A NEW FIELD! WITHOUT A RIVAL! JUST THE THING! TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION! —————————————————————————————————————
Beadle's BOY'S LIBRARY of Sport, Story and Adventure
————————————————————————————————————— Entered at the Post Office at New York, N.Y., as Second Class Mail Matter. $2.50 a year. Copyrighted in 1881 by BEADLE AND ADAMS. December 14, 1881. ========================================================================== Vol. I. Single PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY BEADLE AND ADAMS, Price, No. 1. Number. No. 98 WILLIAM STREET, NEW YORK. Five Cents. ==========================================================================
Adventures of BUFFALO BILL FROM BOYHOOD TO MANHOOD.
Deeds of Daring and Romantic Incidents in the Life of Wm. F. Cody, the Monarch of Bordermen.
* * * * *
BY COLONEL PRENTISS INGRAHAM.
Adventures of Buffalo Bill
From Boyhood to Manhood.
Deeds of Daring, Scenes of Thrilling Peril, and Romantic Incidents in the Early Life of W.F. Cody, the Monarch of Bordermen.
BY COLONEL PRENTISS INGRAHAM.
That Truth is, by far, stranger than Fiction, the lessons of our daily lives teach us who dwell in the marts of civilization, and therefore we cannot wonder that those who live in scenes where the rifle, revolver and knife are in constant use, to protect and take life, can strange tales tell of thrilling perils met and subdued, and romantic incidents occurring that are far removed from the stern realities of existence.
The land of America is full of romance, and tales that stir the blood can be told over and over again of bold Privateers and reckless Buccaneers who have swept along the coasts; of fierce naval battles, sea chases, daring smugglers; and on shore of brave deeds in the saddle and afoot; of red trails followed to the bitter end and savage encounters in forest wilds.
And it is beyond the pale of civilization I find the hero of these pages which tell of thrilling adventures, fierce combats, deadly feuds and wild rides, that, one and all, are true to the letter, as hundreds now living can testify.
Who has not heard the name of Buffalo Bill—a magic name, seemingly, to every boy's heart?
And yet in the uttermost parts of the earth it is known among men.
A child of the prairie, as it were, Buffalo Bill will go down to history as one of America's strange heroes who has loved the trackless wilds, rolling plains and mountain solitudes of our land, far more than the bustle and turmoil, the busy life and joys of our cities, and who has stood as a barrier between civilization and savagery, risking his own life to save the lives of others.
Glancing back over the past, we recall a few names that have stood out in the boldest relief in frontier history, and they are Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Kit Carson and W.F. Cody—the last named being Buffalo Bill, the King of Bordermen.
Knowing the man well, having seen him amid the greatest dangers, shared with him his blanket and his camp-fire's warmth, I feel entitled to write of him as a hero of heroes, and in the following pages sketch his remarkable career from boyhood to manhood.
Born in the State of Iowa in 1843, his father being one of the bold pioneers to that part of the West, Buffalo Bill, or Will Cody, was inured to scenes of hardship and danger ere he reached his tenth year, and being a precocious youth, his adventurous spirit led him into all sorts of deeds of mischief and daring, which well served to lay the foundation for the later acts of his life.
A CAPTURE OF OUTLAWS.
When Will was but nine years of age his first thrilling adventure occurred, and it gave the boy a name for pluck and nerve that went with him to Kansas, where his father removed with his family shortly after the incident which I will now relate.
The circumstance to which I refer, and that made a boy hero of him in the eyes of the neighbors for miles around where his parents lived, showed the wonderful nerve that has never since deserted him, but rather has increased with his years.
The country school which he attended was some five miles from his father's house and he was wont to ride there each morning and back in the afternoon upon a wiry, vicious little mustang that every one had prognosticated would some day be the death of him.
Living a few miles from the Cody ranch was a poor settler who had a son two years Billy's senior, who also attended the same school, but whose parents were too poor to spare him a horse from the farm to ride.
This boy was Billy's chum, and as they shared together their noonday meal, the pony was also shared, for the boy rode behind my hero to and from school, being called for each morning and dropped off near his cabin on the return trip.
Owing to the lawlessness of the country Mr. Cody allowed his son to go armed, knowing that he fully understood the use of weapons, and his pistol Billy always hung up with his hat upon reaching the log cabin, where, figuratively speaking, the young idea was taught to shoot.
The weapon was a revolver, a Colt's, which at that time was not in common use, and Billy prized it above his books and pony even and always kept it in perfect order.
One day Rascal, his pony, pulled up the lariat pin which held him out upon the prairie and scampered for home, and Billy and Davie Dunn, his chum, were forced to "hoof it," as the western slang goes, home.
A storm was coming on, and to escape it the boys turned off the main trail and took refuge in a log cabin which was said to be haunted by the ghosts of its former occupants; at least they had been all mysteriously murdered there one night and were buried in the shadow of the cabin, and people gave the place a wide berth.
It was situated back in a piece of heavy timber and looked dismal enough, but Billy proposed that they should go there, more out of sheer bravado to show he was not afraid than to escape a ducking, for which he and Davie Dunn really little cared.
The boys reached the cabin, climbed in an open window and stood looking out at the approaching storm.
"Kansas crickets! but look there, Davie!"
The words came from Buffalo Billy and he was pointing out toward the trail.
There four horsemen were seen coming toward the cabin at a rapid gallop.
"Who be they, Billy?" asked Davie.
"They are some of them horse-thieves, Davie, that have been playing the mischief of late about here, and we'd better dust."
"But they'll see us go out."
"That's so! Let us coon up into the loft, for they'll only wait till the storm blows over, for they are coming here for shelter."
Up to the loft of the cabin, through a trapdoor, the boys went quickly and laid quietly down, peering through the cracks in the boards. The four horsemen dashed up, hastily unsaddled their horses and lariated them out, and bounded into the cabin through the window, just as the storm broke with fury upon forest and plain.
As still as mice the boys lay, but they quickly looked toward each other, for the conversation of the men below, one of whom was kindling a fire in the broad chimney, told them that, if discovered, their lives would be the forfeit.
In fact, they were four of a band of outlaws that had been infesting the country of late, stealing horses, and in some cases taking life and robbing the cabins of the settlers, and one of them said plainly:
"Pards, when I was last in this old ranch it was six years ago, when we came to rob Foster Beal who lived here; he showed fight, shot two of the boys, and we wiped the whole family out; but now let us get away with what grub we've got, and then plan what is best to do to-night. As for myself, I say strike old Cody's ranch, for he's got dust."
The boys were greatly alarmed at this, but, putting his mouth close to Davie Dunn's ear, Billy Cody whispered:
"Davie, you see that shutter in the end of the roof?"
"Yes, Billy," was the trembling reply.
"Well, you slip out of there, drop to the ground and make for your home and tell your father who is here."
"And you, Billy?"
"I'll just keep here, and if these fellows attempt to go I'll shoot 'em."
"But you can't, Billy."
"I've got my revolver, Davie and you bet I'll use it! Go, but don't make a fuss, and get your father to come on with the settlers as soon as you can, for I won't be happy till you get back."
Davie Dunn was trembling considerably; but he arose noiselessly, crossed to the window at the end of the roof, and which was but a small aperture, closed by a wooden shutter, which he cautiously opened. The noise he made was drowned by the pelting rain and furious wind, and the robbers went on chatting together, while Davie slipped out and dropped to the ground.
But ere he had been gone half an hour the outlaws were ready to start, the rain having ceased in a measure, and night was coming on to hide their red deeds.
"Hold on, boys, for I've got ye all covered. He's a dead man who moves."
Billy had crept to the trap, and in his hoarsest tones, had spoken, while the men sprung to their feet at his words, and glancing upward saw the threatening revolver.
One attempted to draw a weapon, but the boy's forefinger touched the trigger, and the outlaw fell dead at the flash, shot straight through the heart!
This served as a warning to the others, and they stood like statues, while one said:
"Pard, who is yer?"
But Billy feared to again trust his voice and answered not a word. He lay there, his revolver just visible over the edge of the boards, and covering the hearts of the three men crouching back into the corner, but full in the light from the flickering fire, while almost at their feet lay their dead comrade.
Again and again they spoke to Billy, but he gave no reply.
Then they threatened to make it warm for him, and one suggested that they make a break for the door.
But, each one seemed to feel that the revolver covered him, and none would make the attempt, for they had ocular demonstration before them of the deadly aim of the eye behind the weapon.
To poor little Billy, and I suppose to the men too, it seemed as if ages were passing away, in the hour and a quarter that Davie Dunn was gone, for he had bounded upon one of the outlaws' horses and ridden away like the wind.
But, at last, Billy heard a stern voice say:—
"Boys, you is our meat."
At the same time several pistols were thrust into the window, and in came the door, burst open with a terrific crash that was music to Billy's ears; while in dashed a dozen bold settlers, led by farmer Dunn.
The three outlaws were not only captured, but, being recognized as old offenders, were swung up to a tree, while Billy and Davie became indeed boy heroes, and the former especially was voted the lion of the log cabin school, for had he not "killed his man?"
BILLY'S FIRST DUEL.
Near where Billy's father settled in Kansas, dwelt a farmer who had a son and daughter, the former being fourteen, and the latter eighteen.
As is often the case with boys, Billy fell in love with Nannie Vennor, which was the young lady's name, although she at eighteen was just seven years older than he was.
But she had been over to call on the Cody girls with her brother, and a deep attachment at once sprung up between the boys, and Billy became the devoted slave of Nannie, making her a horse-hair bridle for her pony, gathering her wild flowers whenever he went over to the Vennor farm, and in fact being as devoted in his attentions as a young man of twenty-one could have been.
But Nannie had another lover, in fact a score of them from among the neighboring young settlers, but one in particular who bid fair to be Billy's most dangerous rival. This one was a dashing young fellow from Leavenworth, with a handsome face and fine form, and who always had plenty of money.
Folks said he was very dissipated, was a gambler, and his name had been connected several times with some very serious affairs that had occurred in the town.
But then he had a winning manner, sung well, and Nannie's beaux had to all admit that he was every inch the man, and one they cared not to anger.
From the first Billy Cody hated him, and did not pretend to hide the fact; but it seemed the boy's intuitive reading of human nature, as much as his jealousy on account of Nannie Vennor.
One day Billy was seated by the side of a small stream fishing.
The bank was behind him, rising some eight feet, and he had ensconced himself upon a log that had been drifting down the stream in a freshet, and lodged there.
Back from him, bordering the little creek ran the trail to the nearest town, and along this rode two persons.
The quick ear of the boy heard hoof-falls, and glancing quickly over the bank he saw three horsemen approaching, and one of these he recognized as Hugh Hall his rival.
Just back of Billy was a grove of cottonwood trees, and here the men halted for a short rest in the shade, and all they said distinctly reached the boy's ears.
"I tell you, pards," said Hugh Hall, "I cannot longer delay then, so if old Vennor refuses to let me have Nannie I'll just take her."
"The best way, Hugh; but what about the wife that's now on your trail?" asked one.
"What care I for her, after I have run off with Nannie?"
"But she'll blow on you to old man Vennor."
"I do not care. I'll deny it to Nannie, say the woman is crazy, and one by one the family will drop off until she only remains, and then she'll get the property."
"You are sure it's coming to 'em, Hugh?" asked one.
"I am so sure that I drew up the will of Vennor's brother four years ago, when I was practicing law in Chicago."
"He may have changed his mind."
"Nonsense; he died shortly after, and the will says if Richard Vennor was not found, and the fortune turned over to him, within five years after Robert Vennor's death, the fortune was to go to charity.
"Now I kept the secret dark, came out to look up Richard Vennor, and having found him, shall marry his daughter and get all!"
"Your wife will give you trouble."
"I wish you to get rid of her then, and I'll pay well for it."
"We'll do the job, and help you all we can," said one, and the second one of the pair whom Billy did not recognize, echoed his comrade's sentiments.
"Well, Hugh, we found Lucy was trailing you, and hearing you was about to strike it rich, concluded we'd come and post you for old friendship's sake."
"And I'll pay you for it; but we must not be seen together, so I'll wait here while you ride on to Leavenworth, and in an hour I'll follow you."
This agreement seemed satisfactory, and two horsemen rode away, after a few more words, while Hugh Hall threw himself down upon the grass to rest.
For awhile Billy Cody was very nervous at what he had heard; but he soon grew calm, and having waited until he knew the two men were more than a mile away, he cautiously stood up upon the log and glanced over the bank.
Hugh Hall was fast asleep, and his horse was feeding near.
Noiselessly Billy drew himself upon the bank and approached the man, his faithful revolver held in his hand.
"I wonder if it would be wrong if I killed him, when he is such a villain!" he muttered.
"Yes, I won't do it; but I'll make him go straight to Mr. Vennor and I'll tell him all I heard.
"Here, Hugh Hall, farmer Vennor wants to see you."
The man sprung to his feet, his hand upon his revolver.
But Billy had taken the precaution to get behind a tree, and had the drop on his rival.
"Oh, it's you, you accursed imp of Satan," cried the man angrily.
"Yes, it's me, and I want you to go to Mr. Vennor, for I'm going to tell him all I heard you say," said the boy boldly.
Hugh Hall knew Billy's reputation as a fearless boy and a sure shot, and he saw that he was in great danger; but he said quietly:
"Well, I was going to the farmer's and we'll ride together."
"No, I'll ride and you'll walk, for I came down the stream fishing to-day, and haven't got my pony."
As quick as a flash the man then drew his pistol, and firing, the bullet cut the bark off the tree just above the boy's head.
Instantly however Billy returned the shot, and the revolver of Hugh Hall fell from his hand, for his arm was broken; but he picked it up quickly and leveled it with his left, and two shots came together.
Billy's hat was turned half round on his head, showing how true was the aim of his foe, while his bullet found a target in the body of Hugh Hall.
With a groan he sunk upon the ground, and springing to his side, Billy found him gasping fearfully for breath.
"I am sorry, Hugh Hall, but you made me do it," he said sorrowfully.
But the man did not reply, and running to the horse feeding near, he sprung into the saddle and dashed away like the wind.
Straight to farmer Vennor's he went and told him all, and mounting in hot haste they rode back to the grove of cottonwoods.
Hugh Hall still lay where he had fallen; but he was dead, greatly to Billy's sorrow, who had hoped he would not die.
Then, while farmer Vennor remained by the body, Billy went for the nearest neighbors, and ere nightfall Hugh Hall was buried, and his two allies in crime were captured in Leavenworth, and given warning to leave Kansas forever, which they were glad to do, for they had not expected such mercy at the hands of the enraged farmers.
But before they left they confessed that Billy's story was a true one, and told where the wife of Hugh Hall could be found, and once again did the boy become a hero, even in the eyes of the bravest men, and the settlers gave him the name of Boss Boy Billy, while Nannie Vennor, now a mother of grown sons, each Christmas time sends him a little souvenir, to show him that she has not forgotten her boy lover who fought his first duel to save her from a villain.
SHOOTING FOR A PRIZE.
While Mr. Cody was an Indian trader at Salt Creek Valley in Kansas, Billy laid the foundation for his knowledge of the red-skin character, and which served him so well in after years and won him a name as scout and hunter that no one else has ever surpassed.
For days at a time Billy would be in the Indian villages, and often he would go with the warriors on their buffalo and game hunts, and now and then would join a friendly band in a war trail against hostiles.
Another favorite resort of Billy's was Fort Leavenworth, where his handsome face, fearlessness and manly nature made him a great favorite with both officers and men.
On one occasion while at the fort a large Government herd of horses, lately brought up from Texas, where they had been captured wild on the prairies, stampeded, and could not be retaken.
Once or twice Billy had come into the fort with a pony of the fugitive herd which he had captured, and the quartermaster said to him:
"Billy, if that herd remains much longer free, they will be harder to take than real wild horses, so go to work and I'll give you a reward of ten dollars for every one you bring in, for the Government authorizes me to make that offer."
This was just to Billy's taste, and he went at once home and spent a couple of days preparing for the work before him, and from which his mother and sisters tried to dissuade him; but the boy saw in it a bonanza and would not give it up.
His own pony, Rascal, he knew, was not fast enough for the work ahead, so he determined to get a better mount, and rode over to the fort to see a sergeant who had an animal not equaled for speed on the plains.
Rascal, some sixty dollars, a rifle, and some well-tanned skins were offered for the sergeant's horse and refused, and in despair Billy knew not what to do, for he had gotten to the end of his personal fortune.
"Sergeant," he suddenly cried, as a bright idea seized him.
"They say you are the crack shot in the fort."
"I am too, Billy."
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do to win your horse, Little Grey. I'll put up all I have offered you against your animal and shoot for them."
"Why, Billy, I don't want to win your pony and money."
"And I don't want you to; but I'll shoot with you for your horse against mine and all else I have offered."
The sergeant was a grasping man, and confident of his powers, at last assented, and the match was to take place at once.
But the officers learning of it were determined Billy should have fair play, and a day was set a week off, and the boy was told to practice regularly with both pistol and rifle, for the terms were ten off-hand shots with the latter at fifty and one hundred yards, and six shots standing with the revolver at fifteen paces and six from horseback, and riding at full speed by the target.
Billy at once set to work to practice, though he had confidence in his unerring aim, and upon the day of trial came to the fort with a smiling face.
Nearly everybody in the fort went out to see the match, and the sergeant was called first to toe the mark.
He raised his rifle and his five shots at fifty yards were quickly fired.
Billy gave a low whistle, but toed the scratch promptly, and his five shots were truer than the sergeant's, and a wild cheer broke from one and all.
At one hundred yards the sergeant's shooting was better than the boy's; and so it was with the pistol shooting, for when standing the sergeant's shots were best, and in riding full speed by the target, Billy's were the truest, and it was called a tie.
"How shall we shoot it off, Billy?" asked the sergeant, who seemed somewhat nervous.
Billy made no reply, but went to his haversack and took from it an apple, and going up to his pony placed him in position, the rein over the horn of the saddle.
The apple he then put on the head of the pony, directly between his ears, and stepping back while all present closely watched him, he threw forward his pistol and fired.
The apple flew into fragments and a wild burst of applause came from all sides, while Billy said quietly:
"I've got another apple, sergeant, for you to try the same on Little Grey."
"I'll not run the risk, Billy, of killing him, so give in; but I'll win him back from you sometime," said the sergeant.
"Any time, sergeant, I'm willing to shoot," replied the boy, and with a happy heart he mounted his prize and set off for home.
WILD HORSE HUNTING.
For several days after Billy Cody got his prize he did nothing but train the animal to his use and was delighted to find that Little Grey would follow him like a dog wherever he went.
Having all arranged now for his wild horse hunting, he set out one day from home to be gone a week or more, he told his mother, and with the promise that he would bring her a small fortune soon.
He had already discovered the feeding grounds of the herd, and thither he went at once, arriving in the vicinity shortly before dark.
As he had expected, he found the herd, nearly five hundred in number, but he kept out of sight of them, as it was so near dark, and camped until morning, when he found they had gone up the valley for some miles.
Cautiously he followed them, and getting near unobserved at last made a dash upon them.
Into their midst he went and a good horse was picked out and lariated in the twinkling of an eye and quickly hoppled and turned loose.
Then another and another, until Billy felt that he had done a pretty good day's work.
He had discovered two things, however, and that was that Little Grey seemed more than a match for any of the herd with one exception, and that one was a large, gaunt-bodied black stallion, that appeared to drop him behind without much effort.
"I've got to have him," said Billy, as he returned to his hoppled prizes and began to drive them toward the fort.
It was a long and tedious work, but the boy was not impatient and reached the fort at last and received his reward, which he at once carried to his mother and received her warm congratulations upon his first success.
Back to the herd's haunts went Billy, and again he camped for the night, but was aroused at dawn by a sound that he at first thought was distant thunder.
But his ears soon were undeceived as he sprung to his feet, well knowing that it was the herd of wild horses.
Instantly Billy formed his plan of action and mounting Little Grey rode into a thicket near by, which wholly concealed him from view.
Here he waited, for he knew that the herd was coming to the river to drink, and a cry of delight burst from his lips as he beheld the black stallion in the lead.
"It is the horse the settlers call Sable Satan and that belonged to a horse thief, father told me, who was shot from his back one night.
"Well, if I can catch him I'll be in luck, and I'll try it, though they say he is awful vicious. Be quiet, Gray, or you'll spoil all."
On came the large drove at a trot directly for the river, and a beautiful sight it was as they moved forward in solid mass, with flowing mane and tail and the rising sun glancing upon every variety of color.
The leader was a perfect beauty, black as ink, with glossy hide and long mane and tail—the equine king of the herd.
With his reins well in hand, his lariat ready, and full of excitement, Billy waited for the horses to reach the stream, which they entered to quench their thirst.
As every head was lowered and the nostrils driven deep into the cool waters, out of the thicket dashed the Boy Horse-Hunter, and the clattering hoofs startled the drove, and in confusion and fright they turned to fly.
Straight as an arrow went the boy toward the black stallion, which attempted to dash by with the mass.
But with an unerring hand the lariat was thrown, the coil settled down over the haughty head, a tremendous jerk followed, and Sable Satan was thrown to the ground.
With an exultant cry Billy sprung from his saddle, and quickly formed a "bow-stall" which, when properly made, is more effective than a severe curb bit—and placed it upon the animal that was choked beyond the power of resistance.
[Footnote 1: A "bow-stall" is formed by taking a turn with a rope or lariat between the nostrils and eyes of a horse, and passing one end over the head, back of the ears and tied on the opposite side. A second noose is then made around the jaws and from this the reins lead back toward the rider, who can then thoroughly manage the animal.—THE AUTHOR.]
Loosening the lariat around his neck Billy sprung upon the prostrate animal, which, with a wild snort bounded to his feet, and with prodigious leaps started on after the flying herd, his daring young rider firmly seated upon his back.
Finding he could not unseat Billy by bounding, he came to a sudden halt, and then reared wildly; but with catlike tenacity the boy clung to him, and then Sable Satan mad with rage and fright, attempted to tear him from his back with his gleaming teeth.
A severe jerk on the bow-stall however thwarted this, and with a maddened cry the splendid prairie king bounded on once more after the flying herd, a call to Little Grey from Billy causing him to follow at a swift run.
With a speed that was marvelous Sable Satan flew on, directly into the drove, the daring young rider still clinging to him, determined to dare any danger to keep the animal whose capture had baffled the very best horsemen of the plains.
Sweeping through the herd, as though they were stationary, so great was his speed, the black stallion soon left them far behind, and glancing back Billy saw that Little Grey had not cared to venture into the midst of the wild band and was galloping away over the prairies.
Not knowing who might pick him up, and having his rifle, ammunition and provisions strapped to his saddle, he determined to go on after Little Grey, and at once a fierce fight began between the boy and his horse.
But the boy proved the master, and after a severe struggle the black stallion was subdued, and guided by the bow-stall was in full chase of Little Grey, while Sable Satan's former subjects were flying away northward without their leader.
When in chase of Little Grey, Billy soon discovered the remarkable speed of his new capture, for he overhauled his former pet with ease, and now thoroughly broken in, the saddle and bridle were transferred to the black's back, and exultant over his success the boy rode on to the fort, where large sums were offered him for the famous stallion.
But Billy refused each tempting offer, and on Sable Satan set out to capture more of the herd, and which he readily succeeded in doing; but as the Government offer of ten dollars for the fugitive animals became known, there were a number of men starting on the trail of the wild mustangs and though Billy got the lion's share, he did not quite realize the expected fortune, but was content with the few hundreds he made, and the ownership of Sable Satan and Little Grey, the two fastest horses on the Kansas prairies.
SAVING A FATHER'S LIFE.
While in Kansas Mr. Cody became interested in the affairs of the State and joined the Free State party, and while making a speech on one occasion was deliberately attacked and severely wounded.
He however recovered sufficiently to work on his farm again, but was constantly harassed by his old foes, who on several occasions visited his home with the intention of hanging him.
On one occasion, when in town, Billy learned of an attack to be made upon his father, and mounting Sable Satan rode with all speed out to the farm.
He was recognized and hotly pursued; but he got home in time to warn his father who took Little Grey and made his escape.
The horsemen, a score in number, came to the farm, and finding Mr. Cody gone, the leader struck Billy a severe blow and when he departed carried with him Sable Satan.
This almost broke the boy's heart; but he declared he would some day regain his horse, and for weeks he tried to do so, but without success.
One night two horsemen came to the Cody farm and again asked for the farmer, but were told by Mrs. Cody that he was away.
They would not take her word for it; but thoroughly searched the house, after which they forced Billy's sisters to get them some supper.
While they were eating Billy and his father returned, and warned by one of the girls, Mr. Cody went up-stairs to bed, for he was quite ill, and suffering from the wound he had received.
But Billy went into the kitchen and saw there the very man who had struck him the severe blow; and who had taken Sable Satan on his last visit.
"Well, boy, that's a good horse I got from you," he said, with a rude laugh.
"Yes, he's too good for such a wretch as you are," was the fearless reply.
"No lip, boy, or I'll give you a licking you'll remember. By the way, where's that old father of yours?" said the man.
Billy made no reply but walked out of the kitchen, to be soon after followed by his sister Mary who said anxiously:
"Oh, Will, they say father must have come with you, and they intend to search the house again."
"Then I'll go up and tell father," whispered Billy, and up-stairs he went.
He found his father asleep, and his mother was seated near him and told Billy he had a high fever.
"Then don't wake him, and I'll not let them come up here," said Billy, and he went out of the room and took his place at the stairs.
A moment after the two men, both with pistols in their hands, came out of the kitchen and started to come up-stairs.
"Stop, Luke Craig, for you can't come up here," said the boy.
With a hoarse laugh the man sprung up the steps to fall back as a pistol flashed in his face and roll back to the bottom, knocking his companion down too.
But the latter quickly sprung to his feet and dashed out of the house to where their horses were hitched.
His horse was a white one, and his comrade's was Sable Satan, and to the latter he ran.
But up went the window and in a loud voice Billy cried:
"I've got my rifle on you, and I'll fire if you take my horse."
The man evidently believed that he would, from what he had seen, and mounting his own horse dashed swiftly away in the darkness while Billy returned to the one he had shot.
He found him badly wounded, but not fatally, and putting him in his father's buggy drove him to the nearest doctor, at whose house he remained for months before he was well again.
LOVE AND RIVALRY.
Finding that Billy was becoming far more accomplished as a rider and shot, than in his books, Mrs. Cody determined to send him to a small school that was only a few miles away.
Billy, though feeling himself quite a man, yielded to his mother's wishes and attended the school, which was presided over by a cross-grained Dominie that used the birch with right good earnest and seeming delight.
Of course Billy's love of mischief got him many a whipping; but for these he did not seem to care until there suddenly appeared in the school another pupil in the shape of a young miss just entering her teens.
The name of this young lady was Mollie Hyatt, and she was the daughter of a well-to-do settler who had lately arrived, and was as pretty as a picture.
Billy's handsome face and dark eyes won her young heart, and the love-match was going smoothly along until a rival appeared in the field in the shape of a youth two years the junior of young Cody, and larger and stronger.
These virtues on the part of Master Steve Gobel, with his growing love of Mollie, made him very assuming, and he forced his company upon the little maid, and had things pretty much his own way, as all the boys seemed afraid of him.
As for Billy he let him have his own way for awhile, and then determined not to stand it any longer he sought Steve Gobel for a settlement of the affair, the result of which was, the teacher hearing them quarreling and coming out took the word of young Cody's rival about it, and gave my hero a severe whipping before the whole school.
Since his meeting Mollie Hyatt, Billy had been a most exemplary youth, never having had a single whipping, and this cut him to the heart so deeply that he did not seem to feel the pain of the rod.
And it made him treasure up revenge against Steve Gobel, who was laughing at him during the castigation.
The next day Billy built for Mollie a pretty little arbor on the bank of the creek, and all admired it greatly excepting Steve Gobel, who, as soon as it was finished pulled it down.
Poor Mollie began to cry over her loss, and infuriated at beholding her sorrow, Billy rushed upon his rival and a fierce fight at once began between them.
Finding that he was no match for the bully in brute strength, and suffering under his severe blows, Billy drew from his pocket his knife, opened the blade with his teeth, and drove it into the side of his foe, who cried out in wild alarm.
Springing to his feet, amid the frightened cries of the children, Billy rushed to his pony, drew up the lariat pin, and springing upon his back, rode away across the prairie like the wind.
Coming in sight of a wagon-train bound for the West, he rode up to it and recognizing the wagon-master as an old friend of his father, he told him what had occurred, and that he feared he had killed Steve Gobel.
"Served him right, Billy, and we'll just go into camp, take the boys along, and go over and clean out the house o' l'arnin'," was the blunt reply of the wagon-master.
But this Billy would not bear to, and the wagon-master said:
"Well, my boy, I'm bound with the train to Fort Kearney, so come along with me, and I'll make a man of you."
"But what will my mother think of me?"
"Oh! I'll send a man back with word to her, while you stay, for I won't give you up to that boy's friends."
And thus it was settled; a man rode back to the Cody farm, and the following day he overtook the train again, and Billy's heart was made glad by a letter from his mother telling him that Steve Gobel was not badly wounded, but that under the circumstances he had better go on with the wagon-master and remain away until the anger of the Gobel family cooled down.
Thus, as a Boy Bullwhacker, Billy made his first trip across the plains, and months after, upon his return home, found that the Gobels had forgiven the past, and that Mary Hyatt had, little coquette that she was, found another beau.
But shortly after his return his father died, and having to aid in the support of his mother and sisters, Billy accepted a position as herder for a drove of Government cattle to be driven to the Army of General Albert Sydney Johnson, that was marching against the Mormons at Salt Lake.
KILLING HIS FIRST INDIAN.
When the train and beef-herd, with which Billy Cody had gone, arrived in the vicinity of old Fort Kearney their first serious adventure occurred, and for a while the boy thought of his mother's prediction, that he "would be killed or captured by Indians."
Not expecting an attack from red-skins in that vicinity, the party had camped for dinner, and most of them were enjoying a siesta under the wagons, Billy being among the latter number, while but three men were on duty as herders.
But suddenly they were aroused by shots, wild yells, and rapid hoof-falls, and down upon them dashed a band of mounted warriors, while others had killed the three guards and the cattle were stampeding in every direction. But the train hands quickly sprung to their feet, rallied promptly for the fight, and met the advancing red-skins with a volley from their Mississippi yagers, which were loaded with ball and buck-shot, and checked their advance.
Knowing that they could not hold out there the train-master called out:
"Boys, make a run for the river, and the banks will protect us."
All started, when Billy called out:
"Don't let us leave these wounded boys."
They turned at his word, to find that two of their number had been wounded, one seriously in the side and the other in the leg.
Raising them in their arms they started at a run for the bank, ere the Indians had rallied from the fire that met them, and reached it in safety, though the man who had been shot in the side was dead ere they got there.
A short consultation was then held, and it was decided to make their way back to Fort Kearney, by wading in the river and keeping the bank as a breast work.
A raft of poles was constructed for the wounded man, and the party started down the stream, protected by the bank, and keeping the Indians at bay with their guns, for they followed them up closely.
As night came on, utterly worn out with wading and walking, Billy dropped behind the others; but trudged manfully along until he was suddenly startled by a dark object coming down over the bank.
It was moonlight, and he saw the plumed head and buckskin-clad form of an Indian, who, in peering over the bank to reconnoiter had lost his balance, or the earth had given way, and sent him down into the stream.
He caught sight of Billy as he was sliding down, and gave a wild war-whoop, which was answered by a shot from the boy's rifle, for though taken wholly by surprise he did not lose his presence of mind.
Hearing the war-whoop and the shot, and at the same time missing Billy, the men came running back and found him dragging the red-skin along in the stream after him.
"It's my Injun, boys," he cried exultantly.
"It are fer a fact, an' I'll show yer how ter take his scalp," replied Frank McCarthy the train-master, and he skillfully cut off the scalp-lock and handed it to Billy, adding:
"Thar, thet is yer first scalp, boy, an' I'm willin' ter swear it won't be yer last, for Billy, you is ther boss boy I ever see."
Billy thanked McCarthy for the gory trophy, gave a slight shudder as he took it, and said significantly:
"I ain't so tired as I was, and I guess I'll keep up with you all now, for if the bank hadn't caved in that Injun would have had me."
At daylight they came in sight of Kearney, and after a volley or two at the Indians still dogging their steps, made for the fort and reached it in safety.
The commanding officer at once sent out a force in pursuit of the red-skins; but they neither found them or the cattle they had driven off.
After a short stay at Fort Kearney Billy returned with a train to Leavenworth, where the papers dubbed him the "Boy Indian-Killer," and made a hero of him for his exploit on the South Platte.
WINNING A NAME.
When Billy returned home, after his first Indian-killing expedition, he carried with him the pay of a bullwhacker, and all of it he placed in his mother's hands, for the death of Mr. Cody had left the family in indigent circumstances.
Finding that she could not keep Billy at home when he had found out that by his exertions, boy though he was, he could support the family, Mrs. Cody gave a reluctant consent for him to make another trip to the far West under an old and experienced wagon-master named Lew Simpson, and who had taken a great fancy to the youthful Indian-fighter.
Bill was accordingly enlisted as an "extra," which meant that he was to receive full pay and be on hand ready to take the place of any one of the train that was killed, wounded, or got sick.
The wagon train pulled out of Leavenworth, all heavily freighted, each one carrying about six thousand pounds weight, and each also drawn by four yoke of oxen under charge of a driver, or "bullwhacker."
The train consisted of twenty-five wagons, under Lew Simpson, then an assistant wagon-master, next Billy, the "extra," a night herder, a cavallard driver, whose duty was driving the loose and lame cattle, and the bullwhacker for each team.
All were armed with yagers and Colt's revolvers, and each man had a horse along, Billy's being Sable Satan, still as good as the day he captured him, and a piece of equine property all envied the boy the possession of; in fact there were several of the men who swore they would yet have the horse.
"I guess not, pards; the boy caught that horse wild on the prairies, and the man that lays hands on him settles with me."
The speaker was J.B. Hickok, known to the world as "Wild Bill," and upon that trail he and William F. Cody for the first time met.
Wild Bill was assistant wagon-master on that trip, and all knew him so well that the idea of possessing Sable Satan by unfair means was at once given up and Billy felt secure in his treasure, for such the horse was, as his equal for speed and bottom had not been found on the plains.
As an "extra hand" Billy had nothing to do while the bullwhackers kept in good health, and no Indians were met with, so became the hunter of the train, keeping it well supplied with fresh meats and wild fowl.
It was upon one of these hunts that Billy won the name of Buffalo Billy, though afterward it was shortened by dropping the y after proving himself the champion buffalo-killer on the plains.
Dismounting from Sable Satan to cut up an antelope he had shot, he was suddenly startled by seeing his horse bound away over the prairie.
Springing to his feet he at once discovered the cause, for over a distant roll of the prairie a herd of thousands of buffaloes were coming at terrific speed.
One chance of escape alone presented itself and that was a lone cottonwood tree standing some few hundred yards distant.
In all the prairie around not another tree was visible, and Billy had noticed this lone sentinel as he was creeping up for a shot at the antelope.
At full speed he rushed for the tree and hastily climbed it, securing a safe seat amid its branches, while yet the herd was some distance away.
But glancing back over the huge drove to his horse he beheld a band of mounted warriors in full chase.
The center of the herd was headed directly for the tree, and the Indians were so following that they must come directly under it.
If discovered Billy knew well what his fate would be. The Indians would give up buffalo meat for a human scalp.
These thoughts flashed through the boy's mind, and he at once decided what he would do.
To remain, was certain death at the hands of the red-skins.
To leave, as he intended, by the means of a buffalo was a fearful risk.
But he would take it; and accordingly strapped his rifle upon his back, picked out his buffalo, a huge bull, and swinging quickly from a limb, watched his chance and dropped down upon the back of his choice.
Clutching the long, shaggy mane he clung for dear life, at the same time holding himself on with his spurs.
Maddened with fright the bull bounded into the air, snorted wildly, gored those in the advance and soon led the herd.
Billy kept his seat nobly, a grim smile upon his face, and occasionally glanced backward at the herd and the pursuing Indians.
And straight for camp went the herd, until discovered by the train men, who started out in force to head them off.
But pell-mell into camp they went, stampeding the oxen and horses and frightening the men, and Billy began to feel that he must keep on his racer clear to the hills.
But the animal was tired out now and had dropped to the rear of the herd, and Wild Bill, seeing his young friend, raised his rifle and dropped the buffalo bull just as he was running out of camp.
From that day the boy was known as Buffalo Billy.
CAPTURED BY DANITES.
With the usual adventures incident to a trip across the plains, an occasional fight with Indians, and several grand hunts, the train at last arrived near Green River in the Rocky Mountains.
Billy, Lew Simpson and another of the train had dropped back during the afternoon for a hunt, and upon drawing near the place where they were to encamp, were surprised to discover a band of horsemen coming toward them, whom they observed, however, to be white men.
Suspecting no harm from those of their own race, they rode forward, and, as they met, were startled to hear:
"Up with your hands! You are dead men if you resist!"
"Who are you?" asked Lew Simpson, angrily.
"Joe Smith, the Danite," was the calm reply of that leader.
"If I had known you were that accursed scoundrel I'd have shot you," growled Lew Simpson.
"Am awful glad you did not know it; but come, you are my prisoners, and your train is in my power," was the reply, and upon arriving at camp they found that it was but too true, for the boys had not suspected danger from men they had believed a party of United States cavalry.
The Danite leader, Joe Smith, then ordered all that could be packed on horses to be taken and the wagons set on fire, and told the train men to set out on foot for Fort Bridger, saying:
"You can reach there, but I guess Albert Sydney Johnson and his troops will never get the supplies."
The train was burned, all but one wagon, which carried supplies for the men, and armed only with their revolvers, they were ordered away by the Danites.
But Buffalo Billy was not one to see his splendid horse go without remonstrance, and, as begging did no good, offered to take him upon any terms he could get him on.
"Boy, ain't you the one who killed Hugh Hall in Kansas some time ago?" asked the man who had Billy's horse.
"Well, I owe you one, for he was my pard, and you got me run out of the country by your work, so I'm willing to be even by keeping your horse."
"I'll fight you for him," said Billy, fiercely.
"What with, boy, fists or knives?"
"You are a fool to talk that way, for you weigh double what I do; but I'll fight you for the horse with rifle or pistol."
The train men tried to dissuade Billy from this determination, for they saw the Danite was anxious to take him at his word, and to kill him; but he had made the offer and the Mormon urged it on, and the arrangements were made to fight with pistols at fifty paces, walking on each other and firing until one fell.
They at once took their stands and Joe Smith gave the word, saying in a low tone before doing so:
"He's a boy in years; but he must be got rid of."
At the word the Danite advanced at a rapid walk firing; but Buffalo Billy stood still, and waited until he had received four shots, all coming dangerously near, when he suddenly threw his revolver to a level and drew trigger.
At the flash the man fell, shot in the leg, and the duel ended.
But the Danites would not give up the horse, saying that a wounded man could not continue the fight, and as Billy had not killed his foe, the animal could not be claimed by them.
Wild Bill and Lew Simpson roundly cursed Joe Smith and his Danites for a set of thieves, while Billy said sadly:
"Good-by, Sable, old fellow, good-by."
As he spoke he went up to his splendid horse, that stood saddled near, and throwing himself upon his back, with a defiant yell, bounded away like an arrow from the bow.
The Danites opened a perfect fusilade of pistol-shots upon the boy, but they flew harmlessly by him, and a number mounted and gave pursuit in hot haste.
But Sable Satan left them far behind and they gave up the chase, while Billy hung about until the train-men came along, and joined them, receiving from one and all the highest praise for his daring escape.
Some days after the disconsolate train-men reached Fort Bridger, to find that other trains than theirs had been robbed by the Danites.
A HOT INDIAN FIGHT.
As it was late in the fall Lew Simpson and his men were compelled to winter at the fort, where there were a number of troops and train employees of Russell, Majors and Waddell, who were formed into military companies, officered by wagon-masters.
As Wild Bill was placed in command of the battalion of train-men, he made Buffalo Billy an aide-de camp and the boy devoted himself assiduously to the duties devolving upon him, and before the long and tedious winter passed was forced to experience hardships of the severest kind, as the garrison had to live on mule meat, and haul wood from the distant mountains themselves, their animals having been served up as food.
In the spring Simpson started east with a train, and Buffalo Bill accompanied him as hunter for the men, his well known marksmanship and skill in securing game readily getting for him that position.
One day Lew Simpson and an "extra hand" accompanied him on one of his hunting expeditions, and to their surprise they came upon a band of Indians coming out of a canyon not far from them.
They were out on the prairie, and knowing that they could not escape on their mules, Simpson and the extra told Billy to ride off on Sable Satan and save himself.
But this the boy would not do, saying that he would remain with them.
"Then your horse must go with our mules," said Simpson.
"All right, Lew," said Billy, though the tears came into his eyes.
Telling them to dismount, just as they came to a buffalo wallow, Lew Simpson said:
"Now, give 'em a shot just back of the ears."
The shots were fired, Billy shutting his eyes as he pulled the trigger, and Sable Satan and the two mules dropped dead in their tracks.
In an instant they were dragged into position, so as to form a triangular fort, and getting into the wallow, with their knives the three threw up the dirt as rapidly as possible to make their position safer.
By this time the Indians, some half hundred in number, were rushing upon them with wildest yells.
But crouching down in their little fort of flesh and dirt, Lew Simpson and his man and boy comrade leveled their rifles over the bodies of the slain animals, and, as the bowling red-skins came within sixty yards, fired together.
Down went three Indians, and while Lew Simpson reloaded the yagers Billy and George Woods fired with their revolvers with such right good will the Indians were checked in their advance and turned to retreat out of range, followed by three more shots from the yagers.
Five Indians and four ponies were the result of this fight, and it gave the holders of the triangular fort confidence in themselves.
But the Indians did not give up the attack, but circled around and around the fort, firing upon the defenders with their arrows, and slightly wounding all three of them, while the bodies of the mules and horse were literally filled with shafts.
After a few rides around their pale-face foes, the Indians suddenly charged again, coming from every quarter, and forcing the whites to each defend the space in his front.
With demoniacal yells they came on once more, and once more the yagers opened, and then were thrown aside for the rapidly firing revolvers which did fearful execution.
Glancing toward Billy Lew Simpson saw that he was perfectly cool and had a revolver in each hand, although his shirt was saturated with blood from the arrow wound in his shoulder.
Unable to understand, or stand the hot fire of the revolvers, they again broke, when within twenty yards of the fort and rode off rapidly out of range.
"You got three that time, Billy," cried Lew Simpson gleefully, as he saw a trio of red-skins scattered along in the front of the boy.
Billy smiled grimly and reloaded his weapons, after which Lew Simpson dressed the wounds of his comrades, who returned a like favor for him.
But the Indians had by no means gone, for they had gone into camp in a circle around their foes, but well out of range of the fearful Mississippi yagers.
The three defenders in the mean time improved their opportunity to strengthen their fort with dirt and dig a deeper space within, while they also lunched upon their scanty supply of food.
"They'll starve us out if they can't take us by charging," said Simpson.
"They can't starve me as long as your mule holds out, Lew, for I won't eat poor Sable; it would choke me," replied Billy.
"Well, mule meat's good," said Woods.
"Yes, when there ain't anything else to eat, but I prefer buff'ler or Injun," was Billy's response.
"We may have to eat Injun yet," laughed Lew Simpson.
All made a wry face at this supposition and again prepared to meet a charge, for the red-skins were coming down in column.
But again they were checked with loss, and Billy's shot brought down the chief.
Darkness coming on, the Indians formed in line as though to ride away, when Lew Simpson said:
"They must take us for durned fools not to know that they won't leave their dead unburied, and that they think they can draw us out. No, here is where we live until the boys from the train come to look us up."
During the night the Indians, finding their foes would not leave their fort, set the grass on fire to burn them out.
But it was too scanty to burn well and only made a smoke, under cover of which they once more advanced, to be once more driven back.
With the morning they showed that their intention was to starve them out for they went into a regular camp in a circle upon the prairie.
But during the afternoon a party of horsemen appeared in sight, and the three hungry, suffering, half-starved defenders gave a yell of delight, which the red-skins answered with howls of disappointed rage as they hastily mounted their ponies and fled.
The train-men soon came up and were wild in their enthusiasm over the brave defense made, while the fort came in for general praise, although one and all deeply regretted Sable Satan's sad end, though his death had served a good purpose.
BOY TRAPPERS' ADVENTURES.
It was a proud day for Buffalo Billy when he returned home and was welcomed by his mother and sisters, to whom he gave all of his earnings, which were considerable, as his pay had been liberal.
The neighborhood, hearing from members of the train of Billy's exploits, for he was very close-mouthed about what he had done, made a hero of him, and many a pretty girl of seventeen regretted that the boy was not a man grown, to have him for a lover.
But Billy's restless nature would not allow him to remain idle at home, so he joined a party of trappers who were going to trap the streams of the Laramie and Chugwater for otter, beaver and other animals possessing valuable fur, as well as to shoot wolves for their pelts.
This expedition did not prove very profitable, and not wishing to return home without enough furs to bring a fair sum, Buffalo Billy joined a young man, only a few years his senior, by the name of Dave Harrington, and the two started off for the Republican.
Their outfit consisted of a wagon and yoke of oxen, for the transportation of their supplies and pelts, and they began trapping in the vicinity of Junction City, Kansas, and went up the Republican to Prairie Dog creek, where they found plenty of beaver.
While catching a large number of beavers, one day they returned to camp to find one of their oxen had fallen over a precipice and killed himself, and they were left without a team.
But the Boy Trappers, for Dave Harrington was not eighteen, determined to trap on through the winter, and in the spring one of them would go for a team to haul back their wagon.
Ill fortune seemed however to dog their steps as trappers, for one day, while chasing elk, Buffalo Billy fell and broke his leg, and Dave Harrington had to carry him to camp.
Here was a sad predicament, for the nearest settlement was one hundred miles distant.
But Dave set the leg as skillfully as he could, built a "dug-out," for the wounded boy to live in, filled it with wood and provisions, and then set out to procure a yoke of oxen and sled to return for Billy and their pelts.
The "dug-out," was a hole in the side of a bank, covered with poles, grass and sod, and with a fire-place in one end, and a bunk near it, was by no means uncomfortable; but the prospect of remaining there for a month alone, for it would take Harrington that time to go and return through the deep snow, was by no means a pleasant prospect for a boy under fourteen, and with a broken leg.
Dave started the following morning on foot, and Billy was left alone, helpless, and in the solitude of the mountain wilds.
To throw wood on the fire was a painful effort for him, and to move so as to cook his food was torture, and boys of his age can well feel for him in distress and loneliness.
But Buffalo Billy was made of stern stuff, and knew not what fear was; but who can picture the thoughts that were constantly in his young brain, when the winds were sweeping through the pines at night, the wolves were howling about his door, and the sleet and snow was almost continually falling.
It were enough to drive a strong man mad, let alone a boy.
But he stood it bravely, each day however counting with longing heart the hours that went so slowly by, and hoping for his comrade's return.
"Perhaps he has been frozen to death."
That was his thought one day about Harrington.
The next it was:
"I wonder if he has not lost his way?"
Again it was:
"I fear the Indians may have killed him."
When Dave had been gone about two weeks, Buffalo Billy was startled one day from a sound nap, to see an Indian standing by his side.
He was in full war-paint and feathers, which showed he was on the war-path, and Billy felt that it was all over with him.
Speaking to him in Sioux, which the boy understood, he asked:
"What pale-face boy do here?"
"My leg is broken."
"What for come here?"
"To get furs."
"This red-skin country?"
This laconic assertion Billy could not contradict, so he wisely held his peace.
"Let see leg," came next.
Billy showed him the bandaged limb, which was broken between the knee and ankle.
Just then another Indian entered whom Billy recognized, as having seen before, and whom he knew to be the great Sioux Chief, Rain-in-the-Face.
Billy called him by name, and he kept back the warriors, who were about to end the boy's life then and there.
"Boy pale-face know chief?" asked Rain-in-the-Face.
"Yes, I saw you at Fort Laramie, and gave you a knife," said Billy with hope in his heart.
"Ugh! chief don't forget; have knife here," and he showed a knife which he had doubtless often used upon the scalps of pale-faces.
"What pale-face boy do here?"
Billy told him.
"Gone after team."
"When come back?"
Billy was afraid to tell him the truth, so said:
"In two moons."
"Yes; but do your young men intend to kill me?"
"Me have talk and see."
The Indians then held a council together, and Billy could see that the chances were against him; but old Rain-in-the-Face triumphed in the end, and said:
"As pale-face boy is only pappoose, my young men not kill him."
Billy had often longed to be a man; but now he was happy that he was a boy, and answered:
"Yes, I am only a little pappoose."
"Him heap bad pappoose, me remember," said Rain-in-the-Face, recalling some of the jokes the boy played at Fort Laramie.
The Indians then unsaddled their ponies and camped at the dug-out for two days, and when they left they carried with them the sugar and coffee, Billy's rifle and one revolver, and most of the ammunition, besides what cooking utensils they needed.
Then old Rain-in-the-Face bade the boy good-by, and they rode off without poor Billy's blessing following them.
Hardly had they gone before a severe snow-storm sprung up, and it was hard indeed for the crippled boy to get wood enough to build a fire, for the red-skins had put it out before leaving.
The wolves, seemingly understanding how helpless the boy was, scratched at the door, and ran over the roof of the dug-out, at the same time howling viciously; but Billy frightened them off with an occasional shot, and resigned himself to his lonely fate.
But at last a month passed away, and with its end appeared brave Dave Harrington.
He had passed through innumerable dangers, but had at last come back in safety, and brought with him an ox-team.
Never in his life had Buffalo Billy felt the joy of that moment, and, though not a boy given to showing his feelings, he burst into tears of delight.
As it was impossible to at once return, on account of the very great depth of the snow, Dave told Billy they would wait until spring, as he had plenty of provisions, and that fur animals were plenty.
As soon as the snow began to melt Dave got his traps in, collected his pelts, which numbered a thousand, and putting them on the wagon, so as to serve as a bed for Billy, started his oxen homeward.
After twelve days they reached the ranch where Dave had purchased the oxen, paid in furs for the team, and started on to Junction City. Arriving there they sold their team, wagon and furs, the latter bringing them about two hundred and fifty dollars, a handsome sum for each when divided, and which made Billy's heart glad to take home with him, for it paid off a mortgage on his mother's farm.
BUFFALO BILLY STRIKES IT RICH.
It was months before Billy obtained perfect use of his broken leg and was able to throw his crutches aside; but when he did do so it was with a glad heart, for once more he longed to be upon the plains.
Hearing of a rich discovery of gold in Colorado, he joined a party of miners that were bound there, and, reaching the mining camps, staked out a claim and began work.
He was the youngest person in the mines, in fact the only boy there, and with many he was a great favorite; but there were a few men there who sought to impose upon him on account of his youth.
This treatment Buffalo Billy was not the person to stand, and the result was one of his foes struck him one night without the slightest cause.
The result was a general row, for Billy's friends at once backed him in resenting the blow, and, though the fracas lasted but a few minutes, there were several burials next day as the result.
Of course this made Billy more disliked by those who, without reason, had become his foes, and to add to their dislike, he one day struck a rich vein that promised to pan out well in ore.
A few days he toiled in his lead, laying up considerable sums by his work, and one morning, as he went to his mine, he found it occupied by two rough-looking men whom he did not remember to have ever seen before.
"Well, pards, I guess you're up the wrong tree," he said, pleasantly.
"I guesses not; this are our lead," said one, rudely.
"How do you make that out?"
"We staked it months ago, and was called away, and now we has returned to it."
"Well, I believe you both to be lying, and until you prove it's your claim you can't have it," was the bold reply.
"Who's goin' ter say no?"
"Who is you?"
"I am named William Frederick Cody."
"You has handle enough."
"I have more than that."
"I'm called Buffalo Billy."
"We has heer'd o' you as a chap as has too much cheek fer one so young."
"Then if you know me you will understand that though I am but a boy I won't let you walk away with my claim."
"Get out, boy."
Billy obeyed; that is he went down to the camps and consulted his friends about what was best for him to do.
"We'll go up and call in their chips, Billy," was the universal decision.
"No, let us find out if the claim is theirs," said Billy.
"Find out nothin'; they has no right to it and 'tain't justice."
So up to the mine they went, and Billy's friends recognized the two claimants of the mine as two worthless fellows who had been in the valley months before, but who had no claim upon the boy's property.
"You must git!"
That was the decision; but just then others came up who sided with the desperadoes and things looked very scary for awhile, for half the crowd swore that the mine had belonged to the two claimants to it and that Billy ought to give it up.
But these were the men who disliked Billy and his party, as they were the honest miners, and who were willing to side with his foes.
"Ef ther boy wants ther mine he will hev to fight fer it," said one.
"He will fight for it and so will we!" cried one of Billy's friends.
All this time Billy had remained silent; but now he saw that his friends were in deadly earnest, and to prevent a general fight and much loss of life he said:
"The mine I own legally and I'll fight for it if that will settle it, but I don't want to have to fight both of you."
"Oh, but you must though," said one.
"If I must, I'll do it."
"But you shall not, Billy. These two devils only want to murder you so they can get the mine, and they sha'n't do it."
This was said by Billy's best pard and the others who liked the boy backed him up in his words, and pistols were drawn on both sides and the slightest act now all knew would cause trouble.
"If they'll fight me with revolvers and separately I'll be willing," said Billy, hastily, anxious to avert the trouble.
"Waal, we'll do that, so sail in," said one.
"No, not this way, you accursed coward, but go off there, stand with your back to the boy, as he will to you, and twenty paces apart, and at a word wheel and fire," cried Billy's friend.
This seemed fair and all agreed to it, and the man and the boy were placed in position, Billy pale but calm.
The other side won the word to wheel and fire, and though the man tried to aid his friend in giving it, Buffalo Billy was too quick for him and fired a second in advance of his adversary.
But that second was enough, for the bullet went straight to the heart of the one at which it was aimed, while his shot flew wild.
A yell burst from Billy's friends as they rushed forward while his foes were bringing up their other man.
But just then a stranger rode up, and leveling a pistol at the second claimant for the mine said sternly:
"Dick Malone, my gallows-bird, I arrest you in the name of the law."
The stranger was a United States detective, and the one he arrested an escaped convict.
This ended the fight for the mine; but after a few days' longer work in it Billy found that the vein panned out badly, and selling out his interest in it returned to his home once more, convinced that mining was not his forte, though he certainly had dug out enough of the yellow ore to prove to his mother that he had not been idle.
THE YOUNG GUIDE.
The next time that Buffalo Billy left home it was in the capacity of assistant guide to a train of emigrants that were going to the far West to settle.
In Leavenworth one night he met in a common assembling room for all classes of men, a man who was Train Boss, or captain, and who was going to the West to raise cattle and also to farm.
His train, consisting of some thirty families, was encamped out of town resting and fitting up for the renewal of the march, and he had come into Leavenworth to secure a competent guide, the one who had been acting as such having been taken very ill.
He had just secured the services of a young man who professed to know the country well though he was a stranger in Leavenworth, and fearing an accident might deprive him of his services too, the captain was looking around for an assistant when he came upon Billy.
He liked the boy from the first, but feared, on account of his youth, that he might not be competent for the position, until assured by several teamsters that he was fully so, and consequently he engaged Billy at a fair salary.
The chief guide, who called himself Roy Velvet, Billy had never met, until the morning the train rolled out of camp on its way westward, and from the very first he did not like him.
He was a handsome, but dissipated looking young man, dressed like a dandy, was more than thoroughly armed, and rode a superb bay mare.
He smiled when Captain Luke Denham, the Train Boss, introduced Billy as an assistant guide, and said sneeringly:
"I guess he won't be of much use ten miles away from Leavenworth, captain."
Billy made no reply, but kept up considerable thinking, and set to work at his duties.
For some days the train went on finely, and all felt the new guide knew his business; but then there came some stormy days, it was hard traveling, several times the train had to make a dry camp, and once they were attacked by Indians, until some of the old teamsters felt confident that Roy Velvet had lost the way.
Yet on they plodded until at last the nature of the country was such that it was difficult for the train to travel, while, to add to their discomfort and fears, a large band of Indians were hovering near them.
"Well, Velvet, where will you find a camping place to-night?" asked Captain Denham, riding forward and joining the guide.
"Oh! I'll find a good place, and only a short distance ahead; after that the country will be all right for traveling," was the quiet answer.
"I don't believe it, for it has not that look."
"Then ask the assistant guide," was the stern reply.
"I would, but he is not with the train, and has not been seen since last night."
"Perhaps he got out of sight of the train and couldn't find his way back," sneered the guide.
"Oh no! that boy knows what he is about, and I'll trust him for it."
"Well, yonder is the camp," and Roy Velvet pointed to a little meadow not far distant, through which ran a deep stream, and beyond and overshadowing it, was a range of bold hills.
"It's a pleasant spot indeed, and I guess we'll halt a day or two," said the captain, and he gave orders for the train to encamp.
But suddenly up dashed Billy Cody, mounted upon a large horse no one had ever seen him ride before, and it was evident that he had been riding hard.
"Captain Denham, don't camp there, sir, for you place yourself at the mercy of the renegades and Indians that are dogging your trail," he said hastily.
"I am the guide, boy, and have selected the camp," sternly answered Roy Velvet.
"And you are my prisoner, Roy Velvet," and quicker than a flash the revolver of Buffalo Billy covered his heart.
Roy Velvet turned very pale, but said:
"Are you mad, boy?"
"Billy, what is the matter?" asked Captain Denham, while the teamsters and settlers gathered quickly around.
"Tie that man and I will tell you."
"Tie him, captain, or I shall shoot him, for I know who and what he is," cried Billy, and his manner, his charge against the chief guide, his mysterious absence from the train for eighteen hours, and his return upon a strange horse, proved to all that he did know something detrimental to Roy Velvet.
"Speak, Billy, and if you know aught against this man, tell us," said the captain.
"Disarm him then for he is a tricky devil."
"Captain Denham, will you permit that boy to cover me with his revolver and hurl insult upon me?" cried the guide.
"As you will not do as I ask I will do it myself," and Billy rode up to the guide, still holding his cocked revolver upon him, and deliberately took from his belt his revolvers and knife.
"You are so sly, so soft in your cunning, Velvet, that I'll be on the safe side," said Billy with a smile, as he felt over the man for another weapon.
"Ah! I'll take this Derringer from your breast pocket," and out he drew the concealed weapon.
"Now, captain, I'll introduce to you Red Reid, the Renegade Chief."
All were astonished at this charge made by Billy against the guide, for Red Reid was one of the vilest road-agents that infested the overland trails to the West, and had robbed and murdered many a train of emigrants, and of Government supplies.
He was known also to be in league with the red-skins, and had them for allies, when his own force of renegades was not large enough to make a successful attack.
"He lies! I am not that monster," shouted the guide as white as a corpse.
"I do not lie, sir; from the first I did not like you, and knowing that you were going off the regular trail west I watched you.
"I have seen you, at night, slip out of camp and meet Indians, and last night I followed the one you met.
"I overtook him on the prairies, after a hard chase, and he shot my horse; but I shot him and found he was a white man in Indian disguise, and more, before he died he recognized me, for he was once my father's friend, but went to the bad.
"He told me who and what you were, and when he died to-day I mounted his horse and came on after the train, for I knew you were going to lead them here to attack this very night with your band that is not far away."
The story of Billy made a deep impression upon the train people, and the result was that Roy Velvet was seized, bound, and hanged to a tree within fifteen minutes, and the boy who had saved them from death was made chief guide.
At once he led them out of the dangerous locality where they could be ambushed and attacked, and the truth of the charge against Roy Velvet was sustained by the attack of the supposed Indians upon their camp; for, when driven off and the dead examined, a number of white men were found in the red paint and dress of Indian warriors.
Without difficulty Buffalo Billy led the train on to its destination, proving himself thereby a perfect guide, and after a short stop in the new settlement, he returned with a Government train bound East, and again was warmly welcomed "home again."
THE PONY EXPRESS RIDER.
One day when he had ridden into Leavenworth Buffalo Billy met his old friend, Wild Bill, who was fitting out a train with supplies for the Overland Stage Company, and he was at once persuaded to join him in the trip West going as assistant wagon-master.
Putting a man on his mother's farm to take care of it, for as a farmer Billy was not a success, he bade his mother and sisters farewell and once more was on his way toward the land of the setting sun.
Having been at home for several months, for his mother not being in the enjoyment of good health he hated to leave her, Billy had been attending school, and had been a hard student, while in the eyes of his fellow pupils, girls and boys alike, he was a hero of heroes.
On his trip West with Wild Bill he had carried his books, and often in camp he had whiled away the time in studying, until he was asked if he was reading for a lawyer or a preacher.
But when well away from civilization his books were cast aside for his rifle, and he was constantly in the saddle supplying the train with game.
Without any particular adventures the train arrived in due season at Atchison, and there so much was said about Pony Riding on the Overland that Buffalo Billy decided to volunteer as a rider.
Resigning his position with the train, Mr. Russell gave him a warm letter to Alf Slade, a noted personage on the frontier, and to him Billy went.
Slade was then stage agent for the Julesberg and Rocky Ridge Division, with his head-quarters at Horseshoe, nearly forty miles west of Fort Laramie, and there Billy found him and presented his letter.
Slade read the letter, looked Billy carefully over, and said:
"I would like to oblige you, my boy, but you are too young, the work kills strong men in a short time."
"Give me a trial, sir, please, for I think I can pull through," said Billy.
"But are you used to hard riding and a life of danger?"
"Yes, sir, I've seen hard work, young as I am."
"I see now that Russell says you are Buffalo Billy," and Slade glanced again at the letter.
"Yes, sir, that's what my pards call me."
"I have heard of you, and you can become a pony rider; if you break down you can give it up."
The very next day Billy was set to work on the trail from Red Buttes on the North Platte, to Three Crossings on the Sweet Water, a distance of seventy-six miles.
It was a very long piece of road, but Billy did not weaken, and ere long became known as the Boss Pony Rider.
One day he arrived at the end of his road to find that the rider who should have gone out on the trip with his mail, had been killed in a fight, so he at once volunteered for the run to Rocky Ridge, a distance of eighty-five miles, and arrived at the station even ahead of time.
Without rest he turned back and reached Red Buttes on time, making the extraordinary run of three hundred and twenty-two miles without rest, and at an average speed of fifteen miles an hour.
This remarkable feat won for him a presentation of a purse of gold from the company, and a fame for pluck and endurance that placed him as the chief of the Pony Riders.
A RIDE FOR LIFE.
One day, after Buffalo Billy had been a few months Pony Riding, a party of Indians ambushed him near Horse Creek.
He however, as did his horse, miraculously escaped their foes, dashed through them and went on like the wind.
But the red-skins gave hot chase, firing as they ran, yet still without effect.
Billy was well mounted and had not felt fear of them until he saw two of the Indians rapidly drawing ahead of the other, and gaining upon him.
He urged his horse on at full speed with lash and spur, but still the red-skins gained.
Then he saw that they too were splendidly mounted, not on ponies, but large American horses which they had doubtlessly captured from the cavalry.
Nearer and nearer came the Indians, and on Billy pressed at full speed.
Throwing a glance over his shoulder he saw that one of the red-skins, whose feathers proved him to be a chief, was gaining on his comrade, and yet seemed not to be urging the large roan he rode.
"I want that horse, and I want that Injun," muttered Billy, and he quietly took his revolver from his belt.
Nearer and nearer came the chief, and Billy felt his own horse wavering, and knew he was forced beyond his powers of endurance, and fearing he might fall with him, determined to act at once.
Dragging the animal he rode to a sudden halt, and reining him back upon his haunches, he suddenly wheeled in his saddle and fired.
The Indian saw his sudden and unexpected movement, and was taken so wholly off his guard that he had no time to fire, and ere he could raise his pistol, a bullet went crashing through his brain.
He fell back on his horse, that dashed straight on, and was then thrown to the ground, while the rein of the animal was seized by Billy with a force that checked his mad flight.
It was an easy thing for the Pony Rider to spring upon the back of the roan and get away; but he would not give up his own saddle and the mail bags which were attached to it, and, dismounting, he was hastily making the transfer from his own to the red skin's horse when up dashed the second Indian, and firing as he came, sent a bullet through the cap of the youth, knocking it from his head.
The two horses he held began to both pull back in alarm, and for an instant things looked very dismal for the brave Pony Rider; but a second shot from the warrior missed the boy and killed his horse, and this relieved him of that trouble, and instantly he drew his revolver and fired.
Down from his horse fell the red skin, but only wounded, and as he still clutched his pistol, Billy was forced to give him another shot, which quieted him forever, just as the band of Indians came in sight.
But the presence of mind for which he was noted did not desert the Pony Rider, and he quickly cut loose his saddle from his dead horse, sprung with it in his hand upon the back of the roan and dashed away once more just as the shots of his foes began to patter around him.
The Indians, however, kept the chase up, and Billy dashed up to the station to find that the stock-tender lay dead and scalped in front of his cabin and the stock had been driven off.
But without an instant's delay the Pony Rider urged the splendid roan he had captured on once more and arrived in safety at Plontz Station ahead of time, and made known what had happened back on the overland trail, and added new laurels to his name.
THE BOY STAGE DRIVER OF THE OVERLAND.
After six months longer of Pony Riding over the dangerous trail of seventy-six miles, ridden by day and night in all kinds of weather, Buffalo Billy met with an adventure that was the cause of his again finding another occupation.
The Indians had become very troublesome as fall came on and a number of pony riders had been killed and stations burned along the route until there were few who cared to take the risks.
The stage coaches also were often attacked, and on one occasion the driver and two passengers were killed and several others were wounded.
But Billy did not flinch from his long, lonely and desperate rides, and seemed to even take pleasure in taking the fearful chances against death which he was forced to do on every ride out and in.
One day as he sped along like the wind he saw ahead of him the stage coach going at full speed and no one on the box.
At once he knew there was trouble, and as he drew nearer he discovered some Indians dash out of a ravine and give chase.
As he heard the clatter of hoofs behind him he looked around and saw a dozen red-skins coming in pursuit, and felt confident that he must have dashed by an ambush they were preparing for him, by suddenly changing his course and riding around instead of through a canyon.
The stage coach was now in the open prairie, and dashing along the trail as fast as the horses could go, while the Indians in close pursuit numbered but three.
Billy was well mounted upon a sorrel mare, and urging her with the spur he soon came in range of the red-skin furthest in the rear and hastily fired.
Down went the pony, and the Indian was thrown with such violence that he was evidently stunned, as he lay where he had fallen.
Another shot wounded one of the remaining Indians, and they hastily sped away to the right oblique in flight, while Billy dashed on to the side of the coach.
There were five passengers within, and two of them were women, and all were terribly frightened, though evidently not knowing that their driver lay dead upon the box, the reins still grasped in his nerveless hands.
Riding near, Billy seized his mail bags and dextrously got from his saddle to the stage, and the next instant he held the reins in his firm gripe.
He knew well that Ted Remus, the driver, had carried out a box of gold, and was determined to save it for the company if in his power.
His horse, relieved of his weight and trained to run the trail, kept right on ahead, and he, skillfully handling the reins, for he was a fine driver, drove on at the topmost speed of the six animals drawing the coach.
Behind him came the Indians, steadily gaining; but Billy plied the silk in a style that made his team fairly fly, and they soon reached the hills.
Here the red-skins again gained, for the road was not good and in many places very dangerous.
But once over the ridge, and just as the Indians were near enough to fill the back of the coach with arrows, Billy made his team jump ahead once more, and at breakneck speed they rushed down the steep road, the vehicle swaying wildly, and the passengers within not knowing whether they would be dashed to pieces, or scalped by the Indians, or which death would be the most to be desired.
But Billy, in spite of his lightning driving, managed his team well, and after a fierce run of half an hour rolled up to the door of the station in a style that made the agent and the lookers on stare.
But he saved the box and the lives of the passengers, and several days after was transferred from the Pony Rider line to stage driving on the Overland, a position he seemed to like.
A CLEVER DISGUISE.
While riding Pony Express the road on Buffalo Billy's run became infested with road-agents, who were wont to halt every rider they could catch, and also rob the stages.
The chief of these outlaws was noted as a man of gallantry, for he never robbed a woman, no matter what the value of her personal effects might be.
Ladies with valuable diamonds in their ears, and rings that were worth a small fortune, were always spared by this man, who became known by his forbearance to the fair sex as the "Cavalier."
Poor men were also exempt from being robbed by the Cavalier; that is if he really thought a man was poor and not "playing possum," to get off from paying the toll demanded.
In halting a stage the driver was never robbed, but Government and the Company's moneys were always taken, and well-to-do travelers had to pay liberally.
Pony Express Riders were never robbed of their pocket money, but the mail was invariably searched for money.
Once only had Buffalo Billy been halted by the Cavalier, though the other riders had frequently been brought to a halt and made to pony up.
That once Billy had shown fight, had tried to run by, and his horse had been shot; but he slightly wounded the Cavalier in the arm, and for it he was told if he ever attempted resistance again he would be promptly killed.
This did not trouble the young Rider in the least, but he made up his mind that he would not be caught; and after that the road-agents found it impossible to bring him to a halt, and his mails always went through in perfect safety.
At last it became rumored that Buffalo Billy had been removed to another part of the road, and that as no riders could be found to take his long night rides, a daughter of one of the stock-tenders had volunteered for it, and the company, knowing her ability as a rider, accepted her services until another could be found.
The first night on the run she arrived at the other end on time, though she reported that she had been halted by the Cavalier and four of his men.
The road-agent seemed greatly surprised that a woman, in fact a young and very pretty girl, should be riding the road, but she made known the circumstances, and he told her she should always go through unmolested by him and his men.
But he made the mails, carried by the other riders, and the stage-coach passengers, suffer for his leniency to the Girl Rider, and the Government and both the express and stage companies offered a large reward for the capture of himself and men alive.
This seemed to do no good, although a number of attempts were made to capture him, which signally failed, and the reward was increased and added "dead or alive."
All this time the Girl Rider often met the Cavalier in her rides, and when the moonlight nights came on, he would often, as she was flying along, dash out from some thicket, and ride with her ten or fifteen miles.
The more he saw of her the more he seemed to admire her, and his times of joining her increased, and he seemed to so enjoy his rides with her, that he would, when she went into a station to change horses, make a circuit around it, and joining her beyond, continue on for another dozen miles, for he rode a fleet steed, and one of great bottom.
One night as they thus sped along he told the Girl Pony Rider that he had learned to love her, tho' he had never seen her face in the daylight, and that he had accumulated a large sum, for he had a treasure hiding-place in the mountains, and, if she only would love him in return and fly with him, he would be the happiest of men, and give up his evil life.
The maiden promised to think of it, said it was so sudden and unexpected, that she had never loved before, and did not even then know her own heart, and with this she dashed on her way like the wind.
The next night the Cavalier again met her, and again renewed his vows of love, and she told him she had thought of it, and would stand by him until death parted them.
The Cavalier went into ecstasies over this, and an evening was appointed when they should leave the country together, which was a night on which the Girl Rider knew she was to carry quite a sum of money in huge bills to the paymaster of the company at the other end of the line.
The night in question came round, and the cavalier road-agent, as he had promised, had relays of fresh horses every twenty miles until they should have gone two hundred, which would put them beyond pursuit; in fact the company would not discover for twenty-four hours just what had happened, the outlaw and maiden both believed, so considered themselves safe.
At the hour he had agreed to meet the maiden, the Cavalier was on hand at the timber, mounted on his finest horse, dressed in his best, and carrying a couple of large saddle-bags loaded with treasure, consisting of his lion's share of the robberies, and which included watches, jewelry, gold, silver and paper money.
The maiden asked him to dismount and arrange her saddle-girths, and as he was stooping, she threw down the rein of his horse which she was holding, and to which she had attached something, and away he started in a run, for the violent motion had frightened him; but he soon came to a halt.
Rising to his feet the Cavalier suddenly felt the cold muzzle of a revolver pressed against his head, and heard the words:
"You are my prisoner; resist and I will kill you; up with your arms!"
He tried to laugh it off as a joke, but she was in deadly earnest, and he soon found it out.
Leaning over she took the weapons of the road-agent from his belt, and told him to move on ahead.
He could but obey, for he knew she would kill him if he did not.
A mile up the trail and the stock-tender's station came in sight, and in the moonlight they both saw a crowd of men awaiting them there.
Once more the Cavalier begged for his release; but she was determined, and marched him straight up to the crowd.
"Well, Billy, you've got him," cried a voice as they approached.
"I most certainly have, and if you'll look after him I'll go and fetch his horse, for I've got a hook fastened to his rein and he can't go far."
"Billy!" cried the road-agent.
"Yes, I am Buffalo Billy, and I assumed this disguise to catch you and I've done it.
"Do you love me now, pard?"
The road-agent foamed and swore; but it was no use; he had been caught, was taken to the town, tried, found guilty of murdering and robbing and ended his life on the gallows, and Buffalo Billy got the reward for his capture, and a medal from the company, and he certainly deserved all that he received for his daring exploit in the guise of a young girl, and a pretty one too, the boys said he made, for he had no mustache then, his complexion was perfect, though bronzed, and his waist was as small as a woman's, while in the saddle his height did not show.
As to the Cavalier, Billy said he deserved his name, and certainly talked love like an adept at the art, and his lovemaking, like many another man's, led him to ruin and death.
THE DESPERADOES' DEN.
Shortly after this adventure of the rescue of the stage coach, the Indians became so bad along the line that the Pony Express and stages had to be stopped for awhile on account of the large number of horses run off.
This caused a number of the employees of the Overland to be idle, and they at once formed a company to go in search of the missing stock, and also to punish the red-skins.