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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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HELPING THE NORTH
AS the reader probably recalls, mention has been made of the fact that Kansas was a doubtful state. Doubtful in that it had not definitely been placed with the North or with the South.
There were but few Southerners in the state in comparison to the number of Northerners, yet the former had made a brave fight to keep the state for the South. There had been many deeds of violence on the part of the Southerners and on the part of the Northerners, too. But the number of people whose convictions were of the kind for which they would gladly die were no less, no more, on either side. It was a time in which there was much lawlessness and many of the outlaws took advantage of the great difference in the convictions of the two sides to make the cause of the North and the South an excuse for lawlessness.
Lincoln had been put in nomination by the Republican party. Although the opposition to him was keen, he had many friends in Kansas and Nebraska. Men like Majors, men like Davison, stood out fearlessly far his election and they did everything they could to elect their man.
There were just as firm friends for the other candidates, however; men who would go to the limit to elect their favorite.
Lincoln, as we all know, was elected.
Bill had been home but three days when Majors sent for him.
"Bill," he said, "Davison has asked me for a reliable man to go on a mission of importance. I know you want to stay home for a while but Simpson is in Colorado, McCarthy is somewhere on the trail and there are only two others I would entrust with this mission. Wild Bill, the other man, is known in Missouri or I would send him.
"Better see Davison and decide whether you want to do it," he added.
Bill had never seen Davison but there was not a man or boy in Kansas who had not heard of this great Kansan and of the strong fight he had made to keep Kansas on the Union side. He was in touch with every move, every effort made by the partisans of the North and of the South. No other man in the United States, with the exception of the chief of the secret service, had more men who obeyed orders as unquestioningly, literally and unflinchingly.
Bill Cody entered into the presence of this quiet man in some wonderment. Davison had been one of Brown's lieutenants. To those who had believed as John Brown did, the death of the latter was that of a martyr. Davison had all the fire of John Brown but mixed with it was the steel of a great and fixed determination that kept him cool and clear visioned.
He was a small man in stature, and at first glance Bill was disappointed. But after the first few minutes the boy could see only the greatness of the man.
As Davison looked up questioningly, Bill said quietly:
"Majors sent me over. He said you wanted to talk to me."
"You are Bill Cody?" the man asked.
The boy replied in the affirmative.
"Bill, " -- Davison went into the subject almost at once -- "I do not need to question your loyalty, first, because you are your father's son, and I knew him. Second, Aleck Majors' word goes with me. Then, too, I have heard what you did with those colored men that the outlaws brought to this state.
"The only question that remains is -- 'Are you ready to do a dangerous piece of work to save Kansas and possibly Missouri for the Union?'"
Bill could not refuse. Adventure was straight ahead, adventure and duty.
The man watched the boy keenly.
"You can count on me, on anything I can do," Bill said simply.
"I thought I could," the man said.
"As you know, my boy, the pro-slavers have been able to keep Kansas out of the Union by refusing to give it statehood. The House in Washington voted for it, but the Senate defeated it. Never has the South fought so hard against anything as it did against the admission of Kansas.
"Well, with Abe Lincoln's election the South has made up its mind to secede. We know that now. That means a big war -- how long it will last no man knows. Missouri is even in a worse state than Kansas; the pro-slavers are in control of all the offices.
"There are many men in Missouri who are for the Union. Captain Lyons is there, waiting for instructions and he will not act, of course, until he gets them.
"I have learned that the Southerners plan to attack and take possession of Springfield in Missouri and several other important points. I have sent one of my best men to Lyons but lie has been captured by the Southerners. They have discovered his papers and so they know that we are aware of their plans. How I found out, I cannot tell you but I usually have the means.
"I must get word to Lyons who has no way of knowing. It is dangerous because the Unionists are keeping quiet and the Southerners appear to be in the ascendency. They are watching every road. To have Missouri go with the South, means that Kansas will be forced also to go that way.
"Jackson, the governor of Missouri, is with the South and he is trying to get possession of all the forts, arsenals and ammunition." He put his hand on some papers lying on his desk. "These papers explain everything."
Davison now stood up and searched the boy's face for many minutes.
"Bill Cody, will you get these papers to Captain Lyons?"
There flashed through the boy's mind the Memory of his father and the cause for which lie died. He also stood up.
"I'll do it," he said.