Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XIII.
BUFFALO BILLY STRIKES IT RICH.

IT was months before Billy obtained perfect use of his broken leg and was able to throw his crutches aside; but when he did do so it was with a glad heart, for once more he longed to be upon the plains.

Hearing of a rich discovery of gold In Colorado, he joined a party of miners that were bound there, and, reaching the mining camps, staked out a claim and began work.

He was the youngest person in the mines, in fact the only boy there, and with many he was a great favorite; but there were a few men there who sought to impose upon him on account of his youth.

This treatment Buffalo Billy was not the person to stand, and the result was one of his foes struck him one night without the slightest cause.

The result was a general row, for Billy's friends at once backed him in resenting the blow, and, though the fracas lasted but a few minutes, there were several burials next day as the result.

Of course this made Billy more disliked by those who, without reason, had become his foes, and to add to their dislike, he one day struck a rich vein that promised to pan out well in ore.

A few days he toiled in his lead, laying up considerable sums by his work, and one morning, as he went to his mine, he found it occupied by two rough-looking men whom he did not remember to have ever seen before.

"Well, pards, I guess you're up the wrong tree," he said, pleasantly.

"I guesses not; this are our lead," said one, rudely.

"How do you make that out?"

"We staked it months ago, and was called away, and now we has returned to it."

"Well, I believe you both to be lying, and until you prove it's your claim you can't have it," was the bold reply.

"Who's goin' ter say no?"

"I am."

"You!"

"Yes."

"Who is you?"

"I am named William Frederick Cody."

"You has handle enough."

"I have more than that."

"Waal."

"I'm called Buffalo Billy."

"We has heer'd o' you as a chap as has too much cheek far one so young."

"Then if you know me you will understand that though I am but a boy I won't let you walk away with my claim."

"Get out, boy."

Billy obeyed; that is he went down to the camps and consulted his friends about what was best for him to do.

"We'll go up and call in their chips, Billy," was the universal decision.

"No, let us find out if the claim is theirs," said Billy.

"Find out nothin'; they has no right to it and 'tain't justice."

So up to the mine they went, and Billy's friends recognized the two claimants of the mine as two worthless fellows who had been in the valley months before, but who had no claim upon the boy's property.

"You must git."

That was the decision; but just then others came up who sided with the desperadoes and things looked very scary for awhile, for half the crowd swore that the mine had belonged to the two claimants to it and that Billy ought to give it up.

But these were the men who disliked Billy and his party, as they were the honest miners, and who were willing to side with his foes.

"Ef ther boy wants ther mine he will hev to fight fer it," said one.

"He will fight for it and so will we!" cried one of Billy's friends.

All this time Billy had remained silent; but now he saw that his friends were in deadly earnest, and to prevent a general fight and much loss of life he said:

"The mine I own legally and will fight for it if that will settle it, but I don't want to have to fight both of you."

"Oh, but you must though," said one.

"If I must, I'll do it."

"But you shall not, Billy. These two devils only want to murder you so they can get the mine, and they sha'n't do it."

This was said by Billy's best pard and the others who liked the boy backed him up in his words, and pistols were drawn on both sides and the slightest act now all knew would cause trouble.

"If they'll light me with revolvers and separately I'll be willing," said Billy, hastily, anxious to avert the trouble.

"Waal, we'll do that, so sail in," said one.

"No, not this way, you accursed coward, but go off there, stand with your back to the boy, as he will to you, and twenty paces apart, and at a word wheel and fire," cried Billy's friend.

This seemed fair and all agreed to it, and the man and the boy were placed in position, Billy pale but calm.

The other side won, the word to wheel and fire, and though the man tried to aid his friend in giving it, Buffalo Billy was too quick ,for him and fired a second in advance of his adversary.

But that second was enough, for the bullet went straight to the heart of the one at which it was aimed, while his shot flew wild.

A yell burst from Billy's friends as they rushed forward while his foes were bringing up their other man.

But just then a stranger rode up, and leveling a pistol at the second claimant for the mine said sternly:

"Dick Malone, my gallows-bird, I arrest you in the name of the law."

The stranger was a United States detective, and the one he arrested an escaped convict.

This ended the fight for the mine; but after a few days' longer work in it Billy found that the vein panned out badly, and selling out his interest in it returned to his home once more, convinced that mining was not his forte, though he certainly had dug out enough of the yellow ore to prove to his mother that he had not been idle.

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