Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XV.
TEX PONY EXPRESS RIDER.

ONE day when he had ridden into Leavenworth Buffalo Billy met his old friend, Wild Bill, who was fitting out a train with supplies for the Overland Stage Company, and he was at once persuaded to join him in the trip West going as assistant wagon-master.

Putting a man on his mother's farm to take care of it, for as a farmer Billy was not a success he bade his mother and sisters farewell and once more was on his way toward the land of the setting sun.

Having been at home for several months, for his mother not being in the enjoyment of good health he hated to leave her, Billy had been attending school, and had been a hard student, while in the eyes as of his fellow pupils, girls and boys alike, he was a hero of heroes.

On his trip West with Wild Bill he had carried his books, and often in camp he had whiled away the time in studying, until he was asked it he was reading for a lawyer or a preacher.

But when well away from civilization his books were cast aside for his rifle, and he was, constantly in the saddle supplying the train with game.

Without any particular adventures the train arrived in due season at Atchison, and there so much was said about Pony Riding on the Overland that Buffalo Billy decided to volunteer as a rider.

Resigning his position with the train, Mr. Russell gave him a warm letter to Alf Slade, a noted parsonage on the frontier, and to him Billy went.

Slade was then stage agent for the Julesberg and Rocky Ridge Division, with his headquarters at Horseshoe, nearly forty miles west of Fort Laramie, and there Billy found him and presented his letter.

Slade read the letter, looked Billy carefully over, and said: "I would like to oblige you, my boy, but you are too young, the work kills strong men in a short time."

"Give me a trial, sir, please, for I think I can pull through," said Billy.

"But are you used to hard riding and a life of danger?"

"Yes, sir, I've seen hard work, young as I am."

"I see now that Russell says you are Buffalo Billy," and Slade glanced again at the letter.

"Yes, sir, that's what my pards call me."

"I have heard of you, and you can become a pony rider; if you break down you can give it up."

The very next day Billy was set to work on the trail from Red Buttes on the North Platte, to Three Crossings on the Sweet Water, a distance of seventy-six miles.

It was a very long piece of road, but Billy did not weaken, and ere long became known as the Boss Pony Rider.

One day he arrived at the end of his road to find that the rider who should have gone out on the trip with his mail, had been killed in a fight, so he at once volunteered for the ran to Rocky Ridge, a distance of eighty-five miles, and arrived at the station even ahead of time.

Without rest he turned back and reached Red Buttes on time, making the extraordinary run of three hundred and twenty-two miles without rest, and at an average speed of fifteen miles an hour.

This remarkable feat won for him a presentation of a purse of gold from the company, and a fame for pluck and endurance that placed him as the chief of the Pony Riders.

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