Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XX.
A MAD RIDE.

BACK to his home in Kansas went Buffalo Billy, to cheer the heart of his mother and sisters by his presence, and win their admiration by his rapid growth into a handsome, manly youth.

To please those who so dearly loved him he again attended school for a couple of months; but with the first wagon-train bound west he went as hunter, and arriving in the vicinity of the Overland again sought service as a stagedriver, and was gladly accepted and welcomed back.

He had been driving but a short time after his return, when he carried east on one trip a coach load of English tourists, whose baggage loaded down the stage.

Although he was driving at the average regulation speed, to make time at each station, the Englishmen were growling all the time at the slow pace they were going and urging Billy to push ahead.

Billy said nothing, other than that he was driving according to orders, and which was, by the way, by no means a slow gait, and then listened to their growling in silence, while they were anathematizing everything in America, as is often the case with foreigners who come to this country.

Billy heard their remarks about the "bloody 'eathen in Hamerica," "the greatness of hall things hin Hingland," "slow horses," "bad drivers," and all such talk, and drove calmly on into Horsehoe.

There the horses were changed, and the six hitched to the coach were wild Pony Express animals that had been only partially broken in as a stage team which Billy delighted in driving.

As they were being hitched up Buffalo Billy smiled grimly, and said:

"I'll show those gents that we know how to drive in this country," and those who knew him could see the twinkle of deviltry in his eyes.

At last, the Englishmen, having dined, took their seats Billy gave the order to let the animals go, and they started off at a rapid pace.

But Billy reined them down until they reached the top of the hill, and then, with a wild yell, that suddenly silenced the grumbling of the Englishmen, he let the six horses bound forward, while with utter recklessness he threw the reins upon their backs.

Frightened, maddened by the lash he laid upon them, they went down the mountain at a terrific speed, the coach swaying wildly to and fro, and the Englishmen nearly frightened out of their wits.

Glancing out of the windows and up at Billy they called to him to stop for the sake of Heaven.

But he only laughed, and tearing the large lamps from the coach threw them the leaders, the blows, and the jingling of glass frightening them fearfully.

"For God's sake stop, driver!"

"He is mad!"

"We'll all be killed!"

"Stop! stop!"

Such was the chorus of cries that came from the coach, and in reply was heard the calm response:

"Don't get excited, gents; but sit still and see how we stage it in the Rocky Mountains."

Then, to add still greater terror to the flying team and the frightened passengers, Billy drew his revolver from his belt and began to fire it in the air.

As the station came in sight the man on duty saw the mad speed of the horses and throw open the stable doors, and in they dashed dragging the stage after them, and tearing off the top, but not hurting Billy, who had crouched down low in the boot.

The passengers were not so lucky, however, for the sudden shock of halt sent them forward in a heap and the arm of one of them was broken, while the others were more or less bruised.

A canvas top was tacked on, the coach was run out, and a fresh team hitched up, and Billy sung out:

"All aboard, gents!"

But he went on with an empty coach, for the Englishmen preferred to wait over for another driver, and one of them was heard to remark that he would rather go in a hearse than in a stage with such a madman holding the reins.

But far and wide Billy's mad ride was laughed at, and he received no reprimand from the company, though he richly deserved it.

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