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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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PLANS FOR RESCUE
WOODS, who had left Bill and Harrington early the following morning for more than a half hour, came back in great excitement. Bill in the meantime had been anxiously awaiting his coming after confiding to Harrington an idea that had come to him during the night.
"Just saw the colonel. He's given one of us permission to go with Bill. Wouldn't think of it at first. Said the men were too valuable to be allowed to go on quixotic errands, but I could tell he was just arguing against himself. Then I told him a few of the things that you, Bill, have done for Davison and he finally gave permission for one of us to go with you."
"That's fine," said Bill enthusiastically. "Which shall it be?" he added, turning to each friend.
Neither one answered.
"I've got it," said Woods, finally. "We'll do what we used to do as small boys. Bill here, will write down a number -- we two will guess and the one who is nearest it will go."
"That's fine of you, Woods," Harrington said, warmly. "I suppose I really should be letting you go since you went to Sigel. But it is fine of you to let me have a chance to go."
"Tut, tut," Woods replied. "It's just as much your chance as mine. Only you will have to win it."
Bill in the meantime had written his number down.
"Now guess," he commanded. Harrington thought for a moment.
"Six," he said.
"Now you, Woods," Bill said to the latter.
"Eight," was the answer.
Bill laughed at the two men as they waited anxiously for his decision.
"I suppose you want to know the winner?" He asked teasingly.
A long arm shot out and the astonished Bill was brought into the, iron grasp o f Woods.
"Now, you'll tell us who won, you cub."
"I can't," Bill replied, breathlessly.
"Why not?" Harrington inquired while Woods still held the boy in an unescapable grasp.
"Because the number I wrote down is seven," Bill answered tauntingly. It took more than a second for the two men to realize the lie.
"All right, we'll guess again," Harrington decided.
Bill had his number ready.
"Three," said Woods.
"Eight," Harrington volunteered.
"The number is five," said Bill, and showed each of them the number.
"Well," said Harrington, "you deserve to go. But that doesn't make it less disappointing Here's luck, boys."
The three were silent for a few moments. Then Harrington suddenly bethought himself.
"Bill here has an idea that is worth following up and which we should have thought of long ago. Tell it to him, Bill."
"Why," Bill offered as he turned to Woods, "I was suggesting the possibility of One of the Rebs in the prison camp knowing the whereabouts of Simpson. It is but a bare chance and yet it is worth following. Don't you think so?"
"It certainly is," Woods agreed. "Only the other day a number were brought here. We don't get the chance to see them, but I am sure we can get permission."
Woods immediately returned to the colonel's tent and secured the necessary permission.
"I suppose the Rebels won't abject to answering a question like this. It doesn't involve information that may hurt their side." Bill reasoned as the three made their way to the prison camp.
They found no trouble in getting the prisoners to reply. But no satisfaction was found in the replies, however, as none of the captives could tell them anything worth while. Disappointed, they were about to turn away.
"Better see that last batch," said the sergeant in charge. "They are over at the other end," and he pointed out the place.
The three, discouraged, decided to follow his advice. Nevertheless, there was little expectancy now of finding the information they were seeking.
They had no sooner entered the new room when Harrington espied Carruthers. At almost the same moment the latter saw them.
"Hello," he called and grinned ruefully. "Here I am," he added with a gesture that spoke more than words.
The three friends made no comment as to his plight. It was true and innate courtesy. Instead, they turned the talk to and about the other days.
"By the way," Carruthers said, and a bolt from a clear sky could not have surprised our friends more. "I saw Simpson down our way. He's in the same boat as I am. You should have seen the fight he put up before we could get him to accept our hospitality." And Carruthers laughed as did Bill and the other two at his description.
"Whereabouts is he?" Bill asked.
Carruthers looked at him and then smiled.
"I suppose you boys simply want to know out of pure curiosity. I'll tell you because if any friends of mine were to inquire about me, I fancy you would tell them, provided it did no harm to your confounded cause.
"He's down at Forsyth. He isn't hurt and seemed to be quite well when I saw him last."
"Where is Stanton, now?" Harrington asked.
"He's with the army in the East," the Southerner replied.
After some further conversation the three left the prisoner who had enjoyed their visit as it broke the monotony of his day.
"What luck!" exclaimed Woods, "To meet Carrie and for him to know about Simpson."
"Our troubles will now begin," Bill added. "But anyway, we'll start in the morning. Shall we?"
"The sooner the better," Woods answered.
The sun indicated six o'clock the next morning when Bill and Woods who had discarded his uniform for civilian clothes, were off for Forsyth.
Bill's fertile mind had already evolved a plan which because of its very daringness and simplicity spelled success.