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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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SOMETIME in the dead of night Woods approached the sentry on guard at the prison camp.
He gave the countersign to the man on watch.
"Can't get used to sleeping like this, as yet," he remarked. "Did you have the same trouble at first?"
The friendly sentry nodded.
"A little," he replied. "But now, I'm so sleepy, when the time comes, I'd sleep anywhere."
Woods, (he need no longer be Streeter), watched his chance. He hated what he had to do but he wasted no scruples over it. Because of his tremendous strength, it had been decided that he should be. the captor and Bill the captive. He could do what had to be done, in the next fifteen minutes as few men could do it.
The startled sentry felt a powerful hand at his throat and another over his mouth. He could utter no sound. Woods strangled the man until he became unconscious. Taking no chances, he bound him and with his big bandanna he covered his mouth so that he could not make the slightest outcry.
"Well, friend, it's rather shabby treatment, but you won't be any the worse for it tomorrow," he murmured. Donning the man's cap he sauntered inside the camp.
The light of the moon showed through the open window and by it Bill and Simpson, who were watching saw him, rose and came forward.
"All's well, friends of mine," said Woods. "Now I must need have some conversation with our friend at Post Number Seven. The horses are over there. Both of you make your way there while I entertain him. Watch me, you can from where the horses are."
The sentry at the post greeted him surlily. Woods, however, acted in so friendly a manner that he became somewhat mollified.
"I live over that way," Woods offered. "I guess I'll go tonight since I can't sleep and try to get back tomorrow. Here is my pass." And at the same time he gave the countersign.
The man turned to study the pass. Woods acted quickly. He clutched his throat and throttled the guard, preventing any outcry. He did not release his hold until he could feel the struggling form grow limp in his arms. Not having any other handkerchief to be used in the same manner as he had used the one he had, he was seriously considering the problem of using his shirt when Bill and Simpson came up, leading an extra horse.
"Don't bother now about any outcries he may make," said Bill. "Let's be off."
They had not gone more than a quarter of a mile when they heard loud shouts and shots. They put on extra speed.
"Well," said Simpson, "we have some start, at any rate."
"This feels rather natural," Woods commented. "We three and trouble behind us."
"Coming kind of fast though," said Bill.
"Isn't that part of the fun?" asked Simpson. "Let trouble come as fast as it will. It is for us to go just the least bit faster. Which isn't saying how much it means to me to be free."
"You have to thank Bill, here," Woods told him.
"You saw what Woods did," hotly retorted Bill. "And both he and Harrington would have been here long since, if Colonel Sigel had given permission."
"My boy," Woods declared sagely, "once upon a time three men came to a stone wall. There was a very rare bird on the other side which each was anxious to get. The wall was too high to climb, entirely too high. Number one decided it couldn't be done. Number two hammered against the wall without succeeding. Number three studied the situation for a few moments and then imitated the cry of the bird. Lo and behold, the bird came over the high wall. This is a simple story, all my own, but it brings out my point that the idea is the thing."
"Was this Bill's idea, Woods?" Simpson asked.
"He's the one that got the bird," replied Woods.
Through all this, the three skilled horsemen did not lessen the speed of their steeds. Side by side they rode, Bill and Woods glorying in the fact that they had been able to successfully execute their daring attempt at rescue.
"I reckon," said Woods, with a trace of the mimicry in tone and attitude he had assumed before the Rebels, "our friends will be wondering as to how it all could have happened. About this time they are beginning to realize that it was all a hoax. I fear they will not have any respect for me."
Another two hours' ride brought them within General Fremont's line. Then the three returned to Colonel Sigel's division the next morning. Wood, and Simpson reported at once to the pleased commander.
Bill was greeted warmly by the officer, "Hope you come with us when they let you enlist, my boy."
The week was ended when Bill returned to Leavenworth. He immediately called on Drose and told him what happened.
"Wish I had been with you," Drose remarked enviously