Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XI.
A HOT INDIAN FIGHT.

As it was late in the fall Lew Simpson and his men were compelled to winter at the fort, where there were a number of troops and train employees of Russell, Majors and Waddell, who were formed into military companies, officered by wagon-masters.

As Wild Bill was placed in command of the battalion of train-men, he made Buffalo Billy an aide-de-camp and the boy devoted himself assiduously to the duties devolving upon him, and before the long and tedious winter passed was forced to experience hardships of the severest kind, as the garrison had to live on mule meat, and haul wood from the distant mountains themselves, their animals having been served up as food.

In the spring Simpson started east with a train, and Buffalo Bill accompanied him as hunter for the men, his well known marksmanship and skill in securing game readily getting for him that position.

One day Lew Simpson and an "extra hand" accompanied him on one of his hunting expeditious, and to their surprise they came upon a band of Indians coming out of a canyon not far from them.

They were out on the prairie, and knowing that they could not escape on their mules, Simpson and the extra told Billy to ride off on Sable Satan and save himself.

But this the boy would not do, saying that he would remain with them.

"Then your horse must go with our mules," said Simpson:

"All right, Lew," said Billy, though the tears came into his eyes.

Telling them to dismount, just as they came to a buffalo wallow, Lew Simpson said:

"Now, give 'em a shot just back of the ears."

The shots were fired, Billy shutting his eyes, as he pulled the trigger, and Sable Satan and the two mules dropped dead in their tracks.

In an instant they were dragged into position, so as to form a triangular fort, and getting into the wallow, with their knives the three threw up the dirt as rapidly as possible to make their position safer.

By this time the Indians, some half hundred in number, were rushing upon them with wildest yells.

But crouching down in their little fort of flesh and dirt, Lew Simpson and his man and boy comrade leveled their rifles over the bodies of the slain animals, and, as the howling red-skins came within sixty yards, fired together.

Down went three Indians, and, while Lew Simpson, reloaded the yagers Billy and George Woods fired with their revolvers with such right good will the Indians were checked in their advance and turned to retreat out of range, followed by three more shots from the yagers.

Five Indians and four ponies were the result of this fight, and it gave the holders of the triangular fort confidence in themselves.

But the Indians did not give up the attack, but circled around and around the fort, firing upon the defenders with their arrows and slightly wounding all three of them, while the bodies of the mules and horse were literally filled with shafts.

After a few rides around their pale-face foes, the Indians suddenly charged again coming from every quarter, and forcing the whites to each defend the space in his front.

With demoniacal yells they came on once more, and once more the yagers opened, and then were thrown aside for the rapidly firing revolvers which did fearful execution.

Glancing toward Billy Lew Simpson saw that he was perfectly cool and had a revolver in each band, although his shirt was saturated with blood from the arrow wound in his shoulder.

Unable to understand, or stand the hot fire of the revolvers, they again broke, when with in twenty yards of the fort and rode off rapidly out of range.

"You got three that time, Billy," cried Lew Simpson gleefully, as saw a trio of redskins scattered along in the front of the boy.

Billy smiled grimly and reloaded his weapons, after which Lew Simpson dressed the wounds of his comrades, who returned a like favor for him.

But the Indians had by no means gone, for they had gone into camp in a circle around. their foes, but well out of range of the fearful Mississippi yagers.

The three defenders in the meantime improved their opportunity to strengthen their fort with dirt and dig a deeper space within, while they also lunched upon their scanty supply of food.

"They'll starve us out if they can't take us by charging," said Simpson.

"They can't starve me as long as your mule holds out, Lew, for I won't eat poor Sable; it would choke me," replied Billy.

"Well, mule meat's good," said Woods.

"Yes, when there ain't anything else to eat, but I prefer buffler or Injun," was Billy's response.

"We may have to eat Injun yet," laughed Lew Simpson.

All made a wry face at this supposition and again prepared to meet a charge, for the redskins were coming down in column.

But again they were checked with loss, and Billy's shot brought down the chief.

Darkness coming on, the Indians formed in line as though to ride away, when Lew Simpson said:

"They must take us for durned fools not to know that they won't leave their dead unburied, and that they think they can draw us out. No, here is where we live until the boys from the train come to look us up."

During the night the Indians, finding their foes would not leave their fort, met the grass on fire to burn them out.

But it was too scanty to burn well and only made a smoke, under cover of which they once more advanced, to be once more driven back.

With the morning they showed that their intention was to starve them out for they went into a regular camp in a circle upon the prairie.

But during the afternoon a party of horsemen appeared in sight, and the three hungry, suffering, half-starved defenders gave a yell of delight, which the red-skins answered with howls of disappointed rage as they hastily mounted their ponies and fled.

The train-men soon came up and were wild in their enthusiasm over the brave defense made, while the fort came in for general praise, although one and all deeply regretted Sable Satan's sad end, though his death had served a good purpose.

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