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POLLY OF PEBBLY PIT
LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY
Author of Polly and Eleanor, Polly in New York, Polly and Her Friends Abroad, Polly's Business Venture.
TO MY DEAR FRIENDS, SARAH J. BATTEY, M.D., AND BRYAN M. BATTEY.
I THE FARM IN PEBBLY PIT
II A MOMENTOUS LETTER
III PREPARING FOR THE UNKNOWN
IV THE "SERVANT PROBLEM" SOLVED
V UNPLEASANT SURPRISES
VI THE HARROWING DETAILS
VII A LITTLE SCHEME THAT WORKED
VIII ACCLIMATING THE CITY GIRLS
IX SEVERAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS
X THE DANCE AT BEAR FORKS
XI IN THE WILDERNESS
XII THE BLIZZARD ON GRIZZLY SLIDE
XIII A NIGHT IN THE CAVE
XIV OLD MONTRESOR'S LEGACY
XV MONTRESOR'S CLAIM is JUSTIFIED
XVI A YOUNG STRANGER IN OAK CREEK
XVII SARY'S AMBITIONS
THE FARM IN PEBBLY PIT
"Polly! Poll-ee!" sounded musically from the direction of the kitchen doorway in a ranch-house, and reached Polly Brewster as she knelt beside her pet in the barn.
"Run outside and see what Maw wants, Poll," said Mr. Brewster, who was working faithfully over the object of Polly's solicitous devotion.
Obediently, Polly ran out and shaded her eyes as she gazed across the great depression of the volcanic crater which had made such a wonderful farm for the Brewsters. At the door of the long, squat homestead, stood Mrs. Brewster, waiting for an answer.
The moment she saw Polly, she called: "Din-ner-r's ready!"
"All right!" shouted the girl, waving her sun-bonnet to signify she had heard the message.
Mrs. Brewster returned to the kitchen and Polly went back to her father's side. He glanced up as she entered the barn, and Polly replied to his questioning look.
"Maw said dinner's ready."
"Well, Ah reckon Noddy's all right now, Poll," said the rancher, as he stood up to stretch his tired muscles.
"I felt sure she would be, Paw," returned Polly, positively.
"If only Jeb was about, now, Ah could leave him with Noddy, with directions about the medicine, till we-all get back from dinner," mused Mr. Brewster, standing in the doorway to look about for Jeb.
"Why, Daddy! Do you suppose I'd leave Noddy with Jeb for a single moment? And just as we saved her life, too! I reckon not! I'll stop here myself and watch her," declared Polly with finality, as she assumed the post vacated by her father, and held the little burro's fuzzy head upon her knees.
Sam Brewster smiled as he watched Polly bend over her pet and whisper affectionately in the long, sensitive ear.
"Poll, Jeb will shore say you used witchcraft on the burro; he said Noddy was done for--being buried under that slide the way she was."
"Noddy _would_ have been done for if Jeb had had her in charge; but she just couldn't refuse to live, with me right here calling her back, you know. She loves me so, she had to listen to my voice," explained Polly, with suspicious moisture in her big blue eyes.
"Ah reckon that's it, Poll! Love works wonders if we'd only _let_ it. And you love everything in a way that everything loves you back again. It beats me, how the beavers, and foxes, and even the bears treat you as if you were one of them, instead of running to cover. As for the chicks and colts and lambs on the ranch--why, they'd follow you to Oak Creek, if they could!"
Polly smiled happily as she looked away over the distant mountain-sides where Nature's creatures roamed unrestrained. And then her eyes rested upon the pastures nearer home, where the farm pets grazed. Every one of them, wild or tame, were her friends.
"Reckon Ah'll go now, Poll. What shall Maw do about the dinner?"
"Tell her not to bother about me. I'll wash the dishes' when I get back, Daddy."
So Mr. Brewster started for the house and Polly settled herself in a more comfortable position while crooning to little Noddy. As she sat holding the little burro's head, her thoughts wandered back to the time when Noddy was but three days old. The mother had died and left the tiny bundle of brown wool to be brought up on a nursing bottle. To keep the baby burro warm it had been wrapped in an old blanket and placed back of the kitchen stove. Thus Noddy first learned to walk in the large kitchen of the log ranch-house, and later it felt quite like a member of the family.
Being such a sleepy little colt, the name of Noddy was considered very appropriate but, as the burro grew older, it showed such intelligence and energy that its name was a dreadful misnomer.
Noddy considered Polly her particular charge and followed her about the place like a dog. And when the burro was full-grown, she became the daily companion that Polly rode to school, over the mountain trails, or about the farm.
The wise western burros are not half appreciated by folks who do not understand their unusual intelligence and their devotion to their masters. They will seek for water or edible herbs when lost on the desert or mountain peaks and sacrifice life to save that of the rider's.
But Noddy's present condition was not due to sacrifice. Most of the horses and burros at Pebbly Pit showed such an aversion to the Rainbow Cliffs that they never grazed near there, although the luxuriant grass made fine pasturage. These cliffs were the local wonder and gave the farm its name. They were a section of jagged "pudding-stone" wall composed of large and small fragments of gorgeously hued stones massed together in loose formation, like shale. Great heaps of these jeweled fragments, which crumbled easily from the cliff, lay piled up along the base of the wall and sparkled brilliantly when the sun shone upon them, or directly after a rain.
Noddy had been pasturing out the night before her accident, and at sunrise found herself too near the tabooed cliffs. She lifted her ears suspiciously, wrinkled her nose fearfully, and wheeled to run away to a more desirable locality. But in that quick turn she loosened the shale at the base of a steep descent. The treacherous rock slid and threw her down. Before she could get up and away the great mass rumbled down and covered her, but she finally managed to work her head free for breath.
Jeb, out early to seek for stray cattle, saw the fresh slide and gazed wonderingly at it. Then he spied the nose and hoof of a burro protruding from the shale. He rushed to the barn where he had left Mr. Brewster, and in a short time master and man had the tools and "cradle" back at the spot, and Noddy was soon unearthed. She was unconscious, and Jeb declared it was useless to bother with a burro so evidently far gone. Even Mr. Brewster feared she was past help, but Polly insisted that Noddy must live.
All that morning Polly sat holding the limp brown head while whispering words of affection in the long ears, and who will say that Noddy's instinct did not respond to love, even though the physical sense of hearing was deaf to earthly sounds? She slowly revived and was resting comfortably when the house-call came for dinner.
Mr. Brewster returned after dinner, bringing a bowl of gruel for the
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