Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XII.
BOY TRAPPER'S ADVENTURES.

IT was a proud day for Buffalo Billy when he returned home and was welcomed by his mother and sisters, to whom he gave all of his earnings, which were considerable, as his pay had been liberal.

The neighborhood, hearing from members of the train of Billy's exploits, for he was very close-mouthed about what he had done, made a hero of him, and many a pretty girl of seventeen regretted that the boy was not a man grown, to have him for a lover.

But Billy's restless nature would not allow him to remain idle at home, so he joined a party of trappers who were going to trap the streams of the Laramie and Chugwater for otter, beaver and other animals possessing valuable fur, as well as to shoot wolves for their pelts.

This expedition did not prove very profitable, and not wishing to return home without enough furs to bring a fair sum, Buffalo Billy joined a young man, only a few years his senior, by the name of Dave Harrington, and the two started off for the Republican.

Their outfit consisted of a wagon and yoke of oxen, for the transportation of their supplies and pelts, and they began trapping in the vicinity of Junction City, Kansas and went up the Republican to Prairie Dog creek, where they found plenty of beaver.

While catching a large number of beavers, one day they returned to camp to find one of their oxen had fallen over a precipice and killed himself, and they were left without a team.

But the Boy Trappers, for Dave Harrington was not eighteen, determined to trap on through the winter, and in the spring one of them would go for a team to haul back their wagon.

Ill fortune seemed however to dog their steps as trappers, for one day, while chasing elk, Buffalo Billy fell and broke his leg, and Dave Harrington had to carry him to camp.

Here was a sad predicament, for the nearest settlement was one hundred miles distant.

But Dave set the leg as skillfully as he could, built a "dug-out," for the wounded boy to live in, filled it with wood and provisions, and then set out to procure a yoke of oxen and sled to return for Billy and their pelts.

The "dug-out," was a hole in the side of a bank, covered with poles, grass and sod, and with a fire-place in one end, and a bunk near it, was by no means uncomfortable; but the prospect of remaining there for a month alone, for it would take Harrington that time to go and return through the deep snow, was by no means a pleasant prospect for a boy under fourteen, and with a broken leg.

Dave started the following morning on foot, and Billy was left alone, helpless, and in the solitude of the mountain wilds.

To throw wood on the fire was a painful effort for him, and to move so as to cook his food was torture, and boys of his age can well feel for him in distress and loneliness.

But Buffalo Billy was made of stern stuff, and knew not what fear was; but who can picture the thoughts that were constantly in his young brain, when the winds were sweeping through the pines at night, the wolves were howling about his door, and the sleet and snow was almost continually falling.

It were enough to drive a strong man mad, let alone a boy.

But he stood it bravely, each day however counting with longing heart the hours that went so slowly by and hoping for his comrade's return.

"Perhaps he has been frozen to death."

That was his thought one day about Harrington.

The next it was:

"I wonder if he has not lost his way?"

Again it was:

"I fear the Indians may have killed him."

When Dave had been gone about two weeks, Buffalo Billy was startled one day from a sound nap, to see an Indian standing by his side.

He was in full war-paint and feathers, which showed he was on the warpath, and Billy felt that it was all over with him.

Speaking to him in Sioux, which the boy understood, he asked:

"What pale-face boy do here?"

"My leg is broken."

"What for come here?"

"To get furs."

"This red-skin country!"

This laconic assertion Billy could not contradict, so he wisely hold his peace.

"Let see leg," came next.

Billy showed him the bandaged limb, which was broken between the knee and ankle.

Just then another Indian entered whom Billy recognized, as having seen before, and whom he knew to be the great Sioux Chief, Rain-in-the-Face.

Billy called him by name, and he kept back the warriors who were about to end the boy's life then and there.

"Boy pale-face know chief?" asked Rain-in-the-Face.

"Yes, I saw you at Fort Laramie, and gave you a knife," said Billy with hope in his heart

"Ugh! chief don't forget; have knife here," and he showed a knife which be had doubtless often used upon the scalps of pale-faces.

"What pale-face boy do here?"

Billy told him.

"Where friend?"

"Gone after team."

"When come back?"

Billy was afraid to tell him the truth, so said:

"In two moons."

"Long time."

"Yes; but do your young men intend to kill me?"

"Me have talk and see."

The Indians then held a council together, and Billy could see that the chances were against him; but old Rain-in-the-Face triumphed in the end, and said:

"As pale-face boy is only pappoose, my young men not kill him."

Billy had often longed to be a man; but now he was happy that he was a boy, and answered;

"Yes, I am only a little pappoose."

"Him heap bad pappoose, me remember," said Rain-in-the-Face, recalling some of the jokes the boy played at Fort Laramie.

The Indians then unsaddled their ponies and camped at the dug-out for two days, and when they left they carried with them the sugar and coffee, Billy's rifle and one revolver, and most of the ammunition, besides what cooking utensils they needed.

Then old Rain-in-the-Face bade the boy good-by, and they rode off without poor Billy's blessing following them.

Hardly had they gone before a severe snowstorm sprung up, and it was hard indeed for the crippled boy to get wood enough to build a fire, for the red-skins had put it out before leaving.

The wolves, seemingly understanding how helpless the boy was, scratched at the door, and ran over the roof of the dug-out at the same time howling viciously; but Billy frightened them off with an occasional shot, and resigned himself to his lonely fate.

But at last a month passed away, and with its end appeared brave Dave Harrington.

He had passed through innumerable dangers, but had at last come back in safety, and brought with him an ox-team.

Never in his life had Buffalo Billy felt the joy of that moment, and, though not a boy given to showing his feelings, he burst into tears of delight.

As it was impossible to at once return, on account of the very great depth of the snow, Dave told Billy they would wait until spring, as he had plenty of provisions, and that fur animals were plenty.

As soon as the snow began to melt Dave got his traps in, collected his pelts, which numbered a thousand, and putting them on the wagon, so as to serve as a bed for Billy, started his oxen homeward.

After twelve days they reached the ranch where Dave had purchased the oxen, paid in furs for the team, and started on to Junction City. Arriving there they sold their team, wagon and furs, the latter bringing them about two hundred and fifty dollars, a handsome sum for each when divided, and which made Billy's heart glad to take home with him, for it paid off a mortgage on his mother's farm.

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