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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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BILL TO THE RESCUE
WORD came to Bill one day, a week later, that Lonely Bear wanted to see him. An Indian who had been acting as a scout for the colonel of the Fort, had stopped off at Majors' office.
"I want the young chief who rides like the wind," he told Majors who was in the office at the time.
The latter directed him to Bill Cody's home.
Bill was home. The Indian, who had met Bill before, recognized him.
"Lonely Bear sends greetings. He is a day's journey north from here. He wishes to talk with his white brother."
"I shall go to meet my brother at once," Bill had replied. He welcomed the opportunity to meet Lonely Bear for whom he had real affection. Then, too, he had never found a chance to express his gratefulness for the Indian's act of friendship when he had been an Indian captive.
Lonely Bear was waiting at the appointed place.
After the greetings, Bill expressed his gratitude.
"It is but what one brother must do for another. A little thing and I thank the Great Spirit for his kindness in permitting me to be of service to my brother.
"Now, I pray," he continued, "that my brother will listen so that he may be guided by what he is to hear from the lips of his brother.
A white man has come to my tribe. His are the words of the serpent and like the serpent's they are enticing and full of guile.
"There lives at the present time, within a half day's ride from here, the squaw and the two papooses of the Eagle.
"This white man's people are now, like the Comanche, in bitter battle with the Kiowas, who are at other times their brother"
The white man has spoken to ten of our tribe, the ten who are neither Indian nor white man, for they are both.
"In order that the Eagle, who has plentifully of the white man's gold, shall give them some of it, this white man wishes to steal the squaw and the papooses of the Eagle. The Eagle will be sore distressed and thereupon he will pay a heavy sum for their ransom."
"When is this to take place, oh brother of mine?"
"Tonight, brother. Therefore I have told you. For I have learned that the Eagle is your friend."
Bill did some quick thinking. He did not have time to go to the Fort and bring help. The Eagle was Davison, and Bill knew that he had sent his wife and two children from Leavenworth but two weeks before, immediately after the attack of Jesse James in that vicinity. Davison had decided that the threatening trouble with the Indians would not touch the haven he had selected, as it was to the extreme north and close to the Missouri line.
"Lonely Bear does not like to visit the white man. But if my brother will give me the white man's mark, he will go for help, even as my brother does what he plans."
Bill immediately sent written word to Majors and McCarthy. Lonely Bear departed south, while Bill went further north. He had never met Mrs. Majors or her children. But he had no doubt he would make them understand. At the very latest, help would be but two days away and it would be his duty, in the meantime, to keep the half breeds and their white leader at bay. Bill arrived at the Majors' temporary home. Mrs. Davison, a sweet-faced woman, knew him at once when he told her his name. A young girl, the older of the two children, looked with great respect at him. Bill felt very conscious as the youngest, who was a boy of ten, said, "When I get older, I'm going to be an Express rider and Indian fighter too," Davison had evidently spoken of him, he decided.
To Mrs. Davison, Bill told the purpose of his call. He had reason to admire her spirit and the way she received the news.
Far from being alarmed, she acted as if the whole thing were but a matter of course. Bill realized that this woman had not left her husband's side for her own safety's sake but because of her children.
"It is very good of you to come to our help", said she to the boy with great simplicity.
"I could do nothing else, of course," Bill replied.
Mrs. Davison broke the news to her children. Neither of them seemed frightened. Donald, the boy, on the contrary, seemed highly elated at the prospect Of trouble.
Bill barricaded the house. He had questioned Mrs. Davison as to the nearest point from which help could come. No place, however, was nearer than two hours' journey. He did not dare go for that help; it would mean that during his absence the house would be left unprotected. Nor would he consider sending Mrs. Davison or one of the children.
There was nothing for him to do but "hold the fort," until Lonely Bear brought help.
An hour later, he saw ten men making their way to the house. Bill took the wise course. Without stopping to parley, (he had already observed that they were half-breeds) he aimed at the nearest one, and brought him down.
The other men scattered to cover. Donald in the meantime had brought three guns from the attic. He stationed himself at one of the windows and Mrs. Davison at another. Mary's duty was to reload the guns.
The half-breeds began to feel out the strength of the insiders. Bill was uncertain as to the usefulness of his helpers but they were serving one good purpose in that they hid the strength, or rather the weakness pitted against the attackers.
One of the half breeds stood up to get a better view. It was the last view he ever took, for a shot brought him low.
Bill's eyesight was keen, unusually so. Even at that far distance at which the leader had stationed himself, Bill thought he saw something vaguely familiar about him. It brought to Bill something of the past. The fact haunted him. He felt sure he had known this man, there was something about him that had left its strong impression.
The attackers had very little relish for the work in hand and were but half hearted in their attempts. Bill could plainly see the leader urging them to the attack.
As the boy watched, he saw the man jump at one of them in furious anger.
It came to Bill with overwhelming force. The man was Arthur. It was this man who had murdered his father.
This knowledge and the sight of the man filled him with cold fury. It, gave him new life.
As our readers know those were days that sometimes called for strong action. In Bill's heart there had never ceased the desire, nor had he ever lost the conviction that, some day, he would meet this man and settle his account. In those days, too, the great West held a strong code. Men settled their own scores, their own feuds. Nowadays that code is not needed. Law and order are supreme, and wisely so.
Bill was able to keep the enemy away for two days and two nights. Not once did he attempt to shoot at the tempting target of the leader. It was his desire to meet the man face to face, so that he could let him know that his foeman was the son of the Cody whom he had murdered in so cruel and cowardly a manner.
Nor did Bill have the slightest desire for sleep in all of those two days. That was due to his training and also because of the hot, burning desire to get his man.
Late the second night, Bill saw a commotion -- the shadows seemed to grow more numerous where the enemy was stationed. Then he heard voices, the voice of McCarthy, and then of Davison calling to him.
The besieged made a glad rush to the door. While Davison greeted his folks, Bill turned eagerly to McCarthy.
"Have you got the leader?" he asked.
"We have them all. Why do you ask?" McCarthy questioned as be noticed the unusual excitement of the boy.
"That man is Arthur, the man who killed my father," the boy replied.
McCarthy started. "How do you know, boy?"
"Oh, I know, I know," the boy answered with such conviction, that his friend could not question him.
Bill walked over to the prisoners. Picking out the leader, the boy turned to him.
"Do you know who I am, Arthur?" he asked.
The man stared, then shook his head to indicate he did not.
"Well, I'm Bill Cody. You murdered my father, Arthur, and you are going to hang. You are going to hang, do you hear?"
The man cowed. Into his face came dread and terror. Bill looked at him a moment. Then he turned away.
Somehow, looking at the wretch, cowering in this dread and terror, the desire for vengeance left Bill. It was such a small, petty thing to feel when directed against such a miserable creature.
He turned away and saw Lonely Bear, now that his mission was accomplished, departing.
"Lonely Bear must not go until the Eagle knows how much he owes to him," the boy called.
The Indian stopped. He still wished to go, but Bill would not let him. Instead he called to Davison, who came at once.
"Lonely Bear is my brother and you owe to him the safety of your wife and children." Bill told of the meeting between the Indian and himself and what followed.
"Your Indian friend came to us with your message," Davison said freely, "and we came at once. I owe my friend all that life holds dear. When the Great Spirit wills I shall give thanks for the help I can be in return."
The red man looked into the Eagle's eyes. Then he did a strange thing for an Indian. He offered his hand to Davison who took it in a warm handclasp.
"We shall meet again," he said simply. The next moment he was gone.