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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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HEADING OFF THE REDSKINS
"WELL, Bill," said Allen, "welcome, doubly welcome. But aren't you somewhat unceremonious? Not that we don't all appreciate the fact that you do call," he added.
"Well," Bill replied, "it's something to know you are welcome. Not everybody around here is, I notice." The boy had already made his way to the east wall, which Mary, the youngest daughter, had been guarding and toward which the redskin had been crawling.
"I say, what makes these redskins trouble you? I thought you were on friendly terms with them."
"I am, Bill. These are strange Comanche. The Indians hereabout, I am sure know nothing of this."
Bill found that the attack had begun but a few moments before he had arrived. A friendly Comanche had warned Allen.
"We should be able to hold out against these Indians provided they are not reenforced," remarked Allen.
"Especially so, if they show themselves," said Bill. He had been keeping careful watch, but except for an occasional chance for a shot, the Indians had kept under cover.
A little later he saw an Indian mount a horse, and start off to the West. Bill decided that he was a messenger sent for reenforcement. Bill realized that he could not stop a message for extra help from being sent, but he decided that that particular Indian would not be the messenger. It was a long shot and the horse was now moving swiftly. The boy sighted his gun. He took a more careful aim than usual.
The shot went true. The rider toppled to the ground. There was a wild yell of astonishment from the Indians. It was a remarkable shot and Allen, who had come over for a second to take a look, spoke warmly and admiringly of it.
"I think they are sending for reenforcement, Allen," the boy interrupted in the midst of the latter's praise. "I'm sure that the one I brought down was on his way with that purpose. Hope that Banister will make his way to the Fort without trouble."
The Allens showed their surprise at this remark which they could not understand. Bill realized he had not told them of the message he had sent with the horse. He did so now.
"That's good news, if the horse has that much sense, and if he is not stopped on the way."
"That last is the only danger," replied Bill. "I know he will make his way to the Fort if he is uninterrupted."
Two hours passed. Suddenly Allen called to Bill. From that side of the house one had a clear view of more than three miles. He pointed to a large, moving body.
"More Indians," Bill decided. "It can't be our men, for it will take at least three more hours for them to arrive."
"They're Indians, all right," agreed Allen, as the moving mass became somewhat clearer. "More trouble, too," he added soberly as he viewed his wife and children. The Indians arrived soon after. Stationed beyond the range of the White man's rifle, they could be seen in earnest debate. The newcomers were evidently urging some action; those who had come earlier seemed reluctant to agree.
Then, as the argument seemed to terminate, those inside the cabin noticed with considerable wonderment that the newly arrived Indians were mounting their horses again. Could they be riding away? It certainly seemed as if that was what they were doing. The Indians who had first come, and a few of the newcomers who had stayed behind, returned to again besiege the cabin.
"I have it," Bill declared excitedly. "The newcomers are from somewhere near here and have refused to help in the attack upon you."
"Good for them," said Allen thankfully. "It shows that even an Indian appreciates square dealing."
There was, however, little time given them to discuss this piece of good fortune. The remaining Indians, as if embittered by the desertion of their allies, made a vicious attack upon the cabin.
"Now, steady, children," Allen called. "Be sure you are aiming at an Indian before you fire." Mrs. Allen and her husband, as well as Bill, were shooting at each Indian who showed himself.
The Indians retired again. They must have decided that they were too few in number to follow that line of attack. They returned to their first method, which was besieging the cabin and waiting for the night when they could move with more safety.
The hours passed. The sun had set and the twilight was fast turning into night. Bill began to worry about the possible failure of the horse to arrive at the Fort. He began to speculate on the chances of Allen and himself being able to hold out through the night.
Then it became dark. Six hours and more had passed since Banister had been sent on his errand. Bill and Allen were almost ready to give up the hope of receiving help from that quarter, when the former perceived a movement among the Indians. He saw shadows mount on other shadows and disappear in the darkness.
Then he heard the gallop of horses. "The troops have arrived," he called to Allen.
The children gave a shout of joy. Mrs. Allen, who had never murmured throughout the long hours, sank to the ground in a swoon.
Bill realized how much of an ordeal it must have been to her to have her loved ones in such danger all that time.
Lieutenant Perkins rode up to the door.
"Hello, Allen." Then he saw Bill. "Glad to see you, Bill. From your note we couldn't tell just what had happened to you. "