Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER III.
BILLY'S FIRST DUEL

NEAR where Billy's father settled in Kansas dwelt a farmer who had a son and daughter, the former being fourteen, and the latter eighteen.

As is often the case with boys, Billy fell in love with Nannie Vennor which was the young lady's name, although she at eighteen was just seven years older than he was.

But she had been over to call on the Cody girls with her brother, and a deep attachment at once sprung up between the boys, and Billy became the devoted slave of Nannie, making her a horse-hair bridle for her pony, gathering her wild flowers whenever he went over to the Vennor farm, and in fact being as devoted in his attentions as a young man of twenty-one could have been.

But Nannie had another lover, in fact a score of them from among the neighboring young settlers, but one in particular who bid fair to be Billy's most dangerous rival. This one was a dashing young fellow from Leavenworth, with a handsome face and fine form, and who always had plenty of money.

Folks said he was very dissipated, was a gambler, and his name had been connected several times with some very serious affairs that had occurred in the town.

But then he had a winning manner, sung well, and Nannie's beaux had to all admit that he was every inch the man, and one they cared not to anger.

From the first Billy Cody hated him, and did not pretend to hide the fact, but it seemed the boy's intuitive reading of human nature, as much as his jealousy on account of Nannie Vennor.

One day Billy was seated by the side of a small stream fishing.

The bank was behind him, rising some eight feet, and he had ensconced himself upon a log that had been drifting down the stream in a freshet, and lodged there.

Back from him, bordering the little creek ran the trail to the nearest town, and along this rode two persons.

The quick ear of the boy heard hoof-falls, and glancing quickly over the bank he saw three horsemen approaching, and one of these he recognized as Hugh Hall his rival.

Just back of Billy was a grove of cottonwood trees, and here the men halted for a short rest in the shade, and all they said distinctly reached the boy's ears.

"I tell you, pards," said Hugh Hall, "I cannot longer delay then, so if old Vennor refuses to let me have Nannie I'll just take her."

"The best way, Hugh; but what about the wife that's now on your trail?" asked one.

"What care I for her, after I have run off with Nannie?"

"But she'll blow on you to old man Vennor."

"I do not care. I'll deny it to Nannie, say the woman is crazy, and one by one the family will drop off until she only remains, and then she'll get the property."

"You are sure it's coming to 'em, Hugh?" asked one.

"I am so sure that I drew up the will of Vennor's brother four years ago, when I was practicing law in Chicago."

"He may have changed his mind."

"Nonsense; he died shortly after, and the will says if Richard Vennor was not found, and the fortune turned over to him, within five years after Robert Vennor's death, the fortune was to go to charity.

"Now I kept the secret dark, came out to look up Richard Vennor and having found him, shall marry his daughter and get all!"

"Your wife will give you trouble."

"I wish you to get rid of her then, and I'll pay well for it."

"We'll do the job, and help you all we can," said one and the second one of the pair whom Billy did not recognize, echoed his comrade's sentiments.

"Well, Hugh, we found Lucy was trading you, and hearing you was about to strike it rich, concluded we'd come and post you for old friendship's sake."

"And I'll pay you for it; but we must not be seen together, so I'll wait here while you rode on to Leavenworth, and in an hour I'll follow you."

This agreement seemed satisfactory, and two horsemen rode away, after a few more words, while Hugh Hall throw himself down upon the grass to rest.

For awhile Billy Cody was very nervous at what he had heard; but he soon grow calm and having waited until he knew the two men were more than a mile away, he cautiously stood up upon the log and glanced over the bank.

Hugh Hall was fast asleep, and his horse was feeding near.

Noiselessly Billy drew himself upon the bank and approached the man, his faithful revolver held in his hand.

"I wonder if it would be wrong if I killed him, when he is such a villain"' he muttered.

"Yes, I won't do it; but I'll make him go straight to Mr. Vennor and I'd tell him all I heard.

"Here, Hugh Hall, farmer Vennor wants to see you."

The man sprung to his feet, his hand upon his revolver.

But Billy had taken the precaution to get behind a tree, and had the drop on his rival.

"Oh, it's you, you accursed imp of Satan," cried the man angrily.

"Yes, it's me, and I want you to go to Mr. Vennor for I'm going to tell him all I heard you say," said the boy boldly.

Hugh Hall knew Billy's reputation as a fearless boy and a sure shot, and he saw that he was in great danger; but he said quietly:

"Well, I was going to the farmer's and we'll ride together."

"No, I'll ride and you'll walk, for I came down the stream fishing today, and haven't got my pony."

As quick as a flash the man then drew his pistol, and firing, the bullet cut the back off the tree just above the boy's head.

Instantly however Billy returned the shot, and the revolver of Hugh Hall fell from his hand, for his arm was broken; but he picked it up quickly and leveled it with his left, and two shots came together.

Billy's hat was turned half round on his head, showing how true war the aim of his foe, while his bullet found a target in the body of Hugh Hall.

With a groan he sunk upon the ground, and springing to his side, Billy found him gasping fearfully for breath.

"I am sorry, Hugh Hall, but you made me do it," he said sorrowfully.

But the man did not reply, and running to the horse feeding near, he sprung into the saddle and dashed away like the wind.

Straight to farmer Vennor's he went and told him all, and mounting in hot haste they rode back to the grove of cottonwoods.

Hugh Hall still lay where he had fallen; but he was dead, greatly to Billy's sorrow, who had hoped he would not die.

Then, while farmer Vennor remained by the body, Billy went for the nearest neighbors, and ere nightfall Hugh Hall was buried, and his two allies in crime were captured in Leavenworth, and given warning to leave Kansas forever, which they were glad to do, for they had not expected such mercy at the hands of the enraged farmers.

But before they left they confessed that Billy's story was a true one, and told where the wife of Hugh Hall could be found, and once again did the boy become hero, even in the eyes of the bravest men, and the settlers gave him the name of Boss Boy Billy, while Nannie Vennor, now a mother of grown sons, each Christmas time sends him a little souvenir, to show him that she has not forgotten her boy lover who fought his first dual to save her from a villain.

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