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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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THERE were as many as fifteen of the riders in the office when Drose and Bill entered. Stanton and Carruthers were among them, having arrived after Bill's departure. There was the best of feeling, not a trace of bitterness, for each man knew that there was plenty of time for that; it would be sure to come when they were arrayed in battle rank.

"Well, boys," said Bill, "we're in for some excitement tonight."

He explained to them what he and Drose had heard.

"The thing to do is for Stanton and Car­ruthers to go off at once," Simpson suggest­ed. "Then it might be a good thing for the rest of us to wait around as a reception committee for our friends. If nothing else happens we can at least enjoy their disappoint­ment."

Stanton hotly interposed. "We are not going to sneak off and let you fellows take up our quarrel."

But Carruthers was of a more thoughtful nature.

"We must do exactly that," he said. "Simpson is right. Can't you see, Stanton, that with us around, whatever happens makes it a fight between Southerners and Northerners. With us out of the way, they can't fight and if they do, it isn't that kind of a quarrel."

"That's it, exactly," approved McCarthy, Within the next hour, the two were off. Bill, Simpson, Woods and Drose escorted them to a point from which they could make their way with a fair amount of safety.

"Good-bye, boys," said Stanton. "Hope we don't meet until we lick you Yanks, good and proper."

"You make us laugh," replied Woods and suiting action to words, he grinned with so much good nature that the two could not take offense at his words. "You Rebels will be begging us not to let you do what you want to do, in no time."

"Well," answered Carruthers, "here's to good friends and more than that, beloved enemies."

The six uncovered for a moment. Then the two Southerners were off, while the men who remained watched them depart.

"Just think of it, boys," Drose said, "it won't be so long before we'll be shooting at those fellows."

In sober mood, they returned to head­quarters. McCarthy was already laying plans to receive the men under Saunders.

"In about half an hour, we are going over to the place where the two boys stopped. No lights will show. Two of us are going to pretend to be the men they want. Not one of the rest are to move until the visitors turn on the lights and find our guns point­ing in their general direction. Wild Bill has the build of Stanton, and Alcock here will play he is Carruthers."

About two hours later, twenty  men cautiously approached what had been the stopping place of their quarry. As they reached the door, Saunders knocked on the door with the butt end of his pistol.

A muffled voice, within was heard after a moment's pause.

"What is it, What do you want?"

"We want you both to come out," was the reply. "Better come peaceably for your own good."

"Well, the door is open and you can come in," was the answer, after a moment's parley. This was going to be easy, Saunders thought. These men were going to be sensi­ble and accept their fate peaceably. He opened wide the door.

"Strike a light, one of you." he commanded to his men.

One of them did. As the flame spread light about the room the surprised visitor's saw fifteen grinning men watching them, their guns carelessly playing about. As if by mere accident they seemed to be pointing toward the newcomers.

"Hello, Saunders," said Wild Bill. "Did you want us?"

"Here we are, very, very peaceable," drawled Alcock. "Can we do anything for you, always of course, in the most peaceable of ways, according to orders."

Saunders flushed. He looked about.  The men about him, after the strain of the first moment, realized that the joke was on them. They sheepishly returned the grin of the riders.

Saunders, too, saw the joke and laughed. "Well, boys, you've outplayed us. Where are the two Rebels?"

"Why, they've gone to another party," replied Simpson, "Previous engagement and all that, don't you know. Only, they wanted me to tell you that they intended to be peaceable just so long as callers didn't invite themselves. But then, they'll never have a chance to prove that, for they have gone, gone away."

"All right, boys," Saunders commented, good-naturedly. "Our fight isn't with you. We simply don't see it your way, we think you are helping the enemy."

"Well, we thank you for a very pleasant visit," Woods told them as they departed. "We admit it could have been more exciting but then again, it couldn't have been friendlier."

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