "When anybody's sick--a pony or
anybody--they want a drink. Let's find some water, Teddy. We can bring
it to him in our hats!"

Then, leaving the sick pony in the cave, the Curlytops ran out to look
for water.



CHAPTER X

A SURPRISED DOCTOR


Water is not very plentiful on the prairies. In fact, it is so scarce
that often men and horses get very thirsty. But the Curlytops were lucky
in finding a spring among the rocks on Ring Rosy Ranch. It was not a
very large spring, and it was well hidden among the big stones, which
is, perhaps, why it was not visited by many of the ponies and cattle.
They come in large numbers to every water-hole they can find.

Jan and Ted, having come out of the dark cave-like hole, where the poor,
sick pony lay, began their search for water, and, as I have said, they
were lucky in finding some.

It was Jan who discovered it. As the Curlytops were running about among
the rocks the little girl stopped suddenly and called:

"Hark, Teddy!"

"What is it?" he asked.

"I hear water dripping," she answered. "It's over this way."

She went straight to the spring, following the sound of the dripping
water, and found where it bubbled up in a split in the rock. The water
fell into a little hollow, rocky basin and there was enough for Ted and
his sister to fill their hats. First they each took a drink themselves,
though, for the day was warm.

Their hats were of felt, and would hold water quite well. And as the
hats were old ones, which had been worn in the rain more than once,
dipping them into the spring would not hurt them.

"I guess the pony'll be awful glad to get a drink," said Jan to her
brother.

"I guess he will," he answered, as he walked along looking carefully
where he put down his feet, for he did not want to stumble and spill the
water in his hat.

"Look out!" exclaimed Janet, as her brother came too close to her. "If
you bump against me and make my arm jiggle you'll spill my hatful."

"I'll be careful," said Teddy.

They spilled some of the water, for their hats were not as good as pails
in which to carry the pony's drink. But they managed to get to the cave
with most of it.

"You can give him the first drink," said Teddy to his sister. "I found
him, and he's my pony, but you can give him the first drink."

Janet felt that this was kind on Teddy's part, but still she did not
quite like what he said about the pony.

"Is he going to be _all_ yours?" she asked.

"Well, didn't I find him?"

"Yes, but when I found a penny once and bought a lollypop, I gave you
half of it."

"Yes, you did," admitted Teddy, thinking of that time. "But I can't give
you half the pony, can I?"

"No, I guess not. But you could let me ride on him."

"Oh, I'll do that!" exclaimed Teddy quickly. He was thinking it would be
a hard matter to divide a live pony in half.

"Course I'll let you ride on him!" he went on. "We'll get Uncle Frank to
let us have a saddle and some of the cowboys can teach us to ride. And
I'll let you feed and water him as much as you like. I'm going to call
him Clipclap."

"That's a funny name," remarked Janet.

"It's how his feet sound when he runs," explained Teddy. "Don't you
know--clip-clap, clip-clap!" and he imitated the sound of a pony as best
he could.

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Janet. "They do go that way."

"I haven't heard this one run," added Teddy, "'cause he's sick and he
can't gallop. But I guess his feet would make that sound, so I'm going
to call him Clipclap."

"It's a nice name," agreed Janet. "But I guess we better give him a
drink now. He must be awful thirsty."

"He is," said Teddy. "Hear him groan?"

The pony was again making a noise that did sound like a groan. He must
be in pain the children thought.

"Go on--give him your drink, Janet," urged Teddy. "Then I'll give him
mine."

Janet was afraid no longer. She went into the cave ahead of her brother,
and as the pony was lying down Janet had to kneel in front of him with
her hat full of water--no, it was not full, for some had spilled out,
but there was still a little in it.

The pony smelled the water when Janet was yet a little way from him, and
raised his head and part of his body by his forefeet. Though clear,
cold water has no smell to us, animals can smell it sometimes a long way
off, and can find their way to it when their masters would not know
where to go for a drink.

"Oh, see how glad he is to get it!" exclaimed Janet, as the pony eagerly
sucked up from her hat the water in it. The little animal drank very
fast, as if he had been without water a long while.

"Now give him yours, Teddy," Janet called to her brother, and he kneeled
down and let the pony drink from his hat.

"I guess he wants more," Janet said as the sick animal sucked up the
last drops from Teddy's hat. "It wasn't very much."

"We'll get more!" Teddy decided. "Then we'll go for a doctor."

"Where'll we find one?" Janet asked.

"I know where to find him," Teddy answered.

Once more the children went back to the spring and again they filled
their soft hats. And once more the pony greedily drank up the last drops
of water. As he finished that in Ted's hat he dropped back again and
stretched out as if very tired.

"Oh, I hope he doesn't die!" exclaimed Janet.

"So do I," added her brother. "I'd like to have a ride on him when he
gets well. Come on, we'll go find the doctor."

Shaking the water drops from their hats the Curlytops put them on and
went out of the cave into the sunlight. Led by Teddy, Janet followed to
the top of the pile of rocks.

"Do you see that white house over there?" asked Teddy, pointing to one
down the road that led past the buildings of Ring Rosy Ranch.

"Yes, I see it," Janet answered.

"That's the place where the doctor lives," went on Ted.

"How do you know?" demanded Janet.

"'Cause I heard Uncle Frank say so. Mother asked where a doctor lived,
and Uncle Frank showed her that white house. I was on the porch and I
heard him. He said if ever we needed a doctor we only had to go there
and Doctor Bond would come right away. He's the only doctor around
here."

"Then we'd better get him for our pony Clipclap!" exclaimed Janet. "Come
on, Teddy."

"If we had our goat-wagon we could ride," said the little boy, as they
walked along over the prairie together. "But I guess we've got to walk
now."

"Is it very far?" asked Janet.

"No, not very far. I've never been there, but you can easy see it."

Truly enough the white house of Doctor Bond was in plain sight, but on
the prairies the air is so clear that distant houses look nearer than
they really are.

So, though Ted and Janet thought they would be at the doctor's in about
ten minutes, they were really half an hour in reaching the place. They
saw the doctor's brass sign on his house.

"I hope he's in," said Teddy.

As it happened Doctor Bond was in, and he came to the door himself when
Teddy rang the bell, Mrs. Bond being out in the chicken part of the
yard.

"Well, children, what can I do for you?" asked Doctor Bond with a
pleasant smile, as he saw the Curlytops on his porch.

"If you please," began Teddy, "will you come and cure Clipclap?"

"Will I come and cure him? Well, I will do my best. I can't be sure I'll
cure him, though, until I know what the matter is. What seems to be the
trouble?"

"He's awful sick," said Janet, "and he groans awful."

"Hum! He must have some pain then."

"We gave him some cold water," added Teddy.

"Yes? Well, maybe that was a good thing and maybe it wasn't. I can't
tell until I see him. Who did you say it was?"

"Clipclap," replied Teddy.

"Your little brother?"

"No, sir. He's a pony and he's in a cave!" exclaimed Teddy.

"What? A pony?" cried the surprised doctor. "In a cave?"

"Yes," went on Janet. "We gave him water in our hats, and he's going to
be Ted's and mine 'cause Ted found him. But will you please come and
cure him so we can have a ride on him? Don't let him die."

"Well," exclaimed Doctor Bond, smiling in a puzzled way at the children,
"I don't believe I can come. I don't know anything about curing sick
ponies. You need a horse doctor for that."

Ted and Janet looked at one another, not knowing what to say.



CHAPTER XI

TROUBLE MAKES A LASSO


Doctor Bond must have seen how disappointed Teddy and Janet were, for he
spoke very kindly as he asked:

"Who are you, and where are you from? Tell me about this sick pony with
the funny name."

"He is Clipclap," answered Teddy, giving the name he had picked out for
his new pet. "And we are the Curlytops."

"Yes, I can see _that_ all right," laughed the doctor with a look at the
crisp hair of the little boy and girl. "But where do you live?"

"At Uncle Frank's ranch," Janet answered.

"You mean Mr. Frank Barton, of the Circle O?" the doctor inquired.

"Yes, only we call it the Ring Rosy Ranch now, and so does he,"
explained Teddy.

"The Ring Rosy Ranch, is it? Well, I don't know but what that is a good
name for it. Now tell me about yourselves and this pony."

This Teddy and Janet did by turns, relating how they had come out West
from Cresco, and what good times they were having. They even told about
having gone to Cherry Farm, about camping with Grandpa Martin and about
being snowed in.

"Well, you have had some nice adventures!" exclaimed Doctor Bond. "Now
about this sick----"

"Is some one ill?" enquired Mrs. Bond, coming in from the chicken yard
just then, in time to hear her husband's last words. "Who is it?"

On the Western prairies when one neighbor hears of another's illness he
or she wants to help in every way there is. So Mrs. Bond, hearing that
some one was ill, wanted to do her share.

"It's a pony," her husband said with a smile.

"A pony!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, these Curlytop children found one in the cave among the rocks.
It's on Circle O Ranch--I should say Ring Rosy," and the doctor gave
Uncle Frank's place the new name. "These are Mr. Barton's nephew's
children," he went on, for Ted and Janet had told the doctor that it was
their father's uncle, and not theirs, at whose home they were visiting.
Though, as a matter of fact, Ted and Janet thought Uncle Frank was as
much theirs as he was their father's and, very likely, Uncle Frank
thought so himself.

"Can't you come and cure the sick pony?" asked Teddy.

"He's groaning awful hard," went on Janet.

"Well, my dear Curlytops," said Doctor Bond with a smile, "I'd like to
come, but, as I said, I don't know anything about curing sick horses or
animals. I never studied that. It takes a doctor who knows about them to
give them the right kind of medicine."

"I thought all medicine was alike," said Teddy. "What our doctor gives
us is always bitter."

"Well, all medicine isn't bitter," laughed Doctor Bond, "though some
very good kinds are. However, I wouldn't know whether to give this
Clipclap pony bitter or sweet medicine."

"Maybe you could ask one of the cowboys," said Janet. "I heard Mr.
Mason--Jim, Uncle Frank calls him--telling how he cured a sick horse
once."

"Oh, yes, your uncle's foreman, Jim Mason, knows a lot about horses,"
said Doctor Bond.

"Then why don't you go with the children and get Jim to help you find
out what the matter is with their pony?" suggested Mrs. Bond. "There
isn't a regular veterinary around here, and they don't want to see their
pet suffer. Go along with them."

"I believe I will," said Doctor Bond. "I could perhaps tell what's the
matter with the pony, and if I've got any medicine that might cure it,
Jim would know how to give it--I wouldn't."

"We just found the pony in the cave," explained Teddy. "We were taking a
walk and we heard him groan."

"Oh, I see," said Mrs. Bond. "Well, I hope the doctor can make him well
for you," she went on, as her husband hurried back into the house to get
ready for the trip.

He had a small automobile, and in this he and the children were soon
hurrying along the road toward Ring Rosy Ranch. It was decided to go
there first instead of to the cave where the pony was.

"We'll get Jim Mason and take him back with us," said the doctor.

Uncle Frank and his cowboys had come back from looking after the lost
ponies, but had not found them. He, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Martin, were
very much surprised when the Curlytops came riding up to the ranch in
Doctor Bond's automobile.

"Well, where in the world have you been?" cried Mother Martin. "We were
just beginning to get worried about you children. Where were you?"

"We found a pony!" cried Janet.

"And he's sick!" added Teddy.

"And his name is Clipclap!" exclaimed the little girl.

"And he's mine but Janet can have half of him, and we got him water in
our hats," came from Teddy.

"And we got the doctor, too!" went on his sister.

"Well, I should say you'd put in quite a busy day," chuckled Uncle
Frank. "Now let's hear more about it."

So the Curlytops told, and Doctor Bond said, even if he was not a horse
doctor, he'd go out and look at the pony in the cave, if the ranch
foreman would come with him.

"Of course I'll come!" cried Jim Mason. "I wouldn't want to see any pony
suffer. And I've doctored quite a few of 'em, even if I don't know much
about medicine. Come on, Curlytops!"

Jim Mason jumped on his own swift pony, saying he could make as good
time over the rough prairie as Doctor Bond could in his automobile. The
Curlytops rode in the machine with the physician. Uncle Frank and Daddy
Martin went along, for they, too, were interested in the sick pony.

It did not take long to get to the cave amid the rocks. Jim Mason's
horse reached there ahead of the automobile, and the foreman had gone
into the cave and come out again by the time the Curlytops were getting
out of the machine.

"Well, he's a pretty sick pony all right," said the foreman of the
cowboys of Ring Rosy Ranch.

"Can you make him better?" asked Teddy anxiously.

"I don't know whether we can or not. It all depends on what sort of
medicine the doctor has for curing poison."

"Has the pony been poisoned?" asked Uncle Frank.

"Looks that way," replied the foreman. "I guess he must have drunk some
water that had a bit of poisoned meat in it. You see," he went on to the
doctor, Mr. Martin and the children, "we have a lot of wolves and other
pesky animals around here. They're too tricky to catch in traps or
shoot, so we poison 'em by putting a white powder in some meat.
Sometimes the wolves will drag a piece of the poisoned meat to a spring
of water, and they must have done it this time. Then the pony drank the
water and it made him sick."

"Will he die?" asked Janet.

"Well, I'll do my best to save him," said Doctor Bond, opening the black
case of medicines he carried. "But how can you give medicine to a horse,
Jim? You can't put it on his tongue, can you?"

"No, but I've got a long-necked bottle on purpose for that, and it's
easy to pour it out of that bottle down a pony's throat. You mix up the
dose, Doc, and I'll give it to the little animal."

This was done, but the Curlytops were not allowed in the cave when the
men were working over the pony. But, in a little while, the foreman and
Doctor Bond came out.

"Well, I guess your pony will get better," said the physician. "Jim gave
him the medicine that will get the poison out of him, and in a day or so
he'll be able to walk. But you'll have to leave him in the cave until
then."

"Can't we take him home?" Teddy cried.

"Oh, no!" exclaimed the foreman. "But I'll send one of the men over with
some straw to make him a soft bed, and we'll see that he has water to
drink. He won't want anything to eat until he gets better. The doctor
will come to see him to-morrow. Won't you?" he went on to Doctor Bond.

"Indeed I will!" promised the doctor, for he had taken a great liking to
the Curlytops.

"Whose pony is it?" asked Daddy Martin.

"It's mine!" exclaimed Teddy quickly. "Mine and Jan's. We found him and
his name's Clipclap."

"Well, that's a good name for a pony," said his father. "But still I
don't know that you can claim every pony you find. This one may belong
to Uncle Frank."

"No, it isn't one of my brand," said the owner of Ring Rosy Ranch.
"It's a strange pony that must have wandered into this cave after he
found he was poisoned. I reckon the poor thing thought he'd die in
there, and maybe he would if the children hadn't found him."

"He couldn't have lived much longer without attention," said Doctor
Bond.

"Then did we save his life?" asked Teddy.

"You did, by getting the doctor in time," answered his father.

"Then can't he be our pony?" asked the little boy.

"Yes, I guess he can," answered Uncle Frank. "If nobody comes to claim
him you children may have him. And if anyone does come after him I'll
give you another. I was going to give you each a pony, anyhow, as soon
as you got used to the ranch, and I'll do it. If Ted wants to keep
Clipclap, as he calls him, I'll give Janet another."

"Oh, won't I just love him!" cried the little girl.

"And I'll love Clipclap!" said Teddy.

There was nothing more that could be done just then for the sick pony,
so the Curlytops and the others left him in the cave. The children were
glad he did not groan any more. A little later Jim Mason sent one of the
cowboys with some clean straw to make a bed for the little horse, and a
pail of the cool, spring water was put where the animal could reach it.

For two days the pony stayed in the cave, and then Doctor Bond said he
was much better and could be led to the ranch. Uncle Frank took Ted and
Janet out to the rocks to bring back their pet, but he had to walk very
slowly, for he was still weak from the poison.

"And he'll have to stay in the stable for a week or so," said Jim Mason
when Clipclap was safely at the ranch. "After that he will be strong
enough to ride. While you Curlytops are waiting I'll give you a few
riding lessons."

"And will you show me how to lasso?" begged Teddy.

"Yes, of course. You'll never be a cowboy, as you say you're going to
be, unless you can use a rope. I'll show you."

So the children's lessons began. Uncle Frank picked out a gentle pony
for them on which to learn how to ride, and this pony was to be Jan's.
She named him Star Face, for he had a white mark, like a star, on his
forehead.

On this pony Jan and Ted took turns riding until they learned to sit in
the saddle alone and let the pony trot along. Of course he did not go
very fast at first.

"And I want to learn to lasso when I'm on his back," said Teddy.

"You'd first better learn to twirl the rope while you're on the ground,"
said Jim Mason, and then the foreman began giving the little boy some
simple lessons in this, using a small rope, for Teddy could not handle
the big ones the cowboys used.

In a few days Teddy could fling the coils of his rope and make them
settle over a post. Of course he had to stand quite close, but even the
cowboys, when they learned, had to do that the foreman said.

"Well, what are you going to do now?" Teddy's father asked the little
boy one day, as he started out from the house with a small coil of rope
on one arm, as he had seen the cowboys carry their lariats. "What are
you going to do, Ted?"

"Oh, I'm going to lasso some more," was the answer.

"Why don't you try something else besides a post?" asked one of Uncle
Frank's men, as he, too, noticed Teddy. "Throwing a rope over a post is
all right to start, but if you want to be a real cowboy you'll have to
learn to lasso something that's running on its four legs. That's what
most of our lassoing is--roping ponies or steers, and they don't very
often stand still for you, the way the post does."

"Yes," agreed Ted, "I guess so. I'll learn to lasso something that
runs."

His father paid little more attention to the boy, except to notice that
he went out into the yard, where he was seen, for a time, tossing the
coils of rope over the post. Then Jan came along, and, as soon as he saw
her, Teddy asked:

"Jan, will you do something for me!"

"What?" she inquired, not being too ready to make any promises.
Sometimes Teddy got her to say she would do things, and then, when he
had her promise, he would tell her something she did not at all want to
do. So Jan had learned to be careful.

"What do you want to do, Teddy?" she asked.

"Play cowboy," he answered.

"Girls can't be cowboys," Janet said.

"Well, I don't want _you_ to be one," went on Teddy. "I'll be the
cowboy."

"Then what'll _I_ be?" asked Jan. "That won't be any fun, for you to do
that and me do nothing!"

"Oh, I've got something for you to do," said Teddy, and he was quite
serious over it. "You see, Jan, I've got to learn to lasso something
that moves. The post won't move, but you can run."

"Do you mean run and play tag?" Jan asked.

Teddy shook his head.

"You make believe you're a wild cow or a pony," he explained, "and you
run along in front of me. Then I'll throw my rope around your head, or
around your legs, and I'll pull on it and you----"

"Yes, and I'll fall down and get all dirt!" finished Jan. "Ho! I don't
call _that_ any fun for me!"

"Well, I won't lasso you very hard," promised Ted; "and I've got to
learn to throw my rope at something that moves, the cowboys say, else I
can't ever be a real wild-wester. Go on, Jan! Run along and let me lasso
you!"

Jan did not want to, but Teddy teased her so hard that she finally gave
in and said she would play she was a pony for a little while. Teddy
wanted her to be a wild steer, but she said ponies could run faster than
the cattle, and Jan was a good runner.

"And if I run fast it will be harder for you to lasso me," she said,
"and that's good practice for you, same as it is good for me when I
practice my music scales fast, only I don't do it very much."

"Well, you run along and I'll lasso you," said Teddy. "Only we'd better
go around to the back of the house. Maybe they wouldn't like to see me
doing it."

"Who; the cowboys?" asked his sister.

"No, father and mother," replied Teddy. "I don't guess they'd want me to
play this game, but I won't hurt you. Come on."

The little boy and girl--Teddy carrying his small lasso--went out to a
field not far from the house, and there they played cowboy. As they had
planned, Teddy was the cowboy and Janet the wild pony, and she ran
around until she was tired. Teddy ran after her, now and then throwing
the coils of rope at her.

Sometimes the lasso settled over her head, and then the little boy would
pull it tight, but he was careful not to pull too hard for fear he
might hurt Jan. Once the rope went around her legs, and that time Teddy
gave a sudden yank.

"Oh, I'm falling!" cried Jan, and she went down in a heap.

"That's fine!" cried Teddy. "That's regular wild-wester cowboy! Do it
again, Jan!"

"No! It hurts!" objected the little girl. "You pulled me so hard I fell
down."

"I didn't mean to," said Teddy. "But I can lasso good, can't I?"

"Yes; pretty good," his sister agreed. "But you can't lasso me any more.
I don't want to play. I'm going to the house."

"Did I hurt you much?" Teddy asked.

"Well, not such an awful lot," admitted Jan. "I fell on some soft grass,
though, or you would have. Anyhow, I'm going in."

Teddy looked a little sad for a minute, and then he cried:

"Oh, I know what I can do! You stay and watch me, Jan."

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"You'll see," he answered. "Here, you hold my lasso a minute."

Teddy ran off across the field, and when he came back to where his
sister was still holding the coil of rope the Curlytop boy was leading
by a rope a little calf, one of several that were kept in the stable and
fed milk from a pail.

"What are you going to do, Teddy Martin?" asked the little girl.

"I'm going to play he's a wild steer," answered Teddy.

"Oh, The-o-dore Mar-tin!" cried Janet, much as her mother might have
done. "You're not going to lasso him, are you?"

"I am--if I can," and Teddy spoke slowly. He was not quite sure he
could.

The calf came along easily enough, for Teddy had petted it and fed it
several times.

"He's awful nice," said Janet. "You won't hurt him, will you?"

"Course not!" cried Teddy. "I'll only lasso him a little. Now you come
and hold him by the rope that's on his neck, Jan. And when I tell you to
let go, why, you let go. Then he'll run and I can lasso _him_. I've got
to lasso something that's running, else it isn't real wild-wester."

Jan was ready enough to play this game. She took hold of the calf's
rope, and Teddy got his lasso ready. But just as the little fellow was
about to tell his sister to let the calf loose, along came Uncle Frank
and he saw what was going on.

"Oh, my, Teddy!" cried the ranchman. "You mustn't do that, Curlytop! The
little calf might fall and break a leg. Wait until you get bigger before
you try to lasso anything that's alive. Come on, we'll have other fun
than this. I'm going to drive into town and you Curlytops can come with
me."

So the calf was put back in the stable, and Teddy gave up lassoing for
that day. He and Jan had fun riding to town with Uncle Frank, who bought
them some sticks of peppermint candy.

Baby William had his own fun on the ranch. His mother took care of him
most of the time, leaving Janet and Teddy to do as they pleased. She
wanted them to learn to ride, and she knew they could not do it and take
care of their little brother.

But Trouble had his own ways of having fun. He often watched Teddy
throwing the lasso, and one afternoon, when Ted had finished with his
rope and left it lying on a bench near the house, Trouble picked up the
noose.

"Me lasso, too," he said to himself.

Just what he did no one knew, but not long after Teddy had laid aside
the lariat, as the lasso is sometimes called, loud squawks, crowings and
cackles from the chicken yard were heard.

"What in the world can be the matter with my hens?" cried Aunt Millie.

Ted and Janet ran out to see. What they saw made them want to laugh, but
they did not like to do it.

Trouble had lassoed the big rooster!



CHAPTER XII

THE BUCKING BRONCO


With a small rope around the neck of the crowing rooster--which could
not crow as loudly as it had before, because it was nearly
choked--Trouble was dragging the fowl along after him as he ran across
the yard.

"Trouble! Trouble!" cried Aunt Millie. "What are you doing?"

"Playin' cowboy!" was his answer. "I lasso rooster wif my rope, like
Teddy catches post."

"Oh, you mustn't do that!" cried Aunt Millie, as she ran after the small
boy and the dragging rooster.

"Cock-a doodle-do!" crowed the rooster, or, rather, it tried to crow
that way, but it would get only about half of it out and then Trouble
would pull the rope tight about the fowl's neck and the crow would be
shut off suddenly.

    [Illustration: TROUBLE HAD LASSOED THE BIG ROOSTER!
    _The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch_      _Page 139_]

"Gid-dap, pony!" cried Baby William, trotting along on his short, fat
legs, making-believe, as he often did, that he was riding horseback.
"Gid-dap! I lasso a rooster, I did!"

"Yes, and you'll kill the poor thing if you're not careful," panted Aunt
Millie, as she raced after the little fellow and caught him. Then she
gently pulled the rooster to her by means of the rope, and took it off
the fowl's neck.

The rooster was bedraggled from having been dragged through the dust and
the dirt, and it was so dizzy from having been whirled around by Trouble
that it could hardly stand up.

Aunt Millie smoothed out its feathers and got it some water. The rooster
drank a little and seemed to feel better. Then it ran off to join the
other roosters and the cackling hens that had been watching what Trouble
did, doubtless wondering what had gotten into the lassoed rooster to
make it run around the way it did on the end of a rope. But it was Baby
William who made all the trouble.

"You must never do that again," said Mrs. Martin when she came out of
the ranch house and heard what her little boy had done. "That was very
wrong, William, to lasso the poor rooster and drag it about with a rope
around its neck."

"I not do it any more," promised Trouble. "But I want a lasso like
Teddy."

"No, you're not big enough for that," his mother said. "You must wait
until you are a little older. Don't bother the chickens any more."

"No, I only get de eggs," promised Baby William.

"And please don't lasso them, or you'll break them," put in Aunt Millie;
but Janet thought her "eyes laughed," as she later told Teddy.

"No more lasso?" asked Trouble, looking at the rope his aunt had taken
from the rooster's long neck.

"No more lasso!" exclaimed Mrs. Barton, trying not to smile, for the
sight of the rooster, caught the way he had been, made even the older
folks want to laugh. Ted and Janet did laugh, but they did not let
Trouble see them. If he had he might have thought he had done something
smart or cute, and he would try it over again the first chance he had.
So they had to pretend to be sharp with him. The rooster was not hurt
by being lassoed.

Afterward Trouble told how he did it. With the slip-noose of the rope in
one hand and holding the rope's end in the other, Baby William walked
quietly up behind the rooster and tossed the loop over its head. Then he
pulled it tight and started to run, as he had seen the cow ponies
galloping to pull down a horse or steer that needed to be branded or
marked with the sign of the Ring Rosy Ranch. The rooster was very tame,
often eating out of Aunt Millie's hand, so he was not afraid to let
Trouble come up quite close to him.

One day, about a week after the Curlytops had found Clipclap in the
cave, Jim Mason said he thought the pony was well enough to be ridden.
Clipclap was brought out in the yard and Teddy and Janet went up to him.

The pony put his nose close to them and rubbed his head against their
outstretched hands.

"See, he knows us!" cried Janet.

"And I guess he's thanking us for bringing him water," added her
brother.

"And getting the doctor to cure him of poison," went on the little
girl. "I'm glad he likes you, Teddy."

"And your pony likes you, too, Janet," said the little boy.

Janet's pony, Star Face, certainly seemed to like her. For he came when
she called him and took lumps of sugar from her hand. He liked Teddy,
too. In fact both ponies were very pretty and friendly and it would be
hard to say which was the better. Janet liked hers and Teddy liked his,
and that is the best thing I can say about them.

No one came to claim Clipclap. Though Uncle Frank spoke to a number of
other ranchmen about finding the sick pony, none of them had ever seen
Clipclap before as far as they knew. If he belonged to some other ranch
it must have been far away.

"So you may feel that it is all right for you to keep your pony,
Curlytop," said Uncle Frank to Teddy. "If anyone should, later, say it
belongs to him, and can prove it, we'll give it up, of course."

"But I don't want to give Clipclap up!" Teddy cried.

"Well, maybe you won't have to," said his father. "But you must not keep
what is not yours. Anyhow, if you should have to give up Clipclap Uncle
Frank will give you another pony."

"There couldn't be any as nice as Clipclap--not even Janet's Star Face,"
declared Teddy.

He felt bad at the thought of having to give up his pet, but there was
no need to, for as the weeks went on no one came to claim Clipclap, and
Teddy counted him as his own.

By this time Teddy and Janet had learned to ride quite well for such
little children. They knew how to sit in a saddle, up straight like an
arrow, and not slouched down or all humped up "like a bag of meal," as
Uncle Frank was wont to say. They knew how to guide their ponies by
pulling on the reins to left or to right, according to which way they
wanted to go.

Of course they could not ride very fast yet, and Mother Martin was just
as glad they could not, for she was afraid, if they did, they might fall
off and get hurt. But Teddy and Janet were careful, and they knew how to
sit in the saddle with their feet in the stirrups.

"They're getting to be good little riders," said Jim Mason to Uncle
Frank one day. "I'll take 'em with me the next time I go for a short
ride."

"Maybe we could find the bad Indians that took your horses, Uncle
Frank," said Teddy.

"Well, I wish you could," said the owner of Ring Rosy Ranch.

The cowboys had not been able to get back the stolen horses nor find the
Indians who had run them off. Other ranches, too, had been robbed and a
number of head of horses and cattle had been driven away.

"We've looked all over for those Indians," said Uncle Frank, "but we
can't find 'em. If you Curlytops can, I'll give you each another pony."

"I'd like Clipclap best though," announced Teddy.

"What could we do with two?" asked Janet.

"Oh, every cowboy or cowgirl, for that matter, has more than one horse
when he can," said Jim Mason. "Then if one gets lame he has another to
ride. But don't you Curlytops go off by yourselves looking for those bad
Indians!" he warned them.

"We won't," promised Teddy. "We'll only go with you or Uncle Frank."

"We don't find them," said the ranch owner. "I guess the Indians sold
the horses and cattle and then they hid themselves. Well, I hope they
don't take any more of my animals."

But there was more trouble ahead for Uncle Frank.

The Curlytops had a fine time on his ranch, though. When Teddy and Janet
were not riding, they were watching the cowboys at work or play, for the
men who looked after Uncle Frank's cattle had good times as well as hard
work.

They would often come riding and swooping in from the distant fields
after their day's work, yelling and shouting as well as firing off their
big revolvers. But neither the Curlytops nor their mother were as
frightened at this play of the cowboys as they had been at first.

"I wish I had a gun that would go bang," said Teddy one day.

"Oh, The-o-dore Mar-tin!" cried his sister, after the fashion of her
mother. "If you had I'd never go riding ponyback with you--never again!
I'd be afraid of you! So there!"

"Well, so would the Indians!" said Ted.

However he knew he was too small to have a firearm, so he did not tease
for it.

Sometimes, when Uncle Frank or his foreman, Jim Mason, went on short
rides around the ranch, Teddy and Janet went with them on their ponies.
Star Face and Clipclap were two sturdy little animals, and were gentle
with the children.

"Come on! Let's have a race!" Ted would call.

"All right. But don't go too fast," Janet would answer, and they would
trot off, the ponies going as fast as was safe for the children.

Teddy generally won these races, for Janet, who was very tender-hearted,
did not like to make her pony go as fast as it could go. Often, perhaps,
if Janet had urged Star Face on she would have beaten her brother, for
Clipclap still felt a little weak, now and then, from his illness.

One day a cowboy came in, riding hard from a far-off part of the ranch.

"I guess something is the matter, Jan," said Teddy, as they saw the
horseman gallop past.

"What?" she asked as they noticed him talking to the foreman.

"Maybe he's found the Indians that took Uncle Frank's horses," her
brother answered.

The children drew near enough to hear what the cowboy and the foreman
were talking about.

"More horses gone!" exclaimed Jim Mason. "Well, we'll surely have to get
after those Indians; that's all there is about it!"

"More horses stolen?" asked Daddy Martin, coming out just then.

"Yes," answered Jim Mason. "A lot of good ones. I guess more Indians
must have run away from the reservation. We'll have to hunt them down!"

"Oh, I wish I could go!" sighed Teddy. "I'd like to be an Indian
fighter."

"You'll have to grow a lot bigger," said his uncle, with a laugh.

Uncle Frank and some of the cowboys rode over the prairie, trying to
find the stealing Indians, but they could not. Nor could they find the
missing horses, either.

"It's a good thing Uncle Frank has lots of cattle," said Teddy that
night when the cowboys came back to the ranch house, not having found
the horse thieves. "If he didn't have he'd be poor when the Indians
take his animals."

"He'll be poor if the Indians keep on the way they have been doing,"
said Aunt Millie. "I hope he can catch the bad men!"

Ted and Janet hoped so too, but they did not see how they could help,
though Teddy wanted to. However he was kept near the house.

"Come on and see the bucking bronco, Curlytops!" called Uncle Frank to
Teddy and Janet one day.

"What is it?" asked the little girl.

"A bucking bronco jumps up in the air with all four feet off the ground
at once, and comes down as stiff as a board," explained Uncle Frank.
"That isn't nice for the man that's in the saddle, though the cowboys
know how to ride most bucking broncos, that are really sort of wild
horses."

"I'd like to see 'em!" cried Teddy.

"You may," promised his uncle. "The cowboys have a bucking bronco out in
the corral and they're taking turns trying to ride him. Come along if
you want to see the fun."

It was fun, but some hard work, too, for one after another the cowboys
fell out of the saddle of the bucking bronco as they tried to ride him.

Now and then one would stay on the wild animal's back longer than had
any of his friends, not falling when the bronco leaped up in the air and
came down with his legs as stiff as those of an old fashioned piano.

"Ki-yi! Yippi-i-yip!" yelled the cowboys, as they dashed about on the
bucking bronco, swinging their hats or their quirts, which are
short-handled whips, in the air over their heads.

They did not mind being thrown, and each one tried to ride the wild
bronco. None could stay in the saddle more than a few minutes at a time
though.

"Well, I guess I'll have to ride that animal myself," said Jim Mason,
when all the other cowboys had tried and had fallen or jumped from the
saddle. The foreman was a fine rider. "Yes, I guess I can ride that
bronco," he said.

"Give the pony a chance to get his breath," suggested one of the
cowboys. "I don't reckon you can ride him though, Jim."

"I'll try," was the answer.

The bronco was led to a corner of the corral, or stable yard, and tied.
Then the foreman made ready to try to stay in the saddle longer than
had any of his men, for when a bronco bucks it is like trying to hold on
to a swing that is turning topsy-turvy.

Suddenly, as Teddy and Janet were looking at some of the funny tricks
the cowboys were playing on one another, Uncle Frank gave a cry.

"Look at Trouble!" he exclaimed.

Baby William had crawled through the fence and was close to the
dangerous heels of the bucking bronco.



CHAPTER XIII

MISSING CATTLE


For a moment none of the cowboys made a move. They were too frightened
at what might happen to Trouble. If it had been one of their own friends
who had gone into the corral where the dangerous bronco was standing,
they would have known what to do.

They would have called for him to "Look out!" and the cowboy would have
kept away from the animal. But it was different with Trouble. To him one
horse was like another. He liked them all, and he never thought any of
them would kick or bite him. The bucking bronco was most dangerous of
all.

"Oh, Trouble!" exclaimed Janet softly.

"I--I'll get him!" whispered Teddy. "I can crawl in there and run and
get him before that bronco----"

"You stay right where you are, Curlytop!" exclaimed Jim Mason. "We don't
want you both hurt, and if you go in there now you might start that
crazy horse to kicking. Stay where you are. I'll get Trouble for you."

"Maybe if I called to him he'd come," said Janet. She, too, spoke in a
whisper. In fact no one had made a noise since Trouble had been seen
crawling under the corral fence, close to the bucking bronco.

"No, don't call, Janet," said the foreman. "You might make the bronco
give a jump, and then he'd step on your little brother. That horse is a
savage one, and he's so excited now, from so many of the cowboys having
tried to ride him, that he might break loose and kick Trouble. We've got
to keep quiet."

The cowboys seemed to know this, for none of them said a word. They kept
very still and watched Trouble.

Baby William thought he was going to have a good time. He had wandered
out of the house when his mother was not looking. Seeing Ted, Janet and
the cowboys down by the corral, he made up his mind that was the place
for him.

"Maybe I get a horse wide," he said to himself, for he was about as
eager over horses as his sister or brother, and, so far, the only rides
he had had were when he sat in the saddle in front with them or with his
father, and went along very slowly indeed. For they dared not let the
horse go fast when Trouble was with them, and Trouble wanted to go fast.

"Me go get wide myse'f," he murmured, and then, when no one was looking,
he slipped under the corral fence.

He was now toddling close to the heels of the bronco.

"Nice horsie," said Trouble in his sweetest voice. "I get on your back
an' have nice wide!"

Trouble always had hard work to sound the r in ride. "Wide" he always
called it.

Nearer and nearer he came to the bronco. The animal, without turning its
head, knew that someone was coming up behind. Many a time a cowboy had
tried to fool the savage horse that way, and leap into the saddle
without being seen. But Imp, as the bronco was named, knew all those
tricks.

He turned back his ears, and when a horse does that it is not a good
sign. Almost always it means he is going to bite or kick.

In this case Imp would have to kick, as Trouble was too far behind to be
bitten. And Imp did not seem to care that it was a little boy who was
behind, and not a big cowboy. Imp was going to do his worst.

But Jim Mason was getting ready to save Trouble. Going around to the
side, where he could not be seen so well, the foreman quickly leaped
over the fence. And then he ran swiftly toward Trouble, never saying a
word.

The bronco heard the sound of running feet. He turned his head around to
see who else was coming to bother him and then, before Imp could do
anything and before Trouble could reach and put his little hands on the
dangerous heels, the foreman caught up Baby William and jumped back with
him, out of the way in case Imp should kick.

And kick Imp did! His heels shot out as he laid his ears farther back on
his head and he gave a shrill scream, as horses can when they are angry.

"No you don't! Not this time!" cried Jim Mason, as he ran back to the
fence with Trouble. "And you must never go into the corral or near
horses again, Trouble! Do you hear?" and the foreman spoke to Baby
William as though very angry indeed. But he had to do this, for the
little fellow must learn not to go into danger.

"Don't ever go in there again!" said the foreman, as he set Trouble down
on the ground in a safe place.

"No, me not go," was the answer, and Baby William's lips quivered as
though he were going to cry.

"Well, that's all right, old man!" said the foreman in kind tones. For
he loved children and did not even like to hurt their feelings. "I
didn't mean to scare you."

But he had scared Trouble, or, rather the sudden catching up of the
little fellow and the pony's scream had frightened him, and Janet's baby
brother began to cry, hiding his head in her dress.

But, after all, that was the best thing to make Trouble remember that he
must not go in the corral, and he had soon forgotten his tears and was
laughing at the funny tricks Imp cut up as Jim Mason tried to ride him.

The foreman, after he had carried Trouble safely out of the way, went
back in the corral and jumped on the bucking bronco's back. Then Imp
did all he could to get the man out of the saddle.

Around and around the corral dashed the cow pony, and when he found that
Jim stuck on the horse began jumping up in the air--bucking as the
cowboys call it. Even that did not shake the foreman to the ground.

Then, suddenly, the horse fell down. But it was not an accident. He did
it on purpose, and then he began to roll over, thinking this, surely,
would get that man off his back.

It did. But when Imp tried to roll over on the foreman, to hurt him, Jim
Mason just laughed and jumped out of the way. He knew Imp would probably
do this and he was ready for him.

Jim watched Imp, and as soon as the bronco stopped rolling and stood up
again the foreman jumped into the saddle. This was too much for Imp. He
made up his mind he could not get rid of such a good rider, so the horse
settled down and galloped around the corral as he ought to do.

"Hurray! Jim rides him after all!" cried some of the cowboys.

"I told you I'd stick to him," said the foreman with a laugh.

"I wish I could ride that way," said Teddy, with a little sigh when Jim
came out of the corral and left Imp to have a rest.

"Well, maybe you will some day," said the foreman. "You've got a good
start, and there's no better place to learn to ride ponyback than at
Ring Rosy Ranch."

One warm, pleasant afternoon, when they had played about the house for
some time, amusing themselves at the games they were wont to pass the
time with in the East, Jan called to her brother:

"Let's go and take a ride on our ponies!"

"All right," agreed Teddy. "Where'll we go?"

"Oh, not very far. Mother told us we mustn't go very far when we're
alone."

"That was before we knew how to ride," declared the little boy. "I guess
we ride good enough now to take long rides."

"But not now," insisted Jan. "We'll only go for a little way, or I'm not
going to play."

"All right," Teddy agreed. "We won't go very far."

So they went out to the stable where their ponies were kept, and there
one of the cowboys kindly saddled Clipclap and Star Face for the little
Curlytops. Uncle Frank had given orders to his men that they were to let
the children have the ponies whenever it was safe to ride, and this was
one of the nicest days of the summer.

"Don't let 'em run away with you!" laughed the cowboy, as he helped Jan
and Ted into their saddles.

"Oh, Clipclap and Star Face won't run away!" declared the little girl.
"They're too nice."

"Yes, they are nice ponies," agreed the cowboy. "Well, good-bye and good
luck."

Riding up to the house, to tell their mother they were going for a ride,
but would keep within sight or calling distance, Ted and Jan were soon
guiding their ponies across the prairie.

The children had soon learned to sit well in the saddles, and knew how
to guide their ponies. And the little animals were very safe.

"Somehow or other, I don't feel at all worried here when the children
are out of my sight--I mean Teddy and Janet," said Mrs. Martin to her
husband, when the Curlytops had ridden away.

"Yes, Uncle Frank's ranch does seem a safe place for them," Mr. Martin
answered. "Lots of 'down East' people think the West is a dangerous
place. Well, maybe it is in spots, but it is very nice here."

On over the prairies rode Teddy and Janet. Now and then the little girl
would stop her pony and look back.

"What are you looking for?" Teddy asked. "Do you think Trouble is
following us?"

"No, but we mustn't go too far from the house. We must stay in sight of
it, mother said."

"Well, we will," promised Ted.

But, after a while, perhaps it was because it was so nice to ride along
on the ponies' backs, or because the little animals went faster than Ted
or Janet imagined--I don't know just how it did happen, but, all at
once, Jan looked back and gave a cry.

"Why, what's the matter, Jan?" asked Teddy.

"We--we're lost!" gasped the little girl. "I can't see Uncle Frank's
house anywhere!"

It was true enough. None of the ranch buildings were in sight, and for a
moment Ted, too, was frightened. Then as his pony moved on, a little
ahead of Jan's, the boy gave a cry of delight.

"There it is! I can see the house!" he said. "We're not lost. We were
just down in a hollow I guess."

And so it was. The prairies, though they look level, are made up of
little hills and valleys, or hollows. Down in between two hills one
might be very near a house and yet not see it.

"Now we're all right," went on Teddy.

"Yes," agreed Janet. "We're not lost any more."

So they rode on a little farther, the ponies now and then stopping to
crop a bit of the sweet grass, when, all of a sudden, Teddy, who was
still a little ahead of his sister, called:

"Look there, Jan!"

"Where?"

Teddy pointed. His sister saw several men on horseback--at least that is
what they looked like--coming toward them. Something about the figures
seemed a bit strange to the children. Ted and Jan looked at one another
and then back toward the ranch houses, which, they made sure, were not
out of sight this time.

"Are they cowboys?" asked Jan of her brother.

"They--they don't just look like 'em," he said. "I mean like Uncle
Frank's cowboys."

"That's what I thought," Janet added. "They look like they had blankets
on--some of 'em."

She and Teddy sat on their ponies' backs and kept looking at the other
figures. They were coming nearer, that was sure, and as they came closer
it was more and more certain to the Curlytops that some of the strangers
on the horses were wrapped in blankets.

"Oh, I know what they are!" suddenly cried Janet.

"What?"

"In--Indians!" faltered Janet. "Oh, Teddy, if they should be _wild_
Indians!"

"Pooh!" exclaimed Teddy, trying to speak bravely. "Uncle Frank said
there weren't any very wild Indians near his ranch."

"Maybe these ones wasn't near the ranch before, but they're coming near
now," said Janet, so excited the words tumbled out all mixed-up like.
"I'm going home!"

"I--I guess I'll go with you," added Teddy, as he turned his pony's head
about. "We'd better tell Uncle Frank the Indians are coming. Maybe they
want more of his horses."

"Oh, he won't let 'em have any!" cried Janet. "But they _are_ Indians
sure enough!" she went on, as she took a look over her shoulder.

And there was no doubt about it. As the group of riders came closer to
the children, whose ponies did not go as fast as the larger horses, it
was seen that they were indeed Indians, many of them wrapped in
blankets. There were men, women, boys and girls, and some of the smaller
children were carried wrapped tightly to their mothers' backs.

Up to the ranch rode Teddy and Jan as fast as their ponies would take
them without tossing off the Curlytops.

"Oh, Uncle Frank!" cried Teddy. "They're coming!"

"A lot of 'em!" shouted Janet.

"What's that?" asked the ranchman. "Who are coming?"

"Indians to take more of your ponies!" Teddy gasped.

For a time there was some little excitement on the ranch, until one of
the cowboys, riding out to see the Indians, came back and said they were
not "wild" ones, but a band that went about selling baskets and other
things they made. They did no harm, and for a time camped near the
ranch, the children, even Trouble, going over to see them. But for some
time the Curlytops did not forget the fright their first view of the
Indians gave them.

In the days that followed Teddy and Janet had many rides on Clipclap and
Star Face, their two nice ponies. Sometimes they were allowed to go a
little way over the prairies by themselves. But when they went for a
long ride Uncle Frank, Jim Mason, their father or some of the cowboys
were with them.

"After a while maybe I'll learn how to ride so I can go off with you and
help get the Indians that stole your horses. Do you think I can, Uncle
Frank?" asked Teddy one day.

"Well, maybe, Curlytop. We surely must find those Indians, for I don't
like to lose all those horses. As soon as I get some of my work done
I'll have another look for them."

And then, a few days later, more bad news came to Uncle Frank. With his
cowboys he was getting some cattle ready to ship away to a distant city,
from where they were to be sent still farther away in a train of cattle
cars, when a cowboy, who seemed much excited, came riding up to the
corral.

He looked very tired and warm, for the weather was hot, and his horse
was covered with flecks of foam, as though it had been ridden hard and
far.

"What's the matter, Henry?" asked Uncle Frank.

"Indian thieves!" was the answer. "A band of the Indians have run away
with a lot of your best cattle!"

"They have?" cried Uncle Frank. "How do you know?"

"I saw 'em, and I chased 'em. But they got away from me. Maybe if we
start right out now we can catch 'em and get back the cattle."

"Then we'll go!" cried Uncle Frank.

Teddy and Janet were very much excited when they saw the cowboys
saddling their mustangs ready for the chase.



CHAPTER XIV

LOOKING FOR INDIANS


"Can't we come along?" asked Teddy, as he saw Uncle Frank lead his horse
out of the corral.

"And I want to come, too!" added Janet.

"Oh, no! We couldn't think of letting you!" answered Uncle Frank. "Come
on, boys! Get ready. We'll have to ride fast!"

"We can ride fast!" added Teddy. "You said, the other day, Uncle Frank,
I could ride real good!"

"So you can, Curlytop."

"Then why can't we come? Jan--she's a good rider, too!"

"Why the idea of you children thinking you can go off on a hunt for
Indians!" exclaimed their mother.

"We want to go--awful much!" Teddy murmured.

"Not this time, Curly boy," said the ranchman. "We may have to be out
all night, and it looks like rain. You stay at home with Janet, and I'll
tell you all about it when I come back."

"Will you, truly?"

"Truly I will."

"And if you get any Indians will you bring 'em here?" Teddy demanded.

"No, don't!" cried Janet quickly. "I don't want to see any Indians."

"But they're _tame_ ones," said her brother.

"They can't be _awful_ tame, else they wouldn't run away with Uncle
Frank's cows," declared the little girl.

"That's right!" laughed Uncle Frank. "I guess we won't bring any Indians
here, Curlytop, even if we catch 'em, which we may not do as they have a
good start of us. Anyhow we'll have to turn the Redmen back to their
reservation where they belong if we get any of them. We'll just take my
cattle and horses away, if we can, and tell the Indians to go home and
be good."

"Will they do it?" asked Daddy Martin.

"It's hard to say," answered Uncle Frank. "I'd like to make 'em stop
taking my animals, though. Well, I guess we'll start. We'll be back as
soon as we can."

So he rode off with his cowboys after the Indians. The cowboy who had
ridden in with the news went back with the others to show them where he
had last seen the cattle thieves.

He stopped at the ranch house long enough, though, to get something to
eat, and then rode away again. But he found time to talk a while to the
Curlytops.

"Where did you see the Indians?" Teddy asked while the cowboy was eating
and Uncle Frank and the others getting ready for the chase.

"Oh, I was giving my pony a drink at the spring in the rocks when I saw
the Indians across the prairie--field, I guess you'd call it back East."

"Well, the prairies are big fields," observed Janet.

"So they are, Curly girl," laughed the cowboy. "Well, it was while I was
watering my horse that I saw the Indians."

"You mean at the spring in the rocks where Jan and I found Clipclap in
the cave?" Teddy asked.

"That's the place, Curlytop. I chased after them to see which way they
were driving off your Uncle Frank's cattle, but I saw they were too
many for me, so I came on back as fast as my horse would bring me."

"Was there a lot of Indians?" Teddy inquired.

"Quite a few," answered the cowboy. "Well, now I've got to go and help
chase them," and he hurried through his meal and rode off with Uncle
Frank and the others.

"Say, I wish we _could_ go, don't you, Janet?" asked Teddy of his
sister, when they were left by themselves near the corral.

"No, I don't! I don't want to chase Indians!"

"Well, I'd chase 'em and you could watch me."

"You're not big enough," said the little girl. "Indians are awful big.
Don't you remember the one we saw at the station?"

"Yes. But maybe the ones that took Uncle Frank's ponies are little
Indians."

"I don't care," Janet said. "I don't want to chase after any of 'em. I
don't like 'em."

"All right--then I won't go," decided Teddy. "But let's go and take a
ride on our ponies."

    [Illustration: OVER THE PRAIRIES RODE JANET AND TED.
    _The Curlytops at Uncle Frank's Ranch_      _Page 171_]

"Yes, I'll do that," agreed Janet, and soon, having had one of the
cowboys who had been left behind at Ring Rosy Ranch saddle Clipclap and
Star Face, the Curlytops started for their ride.

"Don't go too far!" called Mrs. Martin after the children.

"No, we won't," they promised.

"I wants to go wide too!" begged Trouble. "I 'ikes a wide on a
ponyback."

"Not now, my dear," his mother said. "We'll go in the shade and pick
flowers," and she carried him away where he would not see Teddy and
Janet go off, for that made Trouble fretful. He wanted to be with them.

Over the prairie rode Janet and Ted. Their ponies went slowly, for the
children had been told not to ride fast when they were alone. But, after
a while, Ted got tired of this slow motion.

"Let's have a race, Jan!" he called. "I can beat you from here to that
hill," and he pointed to one not far away.

"Mother said we couldn't ride fast," objected the little girl.

"Well, we won't ride _very_ fast," agreed Ted. "Come on, just a little
run."

Janet, too, wanted to go a bit faster, and so, when her pony was in a
line with Ted's, she called sharply:

"Gid-dap, Star Face!"

"Gid-dap, Clipclap!" cried Teddy.

The two ponies started to run.

"Oh, I'm going to beat! I'm going to beat!" Janet cried, for she saw
that Star Face was getting ahead of Clipclap.

"No you're not!" shouted Teddy, and he touched his heel to the pony's
flank. Clipclap gave a jump forward, and then something happened.

Teddy took a flying leap, and right over Clipclap's head he sailed,
coming down on his hands and knees some distance off. Clipclap fell down
and rolled over in the grass while Janet kept on toward the hill that
marked the end of the race.

The little girl reached this place first, not being able to stop her
pony when she saw what had happened to Teddy. But as soon as she could
turn around she rode back to him and asked anxiously:

"Are you hurt, Ted?"

"No--no. I--I guess not," he answered slowly.

"Is Clipclap?" asked Janet.

The pony answered for himself by getting up, giving himself a shake and
then beginning to eat some grass.

"What happened?" Janet questioned further. "Why didn't you come on and
race with me? I won!"

"Yes, I guess you did," admitted Teddy, getting up and brushing the dust
off his clothes. "But I'd 'a' beaten you, only my pony stumbled and he
threw me over his head. I went right over his head; didn't I Janet?"

"Yes, you did, Teddy. And you looked awful funny! But I'm glad you're
not hurt."

"So'm I."

"What made Clipclap stumble?" asked the little girl.

"I guess he stepped in a gopher's hole," answered her brother.

"Let's look," proposed Janet.

Brother and sister went to the place where Clipclap had stumbled. There
they saw a little hole in the ground. It was the front, or maybe the
back, door of the home of a little animal called a gopher, which burrows
under the earth. A gopher is a sort of squirrel-like rat, and on the
prairies they make many holes which are dangerous if a horse suddenly
steps into them. Prairie dogs are another species of animal that burrow
on the Western plains, making holes into which horses or ponies often
step, breaking their legs and throwing their riders.

This time nothing had happened except that Teddy and the pony had been
shaken up. The pony might have broken a leg but did not, nor was Teddy
even scratched.

Cowboys always dread gopher and prairie dog holes, especially at night
when they can not be so easily seen.

"Oh, I know what let's do!" exclaimed Janet, when she found that her
brother was all right.

"What?" asked Teddy.

"Let's wait here until the gopher comes up!"

"All right. Then we'll catch him and take him home to Trouble."



CHAPTER XV

TROUBLE "HELPS"


Janet and Teddy sat beside the gopher hole, while their ponies, not far
from them, ate the sweet grass of the prairie. Clipclap and Star Face
did not wander away, even if they were not tied to a hitching post. For
Western horses and cow ponies are trained to stand where their master
leaves them, if he will but toss the reins over their heads and let them
rest on the ground.

When a pony sees that this has been done he will never run away, unless
perhaps something frightens him very much. It may be that he thinks,
when the reins are over his head and down on the ground, they are tied
to something, so he could not run away if he wanted to.

At any rate, Clipclap and Star Face stayed where Ted and Janet left
them, and the little Curlytops watched the gopher hole.

"I wonder when he'll come out," said Janet after a bit.

"Shs-s-s-s!" whispered Teddy. "Don't talk!"

"Why not?" asked his sister.

"'Cause you might scare him. You mustn't talk any more than if you were
fishing."

"A gopher isn't a fish!"

"I know it," said Teddy. "But you've got to keep quiet."

So he and Janet remained very quiet, watching the hole. Suddenly Janet
gave Teddy a slight tap with her hand. He had looked off to see if the
ponies were all right.

"What's the matter?" asked Teddy.

"Hush!" whispered Janet. "There he is."

She pointed to the gopher's hole. Teddy saw a tiny black nose and a pair
of sparkling eyes as a head was thrust a little way out of the burrow.

"I'll get him!" cried the little boy.

With outstretched hand he made a grab toward the hole. But his fingers
only grasped a lot of dirt and stones. The gopher had dived down back
into his hole as soon as he saw Teddy's first move.

"Oh, he got away!" said Janet sorrowfully.

"I'll get him next time," declared Teddy.

But he did not. Three or four times more the little animal put his small
head and bright eyes out of the top of the hole, and each time Teddy
made a grab for him; but the gopher was too quick. Finally Janet said:

"I guess we better go home, Teddy."

"Why?"

"Oh, it's getting late, and I'm getting hungry."

"So'm I. I'll wait until he comes up once more and then we'll go."

Once more the gopher peeped up, as if wondering why in the world those
two strange children did not go away and let him alone. Ted made a grab
for him, but missed and then the little boy said:

"Come on, Jan. Now we'll go home!"

"And we haven't any nice little gopher to take to Trouble," said Janet
sadly.

"Oh, well, maybe it would bite him if we did catch one," reflected her
brother. "I'll take him some of these pretty stones," and he picked up
some from the ground. "He'll like to play with these."

Teddy whistled for his pony and Clipclap came slowly up to his little
master. Janet held out a bunch of grass to Star Face and her pony, just
as he had been taught, came up to her. Teddy helped his sister get up in
the saddle. It was not hard for them, as the ponies were small, and Jim
Mason had showed them how to put one foot in the stirrup, and then, with
one hand on the saddle and the other grasping both the bridle and the
pony's mane, give a jump that carried them up. But though Janet could
mount her pony alone Teddy always helped her when he was with her by
holding the stirrup.

"Let's have another race home," suggested Teddy, when they had started.

"No," answered his sister. "You might fall some more and get hurt. We'll
ride slow."

So they did, though Teddy was anxious for a good, fast gallop.

"Well, did you have a nice time?" asked Mother Martin, as they came to
the house after putting away their ponies.

"We had lots of fun," answered Janet. "Teddy fell off his pony----"

"Fell off his pony!" cried her mother.

"He threw me!" explained Ted, and then he told what had happened.

"An' didn't you catch noffin for me?" asked Trouble, who heard his
brother telling the story of his adventure.

"I brought you these nice stones," and Teddy took them out of his
pocket. "You can play with them, Trouble."

Baby William laughed and sat down to play with the stones.

"Did the cowboys come back with the Indians?" asked Teddy of Aunt Millie
when she was giving him and Janet some bread and jam to eat.

"No, not yet, Curlytop. I expect Uncle Frank and the boys will be gone
all night."

"Will they have a house to sleep in?" asked Janet.

"No, unless they happen to be near one when it gets dark. But they took
their blankets with them, and it's so warm that they'll just wrap up in
them and sleep out on the prairie," said Aunt Millie.

"Won't they be hungry?" Teddy inquired, as he took a big bite of the
bread and jam.

"Oh, no! Don't you remember I told you they always take something to
eat with them when they go out this way? They are used to camping on the
prairies, and they know how to make a fire, broil the bacon and make
their coffee," answered Aunt Millie. "You need never worry about Uncle
Frank and his cowboys. They'll be all right."

And so they were. It was not until the next afternoon that the party
which had gone out to chase the Indians came back. They were tired,
because they had ridden a good many miles, but they said they had slept
well and had had enough to eat.

"Did you catch the Indians?" asked Teddy eagerly.

"No, Curlytop," answered Uncle Frank. "I'm sorry to say we did not. They
got away from us."

"Did you see them?" asked Daddy Martin.

"Yes, but they were a long way off. Too far for us to get at them."

"And did they have your cattle with them?"

"Yes, they had a lot of my best animals. I guess they must be hiding
away somewhere among the hills and mountains. We came pretty close to
them at one time, and they suddenly disappeared. It seems as if they
must have gone into a big hole or cave. We couldn't find them."

"Are you going to look any more?" Teddy questioned. "And if you do go,
Uncle Frank, please can't I go too?"

"Well, most likely we will have another hunt for the Indians," answered
the ranchman, "but I'm afraid we couldn't take you along, Curlytop."

"Why not, Uncle Frank?"

"Oh, you might get hurt."

"Well, can I see the Indians after you catch 'em?"

"Oh, yes, I guess I can promise you _that_," and Uncle Frank smiled at
Daddy Martin.

"And can I ask them to make me a bow and arrows?" went on Teddy.

"Yes, you can _ask_ them, but I don't believe they will," Uncle Frank
replied. "These Indians aren't very nice. They're quite bad, in fact,
and we all wish they'd stay where they belong and not come off their
reservation and steal our cattle and horses."

"Well, I'm going to ask one to make me a bow and some arrows when you
catch 'em," decided Teddy.

That afternoon Teddy saw his sister trying to do something with bits of
string and sticks in a shady spot on the porch.

"What are you making, Jan," he asked. "A cat's cradle?"

"Pooh! you don't make a cat's cradle with sticks," said the little girl.

"Well, I thought maybe it was a new kind, or maybe a _kitten's_ cradle,"
laughed Teddy.

"Nope; it isn't that either," went on Janet, as she kept on twisting the
strings around the sticks.

"Well, what _are_ you making?"

"A bow and arrow."

"Ho! Ho!" laughed Jan's brother. "You can't make a bow and arrow _that_
way. Anyhow you don't need a string for an arrow."

"I know _that_!" Jan said. "But I'm making the bow first, and then I'm
going to make the arrow. The arrow part is what you shoot, isn't it,
Ted?"

"Yes," he answered. "I'll help you, Jan. I didn't mean to laugh at you,"
he went on, for he saw that Janet was very much in earnest about what
she was doing. "I know how to make a bow and arrows."

"Oh, please show me!" begged Janet. "I want to know how to shoot like
the Indians."

Teddy, however, did not have much better luck making the bow than his
sister had had. The trouble was that the sticks Janet had picked up were
not the right kind. They would not bend, and to make a bow that shoots
arrows a piece of wood that springs, or bends, is needed. For it is the
springy action of the wood that shoots the arrow on its way.

After trying two or three times, each time finding something wrong,
Teddy said:

"Oh, I don't guess I can make a bow, either. Let's play something else."

"What'll we play?" asked Janet.

Teddy thought for a few moments. Playing out at Uncle Frank's ranch was
different from playing at home. In some ways it was not so easy, for at
home if the Curlytops could not think up any way to have fun by
themselves, they could run down the street and find some other boys and
girls. But here there were no streets, and no other boys or girls unless
Teddy and Janet went a long way to look for them, and they could not do
that.

"I know what we can do," said Teddy, after a while. "We can get some
blankets and cookies and play cowboy."

"How can you play cowboy with cookies and blankets?"

"I'll show you," Teddy answered, as he went into the house to get the
things he wanted. He soon came out with some old quilts and the cookies,
which were in a paper bag.

"Now," went on Janet's brother, "We'll go off on the prairie and make
believe it's night and we have to stay out like the cowboys when they
went after Uncle Frank's horses."

"Oh, that'll be fun!" cried Janet, and then she and Ted rolled
themselves up in the old quilts and pretended to go to sleep on the soft
grass of the prairie, making believe it was night, though of course it
was not, for the sun was shining. Then they ate the cookies, pretending
they were bacon, sandwiches, cake and other things that cowboys like.

Two or three days later Uncle Frank and the cowboys went out again to
look for the Indians, but they did not find them. From other ranches
word came of cattle and horses that had been stolen, and more cowboys
were hired to keep watch over the animals that had to be left out in the
big fields to eat their fill of grass. No barn was large enough to hold
them.

Meanwhile Teddy and Janet were learning how to ride better each day.
They could go quite fast now, though they were not allowed to make their
ponies gallop except on ground where Uncle Frank knew there were no
holes in which the animals might stumble.

Sometimes Daddy and Mother Martin went to ride with the children, and
then they had good times together, taking their lunch and staying all
day out on the prairie or in a shady grove of trees.

One day Ted and Janet saw some cowboys driving a number of ponies to the
corral near the ranch buildings. Some of the animals were quite wild and
went racing about as though they would like to run far off and not come
back.

But the cowboys knew how to take care of the ponies. They rode around
them, keeping them together in a bunch, and if one started to get away
the cowboys would fire their revolvers and yell, so the pony would
become frightened and turn back.

"Did you take these ponies away from the Indians?" asked Teddy, as he
saw the little animals turned into the corral and the gate shut on them.

"No, these are some that have been running wild in a field away over at
the far end of my ranch," explained Uncle Frank. "I had them brought in,
as I'm going to ship some away to be sold."

"Come on, we'll go and look at the ponies," called Ted to his sister.
"Are they very wild?" he asked Jim Mason, who had helped the cowboys
bring them to the ranch corral.

"Yes, some of 'em are pretty wild," was the answer. "We had hard work
making them come along. They want to get loose and do as they please."

Ted and Janet climbed up on the corral fence to look at the ponies. A
few were somewhat tame, and allowed the Curlytops to pat them. But
others were very wild, and ran about as though looking for a place to
jump the fence or get out through a hole. But the fence was good and
strong. It was high and had no holes in it.

"Lots of ponies!" murmured Trouble, as he toddled after his brother and
sister to the corral.

"Yes, lots of 'em," agreed Janet. "You'll soon be a big boy and you can
have a pony to ride like brother and sister."

"Trouble want pony now!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, no, not now," Janet said as she helped him get up on the lowest
board of the fence, part of which was wooden, so he could look in
better.

"What they run around like that for?" asked Trouble, as he saw some of
the ponies racing about the corral.

"They want to get out," Janet answered.

"Trouble go help," murmured the little fellow, but Janet either did not
hear what he said or she paid no attention, for just then two of the
ponies had a race together around the corral and she and Ted wanted to
see which would win.

Trouble got down off the fence and went around to the gate. His brother
and sister did not notice him until, all at once, Janet, missing her
little brother, cried:

"Where's Trouble?"

"I don't know," Ted answered. "Maybe he---- Oh, look, Janet!" he
suddenly cried. "The corral gate is open and all the ponies are running
out!"

"Oh, that's right! They are!" Janet then screamed. "But where is
Trouble?"

"I don't know. I guess he---- Oh, there he is!" and Teddy pointed to a
spot near the gate.

There stood Trouble between the fence and the big gate which had swung
back on its hinges.

"Oh, look at 'em run!" cried Janet.

"They're all running out!" added Teddy excitedly. "I wonder who let 'em
loose."

"Maybe it was Trouble," suggested Janet. "Oh, it _was_!" she went on.
"Trouble must have opened the gate and let the ponies loose!"



CHAPTER XVI

ON THE TRAIL


Trouble had done that very thing. The little fellow had not meant to do
any harm, and certainly thought he was doing something to help, but
really he made a great deal of work for Uncle Frank and the cowboys.

The corral, or yard where the half-tamed horses were kept while they
were being got ready to send away, was closed by a large gate, but one
easy to open if you knew how. All one had to do was to pull on a little
handle, which snapped a spring and the gate would swing open.

Horses and cattle could not open the gate, for they could not reach the
handle, even if any of them had known enough to do anything like that.

But Trouble had watched Uncle Frank or some of the cowboys open the gate
by pulling on the handle; and now he did it himself. Then, of course,
when the ponies saw the open gate they raced out.

"Get after 'em!" cried Uncle Frank who came galloping up on his horse to
find out what was the matter. "Get after the ponies, boys! Round them
up!"

"Round up," is what cowboys call riding around a lot of horses or cattle
to keep the animals in one place or to drive them where they should go.
Uncle Frank wanted his cowboys to ride after the runaway ponies and
drive them back into the corral.

As the wild little horses trotted out through the gate, behind which
Trouble stood, well out of danger, the cowboys rode after them, yelling
and shouting and shooting their revolvers.

"What a lot of noise!" cried Janet, covering her ears with her hands as
she got down off the fence.

"I like it!" laughed Teddy. "It's like a Wild West show!"

Indeed it was, in a way, but it meant a lot of work for Uncle Frank and
his men. For all the ponies ran out of the corral and were scattering
over the prairie.

"Oh, Trouble! did you let the horses out?" asked Janet, as her little
brother came out from behind the gate and toddled toward her and Ted.
The runaway horses were now well out of the way. "Did you open the
gate?"

"Yes. I did open gate," Trouble answered, smiling.

"What for?" asked Teddy.

"Help little horses get out," said Trouble. "Them want to get out and
Trouble help them. Trouble 'ike ponies!"

"Oh, but, my dear, you shouldn't have done it!" chided Mother Martin,
who had come out of the house to find out what all the excitement was
about. "That was very naughty of you. See all the work you have made for
Uncle Frank and his men."

"Horses run out when Trouble open gate," was the only reply Baby William
made.

"Yes, I know," went on his mother. "But it was wrong! You must never
again open any gates on Uncle Frank's ranch. Just think--the horses
might have stepped on you or kicked you!"

"We didn't see him near the gate or we'd have stopped him," put in
Teddy.

"That's true," added Janet. "The first we saw was the ponies going out,
and then we saw Trouble behind the gate."

"He didn't mean to be bad," said his mother, as she carried him back to
the house, "but he has made a lot of work. I'll have to punish him by
not letting him out to play for an hour or so. Then he'll remember not
to open gates again, whether he thinks he is helping horses or not."

And, though Trouble cried very hard, he was kept in the house. For, as
his mother had said, he must have something to make him remember not to
do such a thing again.

Meanwhile Uncle Frank and the cowboys were busy rounding up the runaway
ponies. The little horses, tired of being cooped up in the corral, raced
about, kicking up their heels and glad to be out on the prairie again.
But the cowboys knew how to handle them.

Around and around the drove of half-wild ponies rode the yelling and
shouting men, firing off many blank cartridges to scare the little
animals back into the corral.

Some of the ponies, frightened by the noise, did turn back. They ran up
to the corral gate, which was still open, and sniffed at the fence.
They may have said to themselves:

"We don't like it, being shut up in there, but maybe we'll have to go
back in, for we don't like being shouted at, and we don't like the
bang-bang noises like thunder."

But, even when some of the ponies had run back as far as the corral gate
they did not go in. Once again they turned around and would have
galloped across the prairie again. But Uncle Frank shouted:

"Get after them, boys! Drive those few in and the rest will follow after
like sheep! Get after them!"

So the cowboys rode up on their own swift ponies, that seemed to be
having a good time, and then the other ponies nearest the corral gate
were turned in through it. Then as the rest were driven up they did as
the first ones had done and galloped back where they had been before
Trouble let them out.

One after another the ponies ran back into the corral until every one
was there. Then Uncle Frank closed the gate, and this time he locked it
so that no one could open it without the key. But no one would try, not
even Trouble, for, crying and sobbing to be allowed to go out and play,
he had been given a lesson that he would not soon forget.

"I'm sorry I had to punish him," said Mother Martin to the Curlytops,
when they came in after the ponies were once more in the corral, "but I
just had to. Work on a ranch is hard enough without little boys letting
the horses run wild after they have once been caught."

"Oh, well, no great harm was done," said Uncle Frank with a good-natured
laugh, "though it did make us ride pretty hard for a while. Come on,
Trouble, I'll take you ponyback!"

This was what Trouble liked, and he soon dried his tears and sat on the
saddle in front of Uncle Frank as happy as could be. Janet and Ted got
out their ponies, and rode with Uncle Frank and Trouble around the
outside of the corral, looking at the little horses inside the fence.
They were quieter now, and were eating some oats the cowboys had put out
for them.

Two or three days after this, when the ponies had been driven away to
the railroad station to be shipped to a far-off state, a cowboy came
riding in with news that he had seen a band of two or three Indians
pass along the prairie near the rocks where Teddy and Janet had found
Clipclap.

"If we ride after them," said the cowboy, "maybe we can find where the
other Indians are, and where they have hidden your horses and cattle,
Mr. Barton."

"That's it!" exclaimed Uncle Frank. "We'll get on the trail after these
Indians. I'm sure they must have some of my animals hidden away in the
hills, for I would have heard of it if they had sold them around here.
We'll get on the trail!"

"What's the trail, Daddy?" asked Teddy of his father.

"Oh, it means the marks the Indians' ponies may have left in the soft
ground," said Mr. Martin. "Uncle Frank and his cowboys will try to
trail, or follow, the marks of the horses' feet, and see where the
Indians have gone."

"Can't I come?" asked Teddy. "I can ride good now!"

"Oh, no indeed you can't go!" cried Mother Martin. "Are you going?" she
asked her husband.

"Yes," he answered. "I think I'll go on the trail with Uncle Frank."



CHAPTER XVII

THE CURLYTOPS ALONE


Teddy and Janet sat on a bench outside the cowboys' bunkhouse, as their
father, Uncle Frank and a number of the ranchmen rode away over the
prairies on the trail of the Indians. The Curlytops did not seem very
happy.

"Don't you wish _we_ could go, Jan?" asked Teddy, after he and his
sister had sat in silence for some time.

"I just guess I _do_!" she exclaimed. "I can ride good, too. Almost as
good as you, Ted, and I don't see why we couldn't go!"

"Yes, you ride nice, Jan," said her brother. "But I thought you were
afraid of Indians."

"I used to be, but I'm not any more. Anyway, if you'd stay with me I
wouldn't be. And, anyhow, Uncle Frank says the Indians won't hurt us."

"Course they won't! I'm not afraid! I'd go on the trail after 'em if
they'd let us."

"So would I. We could throw stones at 'em if they tried to hurt us,
Teddy."

"Yes. Or we could ride our ponies fast and get away. Uncle Frank told me
the Indians didn't have any good ponies, and that's why they took his."

"But we can't go," said Janet with a sigh.

"No; we've got to stay at home."

A little later a cowboy came limping out of the bunkhouse. His name was
Sim Body, but all his friends called him "Baldy" because he had so
little hair on his head.

"Hello, Curlytops!" cried Baldy in a jolly voice, for he was always
good-natured. Even now he was jolly, though he had a lame foot where a
horse had stepped on it. That is why he was not on the trail after the
Indians with the other cowboys.

"Hello," answered Teddy, but he did not speak in a jolly voice.

"Why, what's the matter?" asked Baldy with a laugh, as he limped to the
bench and sat down near the two children. "You act as sad and gloomy as
if there wasn't a Christmas or a New Year's any more, to say nothing of
Fourth of July and birthdays! What's the matter? Seems to me, if I had
all the nice, curly hair you two have, I'd be as happy as a horned toad
and I'd go around singing all day long," and Baldy rubbed his hand over
his own smooth head and laughed.

"I don't like my hair," grumbled Teddy. "It's always getting snarled and
the comb gets stuck in it."

"And it does in mine, too," added Janet. "And mother pulls when she
tries to untangle it. Mine's longer than Ted's."

"Yes, and nicer, for that reason," went on Baldy. "Though I'd be glad if
I had even half of yours, Teddy. But never mind about that. I won't take
your hair, though I'd like to know what makes you both so gloomy-like.
Can't you smile?"

Ted and Janet could not help laughing at Baldy, he seemed so funny. He
was a good friend of theirs.

"We can't go on the trail after Indians," said Janet. "We want to go,
but we've got to stay here."

"And we can ride our ponies good, too," went on Teddy. "Uncle Frank said
we could."

"Yes, you're getting to be pretty good riders," admitted Baldy. "But
that isn't saying you're big enough to go on a trail after Indians. Of
course these Indians may not be very bad, and maybe they aren't the ones
that took our horses. But riding on a trail takes a long while, and
maybe the boys will be out all night in the open. You wouldn't like
that."

"We went camping with our grandpa once," declared Teddy.

"And we slept in a tent," added his sister.

"And we saw a funny blue light and we thought it was a ghost but it
wasn't," continued Teddy.

"Hum! A ghost, eh?" laughed Baldy. "Well, I've never been on a trail
after one of _them_, but I've trailed Indians--and helped catch 'em,
too."

"How do you do it?" asked Teddy eagerly.

"Well, you just keep on riding--following the trail you know--until you
catch up to those you're after. Sometimes you can't see any marks on the
ground and you have to guess at it."

"And do the Indians ride on ahead and try to get away?" asked Janet.

"Indeed they do. When they know we're after 'em they ride as fast as
they can. That is, if they've done wrong, like taking horses or cattle
that aren't theirs. We just keep chasing 'em until we get close enough
to arrest 'em."

"It's like a game of tag, isn't it?" asked Janet.

"Well, yes, you could call it sort of like that," admitted Baldy, with
another laugh. "But it's a kind of game of tag that little boys and
girls can't very well play."

"Not even when they have ponies?" asked Teddy.

"Well, of course, having a pony makes it easier to keep on the trail.
You couldn't go very far walking over the prairies--at least none of us
do. We all ride. But I'll tell you some stories about cowboys and
Indians and that will amuse you for a while. Like to hear 'em?"

"Oh, yes!" cried Teddy.

"Very much, thank you," added Janet, a little more politely but still
just as eagerly as her brother.

So Baldy, sitting on the bench in front of the bunkhouse and resting his
lame foot on a saddle on the ground, told the Curlytops stories of his
cowboy life--of sleeping out on the prairies keeping watch over the
cattle, of Indians or other bad men who would come and try to steal
them, and how he and his friends had to give chase to get the steers or
ponies back.

"Did you ever get captured by the Indians?" asked Teddy.

"Well, yes, once I was," answered the cowboy.

"Oh, tell us about it!" begged the little Curlytop chap. "I love to hear
stories about Indians! Don't you, Jan?"

"I like stories--yes," said the little girl. "But if you're going to
tell a story about Indians, Mr. Baldy, maybe it'll be a scary one, and I
don't like scary stories."

"I do!" exclaimed Ted. "The scarier they are the better I like 'em!"

Baldy laughed as he said:

"Well, I guess, seeing as how the little lady doesn't like scary
stories, I'd better tell one that isn't. We must please the ladies, you
know, Teddy."

"Oh, yes, I know that," the little boy said. "But after you tell the
not-scary story, Mr. Baldy, couldn't you tell me one that is scary--a
real, terrible scary one. You can take me out behind the barn where Jan
can't hear it."

"Well, maybe I could do that," agreed the good-natured cowboy, laughing
at the Curlytops. "Now then for the not-scary story."

"And you don't have to take Teddy out behind the barn to tell him the
scary one," put in Janet. "You could stay here, and I could cover up my
ears with my hands when you came to the terrible parts, couldn't I? Is
there any parts in it that isn't scary? I'd like to hear _them_, Mr.
Baldy."

"Well, I guess we can fix it that way," said the cowboy. "Now the first
story I'm going to tell you, is how I was captured by the Indians," and
the children sat closer to him and waited eagerly.

"Once upon a time," said Baldy, "a lot of Indians lived not far from the
house where I lived."

"Weren't you afraid?" asked Janet.

"Please don't ask questions till he tells the story," begged Teddy.

"All right," agreed his sister, and Baldy went on:

"No, I wasn't much afraid, or if I was I've forgotten it now, as it was
quite a while ago. Anyhow, one day I was out on the prairie, picking
flowers, I think, for I know I used to like flowers, and, all of a
sudden, along came a lot of Indians on horses, and one of them picked
me up and took me right away with him, on the horse in front of him.

"The horse was a strong one, and could easily carry both of us, and
though I wiggled around a good bit and yelled, the Indian didn't let go
of me. On and on he rode, carrying me off, and the other Indians rode
ahead of us, and on either side. I couldn't get away, no matter how I
tried.

"After a while the Indians, who had been out hunting, came to where
their tents were. This was their camp, and then I was lifted down off
the horse and given to a squaw."

Teddy simply had to ask some questions now.

"A squaw is a Indian lady, isn't she?"

"Yes," answered Baldy, "that's what she is."

"Well, I shouldn't think she'd want to take you," went on the little
boy. "I thought the Indian men always kept the prisoners, and you were a
prisoner, weren't you?"

"Yes," answered Baldy, and there was a queer smile on his face, "but I
guess I forgot to tell you that the time I was captured by the Indians
I was a little boy, not as big as you, Curlytop. And the reason they
picked me up off the prairie was that I had wandered away from my home
and was lost. So the nice squaw kept me until one of the Indian men had
time to take me home."

"Then didn't the Indians hurt you?" asked Janet.

"Not a bit. They were very good to me," the cowboy said. "Some of them
knew my father and mother. That's the only time I was ever captured by
the Indians, and I'm afraid it wasn't very much of a story."

"Oh, it was _very_ nice," said Teddy politely.

"And not a bit scary, except a little teeny bit at first," added Janet.
"Can you tell us another, Mr. Baldy?"

"Well, I guess I can," said the good-natured cowboy. So he told other
tales of what had happened to him on the prairies, for he had lived in
the West all his life, and knew much about it.

Teddy and Janet were very glad to hear these stories, but listening to
them made Ted, at least, wish all the more that he could have gone with
his father and his Uncle Frank on the trail after the Indians.

Then Baldy was called away by another cowboy, who wanted to ask him
something about a sick horse, and Teddy and Janet were called by their
mother to take care of Trouble for a while.

It was still morning, the cowboys having ridden away before dinner. They
had taken with them enough to eat, even if they had to stay out all
night.

"I wants a wide!" announced Trouble, when his brother and sister came in
to get him.

"Could we give him a little ride on our ponies?" asked Teddy of his
mother.

"Yes, I think so. But don't go far away from the stable. Are any of the
cowboys out there to help you saddle?"

Saddling, which meant buckling the leather seat tightly around the pony,
was something Teddy and Janet could not yet do very well for themselves.
It takes strong fingers to tighten the straps.

"Yes, Baldy is out there," Janet said.

"How often have I told you not to call the men by their nicknames?"
asked Mother Martin with a smile. "It isn't nice for children to do
that."

"But, please, Mother, we don't know his other name very well," said
Teddy. "Everybody calls him Baldy."

"Yes, that's right," agreed Aunt Millie. "I do myself. I guess he
doesn't mind."

"Very well, if he'll saddle your ponies for you, take Trouble for a
little ride," agreed Mrs. Martin. "But be careful."

The Curlytops said they would, and they were soon taking turns riding
Trouble on the saddles in front of them. Clipclap and Star Face liked
the children and were well-behaved ponies, so there was no danger in
putting Trouble on the back of either as long as Ted or Janet held him.

"But don't go riding off with him on the trail after the Indians," said
Baldy, playfully shaking his finger at the Curlytops.

"We won't!" they promised.

Up and down on the paths among the ranch buildings rode the children.
Trouble was allowed to hold the ends of the reins, and he thought he was
guiding the ponies, but really Teddy and Janet did that.

But finally even such fun as riding ponyback tired Trouble. He wanted
something else to do, and said:

"Le's go an' s'ide downhill on hay in de barn."

Teddy and Janet knew what that meant. They had learned this kind of fun
at Grandpa Martin's Cherry Farm. Here, on Ring Rosy Ranch, there was a
large barn filled with hay, and there was plenty of room to slide down
in the mow, or place where the hay was put away.

"Come on!" cried Janet. "We'll give him a good slide, Teddy."

A little later the Curlytops and Baby William were laughing and shouting
in the barn, rolling down and tumbling over one another, but not getting
hurt, for the hay was too soft.

Pretty soon the dinner horn blew and, with good appetites from their
morning's fun, the children hurried in to get something to eat.

"This is a good dinner!" announced Teddy as he passed his plate a second
time.

"Yes," agreed Mother Martin. "I hope your father and the cowboys have as
good."

"Oh, they'll have plenty--never fear!" laughed Uncle Frank's wife. "They
never go hungry when they're on the trail."

After dinner Trouble went to sleep, as he generally did, and Teddy and
Janet were left to themselves to find amusement.

"Let's go for another ride," suggested Teddy.

"All right," agreed Janet.

The saddles had not been taken off their ponies. Their mother and Aunt
Millie saw them go out and, supposing they were only going to ride
around the barn and ranch buildings, as they had done before, said
nothing to them.

But Ted was no sooner in the saddle than he turned to his sister and
said:

"Jan, why can't we go riding the trail after the Indians?"

"What! We two alone?"

"Yes. We know the way over to the rocks where we found Clipclap in the
cave, and from there we can ride farther on, just like daddy and Uncle
Frank. Come on!"

Janet thought for a minute. She wanted to go as much as did Teddy. It
did not seem very wrong.

"Well, we'll ride a little way," she said. "But we've got to come back
before dark."

"All right," agreed Teddy. "We will!"

And the Curlytops rode away over the prairie.



CHAPTER XVIII

LOST


Clipclap and Star Face, the two sturdy little ponies, trotted bravely
along, carrying Teddy and Janet on their backs. The ponies did not
wonder where they were going--they hardly ever did that. They were
satisfied to go wherever their master or mistress guided them, for they
knew the children would be good to them.

"Do you s'pose we'll find any Indians?" asked Janet after a while.

"Maybe," answered Teddy. "Are you scared?"

"No," replied his sister slowly. "I was just thinking maybe we could
find 'em, and get back Uncle Frank's horses, even if the cowboys
didn't."

"Maybe we could!" cried Teddy. "That would be _great_! Wouldn't daddy be
surprised!"

"And Uncle Frank, too!" added Janet.

"Yes, and the cowboys! Then they'd think we could ride all right!" went
on Ted. "Come on, let's hurry! Gid-dap!" he called to Clipclap.

"Where are we going first?" asked Janet.

"To the rocks, where we found my pony in the cave," answered her
brother, as he patted the little animal on the neck. "The cowboy said he
saw the Indians near there."

"Maybe they're hiding in the cave," suggested Janet.

"No, they wouldn't do that," Teddy decided, after thinking it over
awhile. "They'd be afraid to stay so near Uncle Frank's ranch. Anyhow
the cave isn't big enough."

"It was big enough for Clipclap."

"Yes, but he's a little pony. Anyhow, we'll look in the cave and then
we'll ride on along the trail until we catch up to daddy and Uncle
Frank."

"What'll they say?"

"I guess they'll be s'prised."

"Maybe they'll make us go back."

"Well, if they do we'll have some fun, anyhow," said Teddy, laughing.
"Gid-dap, Clipclap."

"It's a good thing we've two ponies instead of one goat," remarked
Janet, after they had ridden on a little farther.

"Course it is," agreed Ted. "We couldn't both ride Nicknack, though he
could pull us both in the wagon."

"Maybe he'd be afraid of Indians," suggested Janet.

"No, I don't guess he would," answered Teddy, after some reflection.
"Nicknack's a brave goat. I like him. But I like Clipclap, too."

"And I like Star Face," added Janet. "He's an awful nice pony."

On and on the ponies trotted, carrying the Curlytops farther and farther
from the Ring Rosy Ranch house. But the children were not afraid. The
sun was shining brightly, and they had often before ridden this far
alone. They could look back at the ranch buildings when they got on top
of the little hills with which the prairie was dotted, and they were not
lonesome.

Off on either side they could see groups of horses or cattle that
belonged to Uncle Frank, and Ted and Janet thought there must be cowboys
with the herds.

"I'm going to get a drink when we get to the rocks," said Janet, as
they came within sight of the pile of big stones.

"Yes. And we'll give the ponies some, too," agreed her brother. "I guess
they're thirsty."

Indeed the little animals were thirsty, and after they had rested a
while--for Uncle Frank had told the children it was not wise to let a
horse or pony drink when it was too warm--Clipclap and Star Face had
some of the cool water that bubbled up among the rocks.

"It tastes awful good!" exclaimed Janet, as she took some from the cup
Ted filled for her.

After Clipclap had been found at the spring, the time he was hidden in
the cave, one of the cowboys had brought a tin cup to the spring,
leaving it there, so if anyone passed the spring it would be easy to get
a drink without having to use a hat or kneel down on the ground. For
horses and cattle there was a little rocky basin into which the cool
water flowed.

"I wish we could take some of the water with us," said Teddy, when,
after a rest, they were ready to follow the trail again.

"If we had a bottle, like some of the cowboys carry, we could,"
remarked Janet. "Maybe we'll get awful thirsty if we ride on a long way,
Ted."

"Maybe we will, but maybe we can find another spring. I heard Uncle
Frank say there's more than one on the ranch. Come on!"

The children took another drink, and offered some to the ponies, each of
which took a little. Then, once more, the Curlytops were on the trail
after the Indians, as they believed.

"Which way do we go now?" asked Janet, as she watched Teddy get up in
his saddle after he had helped her mount Star Face.

"We've got to follow the trail," Teddy answered.

"How do we do it?" his sister inquired.

"Well, I asked Baldy and he said just look on the ground for tracks in
the dirt. You know the kind of marks a horse's foot makes, don't you,
Jan?"

"Yes, and I see some down here," and she pointed to the ground.

"That's them!" exclaimed Teddy. "We've got to follow the marks! That's
the trail!"

"Is this the Indians' trail?" asked the little girl, and she looked
over her shoulder, perhaps to make sure no one was following her and her
brother.

"I don't know if it's the Indians' trail, or, maybe, the marks left by
Uncle Frank and daddy," said Teddy. "Anyhow we've got to follow the
trail. That's what Baldy said."

"He doesn't know we came off alone, does he?" asked Janet.

"No. I guess he wouldn't have let us if he did. But we won't have to go
very far, and then we'll catch up to the rest. Then they'll have to take
us with 'em."

"Yes," said Janet, and she rode along beside her brother.

Neither of the Curlytops stopped to think that their father, Uncle Frank
and the cowboys had started off early that morning, and must have ridden
on many miles ahead. The cowboys' horses, too, could go faster than the
ponies Star Face and Clipclap, for the larger horses had longer legs.

All Teddy and Janet thought of was hurrying along as fast as they could
go, in order to catch up to the Indian hunters. What would happen after
that they did not know.

All at once, as the Curlytops were riding along, they heard what they
thought was a whistle.

"Some one is calling us," said Janet, turning to look back. "Did you
hear that, Ted?"

"Yes, I heard a whistle. Maybe it's Uncle Frank, or some of the
cowboys."

The children looked across the prairie but could see no one. They were
about to go on again when the whistle sounded once more.

"That _is_ some one calling us," declared Jan. "Let's see if we can't
find who it is, Teddy."

So the children looked around again, but no one was in sight, and, what
was still stranger, the whistling sound kept up.

"It's some one playing a joke on us, and hiding after they whistle,"
said Janet. "Maybe one of the cowboys from the ranch."

"Maybe an Indian," said Ted, and then he was sorry he had said that, for
his sister looked frightened.

"Oh!" said Janet, "if it's an Indian----"

"I don't guess it is," Teddy hastened to say. "I guess Indians don't
whistle, anyhow."

This made Janet feel better and once more she and her brother looked
around to see what made the queer whistling sound, that still kept up.
It was just like a boy calling to another, and Teddy was quite puzzled
over it until he suddenly saw what was doing it.

Perched on a small mound of earth near a hole in the ground, was a
little animal, about as big as a large rat, though, as Janet said, he
was "nicer looking." And as Ted and his sister looked, they saw this
little animal move, and then they knew he it was that was whistling.

"Oh, what is it?" cried Janet.

"I know," Teddy answered. "That's a prairie dog. Baldy told me about
them, and how they whistled when they saw any danger."

"Is there any danger here?" asked Janet, looking around.

"I guess the prairie dog thinks we're the danger," said Teddy. "But we
wouldn't hurt him."

"Does he live down in that hole?" asked Janet.

"Yes, just like a gopher," answered her brother, who had listened to the
cowboys telling about the little prairie dogs. "And sometimes there are
snakes or an owl in the same hole with the prairie dog."

"Then I'm not going any nearer," decided Janet. "I don't mind an owl,
but I don't like snakes! Come on, Ted, let's hurry."

As they started off, the prairie dog, which really did make a whistling
sound, suddenly darted down inside his burrow or hole. Perhaps he
thought Teddy and Janet were coming to carry him off, but they were not.
The children saw many more of the little animals as they rode over the
prairies.

"But we must look for marks--tracks, Baldy calls them," said Teddy.
"Tracks will tell us which way the Indians went," and so the children
kept their eyes turned toward the sod as they rode along.

For a while they could see many marks in the soft ground--the marks of
horses' feet, some shod with iron shoes and others bare, for on the
prairie grass there is not the same need of iron shoes on the hoofs of
horses as in the city, with its hard, paved streets. Then the marks were
not so plain; and pretty soon, about a mile from the spring amid the
rocks where the ground was quite hard, Teddy and Janet could see no
marks at all.

"Which way do we go?" asked Ted's sister, as he called to his pony to
stop. "Do you know the way?"

"No, I don't guess I do," he answered. "But anyhow we can ride along and
maybe we'll see 'em."

"Yes, we can do that," Janet said.

It was still early in the afternoon, and the sun was shining brightly.
They knew they were still on Uncle Frank's ranch, and, though they could
not see the buildings any more, they could see the place where they had
had a drink at the spring.

"All we've got to do, if we want to come back," observed Teddy, "is ride
to the rocks and then we know the way home from there."

"Yes, that's easy," Janet said.

So they rode on and on.

Of course the Curlytops ought not to have done what they did, but they
did not think, any more than Trouble thought when he opened the corral
gate and let out the ponies.

But the sun did not stay high in the sky all the afternoon. Presently
the bright ball of fire began to go down in the west, and the shadows of
Teddy and Janet grew long on the prairie. They knew what those long
shadows meant--that it was getting late afternoon.

After a while Janet turned in her saddle and looked back.

"Oh, Teddy!" she cried. "I can't see the spring rocks," for that is what
the children had called the place where they had found Clipclap.

"They're back there just the same."

"I know. But if we can't see 'em we won't know how to ride back to
them," went on Janet. "How are we going to find our way back home, Ted?"

"Oh, I can get to the rocks when I want to," he said. "Come on, we'll
ride a little bit farther and then, if we can't find daddy and Uncle
Frank, we'll go back."

"Well, don't go much farther," said Janet, and Teddy said he would not.

There were many hills and hollows now, much higher and deeper ones than
those near the ranch buildings. Even from the top of one of the high
hills up which the ponies slowly climbed, the Curlytops could not see
the spring rocks.

"Oh, Ted!" exclaimed Jan, "I'm afraid! I want to go back! It's going to
be night pretty soon!"

"It won't be night for a good while," he said, "but I guess maybe we'd
better go back. I can't see daddy, Uncle Frank or the cowboys."

He raised himself in the stirrups and looked across the prairies,
shading his eyes with his hand the way he had seen some of the cowboys
do. Nothing was in sight.

"Come on, Jan, we'll go back," he said.

Clipclap and Star Face were turned around. Once more off trotted the
little ponies with the Curlytops on their backs.

The shadows grew longer. It was not so bright and nice on the prairies
now. Janet kept close to Teddy. At last she asked:

"Do you see the rocks?"

"Not yet," her brother answered. "But we'll soon be there."

They did not reach them, however. On and on they rode. The sun went down
behind a bank of clouds.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Janet, "I don't like this," and her voice sounded as
if she were going to cry.

"We'll soon be back at the rocks, and then I know the way home," said
Teddy, as bravely as he could.

But they did not reach the rocks. Up the hollows and across the hills
they rode, over the broad prairies, but no rocks did they see. At last
the ponies began to go more slowly, for they were tired. It grew darker.
Ted looked anxiously about. Janet spoke softly to him.

"Teddy," she asked, "are we--are we--lost?"

For a moment Teddy did not answer. Then he replied slowly:

"Yes--I guess we are lost, Janet!"



CHAPTER XIX

THE HIDDEN VALLEY


The Curlytops were in trouble. It was not the first time they had been
lost, no indeed! But it was the first time they could remember being
lost so far away from home, and in such a big place as a Western
prairie. They did not know what to do.

"Don't you know the way home?" asked Janet, still keeping close to her
brother. It was getting dark, and, somehow, she felt safer near him,
even if he was only a year older than she was.

"I'd know the way home back to the ranch house if we could find the
rocks with the cave where Clipclap was," Teddy replied.

"Let's look for them some more," suggested Janet. "If we don't get home
pretty soon we'll be all in the dark and--and we'll have to stay out
here all alone."

"Are you afraid?" asked Ted, looking at his sister.

"Yes. Won't you be?"

"Pooh! No!" he exclaimed, and he talked loudly, perhaps just so he would
not be afraid. You know a boy always whistles very loudly at night when
he is walking along a dark place alone. And if there are two boys they
both whistle. What girls do when they walk through a dark place alone I
do not know. Maybe they sing.

Anyhow Teddy talked very loud, and when Janet heard him say he was not
afraid she felt better.

"But will we have to stay out here all night?" she asked.

"I guess so," Teddy answered. "But it'll be just like camping out. Daddy
and Uncle Frank and the cowboys are going to stay out."

"Yes, but they've got something to eat," objected Janet, "and we haven't
anything. Not even a cookie--lessen you've got one in your pocket,
Teddy."

"No, Jan," answered her brother, after a quick search, "I haven't. I
forgot to bring any."

"So did I," went on Janet. "I don't think I like to stay out here alone
all night if we haven't anything to eat."

"No, it won't be much fun," agreed Teddy. "I guess maybe I can find
those rocks, Janet, and then we'll know how to get home. Come on."

He turned his pony's head and the tired little animal walked slowly on
and Janet's Star Face followed. But the truth of the matter was, Ted did
not know in which direction to guide his little horse. He could not
remember where the rocks lay. But Janet was trusting to him, and he felt
he must do his best.

So he kept on until it grew a little darker, and his pony was walking so
slowly that Trouble would have found it easy to have walked almost as
fast.

"What's the matter?" asked Janet, who was riding behind her brother,
looking as hard as she could through the darkness for a sight of the
rocks, which, once they were reached, almost meant home. "What's the
matter, Ted?"

"Matter with what, Jan?"

"What makes the ponies go so slow?"

"'Cause they're tired, I guess."

"Can't you find the rocks and let them rest and get a drink? I'm awful
thirsty, Teddy!"

"So'm I, Jan. We'll go on a little more and maybe we'll find the rocks.
Don't cry!"

"Pooh! who's goin' to cry?" demanded Janet quickly.

"I--I thought maybe you were," Teddy answered.

"I am not!" and Janet was very positive about it. "But I'm tired and
hungry, and I want a drink awful bad."

"So do I," added Teddy. "We'll go on a little more."

So, wearily, the ponies walked on carrying the Curlytops. Ted kept
looking ahead, and to the left and right, trying to find the rocks. But,
had he only known it (which he did later) he was going away from them
all the while instead of toward them.

All at once Clipclap stumbled and nearly fell.

"Whoa there! Look out!" cried Teddy, reining up the head of his animal
as he had seen Uncle Frank do. "Don't fall, Clipclap!"

"What's the matter?" asked Janet. "Did he step in a hole?"

"I don't know. I guess he's just tired," and Teddy's voice was sad. For
he was very weary and much frightened, though he did not tell Janet so.

"Well, let's stop and rest," said his sister. "Do you think you can find
those rocks, Ted?"

"No, I don't guess I can. I guess we're lost, Janet."

"Oh, dear!" she answered.

"Now don't cry!" warned Teddy.

"I--I'm not!" exclaimed his sister. "I--I was just blowing my nose, so
there, The-o-dore Mar-tin!"

Teddy grinned in the darkness, tired as he was. He was glad Janet was a
little angry with him. That meant she would not cry, and if his sister
started to weep Ted did not know what he would do. He might even cry
himself. He was not too big for that.

"Let's stop and give the ponies a rest," suggested Janet.

"All right," agreed Teddy. "And maybe they can hunt around and find
water. One of the cowboys told me his pony did that once when he didn't
know where to get a drink himself."

"I wish Star Face could find water," went on Janet. "I'd drink some of
it, too."

"So would I--if it was clean," said Teddy.

Wearily the two Curlytops slipped from their saddles. The ponies seemed
glad of this, and at once began to eat the grass that grew all about.
Teddy and Janet looked at them awhile. It was not so dark but what they
could see things close to them, and the stars were twinkling brightly
overhead.

"They don't seem very thirsty," said Janet.

"Maybe they'll start to go after water when they've had their supper,"
suggested her brother, with a sigh, which, however, Janet did not hear.
"We've got to wait--that's all."

The Curlytops sat down on the ground and waited, while the ponies with
the reins over their heads--which was a sign that they must not go far
away--cropped the sweet grass.

"I wish _we_ could eat grass," said Janet, after a bit.

"Why?"

"Then we could eat it like the ponies do and not be hungry."

"It would be a good thing," Teddy agreed. "But we can't. I chewed some
sour grass once, but I didn't swallow it."

"I ate some watercress once at home," said Janet. "But I didn't like it.
Anyhow I don't guess watercress grows around here."

"No," agreed Teddy.

Then they sat and watched the ponies eating in the darkness. Clipclap
was wandering farther off than Teddy liked and he jumped up and hurried
after his animal. As he caught him Teddy saw something on the ground a
little way off. It was something round and black, and, now that the moon
had come up, he could see more plainly.

"What's the matter, Teddy?" Janet called to him, as she saw him standing
motionless, after he had taken hold of Clipclap's bridle. "What are you
looking at?"

"I don't know what it is," Teddy answered. "Maybe it's a prairie dog,
but he's keepin' awful still. Come and look, Janet."

"Oh, I don't want to!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, come on!" urged Teddy. "It isn't moving. Maybe you can tell what it
is."

Janet, making sure that Star Face was all right, walked over to her
brother. She, too, saw the dark object lying on a bare spot in the
prairie. It did not move. The moonlight became stronger and Janet,
becoming brave all of a sudden, went closer.

"It's nothing but a bundle, Teddy Martin!" she exclaimed. "Somebody has
dropped a bundle."

"They have?" Teddy cried. "Then if somebody's been past here they can
find us--or we can find them--and we aren't lost anymore!"

"Oh, I hope it comes true!" sighed Janet.

"Here, you hold Clipclap--he's starting to walk away"--went on Teddy,
"and I'll go see what that is."

Janet took the pony's reins, and her brother walked toward the bundle.
He could see now that it was something wrapped in a blanket, and as he
came closer he saw that the blanket was one of the kind the cowboys at
Uncle Frank's ranch carried when they went out to spend the night on the
prairie.

"What is it?" asked Janet, as her brother picked up the bundle and came
back toward her.

"I don't know, but it's heavy," he answered. "We'll open it."

"Maybe we'd better not," cautioned Janet. "It isn't ours."

"But we're lost," Teddy said, "and we want to be found. Maybe there's
something in this bundle to help."

The blanket was fastened with a strap on the outside, and Teddy managed
to unbuckle this after two or three trials, Janet helping. Then, as the
moon shone down on what was in the blanket, the Curlytops gave a cry of
delight, which startled even the ponies.

"It's something to eat!" cried Teddy.

"And to drink!" added Janet, as she picked up the canvas-covered
canteen, or water bottle, such as soldiers carry. By shaking it she knew
it was full of water.

"Say, this is good luck!" cried Teddy.

Stopping no longer to wonder who had dropped the bundle, the Curlytops
took a drink from the canteen. They had not been used to drinking out of
a bottle since they were babies, and some of the water ran down their
necks.

But they did not mind this. And, even though the water was rather warm,
they felt much better after having had a drink.

"I wish we could give the ponies some," said Janet. "But there isn't
very much, and they would drink this all up and not know they'd had
any."

"Anyhow I guess they're not thirsty, or they'd try to find water just as
the cowboys said they would," added Teddy. "They can chew the grass."

He and Janet looked into the bundle again, and found a number of
sandwiches, together with some uncooked bacon, a little ground coffee, a
small coffee-pot and a tin cup.

"Oh, goody! We can eat the sandwiches," Janet said.

"And in the morning, when we find a spring, we can make coffee," added
Teddy. "I know how, 'cause grandpa showed me when we were camping on
Star Island. I haven't any matches to make a fire, but maybe I can find
some."

"Will we have to stay here all night?" asked Janet anxiously.

"I spect so," her brother answered. "I don't know the way back to the
ranch house. We can't even find the rocks. We'll stay here all night. It
isn't cold, and now we have a blanket we can wrap up in it like the
cowboys do. And we've something to eat and drink."

"But mother and daddy will be awful worried," said Janet.

"Well, they'll maybe come and find us," answered Teddy. "Look out!" he
cried. "Clipclap's going off again!"

Indeed the little pony seemed to want to walk away, and so did Star
Face.

"Maybe they know where to go to find water," suggested Janet.

"Maybe," agreed Ted. "Let's let 'em go, and we'll go with 'em. That
water in the canteen won't be enough till morning."

The children ate nearly all of the sandwiches, and put away the rest of
the food in the blanket which Teddy strapped around it. Then they
mounted their ponies, Ted taking the bundle with him, and let the
animals wander which way they would.

"They'll go to water if they're thirsty enough," Teddy said.

"Who do you s'pose dropped that bundle?" asked Janet.

"A cowboy," her brother answered.

"One from Ring Rosy Ranch?"

"Maybe."

"Oh, I hope he did, and that he's around here somewhere," went on Janet.
"I'm tired of being lost!"

"We've only just begun," Teddy said. But, truth to tell, he wished very
much that they were both safe back at the ranch house with their mother.

On and on over the moonlit prairies went Star Face and Clipclap. They
seemed to know where they were going and did not stop. Ted and Janet
were too tired to guide them. They were both getting sleepy.

Pretty soon Janet saw ahead of her something glistening in the stretch
of the prairie. The moonlight seemed to sparkle on it.

"Oh, look, Ted!" she cried, pointing.

"It's water--a little river!" he exclaimed. "The ponies have led us to
water!"

And so the animals had. Teddy and Janet slipped from their ponies' backs
at the edge of the stream and then Star Face and Clipclap took long
drinks. Ted emptied the canteen, filled it with the cooler water, and he
and Janet drank again. Then they felt much better.

The ponies again began to crop the grass. The Curlytops, very tired and
sleepy, felt that it would be all right to make their bed in the blanket
they had found, dropped by some passing cowboy.

But first Ted looked around. Off to one side, and along the stream from
which they had drunk, he saw something dark looming up.

"Look, Janet," he said. "Maybe that's a ranch house over there, and we
could go in for the night."

"Maybe," she agreed. "Let's go to it."

Once more they mounted their ponies. The animals did not seem so tired
now, but trotted on over the prairie. They drew nearer to the dark
blotch Teddy had noticed.

Then, as the moon came out from behind some clouds, the Curlytops saw
that they were at the entrance to a hidden valley--a little valley
tucked away among the hills, which they would never have seen had they
not come to the stream to drink.

The little river ran through the valley, and in the moonlight the
children could see that a fence had been made at the end nearest them.
It was a wooden fence, and not one of barbed wire, such as there were
many of on Ring Rosy Ranch.

"This is a queer valley," said Janet.

"Yes, and look!" exclaimed Ted, pointing. "Don't you see things moving
around in it?"

"Yes," agreed Jan, as she looked. "Why, Ted!" she cried. "They're
horses--ponies--a lot of 'em!"

"So they are!" exclaimed Ted. "Oh, we're near a ranch, Janet! Now we're
all right!"

"Yes. But maybe we're a good way from the ranch house," answered Janet.
"We maybe can't find it in the dark. Some of Uncle Frank's ponies are
five miles away from the stable, you know. Maybe we'd better not go on
any more in the dark. I'm tired!"

"Well," agreed Teddy. "I guess we could stay here till it's morning. We
could sleep in the blanket. It's plenty big enough for us two."

"And in the morning we can ride on and find the ranch, and the cowboys
there will take us to Ring Rosy," added Janet. "Let's do it, Teddy."

They looked again at the strange valley in which the horses were moving
about. Clipclap whinnied and one of the other ponies answered. But they
could not come out because of the fence, part of which was built in and
across the little river.

Then, throwing the reins over the heads of their ponies, and knowing
the animals would not stray far, Ted and Janet, taking another drink
from the canteen, rolled up in the blanket and went to sleep on the
prairie just outside the hidden valley that held a secret of which they
did not even dream.



CHAPTER XX

BACK TO RING ROSY


"I hope the Curlytops won't ride too far," said Mrs. Martin, coming out
into the kitchen to help with the work.

She had just got Trouble to sleep after Teddy and Janet had brought him
in from the haymow before riding off on their ponies.

"Oh, I guess they won't," Aunt Millie answered.

But, could Mrs. Martin and Aunt Millie have seen them, they would have
been much surprised to know where the Curlytops then were.

As you know, they were riding along the trail after the Indians.

The hours went on until it was late afternoon. And then, when the
children did not come back, Mrs. Martin began to be alarmed. She went to
the top of a low hill not far away from the ranch house and looked
across the prairie.

"I can't see them," she said, when she came back.

"Oh, don't worry," returned Aunt Millie. "They'll be along pretty soon.
And, anyhow, there is no danger."

"But--the Indians?" questioned Mrs. Martin.

"Oh, they are far enough off by this time," said the ranch owner's wife.
"They won't bother the Curlytops."

But Mother Martin did worry, and when supper time came near and Janet
and Teddy were not yet back, Aunt Millie, too, began to think it
strange.

"What do you suppose could happen?" asked Mrs. Martin. "I wish Dick were
here."

"Oh, lots of little things might happen," said Aunt Millie. "The
children may have ridden farther than they meant to. It's such a nice
day for riding you couldn't blame them for going. Or one of their ponies
may have gone lame and have to walk slowly. That would make them get
here late."

"Suppose they should be hurt?" asked Mother Martin, anxiously.

"Oh, I don't suppose anything of the sort!" and Aunt Millie laughed. But
Mother Martin did not feel like laughing.

At last, however, when it began to get dark and the children had not
come, even the cowboys left at the ranch--those who had not ridden on
the trail after the Indians--said it was time something was done.

"We'll go out and find 'em," said Baldy. "The little tykes have got
lost; that's about all. We'll find 'em and bring 'em home!"

"Oh, I hope you can!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin.

"Sure we will!" cried Baldy. "Won't we, boys?"

"That's what we will!" cried the cowboys.

The men started out over the prairie right after supper, carrying
lanterns, not so much that they needed the lights as that they might be
seen by the lost children.

"Hello, Curlytops! where are you?" called the cowboys.

But no one answered them. Teddy and Janet were far away.

The cowboys rode as far as the pile of rocks where the spring bubbled
up. There Baldy, swinging his lantern to and fro, said he thought he
could see the marks of the feet of Star Face and Clipclap among those
of other ponies, but he was not sure.

"We'll have to come back here and start out early in the morning when we
can see better," he said.

"And what are we going to do all night?" asked another cowboy.

"Well, we'll keep on hunting, of course. But I don't believe we'll find
the lost Curlytops."

One of the men rode back to the ranch to tell Mrs. Martin that so far,
no trace of the missing children had been found. She could not keep back
her tears, but she tried to be brave.

"Oh, where can they be?" she asked.

"They'll be all right," the cowboy said. "It's a nice warm night, and
they're brave children. Even if they had to sleep out it would not hurt
'em. They could take the blankets that are under the ponies' saddles and
wrap up in them. They'll be all right."

Though they were lost, the Curlytops were, at that moment, much better
off than the cowboy thought. For they had found the big blanket and the
bundle of food, and they were sleeping soundly on the prairie.

At first they had been a little afraid to lie down all alone out in the
night, but their ponies were with them, and Janet said it felt as though
Clipclap and Star Face were like good watch dogs.

Then, being very tired and having had something to eat and drink, they
fell asleep.

All night long, though, the cowboys rode over the prairie looking for
the lost ones. They shouted and called, but the Curlytops were too far
away to hear or to answer, even if they had been awake.

"Well, now we can make a better hunt," said Baldy, when he saw the sun
beginning to rise. "Well get something to eat and start out from the
spring in the rocks. I'm almost sure the Curlytops were there."

Mrs. Martin had not slept all night, and when the cowboys came back to
breakfast she said she was going to ride with them to search for her
children.

"Yes, I think it would do you good," said Aunt Millie.

Mrs. Martin had learned how to ride when a girl, and she had practised
some since coming to Ring Rosy Ranch. So she did not feel strange in the
saddle. With Baldy and the other cowboys she set off.

They went to the spring amid the rocks and there began the search. Over
the prairie the riders spread out like a big fan, looking everywhere for
the lost ones. And when they were not found in about an hour Baldy said:

"Well, there's just a chance that their ponies took them to Silver
Creek."

"Where's that?" asked Mrs. Martin.

"It's a stream of water quite a way off," Baldy answered. "It isn't on
our ranch, and we don't very often go there. But if the Curlytops'
ponies were thirsty in the night they might go to Silver Creek, even if
Jan and Ted didn't want them to. I think the ponies went the nearest way
to water."

"Then let us go that way!" cried Mrs. Martin.

Meanwhile Teddy and Janet had awakened. They could look right into the
strange valley through which flowed Silver Creek, though they did not
then know its name.

"And look what a lot of horses!" cried Janet.

"And cows!" added her brother. "I wonder whose they are?"

"Oh, I guess they live on some ranch," Janet said. "Now if we can find
the ranch house we'll be all right."

"We'll look for it," suggested Teddy. "But first we've got to have
breakfast. If I had a match I could make a fire and boil some coffee."

"Let's not bother with breakfast," suggested Janet. "I'm not very
hungry. And if we find the ranch house we can get something to eat
there. Come on, Teddy."

They got a drink at the stream, and then, rolling up what food was left
in the blanket, they got on their ponies and rode away, going around the
valley instead of into it, for Teddy saw that hills closed it at the far
end.

"There's no ranch house in that valley," he said.

The Curlytops had not ridden far before Janet, who had gone a little
ahead of Teddy, cried:

"Oh, look! Here come some cowboys!"

"I guess they belong to this ranch--the one where we saw the ponies and
cows," replied Teddy, as he saw a number of horsemen riding toward them.
The horsemen began to whoop and shout, and their horses ran very fast
toward the Curlytops.

"There's a lady with 'em," remarked Janet.

"They seem awful glad to meet us," went on Teddy. "Look, they're wavin'
their hats."

And so the cowboys were. When the riders came a little nearer Teddy and
Janet rubbed their eyes in surprise.

"Why--why!" Teddy exclaimed. "There's our own Baldy!"

"And there's mother!" fairly shouted Janet. "Oh, Mother! Mother!" she
cried. "Oh, how glad I am!" and she made Star Face run toward the lady
on horseback.

"Oh, my dear children! Where have you been?" asked Mrs. Martin, a little
later, as she hugged first Janet and then Teddy.

"We--we got lost," Teddy answered.

"Yes, but you ran away, and that was not right," his mother told him.
"Where did you go?"

"We--we went on the trail after the Indians," Teddy answered.

"Did you find them?" asked Baldy with a smile.

"No, but we found a lot of horses and cows back there in a little valley
with a fence," said Janet. "And we were going to ride to the ranch house
when we saw you."

"Ranch house!" cried Baldy. "There isn't a ranch house within fifteen
miles except the one at Ring Rosy. Did you say you saw some cows and
horses?"

"Yes. In a valley," explained Teddy.

"Show us where it was!" eagerly cried the cowboy, and when the Curlytops
had ridden to it, with Baldy and the others following, the lame cowboy,
whose foot was a little better, exclaimed:

"Well, if the Curlytops haven't gone and done it!"

"Done what?" asked their mother.

"They've found the lost cattle and horses!"

"You mean Uncle Frank's?" asked Teddy.

"That's just what I mean! These are the horses and cattle the Indians
drove away. The Redmen put the animals in this valley and made a fence
at this end so they couldn't get out. They knew the horses and cattle
would have water to drink and grass to eat, and they'd stay here a long
while--until the Indians would have a chance to drive 'em farther away
and sell 'em.

"Yes, that's just what they did. I never thought of this valley, though
I saw it quite a few years ago. I've never been here since. The Indians
knew it would be a good place to hide the horses they stole, and we
might never have found 'em if it hadn't been for you Curlytops."

"I'm glad!" said Teddy.

"So'm I," said Janet, "and I'm hungry, too!"

"Well, we'll soon have you back at Ring Rosy Ranch, where there's a good
breakfast!" laughed Baldy. "Well! Well! To think of you Curlytops
finding what we cowboys were looking all over for!"

"And are daddy and Uncle Frank looking for these horses and cattle?"
asked Teddy.

"Yes. And for the Indians that took 'em. But I guess they won't find
either," Baldy answered.

And Baldy was right. Some hours after the Curlytops were back at Ring
Rosy Ranch, in rode Uncle Frank and the others. They had not found what
they had gone after, and you can imagine how surprised they all were
when told that Ted and Janet had, by accident, found the lost cattle and
horses in the hidden valley.

"You're regular cowboys!" cried Uncle Frank.

"I knew they'd turn out all right when they learned to ride ponyback!"
said Daddy Martin. "Though you mustn't ride on the trail alone after
Indians again!" he said.

Teddy and Janet told all that had happened to them, from getting lost,
to finding the blanket and going to sleep in it on the open prairie.

One of the cowboys with Uncle Frank had lost the blanket, and he said he
was glad he dropped it, since it gave Teddy and Janet something to eat
and something to wrap up in.

That afternoon the stolen horses and cattle were driven in from the
hidden valley; so the Indians did not get them after all. And a little
later some soldiers came to keep guard over the Redmen so they could not
again go off their reservation to make trouble. All of Uncle Frank's
animals, except a few that the Indians had sold, were found, and the
Curlytops were the pride of Ring Rosy Ranch as long as they remained
there.

"Well, I wonder if we'll have any more adventures," said Janet to her
brother one day, about a week after they were lost and had been found.

"Oh, I guess so," he answered. "Anyhow, we've got two nice ponies, and
we can have lots of rides. Come on, I'll race you."

The bright summer days brought more fun to Teddy and Janet at Uncle
Frank's ranch. They rode many miles on Star Face and Clipclap, sometimes
taking Trouble with them.

"I want to dwive," said the little fellow one day, as he sat on the
saddle in front of his brother.

"All right, you may drive a little while," Teddy answered, and he let
Baby William hold the reins.

"Now I a cowboy!" exclaimed the little fellow. "Gid-dap, Clipclap! I go
lasso a Injun!"

Ted and Janet laughed at this.

And so, leaving the Curlytops to their fun, we will say good-bye.


THE END



THE CURLYTOPS SERIES

By HOWARD R. GARIS

Author of the famous "Bedtime Animal Stories"

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full color._

_Price per volume, 65 cents postpaid_

_Stories for children by the best author of books for little people._

    1. THE CURLYTOPS AT CHERRY FARM
       _or Vacation Days in the Country_

    A tale of happy vacation days on a farm. The Curlytops have
    exciting adventures.

    2. THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
       _or Camping out with Grandpa_

    The Curlytops were delighted when grandpa took them to camp
    on Star Island. There they had great fun and a real mystery.

    3. THE CURLYTOPS SNOWED IN
       _or Grand Fun with Skates and Sleds_

    Winter was a jolly time for the Curlytops, with their skates
    and sleds, on the lakes and hills.

    4. THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH
       _or Little Folks on Pony Back_

    Out West on their uncle's ranch they have a wonderful time
    among the cowboys and on pony back.

    5. THE CURLYTOPS AT SILVER LAKE
       _or On the Water with Uncle Ben_

    The Curlytops camp out with Uncle Ben on the shores of a
    beautiful lake.

    6. THE CURLYTOPS AND THEIR PETS
       _or Uncle Toby's Strange Collection_

    When an old uncle leaves them to care for his collection of
    pets, they get up a circus for charity.



BROTHER AND SISTER SERIES

By JOSEPHINE LAWRENCE

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors_

_Price per volume, 60 cents, postpaid_

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because they are so eager to do as the others do, Roddy and Betty
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    1. BROTHER AND SISTER

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    Brother and Sister attend the Ridgeway public school where
    their little, poor friend Mickey Gaffney is also a pupil.
    Brother and Mickey try to find a missing gem which their
    teacher loses from her ring which gets them into trouble
    with the janitor.

    3. BROTHER AND SISTER'S HOLIDAYS

    Thanksgiving Day at their grandmother's house was lots of
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    Billy Bunny's uncle, Mr. Lucky Lefthindfoot, is the owner of
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    2. BILLY BUNNY AND DADDY FOX

    This old robber is on the watch to catch the little rabbit,
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    Uncle Bull Frog sits all day on his log in the Old Mill Pond
    catching flies, and telling Billy Bunny interesting stories.

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    "Uncle Lucky," as he is called, because he is very rich,
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THE RUBY AND RUTHY SERIES

By MINNIE E. PAULL

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid._

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    RUBY'S VACATION

    This volume shows how a little girl improves by having
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       _Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue._

    CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York





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