The Sky Phantom

Read The Sky Phantom for Free Online

Book: Read The Sky Phantom for Free Online
Authors: Carolyn G. Keene
barn, but the cowboy was not there, either.
    By this time George had led Daisy D up to the barn so that some soothing antiseptic salve could be put over the punctured flesh on her back.
    Bess was even more upset about the incident than the other girls. When she found out Ben was not around, she went to look for Pete, the man in charge of the corral.
    After Bess told Pete what had happened, he exclaimed, “There’s no excuse for this! Every person who saddles a horse is supposed to inspect blankets and saddles carefully so nothing harmful will be put on a pony’s back.”
    Bess looked at him. “We don’t know why, but we think that Ben Rall put the bur there on pur pose.”
    Pete yelled loudly for Ben, and finally the cowboy came. Pete showed him the bur and the puncture on the pony’s back.
    “How do you explain this?” he asked sternly.
    Ben looked at the ground, then said, “I don’t have to explain nothin’”

    Daisy D suddenly sunfished.
    “You explain,” said Pete, “or you’re all through at Hamilton Ranch!”
    Instead of replying, Ben Rall turned and looked at Nancy. Glaring at her with anger in his eyes, he cried out, “I hate the city brand of a cowgirl who tries to fly planes and goes around nosing into everybody’s business to solve mysteries. I’ll get even with you for making me lose my job!” He waved a fist at her.

    A Puzzling Medal
    NANCY stared after the retreating cowboy, realizing that she had unwittingly made an enemy. But what was the reason? She had never seen or heard of Ben Rall.
    “He mentioned my being a detective. That’s strange. Could he have had something to do with the mystery of the stolen palomino, or even with the disappearance of Roger Paine?” she asked herself.
    To Pete she said, “What kind of a man is Ben Rall?”
    “Very hard to get along with,” was the answer. “He seems honest enough, but pretty ornery at times. The other boys don’t care for Ben so they try to avoid him. I think this angers him, and then he’s meaner than ever to everyone on the ranch.
    “Some other tricks have been played around here, but we never could find out who did them. After this bur incident, I’m beginning to wonder if Ben wasn’t responsible for the other things, too. Well, I’m not sorry to see him go.”
    Bess asked in concern, “What will Ben do? Where will he go?”
    Pete said that Pop Hamilton was generous to people he had to discharge.
    “Usually they get a month’s wages in advance and a good pony. I don’t think it’ll be hard for Ben to find a job on another ranch before he spends all his money.”
    This made the girls feel better, but Bess admitted she was afraid that Ben might try to harm Nancy.
    “Oh, let’s forget the whole incident,” George Fayne said. “It disgusts me to think about it.”
    Nancy had little to say, but she decided to keep her eyes open for any trouble from the dismissed cowboy. She also decided that the next day she would inspect and saddle Daisy D without any assistance. She wanted no more sudden sunfishing by her pony!
    Before breakfast the following morning, she went out alone to the barn, where Daisy D had been put into a stall. The pony wagged her head as the girl entered.
    “How are you, pretty girl?” Nancy asked, stroking Daisy D’s neck.
    Apparently the pony liked this and nuzzled the girl. Nancy examined the bur puncture on the animal’s back. It was healing nicely.
    Just then Pete came into the barn. “Morning, miss,” he said. “You’re out early!”
    Nancy smiled and said she had a reason for getting up before the regular rising time at the ranch house.
    “I thought I’d take Daisy D and see if riding bothers her.”
    Pete grinned. “Sort of a trial run, eh? Well, I don’t blame you.”
    Nancy nodded and said she wondered if a protective bandage should be put over the pony’s sore before a blanket and saddle were set in place. The cowboy agreed.
    As he went to get a large antiseptic gauze, he

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