Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER IX.
WINNING A NAME.

WHEN Billy returned home, after his first Indian-killing expedition, he carried with him the pay of a bullwhacker, and all of it he placed in his mother's hands, for the death of Mr. Cody had left the family in indigent circumstances.

Finding that she could not keep Billy at home when he had found out that by his exertions, boy though he was, he could, support the family, Mrs. Cody gave a reluctant consent for him to make another trip to the far West under an old and experienced wagonmaster named Lew Simpson, and who had taken a great fancy to the youthful Indian fighter.

Bill was accordingly enlisted as an "extra" which meant that he was to receive full pay and be on hand ready to take the place of any one of the train that was killed, wounded, or got sick.

The wagon train pulled out of Leavenworth, all heavily freighted, each one carrying about six thousand pounds weight, and each also drawn by four yoke of oxen under charge of a driver, or "bullwhacker."

The train consisted of twenty-five wagons, under Lew Simpson, then an assistant wagonmaster, next Billy, the "extra," a night herder, a cavallard driver, whose duty was driving the loose and lame cattle, and the bullwhacker for each team.

All were armed with yagers and Colt revolvers, and each man had a horse along, Billy's being Sable Satan, still as good as the day he captured him, and a piece of equine property all envied the boy the possession of in fact there were several of the men who swore they would yet have the horse.

"I guess not, pards; the boy caught that horse wild on the prairies, and the man that lays bands on him settles with me."

The speaker was J. B. Hickok, known to the world as "Wild Bill," and upon that trail he and William F. Cody for the first time met.

Wild Bill was assistant wagon-master on that trip, and all knew him so well that the idea of possessing Sable Satan by unfair means was at once given up and Billy felt secure in his treasure, for such the horse was, as his equal for speed and bottom had not been found on the plains.

As an "extra hand" Billy had nothing to do while the bullwhackers kept in good health, and no Indians were met with, so became the hunter of the train, keeping it well supplied with fresh meats and wild fowl.

It was upon one of these hunts that Billy won the name of Buffalo Billy, though afterward it was shortened by dropping the y after proving himself the champion buffalo-killer on the plains.

Dismounting from Sable Satan to cut up an antelope he had shot, he was suddenly startled by seeing his horse bound away over the prairie.

Springing to his feet he at once discovered the cause, for over a distant roll of the prairie a herd of thousands of buffaloes were coming at terrific speed.

One chance of escape alone presented itself and that was a lone cottonwood tree standing some few hundred yards distant.

In all the prairie around not another tree was visible, and Billy had noticed this lone sentinel as he was creeping up for a shot at the antelope.

At full speed he rushed for the tree and hastily climbed it, securing a safe seat amid its branches, while yet the herd was some distance away.

But glancing back over the huge drove to his horse he beheld a band of mounted warriors in full chase.

The center of the herd was headed directly for the tree, and the Indians were so following that they must come directly under it .

If discovered Billy knew well what his fate would be. The Indians would give up buffalo meat for a human scalp.

These thoughts flashed through the boy's mind, and he at once decided what he would do.

To remain, was certain death at the hands of the red-skin.

To leave, as he intended, by the means of a buffalo was a fearful risk.

But he would take it; and accordingly strapped his rifle upon his back, picked out his buffalo, a huge bull, and swinging quickly from a limb, watched his chance, and dropped down upon the back of his choice.

Clutching the long, shaggy mane he clung for dear life, at the same time holding himself on with his spurs.

Maddened with fright the bull bounded into the air, snorted wildly, gored those in the advance and soon led the herd.

Billy kept his seat nobly, a grim smile upon his face, and occasionally glanced backward at the herd and the pursuing Indians.

And straight for camp went the herd, until discovered by the train men, who started out in force to head them off.

But pell-mell into camp they went, stampeding the oxen and horses and frightening the men, and Billy began to feel that he must keep on his racer clear to the hills.

But the animal was tired out now and had dropped to the rear of the herd, and Wild Bill, seeing his young friend, raised his rifle and dropped the buffalo bull just as he was running out of camp.

From that day the boy was known as Buffalo Billy.

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