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The Hospital On The Beaver
The patient passed a feverish night. Priest remained on watch in the tent, but on several
occasions aroused the boys, as recourse to pouring water was necessary to relieve the
pain. The limb had reached a swollen condition by morning, and considerable anxiety
was felt over the uncertainty of a physician arriving. If summoned the previous evening,
it was possible that one might arrive by noon, otherwise there was no hope before
evening or during the night.
"Better post a guide on the trail," suggested Joel. "If a doctor comes from the Republican,
we can pilot him across the prairie and save an hour's time. There's a dim wagon trail
runs from here to the first divide, north of the trail crossing on Beaver. Pa used it when he
went to Culbertson to draw his pension. It would save the doctor a six or seven mile
"Now, that suggestion is to the point," cheerfully assented the trail foreman. "The herd
will noon on the first divide, and we can post the boys of the cut-off. They'll surely meet
the doctor this afternoon or evening. Corral the horses, and I'll shorten up the stirrup
straps on Forrest's saddle. Who will we send?"
"I'll go," said Dell, jumping at the opportunity. He had admired the horses and heavy
Texas saddles the evening previous, and now that a chance presented itself, his eyes
danced at the prospect. "Why, I can follow a dim wagon track," he added. "Joel and I
used to go halfway to the divide, to meet pa when he bought us new boots."
"I'll see who can best be spared," replied Priest. "Your patient seems to think that no one
can pour water like you. Besides, there will be plenty of riding to do, and you'll get your
The foreman delayed shortening the stirrup straps until after the horse stood saddled,
when he adjusted the lacings as an object lesson to the boys. Both rode the same length of
stirrup, mounting the horse to be fitted, and when reduced to the proper length, Dell was
allowed to ride past the tent for inspection.
"There's the making of a born cowman," said Forrest, as Dell halted before the open tent.
"It's an absolute mistake to think that that boy was ever intended for a farmer. Notice his
saddle poise, will you, Paul? Has a pretty foot, too, even if it is slightly sun-burned. We
must get him some boots. With that red hair, he never ought to ride any other horse than a
black stallion."
When the question arose as to which of the boys was to be sent to intercept the moving
herd and await the doctor, Forrest decided the matter. "I'll have to send Joel," said he,
"because I simply can't spare Dell. The swelling has benumbed this old leg of mine, and
we'll have to give it an occasional rubbing to keep the circulation up. There's where Dell