Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood

CHAPTER XXII.
THE BOY SOLDIER.

AFTER a very short stay at home Buffalo Billy began to show signs of uneasiness, for he was too near Leavenworth, then an important military post, not to get the soldier's fever for battles and marches.

He soon discovered that a company of cavalry was being raised to do service in Missouri, and he at once enlisted and went as a guard to a Government train bound to Springfield, Missouri, and after that he was made, a dispatch runner to the different forts, and met with many thrilling adventures while in that capacity.

From this duty Buffalo Billy was sent as guide and scout to the Ninth Kansas Regiment which was ordered into the Kiowa and Comanche country, and it did good service there, and the young soldier added new laurels to his name.

The second year of the war Billy became One of the famous "Red Logged Scouts," formed of the most noted rangers of Kansas.

While a member of this daring band he was sent to guide a train to Denver, but upon arriving there, learning of the severe illness of his mother, he at once set off for home, going the entire distance alone and making wonderful time through a country infested with dangers.

To his joy, he found his mother still living, yet failing rapidly and soon, after his arrival she breathed her last and Buffalo Billy had lost his best, truest friend, and the sad event cast a gloom over the life of the young soldier.

As one of his sisters had married some time before, her husband took charge of the farm, while Billy returned to the army and was sent into Mississippi and Tennessee with his command.

But Billy did not relish military duty, for he had become too well accustomed to the free life of the plains, and, resigning his position as scout, started upon big return to the prairies.

But while on the way he came in sight of a pleasant farm-house, from which came a cry of help in the voice of a woman.

Billy saw five horses hitched to a fence on the other side of the house; but this array of numbers did not deter him when a woman called for aid, and dismounting quickly he bounded upon the piazza, and was just running into the door when a man came out into the ball and fired at him, but fortunately missed him.

Bill instantly returned the fire, and his quick, unerring aim sent a bullet into the man's brain.

At the shots a wilder cry came from within for help and two men dashed out into the hall, and, seeing Billy, three pistols flashed together.

But Billy was unhurt, and one of his foes fell dead, while springing upon the other he gave him a stunning blow with his revolver that put him out of the fight, and then bounded into the room to discover an elderly lady and a lovely young girl threatened by two huge ruffians, who were holding their pistols to their heads to try and force from them the hiding-place of their money and valuables.

Seeing Billy, they both turned upon him, and a fierce fight ensued, which quickly ended in the killing of both ruffians by the brave young soldier, who seemed to bear a charmed life, for he was unhurt, though he had slain four men in a desperate combat and wounded a fifth.

Just then into the room dashed three men, and their weapons were leveled at Buffalo Billy, and right then and there his days would have ended had it not been for the courage and presence of mind of the lovely young girl, who throw herself forward upon his breast, to the youth's great surprise, and cried out:

"Father! Brothers! don't fire, for this man is our friend."

The old man and his sons quickly lowered their rifles, while the former said:

"A friend in blue uniform, while we wear the gray?'

"I am a Union soldier, sir, I admit, and I was going by your home, heard a cry for help, and found your wife and daughter, as I suppose them to be, at the mercy of five ruffians, and I was fortunate enough to serve them.

"But I will not be made prisoner, gentlemen."

Billy's hands were on his revolvers and he looked squarely in the faces of those in his front, and they could se that he was a man who meant what he said.

"My dear sir, I am a Confederate, I admit, and this is my home; but I am not the one to do a mean action toward a Union soldier, and especially one who has just served me so well in killing these men, whom I recognize as jayhawkers who prey on either side, and own no allegiance to North or South.

"Here is my hand, sir, and I will protect you while in our lines."

Billy grasped the hand of' the farmer, and then those of his sons, and all thanked him warmly for the service he had done them

But Billy was surprised to find he was within the Confederate lines, and found by inquiring that he had taken the wrong road a few miles back.

The farmer was the captain of a neighborhood military company, and it was his custom to come home with his sons whenever he had opportunity, and arriving just as the fight ended he saw a man in gray uniform lying dead in the hall, and beholding Billy in the blue, had an idea that the Northern soldiers were on a raid, had been met by some of his men, and he certainly would have killed the young scout but for the timely act of his lovely daughter, Louise.

And it was this very circumstance, the meeting with Louise Frederici, the Missouri farmer's daughter, that caused Buffalo Billy to decide to remain in the army, and not to return to the plains, for when stationed in or near St. Louis, he could often see the pretty dark-eyed girl who had stolen big heart away.

Before the war ended Buffalo Billy returned to Kansas, but he carried with him the heart of Louise Frederici, and the promise that she would one day be his wife.

After a short visit to his sisters he again became a stage- driver, and it was by making a desperate drive down a mountain side to escape a band of road-agents that he won the well-deserved title of the Prince of the Reins.

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