Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER II.
A CAPTURE OF OUTLAWS

WHEN Will was but nine years of age his first thrilling adventure occurred, and it gave the boy a name for pluck and nerve that went with him to Kansas,. where his father removed with his family shortly after the incident which I will now relate.

The circumstance to which I refer, and that made a boy hero of him in the eyes of the neighbors for miles around where his parent _____, showed the wonderful nerve that has never since deserted him, but rather has increased with his years.

The country school which he attended was some five miles from his father's house and he was wont to ride there each morning and back in the afternoon upon a wiry, vicious little mustang that every one had prognosticated would some day be the death of him.

Living a few miles from the Cody ranch was a poor settler who had a son two years Billy's senior, who also attended the same school, but whose parents were too poor to spare him a horse from the farm to ride.

This boy was Billy's chum, and as they shared together their noonday meal, the pony was also shared, for the boy rode behind my hero to and from school, being called for each morning, and dropped off near his cabin on the return trip.

Owing to the lawlessness of the country Mr. Cody allowed his son to go armed, knowing that he fully understood the use of weapons, and his pistol Billy always hung up with his hat upon reaching the log cabin, where, figuratively speaking, the young idea was taught to shoot.

The weapon was a revolver, a Colt's which at that time was not in common use, and Billy prized it above his books and pony even and always kept it in perfect order.

One day Rascal, his pony, pulled up the lariat pin which held him out upon the prairie and scampered for home, and Billy and Davie Dunn, his chum, were forced to "hoof it," as the western slang goes, home.

A storm was coming on, and to escape it the boys turned off the main trail and took refuge in a log cabin which was said to be haunted by the ghosts of its former occupants; at least they had been all mysteriously murdered there one night and were buried in the shadow of the cabin, and people gave the place a wide berth.

It was situated back in a piece of heavy timber and looked dismal enough, but Billy proposed that they should go there, more out of sheer bravado to show he was not afraid than to escape a ducking, for which he and Davie Dunn really little cared.

The boys reached the cabin, climbed in an open window and stood looking out at the approaching storm.

"Kansas crickets! but look there, Davie!"

The words came from Buffalo Billy and he was pointing out toward the trail.

There four horsemen were seen, coming toward the cabin at a rapid gallop.

"Who be they, Billy?" asked Davie.

"They are some of them horse-thieves, Davie, that have been playing the mischief of late about here, and we'd better dust."

"But they'll see us go out."

"That's so! Let us coon up into the loft, for they'll only wait till the storm blows over, for they are coming here for shelter."

Up to the loft of the cabin, through a trapdoor, the boys went quickly and laid quietly down, peering through the cracks in the boards. The four horsemen dashed up, hastily unsaddled their horses and lariated them out, and bounded into the cabin through the window' just as the storm broke with fury upon forest and plain.

As still as mice the boys lay, but they quickly looked toward each other, for the conversation of the men below, one of whom was kindling a fire in the broad chimney, told them, that, if discovered, their lives would be the forfeit.

In fact, they were four of a band of outlaws that had been infesting the country of late, stealing horses, and in some cases taking life and robbing the cabins of the settlers, and one of them said plainly:

"Pards, when I was last in this old ranch it was six years ago, when we came to rob Foster, Beal who lived here: he showed fight, shot two of the boys, and, we wiped the whole family out; but now let us get away with what grub we've got, and then plan what is best to do to- night. As for myself, I say strike old Cody's ranch, for he's got dust,"

The boys were greatly alarmed at this, but, putting his mouth close to Davis Dunn's ear, Billy Cody whispered:

"Davie, you see that shutter in the end of the roof?'

"Yes, Billy," was the trembling reply.

"Well, you clip out of there, drop to the ground and make for your home and tell your father who is here."

"And you, Billy?"

"I'll just keep here, and if these fellows attempt to go I'll shoot 'em."

"But you can't, Billy."

"I've got my revolver, Davie and you bet I'll use it! Go, but don't make a fuss, and get your father to come on with the settlers as soon as you can, for I won't be happy till you got back."

Davie Dunn was trembling considerably; but he arose noiselessly, crossed to the window at the end of the roof, and which was but a small aperture, closed by a wooden abutter, which he cautiously opened. The noise he made was drowned by the pelting rain and furious wind, and the robbers went on chatting together, while Davie slipped out and dropped to the ground.

But ere he had been gone half an hour the outlaws were, ready to start, the rain having ceased in a measure, and night Was coming on to hide their red deeds.

"Hold on, boys, for I've got ye all covered. He's a dead man who moves."

Billy had crept to the trap, and In his hoarsest tones, had spoken, while the men sprung to their feet at his words, and glancing upward saw the threatening revolver.

One attempted to draw a weapon, but the boy's forefinger touched the trigger, and the outlaw fell dead at the flash, shot straight through the heart!

This served as a warning to the others, and they stood like statues, while one said:

"Pard, who is yer?"

But Billy feared to again trust his voice and answered not a word. He lay there, his, revolver just visible over the edge of the boards, and covering the hearts of the three men crouching back into the corner, but full in the, light from the flickering fire, while almost at their feet lay their dead comrade.

Again and again they spoke to Billy, but he gave no reply.

Then they threatened to make it warm for him, and one suggested that they make a break for the door.

But, each one seemed to feel that the revolver covered him, and none would make the attempt, for they had ocular demonstration before them of the deadly aim of the eye behind the weapon.

To poor little Billy, and I suppose to the men too, it seemed as if ages were passing away, in the hour and a quarter that Davie Dunn was gone, for he had bounded upon one of the outlaws' horses and ridden away like the wind.

But, at last, Billy heard a stern voice say:

"Boys, you is our meat."

At the same time several pistols were thrust into the window, and in came the door, burst open with a terrific crash that was music to Billy's ears; while in dashed a dozen bold settlers, led by farmer Dunn.

The three outlaws were not only captured, but, being recognized as old offenders, were swung up to a tree, while Billy and Davie became indeed boy heroes, and the former especially was voted the lion of the log cabin school, for had he not "killed his mane."

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