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´╗┐Title: Last of the Great Scouts : the life story of Col. William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill" as told by his sister
Author: Wetmore, Helen Cody
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Last of the Great Scouts : the life story of Col. William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill" as told by his sister" ***

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The Life Story of William F. Cody ["Buffalo Bill"]

by Helen Cody Wetmore






The following genealogical sketch was compiled in 1897. The crest is
copied from John Rooney's "Genealogical History of Irish Families."

It is not generally known that genuine royal blood courses in Colonel
Cody's veins. He is a lineal descendant of Milesius, king of Spain, that
famous monarch whose three sons, Heber, Heremon, and Ir, founded the
first dynasty in Ireland, about the beginning of the Christian era. The
Cody family comes through the line of Heremon. The original name was
Tireach, which signifies "The Rocks." Muiredach Tireach, one of the
first of this line, and son of Fiacha Straivetine, was crowned king of
Ireland, Anno Domini 320. Another of the line became king of Connaught,
Anno Domini 701. The possessions of the Sept were located in the present
counties of Clare, Galway, and Mayo. The names Connaught-Gallway, after
centuries, gradually contracted to Connallway, Connellway, Connelly,
Conly, Cory, Coddy, Coidy, and Cody, and is clearly shown by ancient
indentures still traceable among existing records. On the maternal side,
Colonel Cody can, without difficulty, follow his lineage to the best
blood of England. Several of the Cody family emigrated to America in
1747, settling in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The name is
frequently mentioned in Revolutionary history. Colonel Cody is a member
of the Cody family of Revolutionary fame. Like the other Spanish-Irish
families, the Codys have their proof of ancestry in the form of a crest,
the one which Colonel Cody is entitled to use being printed herewith.
The lion signifies Spanish origin. It is the same figure that forms a
part of the royal coat-of-arms of Spain to this day--Castile and
Leon. The arm and cross denote that the descent is through the line of
Heremon, whose posterity were among the first to follow the cross, as a
symbol of their adherence to the Christian faith.


In presenting this volume to the public the writer has a twofold
purpose. For a number of years there has been an increasing demand for
an authentic biography of "Buffalo Bill," and in response, many books
of varying value have been submitted; yet no one of them has borne
the hall-mark of veracious history. Naturally, there were incidents in
Colonel Cody's life--more especially in the earlier years--that could be
given only by those with whom he had grown up from childhood. For
many incidents of his later life I am indebted to his own and others'
accounts. I desire to acknowledge obligation to General P. H. Sheridan,
Colonel Inman, Colonel Ingraham, and my brother for valuable assistance
furnished by Sheridan's Memoirs, "The Santa Fe Trail," "The Great Salt
Lake Trail," "Buffalo Bill's Autobiography," and "Stories from the Life
of Buffalo Bill."

A second reason that prompted the writing of my brother's life-story is
purely personal. The sobriquet of "Buffalo Bill" has conveyed to many
people an impression of his personality that is far removed from the
facts. They have pictured in fancy a rough frontier character, without
tenderness and true nobility. But in very truth has the poet sung:

     "The bravest are the tenderest--
     The loving are the daring."

The public knows my brother as boy Indian-slayer, a champion
buffalo-hunter, a brave soldier, a daring scout, an intrepid
frontiersman, and a famous exhibitor. It is only fair to him that a
glimpse be given of the parts he played behind the scenes--devotion to
a widowed mother, that pushed the boy so early upon a stage of ceaseless
action, continued care and tenderness displayed in later years, and the
generous thoughtfulness of manhood's prime.

Thus a part of my pleasant task has been to enable the public to see my
brother through his sister's eyes--eyes that have seen truly if kindly.
If I have been tempted into praise where simple narrative might to the
reader seem all that was required, if I have seemed to exaggerate in any
of my history's details, I may say that I am not conscious of having set
down more than "a plain, unvarnished tale." Embarrassed with riches of
fact, I have had no thought of fiction. H. C. W.




A PLEASANT, roomy farm-house, set in the sunlight against a background
of cool, green wood and mottled meadow--this is the picture that my
earliest memories frame for me. To this home my parents, Isaac and Mary
Cody, had moved soon after their marriage.

The place was known as the Scott farm, and was situated in Scott County,
Iowa, near the historic little town of Le Clair, where, but a few years
before, a village of the Fox Indians had been located; where Black Hawk
and his thousand warriors had assembled for their last war-dance; where
the marquee of General Scott was erected, and the treaty with the Sacs
and Foxes drawn up; and where, in obedience to the Sac chief's terms,
Antoine Le Clair, the famous half-breed Indian scholar and interpreter,
had built his cabin, and given to the place his name. Here, in this
atmosphere of pioneer struggle and Indian warfare--in the farm-house
in the dancing sunshine, with the background of wood and meadow--my
brother, William Frederick Cody, was born, on the 26th day of February,

Of the good, old-fashioned sort was our family, numbering five daughters
and two sons--Martha, Samuel, Julia, William, Eliza, Helen, and May.
Samuel, a lad of unusual beauty of face and nature, was killed through
an unhappy accident before he was yet fourteen.

He was riding "Betsy Baker," a mare well known among old settlers
in Iowa as one of speed and pedigree, yet displaying at times a most
malevolent temper, accompanied by Will, who, though only seven years
of age, yet sat his pony with the ease and grace that distinguished the
veteran rider of the future. Presently Betsy Baker became fractious, and
sought to throw her rider. In vain did she rear and plunge; he kept his
saddle. Then, seemingly, she gave up the fight, and Samuel cried, in
boyish exultation:

"Ah, Betsy Baker, you didn't quite come it that time!"

His last words! As if she knew her rider was a careless victor off
his guard, the mare reared suddenly and flung herself upon her back,
crushing the daring boy beneath her.

Though to us younger children our brother Samuel was but a shadowy
memory, in him had centered our parents' fondest hopes and aims. These,
naturally, were transferred to the younger, now the only son, and the
hope that mother, especially, held for him was strangely stimulated by
the remembrance of the mystic divination of a soothsayer in the years
agone. My mother was a woman of too much intelligence and force of
character to nourish an average superstition; but prophecies fulfilled
will temper, though they may not shake, the smiling unbelief of the most
hard-headed skeptic. Mother's moderate skepticism was not proof against
the strange fulfillment of one prophecy, which fell out in this wise:

To a Southern city, which my mother visited when a girl, there came a
celebrated fortune-teller, and led by curiosity, my mother and my aunt
one day made two of the crowd that thronged the sibyl's drawing-rooms.

Both received with laughing incredulity the prophecy that my aunt and
the two children with her would be dead in a fortnight; but the dread
augury was fulfilled to the letter. All three were stricken with
yellow fever, and died within less than the time set. This startling
confirmation of the soothsayer's divining powers not unnaturally
affected my mother's belief in that part of the prophecy relating to
herself that "she would meet her future husband on the steamboat by
which she expected to return home; that she would be married to him in a
year, and bear three sons, of whom only the second would live, but that
the name of this son would be known all over the world, and would one
day be that of the President of the United States." The first part of
this prophecy was verified, and Samuel's death was another link in the
curious chain of circumstances. Was it, then, strange that mother looked
with unusual hope upon her second son?

That 'tis good fortune for a boy to be only brother to five sisters is
open to question. The older girls petted Will; the younger regarded him
as a superior being; while to all it seemed so fit and proper that the
promise of the stars concerning his future should be fulfilled that
never for a moment did we weaken in our belief that great things were
in store for our only brother. We looked for the prophecy's complete
fulfillment, and with childish veneration regarded Will as one destined
to sit in the executive's chair.

My mother, always somewhat delicate, was so affected in health by
the shock of Samuel's death that a change of scene was advised. The
California gold craze was then at its height, and father caught the
fever, though in a mild form; for he had prospered as a farmer, and
we not only had a comfortable home, but were in easy circumstances.
Influenced in part by a desire to improve mother's health, and in
part, no doubt, by the golden day-dreams that lured so many Argonauts
Pacificward, he disposed of his farm, and bade us prepare for a Western
journey. Before his plans were completed he fell in with certain
disappointed gold-seekers returning from the Coast, and impressed by
their representations, decided in favor of Kansas instead of California.

Father had very extravagant ideas regarding vehicles and horses, and
such a passion for equestrian display, that we often found ourselves
with a stable full of thoroughbreds and an empty cupboard. For our
Western migration we had, in addition to three prairie-schooners, a
large family carriage, drawn by a span of fine horses in silver-mounted
harness. This carriage had been made to order in the East, upholstered
in the finest leather, polished and varnished as though for a royal
progress. Mother and we girls found it more comfortable riding than the
springless prairie-schooners.

Brother Will constituted himself an armed escort, and rode proudly
alongside on his pony, his gun slung across the pommel of his saddle,
and the dog Turk bringing up the rear.

To him this Western trip thrilled with possible Indian skirmishes and
other stirring adventures, though of the real dangers that lay in our
path he did not dream. For him, therefore, the first week of our travels
held no great interest, for we were constantly chancing upon settlers
and farm-houses, in which the night might be passed; but with every
mile the settlers grew fewer and farther between; until one day Will
whispered to us, in great glee: "I heard father tell mother that he
expected we should have to camp to-night. Now we'll have some fun!"

Will's hope was well founded. Shortly before nightfall we reached a
stream that demanded a ferry-boat for its crossing, and as the nearest
dwelling was a dozen miles away, it was decided that we should camp by
the stream-side. The family was first sent across the ferry, and upon
the eight-year-old lad of the house father placed the responsibility of
selecting the ground on which to pitch the tents.

My brother's career forcibly illustrates the fact that environment plays
as large a part as heredity in shaping character. Perhaps his love for
the free life of the plains is a heritage derived from some long-gone
ancestor; but there can be no doubt that to the earlier experiences
of which I am writing he owed his ability as a scout. The faculty for
obtaining water, striking trails, and finding desirable camping-grounds
in him seemed almost instinct.

The tents being pitched upon a satisfactory site, Will called to Turk,
the dog, and rifle in hand, set forth in search of game for supper. He
was successful beyond his fondest hopes. He had looked only for small
game, but scarcely had he put the camp behind him when Turk gave a
signaling yelp, and out of the bushes bounded a magnificent deer. Nearly
every hunter will confess to "buck fever" at sight of his first deer, so
it is not strange that a boy of Will's age should have stood immovable,
staring dazedly at the graceful animal until it vanished from sight.
Turk gave chase, but soon trotted back, and barked reproachfully at his
young master. But Will presently had an opportunity to recover Turk's
good opinion, for the dog, after darting away, with another signaling
yelp fetched another fine stag within gun range. This time the young
hunter, mastering his nerves, took aim with steady hand, and brought
down his first deer.

On the following Sabbath we were encamped by another deep, swift-running
stream. After being wearied and overheated by a rabbit chase, Turk
attempted to swim across this little river, but was chilled, and would
have perished had not Will rushed to the rescue. The ferryman saw the
boy struggling with the dog in the water, and started after him with his
boat. But Will reached the bank without assistance.

"I've hearn of dogs saving children, but this is the first time I ever
hearn of a child saving a dog from drowning," ejaculated the ferryman.
"How old be you?"

"Eight, going on nine," answered Will.

"You're a big boy for your age," said the man. "But it's a wonder you
didn't sink with that load; he's a big old fellow," referring to Turk,
who, standing on three feet, was vigorously shaking the water from his
coat. Will at once knelt down beside him, and taking the uplifted foot
in his hands, remarked: "He must have sprained one of his legs when he
fell over that log; he doesn't whine like your common curs when they get

"He's blooded stock, then," said the man. "What kind of dog do you call

"He's an Ulm dog," said Will.

"I never heard tell of that kind of dog before."

"Did you ever hear of a tiger-mastiff, German mastiff, boar-hound, great
Dane? Turk's all of them together."

"Well," said the ferryman, "you're a pretty smart little fellow, and got
lots of grit. You ought to make your mark in the world. But right now
you had better get into some dry clothes." And on the invitation of the
ferryman, Will and the limping dog got into the boat, and were taken
back to camp.

Turk played so conspicuous and important a part in our early lives that
he deserves a brief description. He was a large and powerful animal of
the breed of dogs anciently used in Germany in hunting the wild boars.
Later the dogs were imported into England, where they were particularly
valued by people desiring a strong, brave watch-dog. When specially
trained, they are more fierce and active than the English mastiff.
Naturally they are not as fond of the water as the spaniel, the
stag-hound, or the Newfoundland, though they are the king of dogs on
land. Not alone Will, but the rest of the family, regarded Turk as the
best of his kind, and he well deserved the veneration he inspired. His
fidelity and almost human intelligence were time and again the means of
saving life and property; ever faithful, loyal, and ready to lay down
his life, if need be, in our service.

Outlaws and desperadoes were always to be met with on Western trails in
those rugged days, and more than once Turk's constant vigilance warned
father in time to prevent attacks from suspicious night prowlers. The
attachment which had grown up between Turk and his young master was but
the natural love of boys for their dogs intensified. Will at that time
estimated dogs as in later years he did men, the qualities which
he found to admire in Turk being vigilance, strength, courage, and
constancy. With men, as with dogs, he is not lavishly demonstrative;
rarely pats them on the back. But deeds of merit do not escape his
notice or want his appreciation. The patience, unselfishness, and true
nobility observed in this faithful canine friend of his boyhood days
have many times proved to be lacking in creatures endowed with a soul;
yet he has never lost faith in mankind, or in the ultimate destiny of
his race. This I conceive to be a characteristic of all great men.

This trip was memorable for all of us, perhaps especially so for brother
Will, for it comprehended not only his first deer, but his first negro.

As we drew near the Missouri line we came upon a comfortable farm-house,
at which father made inquiry concerning a lodging for the night. A widow
lived there, and the information that father was brother to Elijah Cody,
of Platte County, Missouri, won us a cordial welcome and the hospitality
of her home.

We were yet in the road, waiting father's report, when our startled
vision and childish imagination took in a seeming apparition, which
glided from the bushes by the wayside.

It proved a full-blooded African, with thick lips, woolly hair, enormous
feet, and scant attire. To all except mother this was a new revelation
of humanity, and we stared in wild-eyed wonder; even Turk was surprised
into silence. At this point father rejoined us, to share in mother's
amusement, and to break the spell for us by pleasantly addressing the
negro, who returned a respectful answer, accompanied by an ample grin.
He was a slave on the widow's plantation.

Reassured by the grin, Will offered his hand, and tasted the joy of
being addressed as "Massa" in the talk that followed. It was with
difficulty that we prevailed upon "Masse" to come to supper.

After a refreshing night's sleep we went on our way, and in a few days
reached my uncle's home. A rest was welcome, as the journey had been
long and toilsome, despite the fact that it had been enlivened by many
interesting incidents, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all of the family.


MY uncle's home was in Weston, Platte County, Missouri, at that time the
large city of the West. As father desired to get settled again as soon
as possible, he left us at Weston, and crossed the Missouri River on
a prospecting tour, accompanied by Will and a guide. More than one day
went by in the quest for a desirable location, and one morning
Will, wearied in the reconnoissance, was left asleep at the night's
camping-place, while father and the guide rode away for the day's

When Will opened his eyes they fell upon the most interesting object
that the world just then could offer him--an Indian!

The "noble red man," as he has been poetically termed by people who have
but known him from afar, was in the act of mounting Will's horse, while
near by stood his own, a miserable, scrawny beast.

Will's boyish dreams were now a reality; he looked upon his first
Indian. Here, too, was a "buck"--not a graceful, vanishing deer, but
a dirty redskin, who seemingly was in some hurry to be gone. Without a
trace of "buck fever," Will jumped up, rifle in hand, and demanded:

"Here, what are you doing with my horse?"

The Indian regarded the lad with contemptuous composure.

"Me swap horses with paleface boy," said he.

The red man was fully armed, and Will did not know whether his father
and the guide were within call or not; but to suffer the Indian to
ride away with Uncle Elijah's fine horse was to forfeit his father's
confidence and shake his mother's and sisters' belief in the family
hero; so he put a bold face upon the matter, and remarked carelessly, as
if discussing a genuine transaction:

"No; I won't swap."

"Paleface boy fool!" returned the Indian, serenely.

Now this was scarcely the main point at issue, so Will contented himself
with replying, quietly but firmly:

"You cannot take my horse."

The Indian condescended to temporize. "Paleface horse no good," said he.

"Good enough for me," replied Will, smiling despite the gravity of the
situation. The Indian shone rather as a liar than a judge of horseflesh.
"Good enough for me; so you can take your old rack of bones and go."

Much to Will's surprise, the red man dropped the rein, flung himself
upon his own pony, and made off. And down fell "Lo the poor Indian" from
the exalted niche that he had filled in Will's esteem, for while it was
bad in a copper hero to steal horses, it was worse to flee from a boy
not yet in his teens. But a few moments later Lo went back to his lofty
pedestal, for Will heard the guide's voice, and realized that it was the
sight of a man, and not the threats of a boy, that had sent the Indian
about his business--if he had any.

The guide had returned to escort Will to the spot which father, after
a search of nearly a week, had discovered, and where he had decided
to locate our home. It was in Salt Creek Valley, a fertile blue-grass
region, sheltered by an amphitheater range of hills. The old Salt Lake
trail traversed this valley. There were at this time two great highways
of Western travel, the Santa Fe and the Salt Lake trails; later the
Oregon trail came into prominence. Of these the oldest and most historic
was the Santa Fe trail, the route followed by explorers three hundred
years ago. It had been used by Indian tribes from time, to white men,
immemorial. At the beginning of this century it was first used as an
artery of commerce. Over it Zebulon Pike made his well-known Western
trip, and from it radiated his explorations. The trail lay some distance
south of Leavenworth. It ran westward, dipping slightly to the south
until the Arkansas River was reached; then, following the course of this
stream to Bent's Fort, it crossed the river and turned sharply to the
south. It went through Raton Pass, and below Las Vegas it turned west to
Santa Fe.

Exploration along the line of the Salt Lake trail began also with this
century. It became a beaten highway at the time of the Mormon exodus
from Nauvoo to their present place of abode. The trail crossed the
Missouri River at Leavenworth, and ran northerly to the Platte, touching
that stream at Fort Kearny. With a few variations it paralleled the
Platte to its junction with the Sweetwater, and left this river valley
to run through South Pass to big Sandy Creek, turning south to follow
this little stream. At Fort Bridger it turned westward again, passed
Echo Canon, and a few miles farther on ran into Salt Lake City. Over
this trail journeyed thousands of gold-hunters toward California,
hopeful and high-spirited on the westerly way, disappointed and
depressed, the large majority of them, on the back track.
Freighting outfits, cattle trains, emigrants--nearly all the western
travel--followed this track across the new land. A man named Rively,
with the gift of grasping the advantage of location, had obtained
permission to establish a trading-post on this trail three miles beyond
the Missouri, and as proximity to this depot of supplies was a manifest
convenience, father's selection of a claim only two miles distant was a
wise one.

The Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which provided for the organizing of those
two territories and opened them for settlement, was passed in May. 1854.
This bill directly opposed the Missouri Compromise, which restricted
slavery to all territory south of 36'0 30" north latitude. A clause in
the new bill provided that the settlers should decide for themselves
whether the new territories were to be free or slave states. Already
hundreds of settlers were camped upon the banks of the Missouri, waiting
the passage of the bill before entering and acquiring possession of
the land. Across the curtain of the night ran a broad ribbon of dancing
camp-fires, stretching for miles along the bank of the river.

None too soon had father fixed upon his claim. The act allowing settlers
to enter was passed in less than a week afterward. Besides the pioneers
intending actual settlement, a great rush was made into the territories
by members of both political parties. These became the gladiators, with
Kansas the arena, for a bitter, bloody contest between those desiring
and those opposing the extension of slave territory.

Having already decided upon his location, father was among the first,
after the bill was passed, to file a claim and procure the necessary
papers, and shortly afterward he had a transient abiding-place prepared
for us. Whatever mother may have thought of the one-roomed cabin, whose
chinks let in the sun by day and the moon and stars by night, and whose
carpet was nature's greenest velvet, life in it was a perennial picnic
for the children. Meantime father was at work on our permanent home,
and before the summer fled we were domiciled in a large double-log
house--rough and primitive, but solid and comfort-breeding.

This same autumn held an episode so deeply graven in my memory that time
has not blurred a dine of it. Jane, our faithful maid of all work, who
went with us to our Western home, had little time to play the governess.
Household duties claimed her every waking hour, as mother was delicate,
and the family a large one; so Turk officiated as both guardian and
playmate of the children.

One golden September day Eliza and I set out after wild flowers,
accompanied by Turk and mother's caution not to stray too far, as wild
beasts, 'twas said, lurked in the neighboring forest; but the prettiest
flowers were always just beyond, and we wandered afield until we reached
a fringe of timber half a mile from the house, where we tarried under
the trees. Meantime mother grew alarmed, and Will was dispatched after
the absent tots.

Turk, as we recalled, had sought to put a check upon our wanderings, and
when we entered the woods his restlessness increased. Suddenly he began
to paw up the carpet of dry leaves, and a few moments later the shrill
scream of a panther echoed through the forest aisles.

Eliza was barely six years old, and I was not yet four. We clung to
each other in voiceless terror. Then from afar came a familiar
whistle--Will's call to his dog. That heartened us, babes as we were,
for was not our brother our reliance in every emergency? Rescue was
at hand; but Turk continued tearing up the leaves, after signaling his
master with a loud bark. Then, pulling at our dresses, he indicated the
refuge he had dug for us. Here we lay down, and the dog covered us with
the leaves, dragging to the heap, as a further screen, a large dead
branch. Then, with the heart of a lion, he put himself on guard.

From our leafy covert we could see the panther's tawny form come gliding
through the brush. He saw Turk, and crouched for a spring. This came as
an arrow, but Turk dodged it; and then, with a scream such as I never
heard from dog before or since, our defender hurled himself upon the

Turk was powerful, and his courage was flawless, but he was no match for
the panther. In a few moments the faithful dog lay stunned and bleeding
from one stroke of the forest-rover's steel-shod paw. The cruel beast
had scented other prey, and dismissing Turk, he paced to and fro,
seeking to locate us. We scarcely dared to breathe, and every throb of
our frightened little hearts was a prayer that Will would come to us in

At last the panther's roving eyes rested upon our inadequate
hiding-place, and as he crouched for the deadly leap we hid our faces.

But Turk had arisen. Wounded as he was, he yet made one last heroic
effort to save us by again directing the panther's attention to himself.

The helpless, hopeless ordeal of agony was broken by a rifle's sharp
report. The panther fell, shot through the heart, and out from the
screen of leaves rushed two hysterical little girls, with pallid faces
drowned in tears, who clung about a brother's neck and were shielded in
his arms.

Will, himself but a child, caressed and soothed us in a most paternal
fashion; and when the stone of sobs was passed we turned to Turk.
Happily his injuries were not fatal, and he whined feebly when his
master reached him.

"Bravo! Good dog!" cried Will. "You saved them, Turk! You saved them!"
And kneeling beside our faithful friend, he put his arms about the
shaggy neck.

Dear old Turk! If there be a land beyond the sky for such as thou, may
the snuggest corner and best of bones be thy reward!


OWING to the conditions, already spoken of, under which Kansas was
settled, all classes were represented in its population. Honest,
thrifty farmers and well-to-do traders leavened a lump of shiftless
ne'er-do-wells, lawless adventurers, and vagabonds of all sorts and
conditions. If father at times questioned the wisdom of coming to this
new and untried land, he kept his own counsel, and set a brave face
against the future.

He had been prominent in political circles in Iowa, and had filled
positions of public trust; but he had no wish to become involved in the
partisan strife that raged in Kansas. He was a Free Soil man, and there
were but two others in that section who did not believe in slavery. For
a year he kept his political views to himself; but it became rumored
about that he was an able public speaker, and the pro-slavery men
naturally ascribed to him the same opinions as those held by his brother
Elijah, a pronounced pro-slavery man; so they regarded father as a
promising leader in their cause. He had avoided the issue, and had
skillfully contrived to escape declaring for one side or the other, but
on the scroll of his destiny it was written that he should be one of the
first victims offered on the sacrificial altar of the struggle for human

The post-trader's was a popular rendezvous for all the settlers round.
It was a day in the summer of '55 that father visited the store,
accompanied, as usual, by Will and Turk. Among the crowd, which was
noisy and excited, he noted a number of desperadoes in the pro-slavery
faction, and noted, too, that Uncle Elijah and our two Free Soil
neighbors, Mr. Hathaway and Mr. Lawrence, were present.

Father's appearance was greeted by a clamor for a speech. To speak
before that audience was to take his life in his hands; yet in spite of
his excuses he was forced to the chair.

It was written! There was no escape! Father walked steadily to the
dry-goods box which served as a rostrum. As he passed Mr. Hathaway,
the good old man plucked him by the sleeve and begged him to serve out
platitudes to the crowd, and to screen his real sentiments.

But father was not a man that dealt in platitudes.

"Friends," said he, quietly, as he faced his audience and drew himself
to his full height,--"friends, you are mistaken in your man. I am sorry
to disappoint you. I have no wish to quarrel with you. But you
have forced me to speak, and I can do no less than declare my real
convictions. I am, and always have been, opposed to slavery. It is
an institution that not only degrades the slave, but brutalizes
the slave-holder, and I pledge you my word that I shall use my best
endeavors--yes, that I shall lay down my life, if need be--to keep this
curse from finding lodgment upon Kansas soil. It is enough that the
fairest portions of our land are already infected with this blight.
May it spread no farther. All my energy and my ability shall swell the
effort to bring in Kansas as a Free Soil state."

Up to this point the crowd had been so dumfounded by his temerity that
they kept an astonished silence. Now the storm broke. The rumble of
angry voices swelled into a roar of fury. An angry mob surrounded the
speaker. Several desperadoes leaped forward with deadly intent, and one,
Charles Dunn by name, drove his knife to the hilt into the body of the
brave man who dared thus openly to avow his principles.

As father fell, Will sprang to him, and turning to the murderous
assailant, cried out in boyhood's fury:

"You have killed my father! When I'm a man I'll kill you!"

The crowd slunk away, believing father dead. The deed appalled them;
they were not yet hardened to the lawlessness that was so soon to put
the state to blush.

Mr. Hathaway and Will then carried father to a hiding-place in the long
grass by the wayside. The crowd dispersed so slowly that dusk came on
before the coast was clear. At length, supported by Will, father dragged
his way homeward, marking his tortured progress with a trail of blood.

This path was afterward referred to in the early history of Kansas as
"The Cody Bloody Trail."

It was such wild scenes as these that left their impress on the youth
and fashioned the Cody of later years--cool in emergency, fertile in
resource, swift in decision, dashing and intrepid when the time for
action came.

Our troubles were but begun. Father's convalescence was long and
tedious; he never recovered fully. His enemies believed him dead, and
for a while we kept the secret guarded; but as soon as he was able to be
about persecution began.

About a month after the tragedy at Rively's, Will ran in one evening
with the warning that a band of horsemen were approaching. Suspecting
trouble, mother put some of her own clothes about father, gave him a
pail, and bade him hide in the cornfield. He walked boldly from the
house, and sheltered by the gathering dusk, succeeded in passing the
horsemen unchallenged. The latter rode up to the house and dismounted.

"Where's Cody?" asked the leader. He was informed that father was not at

"Lucky for him!" was the frankly brutal rejoinder. "We'll make sure work
of the killing next time."

Disappointed in their main intention, the marauders revenged themselves
in their own peculiar way by looting the house of every article that
took their fancy; then they sat down with the announced purpose of
waiting the return of their prospective victim.

Fearing the effect of the night air upon father, though it was yet
summer, mother made a sign to Will, who slipped from the room, and
guided by Turk, carried blankets to the cornfield, returning before his
absence had been remarked. The ruffians soon tired of waiting, and rode
away, after warning mother of the brave deed they purposed to perform.
Father came in for the night, returning to his covert with the dawn.

In expectation of some such raid, we had secreted a good stock of
provisions; but as soon as the day was up Will was dispatched to
Rively's store to reconnoiter, under pretext of buying groceries.
Keeping eyes and ears open, he learned that father's enemies were on the
watch for him; so the cornfield must remain his screen. After several
days, the exposure and anxiety told on his strength. He decided to leave
home and go to Fort Leavenworth, four miles distant. When night fell
he returned to the house, packed a few needed articles, and bade us
farewell. Will urged that he ride Prince, but he regarded his journey
as safer afoot. It was a sad parting. None of us knew whether we should
ever again see our father.

"I hope," he said to mother, "that these clouds will soon pass away,
and that we may have a happy home once more." Then, placing his hands on
Will's head, "You will have to be the man of the house until my return,"
he said. "But I know I can trust my boy to watch over his mother and

With such responsibilities placed upon his shoulders, such confidence
reposed in him, small wonder that Will should grow a man in thought and
feeling before he grew to be one in years.

Father reached Fort Leavenworth in safety, but the quarrel between the
pro-slavery party and the Free Soilers waxed more bitter, and he decided
that security lay farther on; so he took passage on an up-river boat to
Doniphan, twenty miles distant. This was then a mere landing-place, but
he found a small band of men in camp cooking supper. They were part of
Colonel Jim Lane's command, some three hundred strong, on their way West
from Indiana.

Colonel Lane was an interesting character. He had been a friend to
Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed, in 1836, for maintaining an anti-slavery
newspaper in Illinois. The Kansas contest speedily developed the
fact that the actual settlers sent from the North by the emigrant-aid
societies would enable the Free State party to outnumber the ruffians
sent in by the Southerners; and when the pro-slavery men were driven to
substituting bullets for ballots, Colonel Lane recruited a band of hardy
men to protect the anti-slavery settlers, and incidentally to avenge the
murder of Lovejoy.

The meeting of father and Lane's men was a meeting of friends, and he
chose to cast his lot with theirs. Shortly afterward he took part
in "The Battle of Hickory Point," in which the pro-slavery men were
defeated with heavy loss; and thenceforward the name of Jim Lane was a
terror to the lawless and a wall of protection to our family.

The storm and stress of battle had drawn heavily on what little strength
was left to father, and relying for safety upon the proximity of Colonel
Lane and his men, he returned to us secretly by night, and was at once
prostrated on a bed of sickness.

This proved a serious strain upon our delicate mother, for during
father's absence a little brother had been added to our home, and not
only had she, in addition to the care of Baby Charlie, the nursing of
a sick man, but she was constantly harassed by apprehensions for his
safety as well.


MOTHER'S fears were well grounded. A few days after father had returned
home, a man named Sharpe, who disgraced the small office of justice of
the peace, rode up to our house, very much the worse for liquor, and
informed mother that his errand was to "search the house for that
abolition husband of yours." The intoxicated ruffian then demanded
something to eat. While mother, with a show of hospitality, was
preparing supper for him, the amiable Mr. Sharpe killed time in
sharpening his bowie-knife on the sole of his shoe.

"That," said he to Will, who stood watching him, "that's to cut the
heart out of that Free State father of yours!" And he tested the edge
with brutally suggestive care.

Will's comment was to take down his rifle and place himself on the
staircase leading up to father's room. There was trouble in that quarter
for Mr. Sharpe, if he attempted to ascend those stairs.

But the justice, as mother surmised, had no notion that father was at
home, else he would not have come alone. He ate heartily of the supper,
which Will hoped would choke him, and passing from drowsiness to drunken
slumber, soon tumbled from his chair. This so confused him that he
forgot his pretended errand, and shambled out of the house. He was
not so drunk that he could not tell a good bit of horseflesh, and he
straightway took a fancy to Prince, the pet pony of the family. An
unwritten plank in the platform of the pro-slavery men was that the Free
Soil party had no rights they were bound to respect, and Sharpe remarked
to Will, with a malicious grin:

"That's a nice pony of yours, sonny. Guess I'll take him along with me."
And he proceeded to exchange the saddle from the back of his own horse
to that of Prince.

"You old coward!" muttered Will, bursting with wrath. "I'll get even
with you some day."

The justice was a tall, burly fellow, and he cut so ridiculous a figure
as he rode away on Prince's back, his heels almost touching the ground,
that Will laughed outright as he thought of a plan to save his pony.

A shrill whistle brought Turk to the scene, and receiving his cue, the
dog proceeded to give Sharpe a very bad five minutes. He would nip at
one of the dangling legs, spring back out of reach of the whip with a
triumphant bark, then repeat the performance with the other leg. This
little comedy had a delighted spectator in Will, who had followed at a
safe distance. Just as Sharpe made one extra effort to reach Turk, the
boy whistled a signal to Prince, who responded with a bound that dumped
his rider in the dust. Here Turk stood over him and showed his teeth.

"Call off your dog, bub!" the justice shouted to Will, "and you may keep
your little sheep, for he's no good, anyway."

"That's a bargain!" cried Will, restored to good humor; and helping the
vanquished foe upon his own steed, he assured him that he need not fear
Turk so long as he kept his word. Sharpe departed, but we were far from
being rid of him.

About a fortnight later we were enjoying an evening with father, who was
now able to come downstairs. He was seated in a big arm-chair before the
open fire, with his family gathered round him, by his side our frail,
beautiful mother, with Baby Charlie on her knee, Martha and Julia, with
their sewing, and Will, back of mother's chair, tenderly smoothing the
hair from her brow, while he related spiritedly some new escapade of
Turk. Suddenly he checked his narrative, listened for a space, and

"There are some men riding on the road toward the house. We'd better be
ready for trouble."

Mother, equal to every emergency, hurriedly disposed her slender forces
for defense. Martha and Julia were directed to help father to bed; that
done, to repair to the unfurnished front room above stairs; Will was
instructed to call the hired man and Jane, who was almost as large and
quite as strong as the average man; and the three were armed and given
their cue. They were all handy with their weapons, but mother sought to
win by strategy, if possible. She bade the older girls don heavy boots,
and gave them further instructions. By this time the horsemen had
reached the gate. Their leader was the redoubtable Justice Sharpe. He
rode up to the door, and rapped with the but of his riding-whip. Mother
threw up the window overhead.

"Who's there? and what do you want?" she demanded.

"We want that old abolition husband of yours, and, dead or alive, we
mean to have him!"

"All right, Mr. Sharpe," was the steady answer. "I'll ask Colonel Lane
and his men to wait on you."

The hired man, who had served in the Mexican War, here gave a sharp word
of command, which was responded to by trampling of heavy boots upon the
bare floor. Then, calling a halt, the pretended Colonel Lane advanced to
the window, and shouted to the horsemen:

"Set foot inside that gate and my men will fire on you!"

Sharpe, an arrant coward, had retreated at the first sound of a man's
voice, and after a short parley with his nonplused companions, he led
them away--outwitted by a woman.

As a sort of consolation prize, Sharpe again made off with Prince; but
Will's sorrow in the morning was short-lived, for the sagacious little
creature slipped his halter and came flying home before the forenoon was
half spent.

After this experience, father decided that, for our sakes as well as for
his own, he must again leave home, and as soon as he recovered a measure
of his strength he went to Grasshopper Falls, thirty-five miles west
of Leavenworth. Here he erected a sawmill, and hoped that he had put
so many miles between him and his enemies that he might be allowed to
pursue a peaceful occupation. He made us occasional visits, so timing
his journey that he reached home after nightfall, and left again before
the sun was up.

One day when we were looking forward to one of these visits, our good
friend Mr. Hathaway made his appearance about eleven o'clock.

"It is too bad to be the bearer of ill tidings," said he, "but the news
of your husband's expected visit has been noised about in some way, and
another plot to kill him is afoot. Some of his enemies are camped at Big
Stranger's Creek, and intend to shoot him as he passes there."

Then followed a long and anxious consultation, which ended without any
plan of rescue.

All of which had been overheard by Will, who was confined to his bed
with an attack of ague. In him, he decided, lay the only hope for
father's safety; so, dressing, he presented his fever-flushed face to
mother. As he held out a handkerchief, "Tie it tight around my head,
mother," said he; "then it won't ache so hard."

A remonstrance against his getting out of bed brought out the fact that
he contemplated riding to Grasshopper Falls!

He was almost too weak to stand, a storm threatened, and thirty miles
lay between him and father; yet he was not to be dissuaded from
his undertaking. So Julia and Martha saddled Prince and helped the
ague-racked courier to his saddle.

The plunge into the open air and the excitement of the start encouraged
Will to believe that he could hold out. As he settled down to his long,
hard ride he reflected that it was not yet noon, and that father
would not set out until late in the day. Prince seemed to discern that
something extraordinary was afoot, and swung along at a swift, steady

Big Stranger's Creek cut the road half-way to the Falls, and Will
approached it before the afternoon was half gone. The lowering sky
darkened the highway, and he hoped to pass the ambush unrecognized; but
as he came up to the stream he made out a camp and campers, one of whom
called out carelessly to him as he passed:

"Are you all right on the goose?"--the cant phrase of the pro-slavery

"Never rode a goose in my life, gentlemen," was the reply.

"That's Cody's boy!" shouted another voice; and the word "Halt!" rang
out just as Will had galloped safely past the camp.

Will's answer was to drive the spurs into Prince and dart ahead,
followed by a rain of bullets. He was now well out of range, and the
pony still strong and fleet.

The chase was on, and in the thrill of it Will forgot his weakness. A
new strength came with the rush of air and the ring of hoofs, and "I'll
reach the Falls in time!" was his heartening thought, as pursurer and
pursued sped through the forests, clattered over bridges, and galloped
up hill and down.

Then broke the long-impending storm, and the hard road became the bed
of a muddy stream. The pursuit was abandoned, and this stimulus removed,
Will felt the chills and weakness coming on again. He was drenched to
the skin, and it was an effort to keep his saddle, but he set his teeth
firmly in his resolve to accomplish his heroic purpose.

At last! A welcome light gleamed between the crystal bars of the rain.
His mission was accomplished.

His ride had been longer by ten miles than that famous gallop of the
friend of his after years--Phil Sheridan. Like Sheridan, he reached the
goal in time, for father was just mounting his horse.

But the ride proved too much for his strength, and Will collapsed.
Father started with him, a few days later, for Topeka, which was
headquarters for the Free State party.

Father acquainted mother of their safety, and explained that he had gone
to Topeka because he feared his life was no longer safe at Grasshopper

Party strife in Kansas was now at its height. Thousands came into the
territory from adjacent slave states simply to vote, and the pro-slavery
party elected a legislature, whose first meeting was held at Le Compton.
This election the Free Soilers declared illegal, because of fraudulent
voting, and assembling at Topeka in the winter of 1855-56, they framed
a constitution excluding slavery, and organized a rival government. Of
this first Free-Soil Legislature father was a member.

Thenceforth war was the order of the day, and in the fall of 1856 a
military governor was appointed, with full authority to maintain law and
order in Kansas.

Recognizing the good work effected by the emigrant-aid societies, and
realizing that in a still larger Northern emigration to Kansas lay the
only hope of its admission as a free state, father went to Ohio in the
following spring, to labor for the salvation of the territory he had
chosen for his home. Here his natural gift of oratory had free play, and
as the result of his work on the stump he brought back to Kansas sixty
families, the most of whom settled in the vicinity of Grasshopper Falls,
now Valley Falls.

This meant busy times for us, for with that magnificent disregard for
practical matters that characterizes many men of otherwise great gifts,
father had invited each separate family to make headquarters at his
home until other arrangements could be perfected. As a result, our house
overflowed, while the land about us was dotted with tents; but these
melted away, as one by one the families selected claims and put up

Among the other settlers was Judge Delahay, who, with his family,
located at Leavenworth, and began the publishing of the first abolition
newspaper in Kansas. The appointing of the military governor was the
means of restoring comparative tranquillity; but hundreds of outrages
were committed, and the judge and his newspaper came in for a share of
suffering. The printing-office was broken into, and the type and press
thrown into the Missouri River. Undaunted, the judge procured a new
press, and the paper continued.

A semi-quiet now reigned in the territory; father resumed work at the
sawmill, and we looked forward to a peaceful home and the joy of being
once more permanently united. But it was not to be. The knife wound had
injured father's lung. With care and nursing it might have healed, but
constant suffering attended on the life that persecution had led him,
and in the spring of '57 he again came home, and took to his bed for the
last time.

All that could be was done, but nothing availed. After a very short
illness he passed away--one of the first martyrs in the cause of freedom
in Kansas.

The land of his adoption became his last, long resting-place. His
remains now lie on Pilot Knob, which overlooks the beautiful city of
Leavenworth. His death was regretted even by his enemies, who could not
help but grant a tribute of respect to a man who had been upright, just,
and generous to friend and foe.


AT this sorrowful period mother was herself almost at death's door with
consumption, but far from sinking under the blow, she faced the new
conditions with a steadfast calm, realizing that should she, too, be
taken, her children would be left without a protector, and at the mercy
of the enemies whose malignity had brought their father to an untimely
end. Her indomitable will opposed her bodily weakness. "I will not die,"
she told herself, "until the welfare of my children is assured." She was
needed, for our persecution continued.

Hardly was the funeral over when a trumped-up claim for a thousand
dollars, for lumber and supplies, was entered against our estate. Mother
knew the claim was fictitious, as all the bills had been settled, but
the business had been transacted through the agency of Uncle Elijah, and
father had neglected to secure the receipts. In those bitter, troublous
days it too often happened that brother turned against brother, and
Elijah retained his fealty to his party at the expense of his dead
brother's family.

This fresh affliction but added fuel to the flame of mother's energy.
Our home was paid for, but father's business had been made so broken
and irregular that our financial resources were of the slenderest, and
should this unjust claim for a thousand dollars be allowed, we would be

The result of mother's study of the situation was, "If I had the ready
money, I should fight the claim."

"You fight the claim, and I'll get the money," Will replied.

Mother smiled, but Will continued:

"Russell, Majors & Waddell will give me work. Jim Willis says I am
capable of filling the position of 'extra.' If you'll go with me and ask
Mr. Majors for a job, I'm sure he'll give me one."

Russell, Majors & Waddell were overland freighters and contractors,
with headquarters at Leavenworth. To Will's suggestion mother entered
a demurrer, but finally yielded before his insistence. Mr. Majors had
known father, and was more than willing to aid us, but Will's youth was
an objection not lightly overridden.

"What can a boy of your age do?" he asked, kindly.

"I can ride, shoot, and herd cattle," said Will; "but I'd rather be an
'extra' on one of your trains.'

"But that is a man's work, and is dangerous besides." Mr. Majors
hesitated. "But I'll let you try it one trip, and if you do a man's
work, I'll give you a man's pay."

So Will's name was put on the company roll, and he signed a pledge that
illustrates better than a description the character and disposition of
Mr. Majors.

"I, William F. Cody," it read, "do hereby solemnly swear, before the
great and living God, that during my engagement with, and while I am
in the employ of, Russell, Majors & Waddell, I will, under no
circumstances, use profane language, that I will not quarrel or fight
with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will
conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my
acts as to win the confidence of my employers. So help me God!"

Mr Majors employed many wild and reckless men, but the language of the
pledge penetrated to the better nature of them all. They endeavored,
with varying success, to live up to its conditions, although most of
them held that driving a bull-team constituted extenuating circumstances
for an occasional expletive.

The pledge lightened mother's heart; she knew that Will would keep
his word; she felt, too, that a man that required such a pledge of his
employees was worthy of their confidence and esteem.

The train was to start in a day, and all of us were busy with the
preparations for Will's two months' trip. The moment of parting came,
and it was a trying ordeal for mother, so recently bereaved of husband.
Will sought to soothe her, but the younger sisters had better success,
for with tears in our eyes we crowded about him, imploring him to "run
if he saw any Indians."

'Tis but a step from tears to smiles; the situation was relieved, and
Will launched his life bark amid adieus of hope and confidence and love.
His fortitude lasted only till he was out of sight of the house; but
youth is elastic, the plains lay before him, and mother and sisters were
to be helped; so he presented a cheerful face to his employers.

That night the bed of the "boy extra" was a blanket under a wagon; but
he slept soundly, and was ready when the train started with the dawn.

The "bull-train" took its name from the fact that each of the
thirty-five wagons making up a full train was hauled by several yoke of
oxen, driven by one man, known as a bullwhacker. This functionary's
whip cracked like a rifle, and could be heard about as far. The wagons
resembled the ordinary prairie-schooner, but were larger and more
strongly built; they were protected from the weather by a double
covering of heavy canvas, and had a freight capacity of seven thousand

Besides the bullwhackers there were cavallard drivers (who cared for
the loose cattle), night herders, and sundry extra hands, all under the
charge of a chief wagon-master, termed the wagon-boss, his lieutenants
being the boss of the cattle train and the assistant wagon-master. The
men were disposed in messes, each providing its own wood and water,
doing its own cooking, and washing up its own tin dinner service, while
one man in each division stood guard. Special duties were assigned to
the "extras," and Will's was to ride up and down the train delivering
orders. This suited his fancy to a dot, for the oxen were snail-gaited,
and to plod at their heels was dull work. Kipling tells us it is quite
impossible to "hustle the East"; it were as easy, as Will discovered, to
hustle a bull-train.

From the outset the "boy extra" was a favorite with the men. They liked
his pluck in undertaking such work, and when it was seen that he took
pride in executing orders promptly, he became a favorite with the bosses
as well. In part his work was play to him; he welcomed an order as a
break in the monotony of the daily march, and hailed the opportunity of
a gallop on a good horse.

The world of Will's fancy was bounded by the hazy rim where plain and
sky converge, and when the first day's journey was done, and he had
staked out and cared for his horse, he watched with fascinated eyes
the strange and striking picture limned against the black hills and the
sweeping stretch of darkening prairie. Everything was animation; the
bullwhackers unhitching and disposing of their teams, the herders
staking out the cattle, and--not the least interesting--the mess cooks
preparing the evening meal at the crackling camp-fires, with the huge,
canvas-covered wagons encircling them like ghostly sentinels; the ponies
and oxen blinking stupidly as the flames stampeded the shadows in
which they were enveloped; and more weird than all, the buckskin-clad
bullwhackers, squatted around the fire, their beards glowing red in its
light, their faces drawn in strange black and yellow lines, while the
spiked grasses shot tall and sword-like over them.

It was wonderful--that first night of the "boy extra."

But Will discovered that life on the plains is not all a supper
under the stars when the sparks fly upward; it has its hardships and
privations. There were days, as the wagons dragged their slow lengths
along, when the clouds obscured the sky and the wind whistled dismally;
days when torrents fell and swelled the streams that must be crossed,
and when the mud lay ankle-deep; days when the cattle stampeded, and the
round-up meant long, extra hours of heavy work; and, hardest but most
needed work of all, the eternal vigil 'gainst an Indian attack.

Will did not share the anxiety of his companions. To him a brush with
Indians would prove that boyhood's dreams sometimes come true, and
in imagination he anticipated the glory of a first encounter with the
"noble red man," after the fashion of the heroes in the hair-lifting
Western tales he had read. He was soon to learn, as many another has
learned, that the Indian of real Life is vastly different from the
Indian of fiction. He refuses to "bite the dust" at sight of a paleface,
and a dozen of them have been known to hold their own against as many
white men.

Some twenty miles west of Fort Kearny a halt was made for dinner at the
bank of a creek that emptied into the Platte River. No signs of
Indians had been observed, and there was no thought of special danger.
Nevertheless, three men were constantly on guard. Many of the trainmen
were asleep under the wagons while waiting dinner, and Will was watching
the maneuvers of the cook in his mess. Suddenly a score of shots rang
out from the direction of a neighboring thicket, succeeded by a chorus
of savage yells.

Will saw the three men on the lookout drop in their tracks, and saw the
Indians divide, one wing stampeding the cattle, the other charging down
upon the camp.

The trainmen were old frontiersmen, and although taken wholly by
surprise, they lined up swiftly in battle array behind the wagons, with
the bosses, Bill and Frank McCarthy, at their head, and the "boy extra"
under the direction of the wagon-master.

A well-placed volley of rifle-balls checked the Indians, and they
wheeled and rode away, after sending in a scattering cloud of arrows,
which wounded several of the trainmen. The decision of a hasty council
of war was, that a defensive stand would be useless, as the Indians
outnumbered the whites ten to one, and red reinforcements were
constantly coming up, until it seemed to Will as if the prairie were
alive with them. The only hope of safety lay in the shelter of the
creek's high bank, so a run was made for it. The Indians charged again,
with the usual accompaniment of whoops, yells, and flying arrows;
but the trainmen had reached the creek, and from behind its natural
breastwork maintained a rifle fire that drove the foe back out of range.

To follow the creek and river to Fort Kearny was not accounted much of a
chance for escape, but it was the only avenue that lay open; so, with a
parting volley to deceive the besiegers into thinking that the fort was
still held, the perilous and difficult journey was begun.

The Indians quickly penetrated the ruse, and another charge had to be
repulsed. Besides the tiresome work of wading, there were wounded men
to help along, and a ceaseless watch to keep against another rush of the
reds. It was a trying ordeal for a man, doubly so for a boy like Will;
but he was encouraged to coolness and endurance by a few words from
Frank McCarthy, who remarked, admiringly, "Well, Billy, you didn't scare
worth a cent."

After a few miles of wading the little party issued out upon the Platte
River. By this time the wounded men were so exhausted that a halt was
called to improvise a raft. On this the sufferers were placed, and three
or four men detailed to shove it before them. In consideration of his
youth, Will was urged to get upon the raft, but he declined, saying that
he was not wounded, and that if the stream got too deep for him to wade,
he could swim. This was more than some of the men could do, and they,
too, had to be assisted over the deep places.

Thus wore the long and weary hours away, and though the men, who knew
how hard a trip it was, often asked, "How goes it, Billy?" he uttered no
word of complaint.

But half a day's wading, without rest or food, gradually weighted his
heels, and little by little he lagged behind his companions. The moon
came out and silvered tree and river, but the silent, plodding band had
no eyes for the glory of the landscape.

Will had fallen behind some twenty rods, but in a moment fatigue was
forgotten, the blood jumped in his veins, for just ahead of him the
moonlight fell upon the feathered head-dress of an Indian chief, who was
peering over the bank. Motionless, he watched the head, shoulders, and
body of the brave come into view. The Indian supposed the entire party
ahead, and Will made no move until the savage bent his bow.

Then he realized, with a thumping heart, that death must come to one of
his comrades or the Indian.

Even in direst necessity it is a fearful thing to deliberately take a
human life, but Will had no time for hesitation. There was a shot, and
the Indian rolled down the bank into the river.

His expiring yell was answered by others. The reds were not far away.
Frank McCarthy, missing Will, stationed guards, and ran back to look for
him. He found the lad hauling the dead warrior ashore, and seizing his
hand, cried out: "Well done, my boy; you've killed your first Indian,
and done it like a man!"

Will wanted to stop and bury the body, but being assured that it was
not only an uncustomary courtesy, but in this case quite impossible, he
hastened on. As they came up with the waiting group McCarthy called out:

"Pards, little Billy has killed his first redskin!"

The announcement was greeted with cheers, which grated on Will's ears,
for his heart was sick, and the cheers seemed strangely out of place.

Little time, however, was afforded for sentiment of any sort. Enraged
at the death of their scout, the Indians made a final charge, which was
repulsed, like the others, and after this Bill McCarthy took the lead,
with Frank at the rear, to prevent further straggling of the forces.

It was a haggard-faced band that came up to Fort Kearny with the dawn.
The wounded men were left at the post, while the others returned to the
wrecked bull-train under escort of a body of troops. They hoped to make
some salvage, but the cattle had either been driven away or had joined
one of the numerous herds of buffalo; the wagons and their freight had
been burned, and there was nothing to do but bury the three pickets,
whose scalped and mutilated bodies were stretched where they had fallen.

Then the troops and trainmen parted company, the former to undertake
a bootless quest for the red marauders, the latter to return to
Leavenworth, their occupation gone. The government held itself
responsible for the depredations of its wards, and the loss of the
wagons and cattle was assumed at Washington.


THE fame to which Byron woke one historic morning was no more unexpected
to him than that which now greeted Will. The trainmen had not been
over-modest in their accounts of his pluck; and when a newspaper
reporter lent the magic of his imagination to the plain narrative, it
became quite a story, headed in display type, "The Boy Indian Slayer."

But Will was speedily concerned with other than his own affairs, for as
soon as his position with the freighters was assured, mother engaged a
lawyer to fight the claim against our estate. This legal light was
John C. Douglass, then unknown, unhonored, and unsung, but talented and
enterprising notwithstanding. He had just settled in Leavenworth, and he
could scarcely have found a better case with which to storm the heights
of fame--the dead father, the sick mother, the helpless children, and
relentless persecution, in one scale; in the other, an eleven-year-old
boy doing a man's work to earn the money needed to combat the family's
enemies. Douglass put his whole strength into the case.

He knew as well as we that our cause was weak; it hung by a single
thread--a missing witness, Mr. Barnhart. This man had acted as
bookkeeper when the bills were paid, but he had been sent away, and
the prosecution--or persecution--had thus far succeeded in keeping his
where-abouts a secret. To every place where he was likely to be Lawyer
Douglass had written; but we were as much in the dark as ever when the
morning for the trial of the suit arrived.

The case had excited much interest, and the court-room was crowded, many
persons having been drawn thither by a curiosity to look upon "The Boy
Indian Slayer." There was a cheerful unanimity of opinion upon the utter
hopelessness of the Cody side of the case. Not only were prominent and
wealthy men arrayed against us, but our young and inexperienced lawyer
faced the heaviest legal guns of the Leavenworth bar. Our only witnesses
were a frail woman and a girl of eighteen, though by their side, with
his head held high, was the family protector, our brave young brother.
Against us were might and malignity; upon our side, right and the high
courage with which Christianity steels the soul of a believer. Mother
had faith that the invisible forces of the universe were fighting for
our cause.

She and Martha swore to the fact that all the bills had been settled;
and after the opposition had rested its case, Lawyer Douglass arose for
the defense. His was a magnificent plea for the rights of the widow and
the orphan, and was conceded to be one of the finest speeches ever
heard in a Kansas court-room; but though all were moved by our counsel's
eloquence--some unto tears by the pathos of it--though the justice
of our cause was freely admitted throughout the court-room, our best
friends feared the verdict.

But the climax was as stunning to our enemies as it was unexpected. As
Lawyer Douglass finished his last ringing period, the missing
witness, Mr. Barnhart, hurried into the court-room. He had started
for Leavenworth upon the first intimation that his presence there was
needed, and had reached it just in time. He took the stand, swore to
his certain knowledge that the bills in question had been paid, and the
jury, without leaving their seats, returned a verdict for the defense.

Then rose cheer upon cheer, as our friends crowded about us and offered
their congratulations. Our home was saved, and Lawyer Douglass had won a
reputation for eloquence and sterling worth that stood undimmed through
all his long and prosperous career.

The next ripple on the current of our lives was sister Martha's wedding
day. Possessed of remarkable beauty, she had become a belle, and as
young ladies were scarce in Kansas at that time, she was the toast of
all our country round. But her choice had fallen on a man unworthy of
her. Of his antecedents we knew nothing; of his present life little
more, save that he was fair in appearance and seemingly prosperous. In
the sanction of the union Will stood aloof. Joined to a native intuition
were the sharpened faculties of a lad that lived beyond his years.
Almost unerring in his insight, he disliked the object of our sister's
choice so thoroughly that he refused to be a witness of the nuptials.
This dislike we attributed to jealousy, as brother and sister worshiped
each other, but the sequel proved a sad corroboration of his views.

Nature seemed to join her protest to Will's silent antagonism. A
terrific thunder-storm came up with the noon hour of the wedding.
So deep and sullen were the clouds that we were obliged to light the
candles. When the wedding pair took their places before Hymen's altar, a
crash of thunder rocked the house and set the casements rattling.

The couple had their home awaiting them in Leavenworth, and departed
almost immediately after the ceremony.

The cares and responsibilities laid upon our brother's shoulders did not
quench his boyish spirits and love of fun. Not Buffalo Bill's! He gave
us a jack-o'-lantern scare once upon a time, which I don't believe any
of us will ever forget. We had never seen that weird species of pumpkin,
and Will embroidered a blood-and-thunder narrative.

"The pumpkins all rise up out of the ground," said he, "on fire, with
the devil's eyes, and their mouths open, like blood-red lions, and grab
you, and go under the earth. You better look out!"

"That ain't so!" all of us little girls cried; "you know it's a fib.
Ain't it, mother?" and we ran as usual to mother.

"Will, you mustn't tell the children such tales. Of course they're just
fibs," said mother.

"So there!" we cried, in triumph. But Will had a "so there" answer for
us a few nights later. We were coming home late one evening, and found
the gate guarded by mad-looking yellow things, all afire, and grinning
hideously like real live men in the moon dropped down from the sky.

"Jack-o'-lanterns!" screamed Eliza, grabbing May by the hand, and
starting to run. I began to say my prayers, of course, and cry for
mother. All at once the heads moved! Even Turk's tail shot between his
legs, and he howled in fright. We saw the devil's eyes, the blood-red
lion's mouths, and all the rest, and set up such a chorus of wild yells
that the whole household rushed to our rescue. While we were panting out
our story, we heard Will snickering behind the door.

"So there, smarties! You'll believe what I tell you next time. You

But he liked best to invade our play-room and "work magic" on our
dolls. Mother had set aside one apartment in our large log house for
a play-room, and here each one of our doll families dwelt in peace and
harmony, when Will wasn't around. But there was tragedy whenever he
came near. He would scalp the mother dolls, and tie their babies to the
bedposts, and would storm into their pasteboard-box houses at night,
after we had fixed them all in order, and put the families to standing
on their heads. He was a dreadful tease. It was in this play-room that
the germ of his Wild West took life. He formed us into a regular little
company--Turk and the baby, too--and would start us in marching order
for the woods. He made us stick horses and wooden tomahawks, spears, and
horsehair strings, so that we could be cowboys, Indians, bullwhackers,
and cavalrymen. All the scenes of his first freighting trip were
acted out in the woods of Salt Creek Valley. We had stages, robbers,
"hold-ups," and most ferocious Indian battles.

Will was always the "principal scalper," however, and we had few of our
feathers left after he was on the warpath. We were so little we couldn't
reach his feathers. He always wore two long shiny ones, which had been
the special pride of our black rooster, and when he threw a piece of an
old blanket gotten from the Leavenworth barracks around his shoulders,
we considered him a very fine general indeed.

All of us were obedient to the letter on "show days," and scarcely ever
said "Now, stop," or "I'll tell mother on you!" But during one of these
exciting performances Will came to a short stop.

"I believe I'll run a show when I get to be a man," said he.

"That fortune lady said you'd got to be President of the United States,"
said Eliza.

"How could ze presiman won a show?" asked May.

"How could that old fortune-teller know what I'm going to be?" Will
would answer, disdainfully. "I rather guess I can have a show, in spite
of all the fortune-tellers in the country. I'll tell you right now,
girls, I don't propose to be President, but I do mean to have a show!"

Such temerity in disputing one's destiny was appalling; and though our
ideas of destiny were rather vague, we could grasp one dreadful fact:
Will had refused to be President of the United States! So we ran crying
to mother, and burying our faces in her lap, sobbed out: "Oh, mother!
Will says he ain't going to be President. Don't he have to be?"

Still, in spite of Will's fine scorn of fortune-tellers, the prophecy
concerning his future must have been sometimes in his mind. This was
shown in an episode that the writer is in duty bound, as a veracious
chronicler, to set down.

Our neighbor, Mr. Hathaway, had a son, Eugene, of about Will's age, and
the two were fast friends. One day, when Will was visiting at Eugene's
house, the boys introduced themselves to a barrel of hard cider.
Temperance sentiment had not progressed far enough to bring hard cider
under the ban, and Mr. Hathaway had lately pressed out a quantity of the
old-fashioned beverage. The boys, supposing it a harmless drink, took
all they desired--much more than they could carry. They were in a
deplorable condition when Mr. Hathaway found them; and much distressed,
the good old man put Eugene to bed and brought Will home.

The family hero returned to us with a flourish of trumpets. He stood up
in the wagon and sang and shouted; and when Mr. Hathaway reproved him,
"Don't talk to me," was his lofty rejoinder. "You forget that I am to be
President of the United States."

There is compensation for everything. Will never touched cider again;
and never again could he lord it over his still admiring but no longer
docile sisters. If he undertook to boss or tease us more than to our
fancy, we would subdue him with an imitation of his grandiloquent,
"You forget that I am to be President of the United States." Indeed, so
severe was this retaliation that we seldom saw him the rest of the day.

But he got even with us when "preacher day" came around.

Like "Little Breeches" father, Will never did go in much on religion,
and when the ministers assembled for "quarterly meeting" at our house,
we never knew what to expect from him. Mother was a Methodist, and as
our log house was larger than the others in the valley, it fell to our
lot to entertain the preachers often. We kept our preparations on the
quiet when Will was home, but he always managed to find out what was
up, and then trouble began. His first move was to "sick" Turk on the
yellow-legged chickens. They were our best ones, and the only thing we
had for the ministers to eat. Then Will would come stalking in:

"Say, mother, just saw all the yellow-legged chickens a-scooting up
the road. Methodist preachers must be in the wind, for the old hens are
flying like sixty!"

"Now, Will, you call Turk off, and round up those chickens right away."

"Catch meself!" And Will would dance around and tease so he nearly drove
us all distracted. It was with the greatest difficulty that mother could
finally prevail upon him to round up the chickens. That done, he would
tie up the pump-handle, milk the cows dry, strew the path to the gate
with burrs and thistles, and stick up a sign, "Thorney is the path and
stickery the way that leedith unto the kingdom of heaven. Amen!"

Then when mother had put a nice clean valance, freshly starched and
ruffled, around the big four-poster bed in the sitting-room, Will would
daub it up with smearcase, and just before the preachers arrived, sneak
in under it, and wait for prayers.

Mother always desired us to file in quietly, but we couldn't pass the
bed without our legs being pinched; so we "hollered," but were afraid to
tell mother the reason before the ministers. We had to bear it, but we
snickered ourselves when the man Will called "Elder Green Persimmon,"
because when he prayed his mouth went inside out, came mincing into
the room, and as he passed the valance and got a pinch, jerked out a
sour-grape sneeze:

"Mercy on us! I thought I was bitten by that fierce dog of yours, Mrs.
Cody; but it must have been a burr."

Then the "experiences" would begin. Will always listened quietly,
until the folks began telling how wicked they had been before they got
religion; then he would burst in with a vigorous "Amen!"

The elders did not know Will's voice; so they would get warmed up by
degree as the amens came thicker and faster. When he had worked them
all up to a red-hot pitch, Will would start that awful snort of his
that always made us double up with giggles, and with a loud
cockle-doodle-doo! would bolt from the bed like a lightning flash and
make for the window.

So "preacher day," as Will always called it, became the torment of our

To tell the truth, Will always was teasing us, but if he crooked his
finger at us we would bawl. We bawled and squalled from morning till
night. Yet we fairly worshiped him, and cried harder when he went away
than when he was home.


WILL was not long at home. The Mormons, who were settled in Utah,
rebelled when the government, objecting to the quality of justice meted
out by Brigham Young, sent a federal judge to the territory. Troops,
under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston, were dispatched
to quell the insurrection, and Russell, Majors & Waddell contracted to
transport stores and beef cattle to the army massing against the Mormons
in the fall of 1857. The train was a large one, better prepared against
such an attack as routed the McCarthy brothers earlier in the summer;
yet its fate was the same.

Will was assigned to duty as "extra" under Lew Simpson, an experienced
wagon-master, and was subject to his orders only. There was the double
danger of Mormons and Indians, so the pay was good. Forty dollars a
month in gold looked like a large sum to an eleven-year-old.

Will's second departure was quite as tragic as the first. We girls,
as before, were loud in our wailings, and offered to forgive him the
depredations in the doll-house and all his teasings, if only he would
not go away and be scalped by the Indians. Mother said little, but
her anxious look, as she recalled the perils of the former trip, spoke
volumes. He carried with him the memory of the open-mouthed admiration
of little Charlie, to whom "Brother Will" was the greatest hero in the
world. Turk's grief at the parting was not a whit less than ours, and
the faithful old fellow seemed to realize that in Will's absence the
duty of the family protector devolved on him; so he made no attempt to
follow Will beyond the gate.

The train made good progress, and more than half the journey to Fort
Bridger was accomplished without a setback. When the Rockies were
reached, a noon halt was made near Green River, and here the men were
surrounded and overcome by a large force of Danites, the "Avenging
Angels" of the Mormon Church, who had "stolen the livery of the court of
heaven to serve the devil in." These were responsible for the atrocious
Mountain Meadow Massacre, in June of this same year, though the wily
"Saints" had planned to place the odium of an unprovoked murder of
innocent women and children upon the Indians, who had enough to answer
for, and in this instance were but the tools of the Mormon Church.
Brigham Young repudiated his accomplice, and allowed John D. Lee to
become the scapegoat. The dying statement of this man is as pathetic as
Cardinal Wolsey's arraignment of Henry VIII.

"A victim must be had," said he, "and I am that victim. For thirty years
I studied to make Brigham Young's will my law. See now what I have come
to this day. I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner. I
do not fear death. I cannot go to a worse place than I am now in."

John D. Lee deserved his fate, but Brigham Young was none the less a

The Danites spared the lives of the trainmen, but they made sad havoc
of the supplies. These they knew to be intended for the use of the army
opposed to Brigham Young. They carried off all the stores they could
handle, drove with them or stampeded the cattle, and burned the wagons.
The trainmen were permitted to retain one wagon and team, with just
enough supplies to last them to army headquarters.

It was a disheartened, discomfited band that reached Fort Bridger. The
information that two other trains had been destroyed added to their
discouragement, for that meant that they, in common with the other
trainmen and the soldiers at the fort, must subsist on short rations for
the winter. There were nearly four hundred of these trainmen, and it was
so late in the season that they had no choice but to remain where they
were until spring opened.

It was an irksome winter. The men at the fort hauled their firewood two
miles; as the provisions dwindled, one by one the oxen were slaughtered,
and when this food supply was exhausted, starvation reared its gaunt
form. Happily the freighters got word of the situation, and a relief
team reached the fort before the spring was fairly opened.

As soon as practicable the return journey was undertaken. At Fort
Laramie two large trains were put in charge of Lew Simpson, as brigade
wagon-master, and Will was installed as courier between the two
caravans, which traveled twenty miles apart--plenty of elbow room for
camping and foraging.

One morning, Simpson, George Woods, and Will, who were in the rear
train, set out for the forward one, mounted upon mules, and armed, as
the trainmen always were, with rifle, knife, and a brace of revolvers.
About half of the twenty miles had been told off when the trio saw a
band of Indians emerge from a clump of trees half a mile away and sweep
toward them. Flight with the mules was useless; resistance promised
hardly more success, as the Indians numbered a full half-hundred: but
surrender was death and mutilation.

"Shoot the mules, boys!" ordered Simpson, and five minutes later two men
and a boy looked grimly over a still palpitating barricade.

The defense was simple; rifles at range, revolvers for close quarters,
knives at the last. The chief, easily distinguished by his feathered
head-dress, was assigned to Will. Already his close shooting was the
pride of the frontiersmen. Simpson's coolness steadied the lad, who
realized that the situation was desperate.

The Indians came on with the rush and scream of the March wind. "Fire!"
said Simpson, and three ponies galloped riderless as the smoke curled
from three rifle barrels.

Dismayed by the fall of their chief, the redskins wheeled and rode out
of range. Will gave a sigh of relief.

"Load up again, Billy!" smiled Simpson. "They'll soon be back."

"They've only three or four rifles," said Woods. There had been little
lead in the cloud of arrows.

"Here they come!" warned Simpson, and the trio ran their rifles out over
the dead mules.

Three more riderless ponies; but the Indians kept on, supposing they
had drawn the total fire of the whites. A revolver fusillade undeceived
them, and the charging column wavered and broke for cover.

Simpson patted Will on the shoulder as they reloaded. "You're a game
one, Billy!" said he.

"You bet he is," echoed Woods, coolly drawing an arrow from his
shoulder. "How is that, Lew--poisoned?"

Will waited breathless for the decision, and his relief was as great as
Woods's when Simpson, after a critical scrutiny, answered "No."

The wound was hastily dressed, and the little company gave an undivided
attention to the foe, who were circling around their quarry, hanging to
the off sides of their ponies and firing under them. With a touch of
the grim humor that plain life breeds, Will declared that the mules were
veritable pincushions, so full of arrows were they stuck.

The besieged maintained a return fire, dropping pony after pony, and
occasionally a rider. This proved expensive sport to the Indians, and
the whole party finally withdrew from range.

There was a long breathing spell, which the trio improved by
strengthening their defense, digging up the dirt with their knives
and piling it upon the mules. It was tedious work, but preferable to
inactivity and cramped quarters.

Two hours went by, and the plan of the enemy was disclosed. A light
breeze arose, and the Indians fired the prairie. Luckily the grass
near the trail was short, and though the heat was intense and the smoke
stifling, the barricade held off the flame. Simpson had kept a close
watch, and presently gave the order to fire. A volley went through
the smoke and blaze, and the yell that followed proved that it was
not wasted. This last ruse failing, the Indians settled down to their
favorite game--waiting.

A thin line of them circled out of range; ponies were picketed and tents
pitched; night fell, and the stars shot out.

As Woods was wounded, he was excused from guard duty, Will and Simpson
keeping watch in turn. Will took the first vigil, and, tired though he
was, experienced no difficulty in keeping awake, but he went soundly to
sleep the moment he was relieved. He was wakened by a dream that Turk
was barking to him, and vaguely alarmed, he sat up to find Simpson
sleeping across his rifle.

The midnight hush was unbroken, and the darkness lay thick upon the
plain, but shapes blacker than night hovered near, and Will laid his
hand on Simpson's shoulder.

The latter was instantly alive, and Woods was wakened. A faint click
went away on the night breeze, and a moment later three jets of flame
carried warning to the up-creeping foe that the whites were both alive
and on the alert.

There was no more sleep within the barricade. The dawn grew into day,
and anxious eyes scanned the trail for reinforcements--coming surely,
but on what heavy and slow-turning wheels!

Noon came and passed. The anxious eyes questioned one another. Had the
rear train been overcome by a larger band of savages? But suddenly
half a dozen of the Indians were seen to spring up with gestures of
excitement, and spread the alarm around the circle.

"They hear the cracking of the bull-whips," said Simpson.

The Indians who had seen the first team pass, and had assumed that
Simpson and his companions were straggling members of it, did not
expect another train so soon. There was "mounting in hot haste," and the
Indians rode away in one bunch for the distant foothills, just as the
first ox-team broke into view.

And never was there fairer picture to more appreciative eyes than those
same lumbering, clumsy animals, and never sweeter music than the harsh
staccato of the bullwhips.

When hunger was appeased, and Woods's wound properly dressed, Will, for
the second time, found himself a hero among the plainsmen. His nerve and
coolness were dwelt upon by Simpson, and to the dream that waked him in
season was ascribed the continued life on earth of the little company.
Will, however, was disposed to allow Turk the full credit for the

The remainder of the trip was devoid of special incident, and as Will
neared home he hurried on in advance of the train. His heart beat high
as he thought of the dear faces awaiting him, unconscious that he was so

But the home toward which he was hastening with beating heart and winged
heels was shadowed by a great grief. Sister Martha's married life,
though brief, had amply justified her brother's estimate of the man into
whose hands she had given her life. She was taken suddenly ill, and it
was not until several months later that Will learned that the cause of
her sickness was the knowledge that had come to her of the faithless
nature of her husband. The revelation was made through the visit of one
of Mr. C----'s creditors, who, angered at a refusal to liquidate a debt,
accused Mr. C----of being a bigamist, and threatened to set the law upon
him. The blow was fatal to one of Martha's pure and affectionate
nature, already crushed by neglect and cruelty. All that night she
was delirious, and her one thought was "Willie," and the danger he was
in--not alone the physical danger, but the moral and spiritual peril
that she feared lay in association with rough and reckless men. She
moaned and tossed, and uttered incoherent cries; but as the morning
broke the storm went down, and the anxious watchers fancied that she
slept. Suddenly she sat up, the light of reason again shining in her
eyes, and with a joyous cry, "Tell mother Willie's saved! Willie's
saved!" she fell back on her pillow, and her spirit passed away. On her
face was the peace that the world can neither give nor take away. The
veil of the Unknown had been drawn aside for a space. She had "sent her
soul through the Invisible," and it had found the light that lit the
last weary steps through the Valley of the Shadow.

Mr. C---- had moved from Leavenworth to Johnson County, twenty-five
miles away, and as there were neither telegraph nor mail facilities,
he had the body sent home, himself accompanying it. Thus our first
knowledge of Martha's sickness came when her lifeless clay was borne
across our threshold, the threshold that, less than a year before, she
had crossed a bright and bonny bride. Dazed by the shock, we longed
for Will's return before we must lay his idolized sister forever in her
narrow cell.

All of the family, Mr. C---- included, were gathered in the
sitting-room, sad and silent, when Turk suddenly raised his head,
listened a second, and bounded out of doors.

"Will is coming!" cried mother, and we all ran to the door. Turk was
racing up the long hill, at the top of which was a moving speck that the
dog knew to be his master. His keen ears had caught the familiar whistle
half a mile away.

When Turk had manifested his joy at the meeting, he prepared Will for
the bereavement that awaited him; he put his head down and emitted a
long and repeated wail. Will's first thought was for mother, and he
fairly ran down the hill. The girls met him some distance from the
house, and sobbed out the sad news.

And when he had listened, the lad that had passed unflinching through
two Indian fights, broke down, and sobbed with the rest of us.

"Did that rascal, C----, have anything to do with her death?" he asked,
when the first passion of grief was over.

Julia, who knew no better at the time, replied that Mr. C----was the
kindest of husbands, and was crushed with sorrow at his loss; but spite
of the assurance, Will, when he reached the house, had neither look nor
word for him. He just put his arms about mother's neck, and mingled his
grief with her words of sympathy and love.

Martha was shortly after laid by father's side, and as we stood weeping
in that awful moment when the last spadeful of earth completes the
sepulture, Will, no longer master of himself, stepped up before Mr.

"Murderer," he said, "one day you shall answer to me for the death of
her who lies there!"

When Will next presented himself at Mr. Majors's office, he was told
that his services had been wholly satisfactory, and that he could have
work at any time he desired. This was gratifying, but a sweeter pleasure
was to lay his winter's wages in mother's lap. Through his help, and her
business ability, our pecuniary affairs were in good condition. We
were comfortably situated, and as Salt Creek Valley now boasted of a
schoolhouse, mother wished Will to enter school. He was so young when
he came West that his school-days had been few; nor was the prospect
of adding to their number alluring. After the excitement of life on the
plains, going to school was dull work; but Will realized that there was
a world beyond the prairie's horizon, and he entered school, determined
to do honest work.

Our first teacher was of the good, old-fashioned sort. He taught
because he had to live. He had no love for his work, and knew nothing of
children. The one motto he lived up to was, "Spare the rod and spoil the
child." As Will was a regular Tartar in the schoolroom, he, more than
all the other scholars, made him put his smarting theory into practice.
Almost every afternoon was attended with the dramatic attempt to switch
Will. The schoolroom was separated into two grand divisions, "the boys
on teacher's side," and those "on the Cody side." The teacher would send
his pets out to get switches, and part of our division--we girls, of
course--would begin to weep; while those who had spunk would spit on
their hands, clench their fists, and "dare 'em to bring them switches
in!" Those were hot times in old Salt Creek Valley!

One morning Turk, too, was seized with educational ambition, and
accompanied Will to school. We tried to drive him home, but he followed
at a distance, and as we entered the schoolhouse, he emerged from the
shrubbery by the roadside and crept under the building.

Alas for the scholars, and alas for the school! Another ambitious dog
reposed beneath the temple of learning.

Will, about that time, was having a bad quarter of an hour. An
examination into his knowledge, or lack of it, was under way, and he was
hard pressed. Had he been asked how to strike a trail, locate water,
or pitch a tent, his replies would have been full and accurate, but
the teacher's queries seemed as foolish as the "Reeling and Writhing,
Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision" of the Mock Turtle in
"Alice in Wonderland."

Turk effected an unexpected rescue. Snarls were heard beneath the
schoolhouse; then savage growls and yelps, while the floor resounded
with the whacks of the canine combatants. With a whoop that would not
have disgraced an Indian, Will was out of doors, shouting, "Eat him up,
Turk! Eat him up!"

The owner of the opposing dog was one Steve Gobel. 'Twixt him and Will
a good-sized feud existed. Steve was also on the scene, with a defiant,
"Sic 'em, Nigger!" and the rest of the school followed in his wake.

Of the twisting, yelping bundle of dog-flesh that rolled from under the
schoolhouse it was difficult to say which was Turk and which Nigger.
Eliza and I called to Turk, and wept because he would not hear. The
teacher ordered the children back to their studies, but they were
as deaf as Turk; whereat the enraged pedagogue hopped wildly about,
flourishing a stick and whacking every boy that strayed within reach of

Nigger soon had enough of the fight, and striking his tail-colors, fled
yelping from the battle-ground. His master, Steve Gobel, a large youth
of nineteen or twenty years, pulled off his coat to avenge upon Will
the dog's defeat, but the teacher effected a Solomon-like compromise by
whipping both boys for bringing their dogs to school, after which the
interrupted session was resumed.

But Gobel nursed his wrath, and displayed his enmity in a thousand small
ways. Will paid no attention to him, but buckled down to his school
work. Will was a born "lady's man," and when Miss Mary Hyatt complicated
the feud 'twixt him and Steve, it hurried to its climax. Mary was older
than Will, but she plainly showed her preference for him over Master
Gobel. Steve had never distinguished himself in an Indian fight; he was
not a hero, but just a plain boy.

Now, indeed, was Will's life unendurable; "patience had had its perfect
work." He knew that a boy of twelve, however strong and sinewy, was
not a match for an almost full-grown man; so, to balance matters, he
secreted on his person an old bowie-knife. When next he met Steve,
the latter climaxed his bullying tactics by striking the object of his
resentment; but he was unprepared for the sudden leap that bore him
backward to the earth. Size and strength told swiftly in the struggle
that succeeded, but Will, with a dextrous thrust, put the point of the
bowie into the fleshy part of Steve's lower leg, a spot where he knew
the cut would not be serious.

The stricken bully shrieked that he was killed; the children gathered
round, and screamed loudly at the sight of blood. "Will Cody has killed
Steve Gobel!" was the wailing cry, and Will, though he knew Steve was
but pinked, began to realize that frontier styles of combat were not
esteemed in communities given up to the soberer pursuits of spelling,
arithmetic, and history. Steve, he knew, was more frightened than hurt;
but the picture of the prostrate, ensanguined youth, and the group of
awestricken children, bore in upon his mind the truth that his act was
an infraction of the civil code; that even in self-defense, he had no
right to use a knife unless his life was threatened.

The irate pedagogue was hastening to the scene, and after one glance at
him, Will incontinently fled. At the road he came upon a wagon train,
and with a shout of joy recognized in the "boss" John Willis, a
wagon-master employed by Russell, Majors & Waddell, and a great friend
of the "boy extra." Will climbed up behind Willis on his horse, and
related his escapade to a close and sympathetic listener.

"If you say so, Billy," was his comment, "I'll go over and lick the
whole outfit, and stampede the school."

"No, let the school alone," replied Will; "but I guess I'll graduate, if
you'll let me go along with you this trip."

Willis readily agreed, but insisted upon returning to the schoolhouse.
"I m not going," said he, "to let you be beaten by a bully of a boy, and
a Yankee school-teacher, with a little learning, but not a bit of sand."
His idea of equalizing forces was that he and "Little Billy" should
fight against the pedagogue and Steve.

Will consented, and they rode back to the schoolhouse, on the door
of which Willis pounded with his revolver butt, and when the door was
opened he invited Gobel and the "grammar man" to come forth and do
battle. But Steve had gone home, and the teacher, on seeing the two
gladiators, fled, while the scholars, dismissing themselves, ran home in
a fright.

That night mother received a note from the teacher.

He was not hired, he wrote, to teach desperadoes; therefore Will was
dismissed. But Will had already dismissed himself, and had rejoined the
larger school whose walls are the blue bowl called the sky. And long
after was his name used by the pedagogue to conjure up obedience in his
pupils; unless they kissed the rod, they, too, might go to the bad, and
follow in Will Cody's erring footsteps.

Willis and Will had gone but a piece on the road when horsemen were seen

"Mr. Gobel and the officers are after me," said Will.

"Being after you and gittin' you are two different things," said the
wagon-master. "Lie low, and I'll settle the men."

Mr. Gobel and his party rode up with the information that they had come
to arrest Will; but they got no satisfaction from Willis. He would not
allow them to search the wagons, and they finally rode away. That
night, when the camp was pitched, the wagon-master gave Will a mule, and
accompanied him home. We were rejoiced to see him, especially mother,
who was much concerned over his escapade.

"Oh, Will, how could you do such a thing?" she said, sorrowfully. "It is
a dreadful act to use a knife on any one."

Will disavowed any homicidal intentions; but his explanations made
little headway against mother's disapproval and her disappointment over
the interruption of his school career. As it seemed the best thing to
do, she consented to his going with the wagon train under the care of
John Willis, and the remainder of the night was passed in preparations
for the journey.


THIS trip of Will's covered only two months, and was succeeded by
another expedition, to the new post at Fort Wallace, at Cheyenne Pass.

Meanwhile mother had decided to improve the opportunity afforded by
her geographical position, and under her supervision "The Valley Grove
House" was going up.

The hotel commanded a magnificent prospect. Below lay the beautiful
Salt Creek Valley. It derived its name from the saline properties of the
little stream that rushed along its pebbly bed to empty its clear waters
into the muddy Missouri. From the vantage-ground of our location Salt
Creek looked like a silver thread, winding its way through the rich
verdure of the valley. The region was dotted with fertile farms; from
east to west ran the government road, known as the Old Salt Lake Trail,
and back of us was Cody Hill, named for my father. Our house stood on
the side hill, just above the military road, and between us and the
hilltop lay the grove that gave the hotel its name. Government hill,
which broke the eastern sky-line, hid Leavenworth and the Missouri
River, culminating to the south in Pilot Knob, the eminence on which my
father was buried, also beyond our view.

Mother's business sagacity was justified in the hotel venture. The trail
began its half-mile ascent of Cody Hill just below our house, and at
this point the expedient known as "doubling" was employed. Two teams
hauled a wagon up the steep incline, the double team returning for the
wagon left behind. Thus the progress of a wagon train, always slow,
became a very snail's pace, and the hotel was insured a full quota of
hungry trainmen.

Will found that his wages were of considerable aid to mother in the
large expense incurred by the building of the hotel; and the winter
drawing on, forbidding further freighting trips, he planned an
expedition with a party of trappers. More money was to be made at this
business during the winter than at any other time.

The trip was successful, and contained only one adventure spiced
with danger, which, as was so often the case, Will twisted to his own
advantage by coolness and presence of mind.

One morning, as he was making the round of his traps, three Indians
appeared on the trail, each leading a pony laden with pelts. One had a
gun; the others carried bows and arrows. The odds were three to one, and
the brave with the gun was the most to be feared.

This Indian dropped his bridle-rein and threw up his rifle; but before
it was at his shoulder Will had fired, and he fell forward on his face.
His companions bent their bows, one arrow passing through Will's hat and
another piercing his arm--the first wound he ever received. Will swung
his cap about his head.

"This way! Here they are!" he shouted to an imaginary party of friends
at his back. Then with his revolver he wounded another of the Indians,
who, believing reinforcements were at hand, left their ponies and fled.

Will took the ponies on the double-quick back to camp, and the trappers
decided to pull up stakes at once. It had been a profitable season, and
the few more pelts to be had were not worth the risk of an attack by
avenging Indians; so they packed their outfit, and proceeded to Fort
Laramie. Will realized a handsome sum from the sale of his captured
furs, besides those of the animals he had himself trapped.

At the fort were two men bound east, and impatient to set out, and Will,
in his haste to reach home, joined forces with them. Rather than wait
for an uncertain wagon train, they decided to chance the dangers of the
road. They bought three ponies and a pack-mule for the camp outfit, and
sallied forth in high spirits.

Although the youngest of the party, Will was the most experienced
plainsman, and was constantly on the alert. They reached the Little Blue
River without sign of Indians, but across the stream Will espied a band
of them. The redskins were as keen of eye, and straightway exchanged the
pleasures of the chase for the more exciting pursuit of human game. But
they had the river to cross; and this gave the white men a good start.
The pursuit was hot, and grew hotter, but the kindly darkness fell, and
under cover of it the trio got safely away. That night they camped in a
little ravine that afforded shelter from both Indians and weather.

A look over the ravine disclosed a cave that promised a snug harbor, and
therein Will and one of his companions spread their blankets and fell
asleep. The third man, whose duty it was to prepare the supper, kindled
a fire just inside the cave, and returned outside for a supply of fuel.
When he again entered the cave the whole interior was revealed by the
bright firelight, and after one look he gave a yell of terror, dropped
his firewood, and fled.

Will and the other chap were on their knees instantly, groping for their
rifles, in the belief that the Indians were upon them; but the sight
that met their eyes was more terror-breeding than a thousand Indians. A
dozen bleached and ghastly skeletons were gathered with them around the
camp-fire, and seemed to nod and sway, and thrust their long-chilled
bones toward the cheery blaze.

Ghastly as it was within the cave, Will found it more unpleasant in the
open. The night was cold, and a storm threatened.

"Well," said he to his companions, "we know the worst that's in there
now. Those old dead bones won't hurt us. Let's go back."

"Not if I know myself, sonny," returned one of the men decidedly, and
the other heartily agreed with him, swearing that as it was, he should
not be able to close his eyes for a week. So, after a hurried lunch upon
the cold provisions, the party mounted their ponies and pushed on. The
promised snowstorm materialized, and shortly became a young blizzard,
and obliged to dismount and camp in the open prairie, they made a
miserable night of it.

But it had an end, as all things have, and with the morning they resumed
the trail, reaching Marysville, on the Big Blue, after many trials and

From here the trail was easier, as the country was pretty well settled,
and Will reached home without further adventure or misadventure. Here
there was compensation for hardship in the joy of handing over to mother
all his money, realizing that it would lighten her burdens--burdens
borne that she might leave her children provided for when she could
no longer repel the dread messenger, that in all those years seemed to
hover so near that even our childish hearts felt its presence ere it
actually crossed the threshold.

It was early in March when Will returned from his trapping expedition.
Mother's business was flourishing, though she herself grew frailer with
the passing of each day. The summer that came on was a sad one for us
all, for it marked Turk's last days on earth. One evening he was lying
in the yard, when a strange dog came up the road, bounded in, gave Turk
a vicious bite, and went on. We dressed the wound, and thought little of
it, until some horsemen rode up, with the inquiry, "Have you seen a dog
pass here?"

We answered indignantly that a strange dog had passed, and had bitten
our dog.

"Better look out for him, then," warned the men as they rode away. "The
dog is mad."

Consternation seized us. It was dreadful to think of Turk going mad--he
who had been our playmate from infancy, and who, through childhood's
years, had grown more dear to us than many human beings could; but
mother knew the matter was serious, and issued her commands. Turk must
be shut up, and we must not even visit him for a certain space. And so
we shut him up, hoping for the best; but it speedily became plain that
the poison was working in his veins, and that the greatest kindness we
could do him was to kill him.

That was a frightful alternative. Will utterly refused to shoot him, and
the execution was delegated to the hired man, Will stipulating that
none of his weapons should be used, and that he be allowed to get out of

Late that afternoon, just before sunset, we assembled in melancholy
silence for the funeral. A grave had been dug on the highest point of
the eastern extremity of Cody Hill, and decorated in black ribbons, we
slowly filed up the steep path, carrying Turk's body on a pine board
softened with moss. Will led the procession with his hat in his hand,
and every now and then his fist went savagely at his eyes. When we
reached the grave, we formed around it in a tearful circle, and Will,
who always called me "the little preacher," told me to say the Lord's
Prayer. The sun was setting, and the brilliant western clouds were
shining round about us. There was a sighing in the treetops far below
us, and the sounds in the valley were muffled and indistinct.

"Our Father which art in heaven," I whispered softly, as all the
children bent their heads, "Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." I paused, and the other
children said the rest in chorus. The next day Will procured a large
block of red bloodstone, which abounds in that country, squared it off,
carved the name of Turk upon it in large letters, and we placed it at
the head of the grave.

To us there had been no incongruity in the funeral ceremonials and
burial. Turk had given us all that dog could give; we, for our part,
gave him Christian sepulture. Our sorrow was sincere. We had lost an
honest, loyal friend. For many succeeding days his grave was garlanded
with fresh flowers, placed there by loving hands. Vale Turk! Would that
our friends of the higher evolution were all as stanch as thou!


     Only a dog! but the tears fall fast.
     As we lay him to rest underneath the green sod,
     Where bountiful nature, the sweet summer through,
     Will deck him with daisies and bright goldenrod.

     The loving thought of a boyish heart
     Marks the old dog's grave with a bloodstone red;
     The name, carved in letters rough and rude,
     Keeps his memory green, though his life be sped.
     For the daring young hero of wood and plain,

     Like all who are generous, strong, and brave,
     Has a heart that is loyal and kind and true,
     And shames not to weep o'er his old friend's grave.

     Only a dog, do you say? but I deem
     A dog who with faithfulness fills his trust,
     More worthy than many a man to be given
     A tribute of love, when but ashes and dust.

An unusually good teacher now presided at the schoolhouse in our
neighborhood, and Will was again persuaded into educational paths.
He put in a hard winter's work; but with the coming of spring and its
unrest, the swelling of buds and the springing of grass, the return
of the birds and the twittering from myriad nests, the Spirits of the
Plains beckoned to him, and he joined a party of gold-hunters on the
long trail to Pike's Peak.

The gold excitement was at its apogee in 1860. By our house had passed
the historic wagon bearing on its side the classic motto, "Pike's Peak
or Bust!" Afterward, stranded by the wayside, a whole history of failure
and disappointment, borne with grim humor, was told by the addition of
the eloquent word, "Busted!"

For all his adventures, Will was only fourteen, and although tall for
his age, he had not the physical strength that might have been expected
from his hardy life. It was not strange that he should take the gold
fever; less so that mother should dread to see him again leave home to
face unknown perils; and it is not at all remarkable that upon reaching
Auraria, now Denver, he should find that fortunes were not lying around
much more promiscuously in a gold country than in any other.

Recent events have confirmed a belief that under the excitement of a
gold craze men exercise less judgment than at any other time. Except in
placer mining, which almost any one can learn, gold mining is a science.
Now and again a nugget worth a fortune is picked up, but the average
mortal can get a better livelihood, with half the work, in almost any
other field of effort. To become rich a knowledge of ores and mining
methods is indispensable.

But Will never reached the gold-fields. Almost the first person he met
on the streets of Julesberg was George Chrisman, who had been chief
wagon-master for Russell, Majors & Waddell. Will had become well
acquainted with Chrisman on the various expeditions he had made for the

This man was located at Julesberg as agent for the Pony Express line,
which was in process of formation. This line was an enterprise of
Russell, Majors & Waddell. Mr. Russell met in Washington the Senator
from California. This gentleman knew that the Western firm of
contractors was running a daily stagecoach from the Missouri River to
Sacramento, and he urged upon Mr. Russell the desirability of operating
a pony express line along the same route. There was already a line known
as the "Butterfield Route," but this was circuitous; the fastest time
ever made on it was twenty-one days.

Mr. Russell laid the matter before his partners. They were opposed
to it, as they were sure it would be a losing venture; but the senior
member urged the matter so strongly that they consented to try it, for
the good of the country, with no expectation of profit. They utilized
the stagecoach stations already established, and only about two months
were required to put the Pony Express line in running order.

Riders received from a hundred and twenty to a hundred and twenty-five
dollars a month, but they earned it. In order to stand the life great
physical strength and endurance were necessary; in addition, riders must
be cool, brave, and resourceful. Their lives were in constant peril,
and they were obliged to do double duty in case the comrade that was to
relieve them had been disabled by outlaws or Indians.

Two hundred and fifty miles was the daily distance that must be made;
this constituted an average of a little over ten miles an hour. In the
exceedingly rough country this average could not be kept up; to balance
it, there were a few places in the route where the rider was expected to
cover twenty-five miles an hour.

In making such a run, it is hardly necessary to say that no extra weight
was carried. Letters were written on the finest tissue paper; the charge
was at the rate of five dollars for half an ounce. A hundred of
these letters would make a bulk not much larger than an ordinary

The mail-pouches were never to carry more than twenty pounds. They
were leather bags, impervious to moisture; the letters, as a further
protection, were wrapped in oiled silk. The pouches were locked, sealed,
and strapped to the rider's side. They were not unlocked during the
journey from St. Joseph to Sacramento.

The first trip was made in ten days; this was a saving of eleven days
over the best time ever made by the "Butterfield Route." Sometimes the
time was shortened to eight days; but an average trip was made in nine.
The distance covered in this time was nineteen hundred and sixty-six

President Buchanan's last presidential message was carried in December,
1860, in a few hours over eight days. President Lincoln's inaugural, the
following March, was transmitted in seven days and seventeen hours. This
was the quickest trip ever made.

The Pony Express line made its worth at once felt. It would have become
a financial success but that a telegraph line was put into operation
over the same stretch of territory, under the direction of Mr. Edward
Creighton. The first message was sent over the wires the 24th of
October, 1861. The Pony Express line had outlived its usefulness, and
was at once discontinued. But it had accomplished its main purpose,
which was to determine whether the route by which it went could be made
a permanent track for travel the year through. The cars of the Union
Pacific road now travel nearly the same old trails as those followed by
the daring riders of frontier days.

Mr. Chrisman gave Will a cordial greeting. He explained the business of
the express line to his young friend, and stated that the company had
nearly perfected its arrangements. It was now buying ponies and putting
them into good condition, preparatory to beginning operations. He added,

"It's a pity you're not a few years older, Billy. I would give you a job
as Pony Express rider. There's good pay in it."

Will was at once greatly taken with the idea, and begged so hard to be
given a trial that Mr. Chrisman consented to give him work for a month.
If the life proved too hard for him, he was to be laid off at the end
of that time. He had a short run of forty-five miles; there were three
relay stations, and he was expected to make fifteen miles an hour.

The 3d of April, 1860, Mr. Russell stood ready to receive the mail from
a fast New York train at St. Joseph. He adjusted the letter-pouch on the
pony in the presence of an excited crowd. Besides the letters, several
large New York papers printed special editions on tissue paper for
this inaugural trip. The crowd plucked hairs from the tail of the first
animal to start on the novel journey, and preserved these hairs as
talismans. The rider mounted, the moment for starting came, the signal
was given, and off he dashed.

At the same moment Sacramento witnessed a similar scene; the rider of
that region started on the two thousand mile ride eastward as the other
started westward. All the way along the road the several other riders
were ready for their initial gallop.

Will looked forward eagerly to the day when the express line should
be set in motion, and when the hour came it found him ready, standing
beside his horse, and waiting for the rider whom he was to relieve.
There was a clatter of hoofs, and a horseman dashed up and flung him
the saddlebags. Will threw them upon the waiting pony, vaulted into the
saddle, and was off like the wind.

The first relay station was reached on time, and Will changed with
hardly a second's loss of time, while the panting, reeking animal he had
ridden was left to the care of the stock-tender. This was repeated at
the end of the second fifteen miles, and the last station was reached a
few minutes ahead of time. The return trip was made in good order, and
then Will wrote to us of his new position, and told us that he was in
love with the life.


AFTER being pounded against a saddle three dashes daily for three
months, to the tune of fifteen miles an hour, Will began to feel a
little loose in his joints, and weary withal, but he was determined
to "stick it out." Besides the daily pounding, the track of the Pony
Express rider was strewn with perils. A wayfarer through that wild
land was more likely to run across outlaws and Indians than to pass
unmolested, and as it was known that packages of value were frequently
dispatched by the Pony Express line, the route was punctuated by

Will had an eye out every trip for a hold-up, but three months went by
before he added that novelty to his other experiences. One day, as he
flew around a bend in a narrow pass, he confronted a huge revolver in
the grasp of a man who manifestly meant business, and whose salutation

"Halt! Throw up your hands!"

Most people do, and Will's hands were raised reluctantly. The highwayman
advanced, saying, not unkindly:

"I don't want to hurt you, boy, but I do want them bags."

Money packages were in the saddlebags, and Will was minded to save them
if he could, so, as the outlaw reached for the booty, Will touched the
pony with his foot, and the upshot was satisfactory to an unexpected
degree. The plunge upset the robber, and as the pony swept over him he
got a vicious blow from one hoof. Will wheeled for a revolver duel, but
the foe was prostrate, stunned, and bleeding at the head. Will disarmed
the fellow, and pinioned his arms behind him, and then tied up his
broken head. Will surmised that the prisoner must have a horse hidden
hard by, and a bit of a search disclosed it. When he returned with the
animal, its owner had opened his eyes and was beginning to remember a
few things. Will helped him to mount, and out of pure kindness tied him
on; then he straddled his own pony, and towed the dismal outfit along
with him.

It was the first time that he had been behind on his run, but by way of
excuse he offered to Mr. Chrisman a broken-headed and dejected gentleman
tied to a horse's back; and Chrisman, with a grin, locked the excuse up
for future reference.

A few days after this episode Will received a letter from Julia, telling
him that mother was ill, and asking him to come home. He at once sought
out Mr. Chrisman, and giving his reason, asked to be relieved.

"I'm sorry your mother is sick," was the answer, "but I'm glad something
has occurred to make you quit this life. It's wearing you out, Billy,
and you're too gritty to give it up without a good reason."

Will reached home to find mother slightly improved. For three weeks was
he content to remain idly at home; then (it was November of 1860) his
unquiet spirit bore him away on another trapping expedition, this time
with a young friend named David Phillips.

They bought an ox-team and wagon to transport the traps, camp outfit,
and provisions, and took along a large supply of ammunition, besides
extra rifles. Their destination was the Republican River. It coursed
more than a hundred miles from Leavenworth, but the country about it was
reputed rich in beaver. Will acted as scout on the journey, going ahead
to pick out trails, locate camping grounds, and look out for breakers.
The information concerning the beaver proved correct; the game was
indeed so plentiful that they concluded to pitch a permanent camp and
see the winter out.

They chose a hollow in a sidehill, and enlarged it to the dimensions of
a decent-sized room. A floor of logs was put in, and a chimney fashioned
of stones, the open lower part doing double duty as cook-stove and
heater; the bed was spread in the rear, and the wagon sheltered the
entrance. A corral of poles was built for the oxen, and one corner of
it protected by boughs. Altogether, they accounted their winter quarters
thoroughly satisfactory and agreeable.

The boys had seen no Indians on their trip out, and were not concerned
in that quarter, though they were too good plainsmen to relax their
vigilance. There were other foes, as they discovered the first night in
their new quarters. They were aroused by a commotion in the corral where
the oxen were confined, and hurrying out with their rifles, they found
a huge bear intent upon a feast of beef. The oxen were bellowing in
terror, one of them dashing crazily about the inclosure, and the other
so badly hurt that it could not get up.

Phillips, who was in the lead, fired first, but succeeded only in
wounding the bear. Pain was now added to the savagery of hunger, and the
infuriated monster rushed upon Phillips. Dave leaped back, but his foot
slipped on a bit of ice, and he went down with a thud, his rifle flying
from his hand as he struck.

But there was a cool young head and a steady hand behind him. A ball
from Will's rifle entered the distended mouth of the onrushing bear and
pierced the brain, and the huge mass fell lifeless almost across Dave's

Phillips's nerves loosened with a snap, and he laughed for very relief
as he seized Will's hands.

"That's the time you saved my life, old fellow!" said he. "Perhaps I can
do as much for you sometime."

"That's the first bear I ever killed," said Will, more interested in
that topic than in the one Dave held forth on.

One of the oxen was found to be mortally hurt, and a bullet ended its
misery. Will then took his first lesson in the gentle art of skinning a

Dave's chance to square his account with Will came a fortnight later.
They were chasing a bunch of elk, when Will fell, and discovered that he
could not rise.

"I'm afraid I've broken my leg," said he, as Dave ran to him.

Phillips had once been a medical student, and he examined the leg with a
professional eye. "You're right, Billy; the leg's broken," he reported.

Then he went to work to improvise splints and bind up the leg; and this
done, he took Will on his back and bore him to the dugout. Here the leg
was stripped, and set in carefully prepared splints, and the whole bound
up securely.

The outlook was unpleasant, cheerfully as one might regard it. Living
in the scoop of a sidehill when one is strong and able to get about and
keep the blood coursing is one thing; living there pent up through a
tedious winter is quite another. Dave meditated as he worked away at the
pair of crutches.

"Tell you what I think I'd better do," said he. "The nearest settlement
is some hundred miles away, and I can get there and back in twenty days.
Suppose I make the trip, get a team for our wagon, and come back for

The idea of being left alone and well-nigh helpless struck dismay to
Will's heart, but there was no help for it, and he assented. Dave put
matters into shipshape, piled wood in the dugout, cooked a quantity of
food and put it where Will could reach it without rising, and fetched
several days' supply of water. Mother, ever mindful of Will's education,
had put some school-books in the wagon, and Dave placed these beside the
food and water. When Phillips finally set out, driving the surviving ox
before him, he left behind a very lonely and homesick boy.

During the first day of his confinement Will felt too desolate to eat,
much less to read; but as he grew accustomed to solitude he derived real
pleasure from the companionship of books. Perhaps in all his life he
never extracted so much benefit from study as during that brief period
of enforced idleness, when it was his sole means of making the dragging
hours endurable. Dave, he knew, could not return in less than twenty
days, and one daily task, never neglected, was to cut a notch in the
stick that marked the humdrum passage of the days. Within the week he
could hobble about on his crutches for a short distance; after that he
felt more secure.

A fortnight passed. And one day, weary with his studies, he fell asleep
over his books. Some one touched his shoulder, and looking up, he saw an
Indian in war paint and feathers.

"How?" said Will, with a show of friendliness, though he knew the brave
was on the war-path.

Half a score of bucks followed at the heels of the first, squeezing into
the little dugout until there was barely room for them to sit down.

With a sinking heart Will watched them enter, but he plucked up
spirit again when the last, a chief, pushed in, for in this warrior he
recognized an Indian that he had once done a good turn.

Whatever Lo's faults, he never forgets a kindness any more than he
forgets an injury. The chief, who went by the name of Rain-in-the-Face,
at once recognized Will, and asked him what he was doing in that place.
Will displayed his bandages, and related the mishap that had made them
necessary, and refreshed the chief's memory of a certain occasion when
a blanket and provisions had drifted his way. Rain-in-the-Face replied,
with proper gravity, that he and his chums were out after scalps, and
confessed to designs upon Will's, but in consideration of Auld Lang Syne
he would spare the paleface boy.

Auld Lang Syne, however, did not save the blankets and provisions, and
the bedizened crew stripped the dugout almost bare of supplies; but Will
was thankful enough to see the back of the last of them.

Two days later a blizzard set in. Will took an inventory, and found
that, economy considered, he had food for a week; but as the storm would
surely delay Dave, he put himself on half rations.

Three weeks were now gone, and he looked for Dave momentarily; but as
night followed day, and day grew into night again, he was given over
to keen anxiety. Had Phillips lost his way? Had he failed to locate the
snow-covered dugout? Had he perished in the storm? Had he fallen victim
to Indians? These and like questions haunted the poor lad continually.
Study became impossible, and he lost his appetite for what food there
was left; but the tally on the stick was kept.

The twenty-ninth day dawned. Starvation stalked into the dugout. The
wood, too, was nigh gone. But great as was Will's physical suffering,
his mental distress was greater. He sat before a handful of fire,
shivering and hungry, wretched and despondent.

Hark! Was that his name? Choking with emotion, unable to articulate, he
listened intently. Yes; it was his name, and Dave's familiar voice, and
with all his remaining energy he made an answering call.

His voice enabled Phillips to locate the dugout, and a passage was
cleared through the snow. And when Will saw the door open, the tension
on his nerves let go, and he wept--"like a girl," as he afterward told

"God bless you, Dave!" he cried, as he clasped his friend around the


THE guns that opened on Fort Sumter set the country all ablaze. In
Kansas, where blood had already been shed, the excitement reached an
extraordinary pitch. Will desired to enlist, but mother would not listen
to the idea.

My brother had never forgotten the vow made in the post-trader's, and
now with the coming of war his opportunity seemed ripe and lawful; he
could at least take up arms against father's old-time enemies, and at
the same time serve his country. This aspect of the case was presented
to mother in glowing colors, backed by most eloquent pleading; but she
remained obdurate.

"You are too young to enlist, Willie," she said. "They would not accept
you, and if they did, I could not endure it. I have only a little time
to live; for my sake, then, wait till I am no more before you enter the

This request was not to be disregarded, and Will promised that he would
not enlist while mother lived.

Kansas had long been the scene of bitter strife between the two parties,
and though there was a preponderance of the Free-Soil element when it
was admitted to the Union in 1861, we were fated to see some of the
horrors of slavery. Suffering makes one wondrous kind; mother had
suffered so much herself that the misery of others ever vibrated a
chord of sympathy in her breast, and our house became a station on "the
underground railway." Many a fugitive slave did we shelter, many here
received food and clothing, and, aided by mother, a great number reached
safe harbors.

One old man, named Uncle Tom, became so much attached to us that he
refused to go on. We kept him as help about the hotel. He was with us
several months, and we children grew very fond of him. Every evening
when supper was over, he sat before the kitchen fire and told a
breathless audience strange stories of the days of slavery. And one
evening, never to be forgotten, Uncle Tom was sitting in his accustomed
place, surrounded by his juvenile listeners, when he suddenly sprang
to his feet with a cry of terror. Some men had entered the hotel
sitting-room, and the sound of their voices drove Uncle Tom to his own
little room, and under the bed.

"Mrs. Cody," said the unwelcome visitors, "we understand that you are
harboring our runaway slaves. We propose to search the premises; and if
we find our property, you cannot object to our removing it."

Mother was sorely distressed for the unhappy Uncle Tom, but she knew
objection would be futile. She could only hope that the old colored man
had made good his escape.

But no! Uncle Tom lay quaking under his bed, and there his brutal master
found him. It is not impossible that there were slaveholders kind and
humane, but the bitter curse of slavery was the open door it left
for brutality and inhumanity; and never shall I forget the barbarity
displayed by the owner of Uncle Tom before our horrified eyes. The poor
slave was so old that his hair was wholly white; yet a rope was tied to
it, and, despite our pleadings, he was dragged from the house, every cry
he uttered evoking only a savage kick from a heavy riding-boot. When he
was out of sight, and his screams out of hearing, we wept bitterly on
mother's loving breast.

Uncle Tom again escaped, and made his way to our house, but he reached
it only to die. We sorrowed for the poor old slave, but thanked God that
he had passed beyond the inhumanity of man.

Debarred from serving his country as a soldier, Will decided to do so in
some other capacity, and accordingly took service with a United States
freight caravan, transporting supplies to Fort Laramie. On this trip
his frontier training and skill as a marksman were the means of saving a

In Western travel the perils from outlaws and Indians were so real that
emigrants usually sought the protection of a large wagon-train. Several
families of emigrants journeyed under the wing of the caravan to which
Will was attached.

When in camp one day upon the bank of the Platte River, and the members
of the company were busied with preparations for the night's rest and
the next day's journey, Mamie Perkins, a little girl from one of the
emigrant families, was sent to the river for a pail of water. A moment
later a monster buffalo was seen rushing upon the camp. A chorus of
yells and a fusillade from rifles and revolvers neither checked nor
swerved him. Straight through the camp he swept, like a cyclone, leaping
ropes and boxes, overturning wagons, and smashing things generally.

Mamie, the little water-bearer, had filled her pail and was returning in
the track selected by the buffalo. Too terrified to move, she watched,
with white face and parted lips, the maddened animal sweep toward her,
head down and tail up, its hoofs beating a thunderous tattoo on the

Will had been asleep, but the commotion brought him to his feet, and
snatching up his rifle, he ran toward the little girl, aimed and fired
at the buffalo. The huge animal lurched, staggered a few yards farther,
then dropped within a dozen feet of the terrified child.

A shout of relief went up, and while a crowd of praising men gathered
about the embryo buffalo-hunter, Mamie was taken to her mother. Will
never relished hearing his praises sung, and as the camp was determined
to pedestal him as a hero, he ran away and hid in his tent.

Upon reaching Fort Laramie, Will's first business was to look up Alf
Slade, agent of the Pony Express line, whose headquarters were at
Horseshoe Station, twenty miles from the fort. He carried a letter of
recommendation from Mr. Russell, but Slade demurred.

"You're too young for a Pony Express rider," said he.

"I rode three months a year ago, sir, and I'm much stronger now," said

"Oh, are you the boy rider that was on Chrisman's division?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right; I'll try you. If you can't stand it, I 'll give you
something easier."

Will's run was from Red Buttes, on the North Platte, to Three Crossings,
on the Sweetwater--seventy-six miles.

The wilderness was of the kind that is supposed to howl, and no person
fond of excitement had reason to complain of lack of it. One day Will
arrived at his last station to find that the rider on the next run had
been mortally hurt by Indians. There being no one else to do it, he
volunteered to ride the eighty-five miles for the wounded man. He
accomplished it, and made his own return trip on time--a continuous ride
of three hundred and twenty-two miles. There was no rest for the rider,
but twenty-one horses were used on the run--the longest ever made by a
Pony Express rider.

Shortly afterward Will fell in with California Joe, a remarkable
frontier character. He was standing beside a group of bowlders that
edged the trail when Will first clapped eyes on him, and the Pony
Express man instantly reached for his revolver. The stranger as quickly
dropped his rifle, and held up his hands in token of friendliness.
Will drew rein, and ran an interested eye over the man, who was clad in

California Joe, who was made famous in General Custer's book, entitled
"Life on the Plains," was a man of wonderful physique, straight and
stout as a pine. His red-brown hair hung in curls below his shoulders;
he wore a full beard, and his keen, sparkling eyes were of the brightest
hue. He came from an Eastern family, and possessed a good education,
somewhat rusty from disuse.

"Hain't you the boy rider I has heard of--the youngest rider on the
trail?" he queried, in the border dialect. Will made an affirmative
answer, and gave his name.

"Waal," said Joe, "I guess you've got some money on this trip. I was
strikin' fer the Big Horn, and I found them two stiffs up yonder layin'
fer ye. We had a little misunderstandin', and now I has 'em to plant."

Will thanked him warmly, and begged him not to risk the perils of the
Big Horn; but California Joe only laughed, and told him to push ahead.

When Will reached his station he related his adventure, and the
stock-tender said it was "good by, California Joe" But Will had
conceived a better opinion of his new friend, and he predicted his safe

This confidence was justified by the appearance of California Joe, three
months later, in the camp of the Pony Riders on the Overland trail. He
received a cordial greeting, and was assured by the men that they had
not expected to see him alive again. In return he told them his story,
and a very interesting story it was.

"Some time ago," said he (I shall not attempt to reproduce his dialect),
"a big gang of gold-hunters went into the Big Horn country. They never
returned, and the general sent me to see if I could get any trace of
them. The country is full of Indians, and I kept my eye skinned for
them, but I wasn't looking for trouble from white men. I happened to
leave my revolver where I ate dinner one day, and soon after discovering
the loss I went back after the gun. Just as I picked it up I saw a white
man on my trail. I smelled trouble, but turned and jogged along as if
I hadn't seen anything. That night I doubled back over my trail until I
came to the camp where the stranger belonged. As I expected, he was
one of a party of three, but they had five horses. I'll bet odds, Pard
Billy"--this to Will--"that the two pilgrims laying for you belonged to
this outfit.

"They thought I'd found gold, and were going to follow me until I struck
the mine, then do me up and take possession.

"The gold is there, too, lots of it. There's silver, iron, copper, and
coal, too, but no one will look at them so long as gold is to be had;
but those that go for gold will, many of them, leave their scalps

"We kept the trail day after day; the men stuck right to me, the chap
ahead keeping me in sight and marking out the trail for his pard. When
we got into the heart of the Indian country I had to use every caution;
I steered clear of every smoke that showed a village or camp, and didn't
use my rifle on game, depending on the rations I had with me.

"At last I came to a spot that showed signs of a battle. Skulls and
bones were strewn around, and after a look about I was satisfied beyond
doubt that white men had been of the company. The purpose of my trip was
accomplished; I could safely report that the party of whites had been
exterminated by Indians.

"The question now was, could I return without running into Indians? The
first thing was to give my white pursuers the slip.

"That night I crept down the bed of a small stream, passed their camp,
and struck the trail a half mile or so below.

"It was the luckiest move I ever made. I had ridden but a short distance
when I heard the familiar war-whoop, and knew that the Indians had
surprised my unpleasant acquaintances and taken their scalps. I should
have shared the same fate if I hadn't moved.

"But, boys, it is a grand and beautiful country, full of towering
mountains, lovely valleys, and mighty trees."

About the middle of September the Indians became very troublesome
along the Sweetwater. Will was ambushed one day, but fortunately he was
mounted on one of the fleetest of the company's horses, and lying flat
on the animal's back, he distanced the redskins. At the relay station he
found the stock-tender dead, and as the horses had been driven off, he
was unable to get a fresh mount; so he rode the same horse to Plontz
Station, twelve miles farther.

A few days later the station boss of the line hailed Will with the

"There's Injun signs about; so keep your eyes open."

"I'm on the watch, boss," was Will's answer, as he exchanged ponies and
dashed away.

The trail ran through a grim wild. It was darkened by mountains,
overhung with cliffs, and fringed with monster pines. The young rider's
every sense had been sharpened by frontier dangers. Each dusky rock
and tree was scanned for signs of lurking foes as he clattered down the
twilight track.

One large bowlder lay in plain view far down the valley, and for a
second he saw a dark object appear above it.

He kept his course until within rifle-shot, and then suddenly swerved
away in an oblique line. The ambush had failed, and a puff of smoke
issued from behind the bowlder. Two braves, in gorgeous war paint,
sprang up, and at the same time a score of whooping Indians rode out of
timber on the other side of the valley.

Before Will the mountains sloped to a narrow pass; could he reach
that he would be comparatively safe. The Indians at the bowlder were
unmounted, and though they were fleet of foot, he easily left them
behind. The mounted reds were those to be feared, and the chief rode
a very fleet pony. As they neared the pass Will saw that it was life
against life. He drew his revolver, and the chief, for his part, fitted
an arrow to his bow.

Will was a shade the quicker. His revolver cracked, and the warrior
pitched dead from his saddle. His fall was the signal for a shower of
arrows, one of which wounded the pony slightly; but the station was
reached on time.

The Indians were now in evidence all the time. Between Split Rock
and Three Crossings they robbed a stage, killed the driver and two
passengers, and wounded Lieutenant Flowers, the assistant division
agent. They drove the stock from the stations, and continually harassed
the Pony Express riders and stage-drivers. So bold did the reds become
that the Pony riders were laid off for six weeks, though stages were to
make occasional runs if the business were urgent. A force was
organized to search for missing stock. There were forty men in the
party--stage-drivers, express-riders, stock-tenders, and ranchmen;
and they were captained by a plainsman named Wild Bill, who was a good
friend of Will for many years.

He had not earned the sobriquet through lawlessness. It merely denoted
his dashing and daring. Physically he was well-nigh faultless--tall,
straight, and symmetrical, with broad shoulders and splendid chest. He
was handsome of face, with a clear blue eye, firm and well-shaped mouth,
aquiline nose, and brown, curling hair, worn long upon his shoulders.
Born of a refined and cultured family, he, like Will, seemingly
inherited from some remote ancestor his passion for the wild, free life
of the plains.

At this time Wild Bill was a well-known scout, and in this capacity
served the United States to good purpose during the war.


AS Will was one of the laid-off riders, he was allowed to join the
expedition against the Indian depredators, though he was the youngest
member of the company.

The campaign was short and sharp. The Indian trail was followed to
Powder River, and thence along the banks of the stream the party
traveled to within forty miles of the spot where old Fort Reno now
stands; from here the trail ran westerly, at the foot of the mountains,
and was crossed by Crazy Woman's Fork, a tributary of the Powder.

Originally this branch stream went by the name of the Big Beard, because
of a peculiar grass that fringed it. On its bank had stood a village of
the Crow Indians, and here a half-breed trader had settled. He bought
the red man's furs, and gave him in return bright-colored beads and
pieces of calico, paints, and blankets. In a short time he had all the
furs in the village; he packed them on ponies, and said good by to his
Indian friends. They were sorry to see him go, but he told them he would
soon return from the land of the paleface, bringing many gifts. Months
passed; one day the Indian sentinels reported the approach of a strange
object. The village was alarmed, for the Crows had never seen ox, horse,
or wagon; but the excitement was allayed when it was found that the
strange outfit was the property of the half-breed trader.

He had brought with him his wife, a white woman; she, too, was an object
of much curiosity to the Indians.

The trader built a lodge of wood and stones, and exposed all his goods
for sale. He had brought beads, ribbons, and brass rings as gifts for
all the tribe.

One day the big chief visited the store; the trader led him into a back
room, swore him to secrecy, and gave him a drink of black water. The
chief felt strangely happy. Usually he was very dignified and stately;
but under the influence of the strange liquid he sang and danced on the
streets, and finally fell into a deep sleep, from which he could not be
wakened. This performance was repeated day after day, until the Indians
called a council of war. They said the trader had bewitched their chief,
and it must be stopped, or they would kill the intruder. A warrior was
sent to convey this intelligence to the trader; he laughed, took the
warrior into the back room, swore him to secrecy, and gave him a drink
of the black water. The young Indian, in his turn, went upon the street,
and laughed and sang and danced, just as the chief had done. Surprised,
his companions gathered around him and asked him what was the matter.
"Oh, go to the trader and get some of the black water!" said he.

They asked for the strange beverage. The trader denied having any, and
gave them a drink of ordinary water, which had no effect. When the young
warrior awoke, they again questioned him. He said he must have been
sick, and have spoken loosely.

After this the chief and warrior were both drunk every day, and all
the tribe were sorely perplexed. Another council of war was held, and
a young chief arose, saying that he had made a hole in the wall of the
trader's house, and had watched; and it was true the trader gave their
friends black water. The half-breed and the two unhappy Indians were
brought before the council, and the young chief repeated his accusation,
saying that if it were not true, they might fight him. The second victim
of the black water yet denied the story, and said the young chief lied;
but the trader had maneuvered into the position he desired, and he
confessed. They bade him bring the water, that they might taste it; but
before he departed the young chief challenged to combat the warrior that
had said he lied. This warrior was the best spearsman of the tribe,
and all expected the death of the young chief; but the black water had
palsied the warrior's arm, his trembling hand could not fling true, he
was pierced to the heart at the first thrust. The tribe then repaired
to the trader's lodge, and he gave them all a drink of the black water.
They danced and sang, and then lay upon the ground and slept.

After two or three days the half-breed declined to provide black water
free; if the warriors wanted it, they must pay for it. At first he gave
them a "sleep," as they called it, for one robe or skin, but as the
stock of black water diminished, two, then three, then many robes
were demanded. At last he said he had none left except what he himself
desired. The Indians offered their ponies, until the trader had all the
robes and all the ponies of the tribe.

Now, he said, he would go back to the land of the paleface and procure
more of the black water. Some of the warriors were willing he should do
this; others asserted that he had plenty of black water left, and was
going to trade with their enemy, the Sioux. The devil had awakened in
the tribe. The trader's stores and packs were searched, but no black
water was found. 'Twas hidden, then, said the Indians. The trader must
produce it, or they would kill him. Of course he could not do this. He
had sowed the wind; he reaped the whirlwind. He was scalped before the
eyes of his horrified wife, and his body mutilated and mangled. The poor
woman attempted to escape; a warrior struck her with his tomahawk, and
she fell as if dead. The Indians fired the lodge. As they did so, a
Crow squaw saw that the white woman was not dead. She took the wounded
creature to her own lodge, bound up her wounds, and nursed her back to
strength. But the unfortunate woman's brain was crazed, and could not
bear the sight of a warrior.

As soon as she could get around she ran away. The squaws went out to
look for her, and found her crooning on the banks of the Big Beard. She
would talk with the squaws, but if a warrior appeared, she hid herself
till he was gone. The squaws took her food, and she lived in a covert on
the bank of the stream for many months. One day a warrior, out hunting,
chanced upon her. Thinking she was lost, he sought to catch her, to take
her back to the village, as all Indian tribes have a veneration for the
insane; but she fled into the hills, and was never seen afterward. The
stream became known as the "Place of the Crazy Woman," or Crazy Woman's
Fork, and has retained the name to this day.

At this point, to return to my narrative, the signs indicated that
reinforcements had reached the original body of Indians. The plainsmen
were now in the heart of the Indian country, the utmost caution was
required, and a sharp lookout was maintained. When Clear Creek, another
tributary of the Powder, was come up with, an Indian camp, some three
miles distant, was discovered on the farther bank.

A council of war was held. Never before had the white man followed
the red so far into his domain, and 'twas plain the Indian was off his
guard; not a scout was posted.

At Wild Bill's suggestion, the attack waited upon nightfall. Veiled by
darkness, the company was to surprise the Indian camp and stampede the

The plan was carried out without a hitch. The Indians outnumbered the
white men three to one, but when the latter rushed cyclonically through
the camp, no effort was made to repel them, and by the time the Indians
had recovered from their surprise the plainsmen had driven off all
the horses--those belonging to the reds as well as those that had been
stolen. A few shots were fired, but the whites rode scathless away, and

The line of march was now taken up for Sweetwater Bridge, and here, four
days later, the plainsmen brought up, with their own horses and about a
hundred Indian ponies.

This successful sadly repressed the hostilities for a space. The
recovered horses were put back on the road, and the stage-drivers and
express-riders resumed their interrupted activity.

"Billy," said Mr. Slade, who had taken a great fancy to Will--"Billy,
this is a hard life, and you're too young to stand it. You've done
good service, and in consideration of it I'll make you a supernumerary.
You'll have to ride only when it's absolutely necessary."

There followed for Will a period of _dolce far niente_; days when he
might lie on his back and watch the clouds drift across the sky; when
he might have an eye to the beauty of the woodland and the sweep of the
plain, without the nervous strain of studying every tree and knoll that
might conceal a lurking redskin. Winter closed in, and with it came the
memories of the trapping season of 1860-61, when he had laid low his
first and last bear. But there were other bears to be killed--the
mountains were full of them; and one bracing morning he turned his
horse's head toward the hills that lay down the Horseshoe Valley.
Antelope and deer fed in the valley, the sage-hen and the jack-rabbit
started up under his horse's hoofs, but such small game went by

Two o'clock passed without a sign of bear, save some tracks in the snow.
The wintry air had put a keen edge on Will's appetite, and hitching his
tired horse, he shot one of the lately scorned sage-hens, and broiled it
over a fire that invited a longer stay than an industrious bear-hunter
could afford. But nightfall found him and his quarry still many miles
asunder, and as he did not relish the prospect of a chaffing from the
men at the station, he cast about for a camping-place, finding one in an
open spot on the bank of a little stream. Two more sage-hens were added
to the larder, and he was preparing to kindle a fire when the whinnying
of a horse caught his ear. He ran to his own horse to check the certain
response, resaddled him, and disposed everything for flight, should it
be necessary. Then, taking his rifle, he put forth on a reconnoissance.

He shortly came upon a bunch of horses, a dozen or more, around a crook
of the stream. Above them, on the farther bank, shone a light. Drawing
nearer, he saw that it came from a dugout, and he heard his own language
spoken. Reassured, he walked boldly up to the door and rapped.

Silence--followed by a hurried whispering, and the demand:

"Who's there?"

"Friend and white man," answered Will.

The door opened reluctantly, and an ugly-looking customer bade him
enter. The invitation was not responded to with alacrity, for eight such
villainous-looking faces as the dugout held it would have been hard to
match. Too late to retreat, there was nothing for it but a determined
front, and let wit point the way of escape. Two of the men Will
recognized as discharged teamsters from Lew Simpson's train, and from
his knowledge of their longstanding weakness he assumed, correctly, that
he had thrust his head into a den of horsethieves.

"Who's with you?" was the first query; and this answered, with sundry
other information esteemed essential, "Where's your horse?" demanded the
most striking portrait in the rogues' gallery.

"Down by the creek," said Will.

"All right, sonny; we'll go down and get him," was the obliging

"Oh, don't trouble yourself," said Will. "I'll fetch him and put up
here over night, with your permission. I'll leave my gun here till I get

"That's right; leave your gun, you won't need it," said the leader of
the gang, with a grin that was as near amiability as his rough, stern
calling permitted him. "Jim and I will go down with you after the

This offer compelled an acquiescence, Will consoling himself with the
reflection that it is easier to escape from two men than from eight.

When the horse was reached, one of the outlaws obligingly volunteered to
lead it.

"All right," said Will, carelessly. "I shot a couple of sage-hens here;
I'll take them along. Lead away!"

He followed with the birds, the second horsethief bringing up the rear.
As the dugout was neared he let fall one of the hens, and asked the chap
following to pick it up, and as the obliging rear guard stopped, Will
knocked him senseless with the butt of his revolver. The man ahead heard
the blow, and turned, with his hand on his gun, but Will dropped him
with a shot, leaped on his horse, and dashed off.

The sextet in the dugout sprang to arms, and came running down the bank,
and likely getting the particulars of the escape from the ruffian by
the sage-hen, who was probably only stunned for the moment, they buckled
warmly to the chase. The mountain-side was steep and rough, and men on
foot were better than on horseback; accordingly Will dismounted, and
clapping his pony soundly on the flank, sent him clattering on down the
declivity, and himself stepped aside behind a large pine. The pursuing
party rushed past him, and when they were safely gone, he climbed back
over the mountain, and made his way as best he could to the Horseshoe.
It was a twenty-five mile plod, and he reached the station early in the
morning, weary and footsore.

He woke the plainsmen, and related his adventure, and Mr. Slade at
once organized a party to hunt out the bandits of the dugout. Twenty
well-armed stock-tenders, stage-drivers, and ranchmen rode away at
sunrise, and, notwithstanding his fatigue, Will accompanied them as

But the ill-favored birds had flown; the dugout was deserted.

Will soon tired of this nondescript service, and gladly accepted a
position as assistant wagon-master under Wild Bill, who had taken a
contract to fetch a load of government freight from Rolla, Missouri.

He returned with a wagon-train to Springfield, in that state, and thence
came home on a visit. It was a brief one, however, for the air was too
full of war for him to endure inaction. Contented only when at work,
he continued to help on government freight contracts, until he received
word that mother was dangerously ill. Then he resigned his position and
hastened home.


IT was now the autumn of 1863, and Will was a well-grown young man,
tall, strong, and athletic, though not yet quite eighteen years old. Our
oldest sister, Julia, had been married, the spring preceding, to Mr. J.
A. Goodman.

Mother had been growing weaker from day to day; being with her
constantly, we had not remarked the change for the worse; but Will was
much shocked by the transformation which a few months had wrought. Only
an indomitable will power had enabled her to overcome the infirmities of
the body, and now it seemed to us as if her flesh had been refined away,
leaving only the sweet and beautiful spirit.

Will reached home none too soon, for only three weeks after his return
the doctor told mother that only a few hours were left to her, and if
she had any last messages, it were best that she communicate them at
once. That evening the children were called in, one by one, to receive
her blessing and farewell. Mother was an earnest Christian character,
but at that time I alone of all the children appeared religiously
disposed. Young as I was, the solemnity of the hour when she charged me
with the spiritual welfare of the family has remained with me through
all the years that have gone. Calling me to her side, she sought to
impress upon my childish mind, not the sorrow of death, but the glory
of the resurrection. Then, as if she were setting forth upon a pleasant
journey, she bade me good by, and I kissed her for the last time in
life. When next I saw her face it was cold and quiet. The beautiful
soul had forsaken its dwelling-place of clay, and passed on through the
Invisible, to wait, a glorified spirit, on the farther shore for the
coming of the loved ones whose life-story was as yet unfinished.

Julia and Will remained with her throughout the night. Just before
death there came to her a brief season of long-lost animation, the
last flicker of the torch before darkness. She talked to them almost
continuously until the dawn. Into their hands was given the task of
educating the others of the family, and on their hearts and consciences
the charge was graven. Charlie, who was born during the early Kansas
troubles, had ever been a delicate child, and he lay an especial burden
on her mind.

"If," she said, "it be possible for the dead to call the living, I shall
call Charlie to me."

Within the space of a year, Charlie, too, was gone; and who shall say
that the yearning of a mother's heart for her child was not stronger
than the influences of the material world?

Upon Will mother sought to impress the responsibilities of his destiny.
She reminded him of the prediction of the fortune-teller, that "his name
would be known the world over."

"But," said she, "only the names of them that are upright, brave,
temperate, and true can be honorably known. Remember always that 'he
that overcometh his own soul is greater than he who taketh a city.'
Already you have shown great abilities, but remember that they carry
with them grave responsibilities. You have been a good son to me. In
the hour of need you have always aided me so that I can die now feeling
that my children are not unprovided for. I have not wished you to enlist
in the war, partly because I knew you were too young, partly because my
life was drawing near its close. But now you are nearly eighteen, and
if when I am gone your country needs you in the strife of which we in
Kansas know the bitterness, I bid you go as soldier in behalf of the
cause for which your father gave his life."

She talked until sleep followed exhaustion. When she awoke she tried to
raise herself in bed. Will sprang to aid her, and with the upward look
of one that sees ineffable things, she passed away, resting in his arms.

     Oh, the glory and the gladness
     Of a life without a fear;
     Of a death like nature fading
     In the autumn of the year;
     Of a sweet and dreamless slumber,
     In a faith triumphant borne,
     Till the bells of Easter wake her
     On the resurrection morn!

     Ah, for such a blessed falling
     Into quiet sleep at last,
     When the ripening grain is garnered,
     And the toil and trial past;
     When the red and gold of sunset
     Slowly changes into gray;
     Ah, for such a quiet passing,
     Through the night into the day!

The morning of the 22d day of November, 1863, began the saddest day of
our lives. We rode in a rough lumber wagon to Pilot Knob Cemetery, a
long, cold, hard ride; but we wished our parents to be united in death
as they had been in life, so buried mother in a grave next to father's.

The road leading from the cemetery forked a short distance outside of
Leavenworth, one branch running to that city, the other winding homeward
along Government Hill. When we were returning, and reached this fork,
Will jumped out of the wagon.

"I can't go home when I know mother is no longer there," said he. "I
am going to Leavenworth to see Eugene Hathaway. I shall stay with him

We, pitied Will--he and mother had been so much to each other--and
raised no objection, as we should have done had we known the real
purpose of his visit.

The next morning, therefore, we were much surprised to see him and
Eugene ride into the yard, both clothed in, the blue uniforms of United
States soldiers. Overwhelmed with grief over mother's death, it seemed
more than we could bear to see our big brother ride off to war. We
threatened to inform the recruiting officers that he was not yet
eighteen; but he was too thoroughly in earnest to be moved by our
objections. The regiment in which he had enlisted was already ordered to
the front, and he had come home to say good by. He then rode away to
the hardships, dangers, and privations of a soldier's life. The joy of
action balanced the account for him, while we were obliged to accept the
usual lot of girlhood and womanhood--the weary, anxious waiting, when
the heart is torn with uncertainty and suspense over the fate of the
loved ones who bear the brunt and burden of the day.

The order sending Will's regiment to the front was countermanded, and
he remained for a time in Fort Leavenworth. His Western experiences were
well known there, and probably for this reason he was selected as
a bearer of military dispatches to Fort Larned. Some of our old
pro-slavery enemies, who were upon the point of joining the Confederate
army, learned of Will's mission, which they thought afforded them an
excellent chance to gratify their ancient grudge against the father by
murdering the son. The killing could be justified on the plea of service
rendered to their cause. Accordingly a plan was made to waylay Will and
capture his dispatches at a creek he was obliged to ford.

He received warning of this plot. On such a mission the utmost vigilance
was demanded at all times, and with an ambuscade ahead of him, he was
alertness itself. His knowledge of Indian warfare stood him in good
stead now. Not a tree, rock, or hillock escaped his keen glance. When he
neared the creek at which the attack was expected, he left the road, and
attempted to ford the stream four or five hundred yards above the common
crossing, but found it so swollen by recent rains that he was unable to
cross; so he cautiously picked his way back to the trail.

The assassins' camp was two or three hundred feet away from the creek.
Darkness was coming on, and he took advantage of the shelter afforded
by the bank, screening himself behind every clump of bushes. His enemies
would look for his approach from the other direction, and he hoped to
give them the slip and pass by unseen.

When he reached the point where he could see the little cabin where
the men were probably hiding, he ran upon a thicket in which five
saddle-horses were concealed.

"Five to one! I don't stand much show if they see me," he decided as he
rode quietly and slowly along, his carbine in his hand ready for use.

"There he goes, boys! he's at the ford!" came a sudden shout from the
camp, followed by the crack of a rifle. Two or three more shots rang
out, and from the bound his horse gave Will knew one bullet had reached
a mark. He rode into the water, then turned in his saddle and aimed like
a flash at a man within range. The fellow staggered and fell, and Will
put spurs to his horse, turning again only when the stream was crossed.
The men were running toward the ford, firing as they came, and getting
a warm return fire. As Will was already two or three hundred yards in
advance, pursuers on foot were not to be feared, and he knew that before
they could reach and mount their horses he would be beyond danger. Much
depended on his horse. Would the gallant beast, wounded as he was, be
able to long maintain the fierce pace he had set? Mile upon mile was put
behind before the stricken creature fell. Will shouldered the saddle
and bridle and continued on foot. He soon reached a ranch where a fresh
mount might be procured, and was shortly at Fort Larned.

After a few hours' breathing-spell, he left for Fort Leavenworth with
return dispatches. As he drew near the ford, he resumed his sharp
lookout, though scarcely expecting trouble. The planners of the
ambuscade had been so certain that five men could easily make away
with one boy that there had been no effort at disguise, and Will had
recognized several of them. He, for his part, felt certain that they
would get out of that part of the country with all dispatch; but he
employed none the less caution in crossing the creek, and his carbine
was ready for business as he approached the camp.

The fall of his horse's hoofs evoked a faint call from one of the
buildings. It was not repeated; instead there issued hollow moans.

It might be a trap; again, a fellow-creature might be at death's door.
Will rode a bit nearer the cabin entrance.

"Who's there?" he called.

"Come in, for the love of God! I am dying here alone!" was the reply.

"Who are you?"

"Ed Norcross."

Will jumped from his horse. This was the man at whom he had fired. He
entered the cabin.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"I was wounded by a bullet," moaned Norcross, "and my comrades deserted

Will was now within range of the poor fellow lying on the floor.

"Will Cody!" he cried.

Will dropped on his knee beside the dying man, choking with the emotion
that the memory of long years of friendship had raised.

"My poor Ed!" he murmured. "And it was my bullet that struck you."

"It was in defense of your own life, Will," said Norcross. "God knows, I
don't blame you. Don't think too hard of me. I did everything I could
to save you. It was I who sent you warning. I hoped you might find some
other trail."

"I didn't shoot with the others," continued Norcross, after a short
silence. "They deserted me. They said they would send help back, but
they haven't."

Will filled the empty canteen lying on the floor, and rearranged the
blanket that served as a pillow; then he offered to dress the neglected
wound. But the gray of death was already upon the face of Norcross.

"Never mind, Will," he whispered; "it's not worth while. Just stay with
me till I die."

It was not a long vigil. Will sat beside his old friend, moistening his
pallid lips with water. In a very short time the end came. Will disposed
the stiffening limbs, crossing the hands over the heart, and with a last
backward look went out of the cabin.

It was his first experience in the bitterness and savagery of war, and
he set a grave and downcast face against the remainder of his journey.

As he neared Leavenworth he met the friend who had conveyed the dead
man's warning message, and to him he committed the task of bringing
home the body. His heaviness of spirit was scarcely mitigated by the
congratulations of the commander of Fort Leavenworth upon his pluck and
resources, which had saved both his life and the dispatches.

There followed another period of inaction, always irritating to a lad
of Will's restless temperament. Meantime, we at home were having our own

We were rejoiced in great measure when sister Julia decided that we had
learned as much as might be hoped for in the country school, and
must thereafter attend the winter and spring terms of the school at
Leavenworth. The dresses she cut for us, however, still followed the
country fashion, which has regard rather to wear than to appearance, and
we had not been a day in the city school before we discovered that our
apparel had stamped "provincial" upon us in plain, large characters. In
addition to this, our brother-in-law, in his endeavor to administer the
estate economically, bought each of us a pair of coarse calfskin
shoes. To these we were quite unused, mother having accustomed us to
serviceable but pretty ones. The author of our "extreme" mortification,
totally ignorant of the shy and sensitive nature of girls, only laughed
at our protests, and in justice to him it may be said that he really had
no conception of the torture he inflicted upon us.

We turned to Will. In every emergency he was our first thought, and here
was an emergency that taxed his powers to an extent we did not dream of.
He made answer to our letter that he was no longer an opulent trainman,
but drew only the slender income of a soldier, and even that pittance
was in arrears. Disappointment was swallowed up in remorse. Had we
reflected how keenly he must feel his inability to help us, we would
not have sent him the letter, which, at worst, contained only a sly
suggestion of a fine opportunity to relieve sisterly distress. All his
life he had responded to our every demand; now allegiance was due his
country first. But, as was always the way with him, he made the best of
a bad matter, and we were much comforted by the receipt of the following


"I am sorry that I cannot help you and furnish you with such clothes
as you wish. At this writing I am so short of funds myself that if an
entire Mississippi steamer could be bought for ten cents I couldn't
purchase the smokestack. I will soon draw my pay, and I will send it,
every cent, to you. So brave it out, girls, a little longer. In the mean
time I will write to Al.



We were comforted, yes; but my last hope was gone, and I grew desperate.
I had never worn the obnoxious shoes purchased by my guardian, and I
proceeded to dispose of them forever. I struck what I regarded as a
famous bargain with an accommodating Hebrew, and came into possession
of a pair of shiny morocco shoes, worth perhaps a third of what mine
had cost. One would say they were designed for shoes, and they certainly
looked like shoes, but as certainly they were not wearable. Still they
were of service, for the transaction convinced my guardian that the
truest economy did not lie in the pur-chasing of calfskin shoes for at
least one of his charges. A little later he received a letter from Will,
presenting our grievances and advocating our cause. Will also sent us
the whole of his next month's pay as soon as he drew it.

In February, 1864, Sherman began his march through Mississippi.
The Seventh Kansas regiment, known as "Jennison's Jayhawkers," was
reorganized at Fort Leavenworth as veterans, and sent to Memphis, Tenn.,
to join General A. J. Smith's command, which was to operate against
General Forrest and cover the retreat of General Sturgis, who had
been so badly whipped by Forrest at Cross-Roads. Will was exceedingly
desirous of engaging in a great battle, and through some officers with
whom he was acquainted preferred a petition to be transferred to this
regiment. The request was granted, and his delight knew no bounds. He
wrote to us that his great desire was about to be gratified, that he
should soon know what a real battle was like.

He was well versed in Indian warfare; now he was ambitious to learn,
from experience, the superiority of civilized strife--rather, I should
say, of strife between civilized people.

General Smith had acquainted himself with the record made by the young
scout of the plains, and shortly after reaching Memphis he ordered Will
to report to headquarters for special service.

"I am anxious," said the general, "to gain reliable information
concerning the enemy's movements and position. This can only be done by
entering the Confederate camp. You possess the needed qualities--nerve,
coolness, resource--and I believe you could do it."

"You mean," answered Will, quietly, "that you wish me to go as a spy
into the rebel camp."

"Exactly. But you must understand the risk you run. If you are captured,
you will be hanged."

"I am ready to take the chances, sir," said Will; "ready to go at once,
if you wish."

General Smith's stern face softened into a smile at the prompt response.

"I am sure, Cody," said he, kindly, "that if any one can go through
safely, you will. Dodging Indians on the plains was good training
for the work in hand, which demands quick intelligence and ceaseless
vigilance. I never require such service of any one, but since you
volunteer to go, take these maps of the country to your quarters and
study them carefully. Return this evening for full instructions."

During the few days his regiment had been in camp, Will had been on
one or two scouting expeditions, and was somewhat familiar with the
immediate environments of the Union forces. The maps were unusually
accurate, showing every lake, river, creek, and highway, and even the
by-paths from plantation to plantation.

Only the day before, while on a reconnoissance, Will had captured a
Confederate soldier, who proved to be an old acquaintance named Nat
Golden. Will had served with Nat on one of Russell, Majors & Waddell's
freight trains, and at one time had saved the young man's life, and
thereby earned his enduring friendship. Nat was born in the East, became
infected with Western fever, and ran away from home in order to become a

"Well, this is too bad," said Will, when he recognized his old friend.
"I would rather have captured a whole regiment than you. I don't like
to take you in as a prisoner. What did you enlist on the wrong side for,

"The fortunes of war, Billy, my boy," laughed Nat. "Friend shall be
turned against friend, and brother against brother, you know. You
wouldn't have had me for a prisoner, either, if my rifle hadn't snapped;
but I'm glad it did, for I shouldn't want to be the one that shot you."

"Well, I don't want to see you strung up," said Will; "so hand me over
those papers you have, and I will turn you in as an ordinary prisoner."

Nat's face paled as he asked, "Do you think I'm a spy, Billy?"

"I know it."

"Well," was the reply, "I've risked my life to obtain these papers, but
I suppose they will be taken from me anyway; so I might as well give
them up now, and save my neck."

Examination showed them to be accurate maps of the location and position
of the Union army; and besides the maps, there were papers containing
much valuable information concerning the number of soldiers and officers
and their intended movements. Will had not destroyed these papers, and
he now saw a way to use them to his own advantage. When he reported for
final instructions, therefore, at General Smith's tent, in the evening,
Will said to him:

"I gathered from a statement dropped by the prisoner captured yesterday,
that a Confederate spy has succeeded in making out and carrying to the
enemy a complete map of the position of our regiment, together with some
idea of the projected plan of campaign."

"Ah," said the general; "I am glad that you have put me on my guard. I
will at once change my position, so that the information will be of no
value to them."

Then followed full instructions as to the duty required of the

"When will you set out?" asked the general.

"To-night, sir. I have procured my uniform, and have everything prepared
for an early start."

"Going to change your colors, eh?"

"Yes, for the time being, but not my principles."

The general looked at Will approvingly. "You will need all the wit,
pluck, nerve, and caution of which you are possessed to come through
this ordeal safely," said he. "I believe you can accomplish it, and I
rely upon you fully. Good by, and success go with you!"

After a warm hand-clasp, Will returned to his tent, and lay down for a
few hours' rest. By four o'clock he was in the saddle, riding toward the
Confederate lines.


IN common walks of life to play the spy is an ignoble role; yet the work
has to be done, and there must be men to do it. There always are such
men--nervy fellows who swing themselves into the saddle when their
commander lifts his hand, and ride a mad race, with Death at the horse's
flank every mile of the way. They are the unknown heroes of every war.

It was with a full realization of the dangers confronting him that Will
cantered away from the Union lines, his borrowed uniform under his
arm. As soon as he had put the outposts behind him, he dismounted and
exchanged the blue clothes for the gray. Life on the plains had bronzed
his face. For aught his complexion could tell, the ardent Southern sun
might have kissed it to its present hue. Then, if ever, his face was
his fortune in good part; but there was, too, a stout heart under his
jacket, and the light of confidence in his eyes.

The dawn had come up when he sighted the Confederate outposts. What lay
beyond only time could reveal; but with a last reassuring touch of
the papers in his pocket, he spurred his horse up to the first of the
outlying sentinels. Promptly the customary challenge greeted him:

"Halt! Who goes there?"


"Dismount, friend! Advance and give the countersign!"

"Haven't the countersign," said Will, dropping from his horse, "but I
have important information for General Forrest. Take me to him at once."

"Are you a Confederate soldier?"

"Not exactly. But I have some valuable news about the Yanks, I reckon.
Better let me see the general."

"Thus far," he added to himself, "I have played the part. The
combination of 'Yank' and 'I reckon' ought to establish me as a
promising candidate for Confederate honors."

His story was not only plausible, but plainly and fairly told; but
caution is a child of war, and the sentinel knew his business. The
pseudo-Confederate was disarmed as a necessary preliminary, and marched
between two guards to headquarters, many curious eyes (the camp being
now astir) following the trio.

When Forrest heard the report, he ordered the prisoner brought before
him. One glance at the general's handsome but harsh face, and the young
man steeled his nerves for the encounter. There was no mercy in those
cold, piercing eyes. This first duel of wits was the one to be most
dreaded. Unless confidence were established, his after work must be done
at a disadvantage.

The general's penetrating gaze searched the young face before him for
several seconds.

"Well, sir," said he, "what do you want with me?"

Yankee-like, the reply was another question:

"You sent a man named Nat Golden into the Union lines, did you not,

"And if I did, what then?"

"He is an old friend of mine. He tried for the Union camp to verify
information that he had received, but before he started he left certain
papers with me in case he should be captured."

"Ah!" said Forrest, coldly. "And he was captured?"

"Yes, sir; but, as I happen to know, he wasn't hanged, for these weren't
on him."

As he spoke, Will took from his pocket the papers he had obtained from
Golden, and passed them over with the remark, "Golden asked me to take
them to you."

General Forrest was familiar with the hapless Golden's handwriting, and
the documents were manifestly genuine. His suspicion was not aroused.

"These are important papers," said he, when he had run his eye over
them. "They contain valuable information, but we may not be able to
use it, as we are about to change our location. Do you know what these
papers contain?"

"Every word," was the truthful reply. "I studied them, so that in case
they were destroyed you would still have the information from me."

"A wise thing to do," said Forrest, approvingly. "Are you a soldier?"

"I have not as yet joined the army, but I am pretty well acquainted with
this section, and perhaps could serve you as a scout."

"Um!" said the general, looking the now easy-minded young man over. "You
wear our uniform."

"It's Golden's," was the second truthful answer. "He left it with me
when he put on the blue."

"And what is your name?"

"Frederick Williams."

Pretty near the truth. Only a final "s" and a rearrangement of his given

"Very well," said the general, ending the audience; "you may remain in
camp. If I need you, I'll send for you."

He summoned an orderly, and bade him make the volunteer scout
comfortable at the couriers' camp. Will breathed a sigh of relief as he
followed at the orderly's heels. The ordeal was successfully passed. The
rest was action.

Two days went by. In them Will picked up valuable information here and
there, drew maps, and was prepared to depart at the first favorable
opportunity. It was about time, he figured, that General Forrest found
some scouting work for him. That was a passport beyond the lines, and he
promised himself the outposts should see the cleanest pair of heels that
ever left unwelcome society in the rear. But evidently scouting was a
drug in the general's market, for the close of another day found Will
impatiently awaiting orders in the couriers' quarters. This sort of
inactivity was harder on the nerves than more tangible perils, and
he about made up his mind that when he left camp it would be without
orders, but with a hatful of bullets singing after him. And he was quite
sure that his exit lay that way when, strolling past headquarters,
he clapped eyes on the very last person that he expected or wished to
see--Nat Golden.

And Nat was talking to an adjutant-general!

There were just two things to do, knock Golden on the head, or cut and
run. Nat would not betray him knowingly, but unwittingly was certain
to do so the moment General Forrest questioned him. There could be
no choice between the two courses open; it was cut and run, and as
a preliminary Will cut for his tent. First concealing his papers,
he saddled his horse and rode toward the outposts with a serene

{illust. caption = "NOW RIDE FOR YOUR LIVES!"}

The same sergeant that greeted him when he entered the lines chanced to
be on duty, and of him Will asked an unimportant question concerning the
outer-flung lines. Yet as he rode along he could not forbear throwing
an apprehensive glance behind. No pursuit was making, and the farthest
picket-line was passed by a good fifty yards. Ahead was a stretch of
timber. Suddenly a dull tattoo of horses' hoofs caught his ear, and he
turned to see a small cavalcade bearing down upon him at a gallop. He
sank the spurs into his horse's side and plunged into the timber. It
was out of the frying-pan into the fire. He ran plump into a half-dozen
Confederate cavalrymen, guarding two Union prisoners. "Men, a Union spy
is escaping!" shouted Will. "Scatter at once, and head him off. I'll
look after your prisoners." There was a ring of authority in the
command; it came at least from a petty officer; and without thought of
challenging it, the cavalrymen hurried right and left in search of the
fugitive. "Come," said Will, in a hurried but smiling whisper to the
dejected pair of Union men. "I'm the spy! There!" cutting the ropes that
bound their wrists. "Now ride for your lives!" Off dashed the trio, and
not a minute too soon. Will's halt had been brief, but it had been of
advantage to his pursuers, who, with Nat Golden at their head, came on
in full cry, not a hundred yards behind. Here was a race with Death at
the horse's flanks. The timber stopped a share of the singing bullets,
but there were plenty that got by the trees, one of them finding
lodgment in the arm of one of the fleeing Union soldiers. Capture meant
certain death for Will; for his companions it meant Andersonville or
Libby, at the worst, which was perhaps as bad as death; but Will would
not leave them, though his horse was fresh, and he could easily have
distanced them. Of course, if it became necessary, he was prepared
to cut their acquaintance, but for the present he made one of the
triplicate targets on which the galloping marksmen were endeavoring
to score a bull's-eye. The edge of the wood was shortly reached, and
beyond--inspiring sight!--lay the outposts of the Union army. The
pickets, at sight of the fugitives, sounded the alarm, and a body of
blue-coats responded. Will would have gladly tarried for the skirmish
that ensued, but he esteemed it his first duty to deliver the papers he
had risked his life to obtain; so, leaving friend and foe to settle the
dispute as best they might, he put for the clump of trees where he had
hidden his uniform, and exchanged it for the gray, that had served its
purpose and was no longer endurable. Under his true colors he rode
into camp. General Forrest almost immediately withdrew from that
neighborhood, and after the atrocious massacre at Fort Pillow, on the
12th of April, left the state. General Smith was recalled, and Will was
transferred, with the commission of guide and scout for the Ninth Kansas
Regiment. The Indians were giving so much trouble along the line of the
old Santa Fe trail that troops were needed to protect the stagecoaches,
emigrants, and caravans traveling that great highway. Like nearly all
our Indian wars, this trouble was precipitated by the injustice of the
white man's government of certain of the native tribes. In 1860 Colonel
A. G. Boone, a worthy grandson of the immortal Daniel, made a treaty with
the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, and at their request he
was made agent. During his wise, just, and humane administration all of
these savage nations were quiet, and held the kindliest feelings toward
the whites. Any one could cross the plains without fear of molestation.
In 1861 a charge of disloyalty was made against Colonel Boone by Judge
Wright, of Indiana, and he succeeded in having the right man removed
from the right place. Russell, Majors & Waddell, recognizing his
influence over the Indians, gave him fourteen hundred acres of land near
Pueblo, Colorado. Colonel Boone moved there, and the place was named
Booneville. Fifty chieftains from the tribes referred to visited Colonel
Boone in the fall of 1862, and implored him to return to them. He told
them that the President had sent him away. They offered to raise money,
by selling their horses, to send him to Washington, to tell the Great
Father what their agent was doing--that he stole their goods and sold
them back again; and they bade the colonel say that there would be
trouble unless some one were put in the dishonest man's place. With the
innate logic for which the Indian is noted, they declared that they had
as much right to steal from passing caravans as the agent had to steal
from them. No notice was taken of so trifling a matter as an injustice
to the Indian. The administration had its hands more than full in the
attempt to right the wrongs of the negro. In the fall of 1863 a caravan
passed along the trail. It was a small one, but the Indians had been
quiet for so long a time that travelers were beginning to lose fear
of them. A band of warriors rode up to the wagon-train and asked for
something to eat. The teamsters thought they would be doing humanity a
service if they killed a redskin, on the ancient principle that "the only
good Indian is a dead one." Accordingly, a friendly, inoffensive Indian
was shot. The bullet that reached his heart touched that of every
warrior in these nations. Every man but one in the wagon-train was
slain, the animals driven off, and the wagons burned. The fires of
discontent that had been smoldering for two years in the red man's
breast now burst forth with volcanic fury. Hundreds of atrocious murders
followed, with wholesale destruction of property. The Ninth Kansas
Regiment, under the command of Colonel Clark, was detailed to protect
the old trail between Fort Lyon and Fort Larned, and as guide and scout
Will felt wholly at home. He knew the Indian and his ways, and had no
fear of him. His fine horse and glittering trappings were an innocent
delight to him; and who will not pardon in him the touch of pride--say
vanity--that thrilled him as he led his regiment down the Arkansas
River? During the summer there were sundry skirmishes with the Indians.
The same old vigilance, learned in earlier days on the frontier, was in
constant demand, and there was many a rough and rapid ride to drive the
hostiles from the trail. Whatever Colonel Clark's men may have had to
complain of, there was no lack of excitement, no dull days, in that
summer. In the autumn the Seventh Kansas was again ordered to the front,
and at the request of its officers Will was detailed for duty with
his old regiment. General Smith's orders were that he should go
to Nashville. Rosecrans was then in command of the Union forces in
Missouri. His army was very small, numbering only about 6,500 men, while
the Confederate General Price was on the point of entering the state
with 20,000. This superiority of numbers was so great that General Smith
received an order countermanding the other, and remained in Missouri,
joining forces with Rosecrans to oppose Price. Rosecrans's entire force
still numbered only 11,000, and he deemed it prudent to concentrate his
army around St. Louis. General Ewing's forces and a portion of General
Smith's command occupied Pilot Knob. On Monday, the 24th of September,
1864, Price advanced against this position, but was repulsed with heavy
losses. An adjacent fort in the neighborhood of Ironton was assaulted,
but the Confederate forces again sustained a severe loss. This fort
held a commanding lookout on Shepard Mountain, which the Confederates
occupied, and their wall-directed fire obliged General Ewing to fall
back to Harrison Station, where he made a stand, and some sharp fighting
followed. General Ewing again fell back, and succeeded in reaching
General McNeill, at Rolla, with the main body of his troops. This was
Will's first serious battle, and it so chanced that he found himself
opposed at one point by a body of Missouri troops numbering many of the
men who had been his father's enemies and persecutors nine years before.
In the heat of the conflict he recognized more than one of them, and
with the recognition came the memory of his boyhood's vow to avenge his
father's death. Three of those men fell in that battle; and whether or
not it was he who laid them low, from that day on he accounted himself
freed of his melancholy obligation. After several hard-fought battles,
Price withdrew from Missouri with the remnant of his command--seven
thousand where there had been twenty. During this campaign Will received
honorable mention "for most conspicuous bravery and valuable service
upon the field," and he was shortly brought into favorable notice in many
quarters. The worth of the tried veterans was known, but none of the
older men was in more demand than Will. His was seemingly a charmed
life. Often was he detailed to bear dispatches across the battlefield,
and though horses were shot under him--riddled by bullets or torn by
shells--he himself went scathless. During this campaign, too, he ran
across his old friend of the plains, Wild Bill. Stopping at a farm-house
one day to obtain a meal, he was not a little surprised to hear the
salutation: "Well, Billy, my boy, how are you?" He looked around to see
a hand outstretched from a coat-sleeve of Confederate gray, and as he
knew Wild Bill to be a stanch Unionist, he surmised that he was engaged
upon an enterprise similar to his own. There was an exchange of chaffing
about gray uniforms and blue, but more serious talk followed. "Take
these papers, Billy," said Wild Bill, passing over a package. "Take 'em
to General McNeill, and tell him I'm picking up too much good news to
keep away from the Confederate camp." "Don't take too many chances,"
cautioned Will, well knowing that the only chances the other would not
take would be the sort that were not visible. Colonel Hickok, to give
him his real name, replied, with a laugh: "Practice what you preach, my
son. Your neck is of more value than mine. You have a future, but mine
is mostly past. I'm getting old." At this point the good woman of
the house punctuated the colloquy with a savory meal, which the pair
discussed with good appetite and easy conscience, in spite of their
hostess's refusal to take pay from Confederate soldiers. "As long as I
have a crust in the house," said she, "you boys are welcome to it." But
the pretended Confederates paid her for her kindness in better currency
than she was used to. They withheld information concerning a proposed
visit of her husband and son, of which, during one spell of loquacity,
she acquainted them. The bread she cast upon the waters returned to her
speedily. The two friends parted company, Will returning to the Union
lines, and Colonel Hickok to the opposing camp. A few days later, when
the Confederate forces were closing up around the Union lines, and a
battle was at hand, two horsemen were seen to dart out of the hostile
camp and ride at full speed for the Northern lines. For a space
the audacity of the escape seemed to paralyze the Confederates; but
presently the bullets followed thick and fast, and one of the saddles
was empty before the rescue party--of which Will was one--got fairly
under way. As the survivor drew near, Will shouted: "It's Wild Bill, the
Union scout." A cheer greeted the intrepid Colonel Hickok, and he rode
into camp surrounded by a party of admirers. The information he brought
proved of great value in the battle of Pilot Knob (already referred
to), which almost immediately followed. CHAPTER XIV. A RESCUE AND A
BETROTHAL. AFTER the battle of Pilot Knob Will was assigned, through the
influence of General Polk, to special service at military headquarters
in St. Louis. Mrs. Polk had been one of mother's school friends, and the
two had maintained a correspondence up to the time of mother's death.
As soon as Mrs. Polk learned that the son of her old friend was in the
Union army, she interested herself in obtaining a good position for him.
But desk-work is not a Pony Express rush, and Will found the St. Louis
detail about as much to his taste as clerking in a dry-goods store.
His new duties naturally became intolerable, lacking the excitement and
danger-scent which alone made his life worth while to him. One event,
however, relieved the dead-weight monotony of his existence; he met
Louise Frederici, the girl who became his wife. The courtship has
been written far and wide with blood-and-thunder pen, attended by
lariat-throwing and runaway steeds. In reality it was a romantic affair.
More than once, while out for a morning canter, Will had remarked a
young woman of attractive face and figure, who sat her horse with the
grace of Diana Vernon. Now, few things catch Will's eye more quickly
than fine horsemanship. He desired to establish an acquaintance with the
young lady, but as none of his friends knew her, he found it impossible.
At length a chance came. Her bridle-rein broke one morning; there was a
runaway, a rescue, and then acquaintance was easy. From war to love, or
from love to war, is but a step, and Will lost no time in taking it.
He was somewhat better than an apprentice to Dan Cupid. If the reader
remembers, he went to school with Steve Gobel. True, his opportunities
to enjoy feminine society had not been many, which; perhaps, accounts
for the promptness with which he embraced them when they did arise.
He became the accepted suitor of Miss Louise Frederici before the war
closed and his regiment was mustered out. The spring of 1865 found him
not yet twenty, and he was sensible of the fact that before he could
dance at his own wedding he must place his worldly affairs upon a surer
financial basis than falls to the lot of a soldier; so, much as he would
have enjoyed remaining in St. Louis, fortune pointed to wider fields,
and he set forth in search of remunerative and congenial employment.
First, there was the visit home, where the warmest of welcomes awaited
him. During his absence the second sister, Eliza, had married a Mr.
Myers, but the rest of us were at the old place, and the eagerness with
which we awaited Will's home-coming was stimulated by the hope that
he would remain and take charge of the estate. Before we broached this
subject, however, he informed us of his engagement to Miss Frederici,
which, far from awakening jealousy, aroused our delight, Julia voicing
the sentiment of the family in the comment: "When you're married, Will,
you will have to stay at home." This led to the matter of his remaining
with us to manage the estate--and to the upsetting of our plans. The pay
of a soldier in the war was next to nothing, and as Will had been unable
to put any money by, he took the first chance that offered to better his
fortunes. This happened to be a job of driving horses from Leavenworth
to Fort Kearny, and almost the first man he met after reaching the fort
was an old plains friend, Bill Trotter. "You're just the chap I've been
looking for," said Trotter, when he learned that Will desired regular
work. "I'm division station agent here, but stage-driving is dangerous
work, as the route is infested with Indians and outlaws. Several drivers
have been held up and killed lately, so it's not a very enticing job,
but the pay's good, and you know the country. If any one can take the
stage through, you can. Do you want the job?" When a man is in love and
the wedding-day has been dreamed of, if not set, life takes on an added
sweetness, and to stake it against the marksmanship of Indian or outlaw
is not, perhaps, the best use to which it may be put. Will had come
safely through so many perils that it seemed folly to thrust his head
into another batch of them, and thinking of Louise and the coming
wedding-day, his first thought was no. But it was the old story, and
there was Trotter at his elbow expressing confidence in his ability as a
frontiersman--an opinion Will fully shared, for a man knows what he can
do. The pay was good, and the sooner earned the sooner would the wedding
be, and Trotter received the answer he expected. The stage line was
another of the Western enterprises projected by Russell, Majors &
Waddell. When gold was discovered on Pike's Peak there was no method
of traversing the great Western plain except by plodding ox-team,
mule-pack, or stagecoach. A semi-monthly stage line ran from St.
Joseph to Salt Lake City, but it was poorly equipped and very tedious,
oftentimes twenty-one days being required to make the trip. The senior
member of the firm, in partnership with John S. Jones, of Missouri,
established a new line between the Missouri River and Denver, at that
time a straggling mining hamlet. One thousand Kentucky mules were
bought, with a sufficient number of coaches to insure a daily run each
way. The trip was made in six days, which necessitated travel at the
rate of a hundred miles a day. The first stage reached Denver on May
17, 1859. It was accounted a remarkable achievement, and the line
was pronounced a great success. In one way it was; but the expense of
equipping it had been enormous, and the new line could not meet its
obligations. To save the credit of their senior partner, Russell, Majors
& Waddell were obliged to come to the rescue. They bought up all the
outstanding obligations, and also the rival stage line between St.
Joseph and Salt Lake City. They consolidated the two, and thereby hoped
to put the Overland stage route on a paying basis. St. Joseph now became
the starting-point of the united lines. From there the road went to Fort
Kearny, and followed the old Salt Lake trail, already described in
these pages. After leaving Salt Lake it passed through Camp Floyd, Ruby
Valley, Carson City, Placerville, and Folsom, and ended in Sacramento.
The distance from St. Joseph to Sacramento by this old stage route was
nearly nineteen hundred miles. The time required by mail contracts and
the government schedule was nineteen days. The trip was frequently made
in fifteen, but there were so many causes for detention that the limit
was more often reached. Each two hundred and fifty miles of road was
designated a "division," and was in charge of an agent, who had great
authority in his own jurisdiction. He was commonly a man of more than
ordinary intelligence, and all matters pertaining to his division were
entirely under his control. He hired and discharged employee, purchased
horses, mules, harness, and food, and attended to their distribution at
the different stations. He superintended the erection of all buildings,
had charge of the water supply, and he was the paymaster. There was also
a man known as the conductor, whose route was almost coincident with
that of the agent. He sat with the driver, and often rode the whole
two hundred and fifty miles of his division without any rest or sleep,
except what he could catch sitting on the top of the flying coach. The
coach itself was a roomy, swaying vehicle, swung on thorough-braces
instead of springs. It always had a six-horse or six-mule team to
draw it, and the speed was nerve-breaking. Passengers were allowed
twenty-five pounds of baggage, and that, with the mail, express, and
the passengers themselves, was in charge of the conductor. The Overland
stagecoaches were operated at a loss until 1862. In March of that year
Russell, Majors & Waddell transferred the whole outfit to Ben Holliday.
Here was a typical frontiersman, of great individuality and character.
At the time he took charge of the route the United States mail was given
to it. This put the line on a sound financial basis, as the government
spent $800,000 yearly in transporting the mail to San Francisco. Will
reported for duty the morning after his talk with Trotter, and when
he mounted the stage-box and gathered the reins over the six spirited
horses, the passengers were assured of an expert driver. His run was
from Fort Kearny to Plum Creek. The country was sharply familiar. It was
the scene of his first encounter with Indians. A long and lonely ride
it was, and a dismal one when the weather turned cold; but it meant a
hundred and fifty dollars a month; and each pay day brought him nearer
to St. Louis.

Indian signs there had been right along, but they were only signs until
one bleak day in November. He pulled out of Plum Creek with a sharp
warning ringing in his ears. Indians were on the war-path, and trouble
was more likely than not ahead. Lieutenant Flowers, assistant division
agent, was on the box with him, and within the coach were six well-armed

Half the run had been covered, when Will's experienced eye detected
the promised red men. Before him lay a stream which must be forded. The
creek was densely fringed with underbrush, and along this the Indians
were skulking, expecting to cut the stage off at the only possible

Perhaps this is a good place to say a word concerning the seemingly
extraordinary fortune that has stood by Will in his adventures. Not
only have his own many escapes been of the hairbreadth sort, but he has
arrived on the scene of danger at just the right moment to rescue others
from extinction. Of course, an element of luck has entered into these
affairs, but for the most part they simply proved the old saying that an
ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Will had studied
the plains as an astronomer studies the heavens. The slightest
disarrangement of the natural order of things caught his eye. With the
astronomer, it is a comet or an asteroid appearing upon a field whose
every object has long since been placed and studied; with Will, it was
a feathered headdress where there should have been but tree, or rock, or
grass; a moving figure where nature should have been inanimate.

When seen, those things were calculated as the astronomer calculates the
motion of the objects that he studies. A planet will arrive at a given
place at a certain time; an Indian will reach a ford in a stream in
about so many minutes. If there be time to cross before him, it is a
matter of hard driving; if the odds are with the Indian, that is another

A less experienced observer than Will would not have seen the skulking
redskins; a less skilled frontiersman would not have apprehended their
design; a less expert driver would not have taken the running chance for
life; a less accurate marksman would not have picked off an Indian with
a rifle while shooting from the top of a swinging, jerking stagecoach.

Will did not hesitate. A warning shout to the passengers, and the whip
was laid on, and off went the horses full speed. Seeing that they had
been discovered, the Indians came out into the open, and ran their
ponies for the ford, but the stage was there full five hundred yards
before them. It was characteristic of their driver that the horses were
suffered to pause at the creek long enough to get a swallow of water;
then, refreshed, they were off at full speed again.

The coach, creaking in every joint, rocked like a captive balloon,
the unhappy passengers were hurled from one side of the vehicle to
the other, flung into one another's laps, and occasionally, when some
uncommon obstacle sought to check the flying coach, their heads collided
with its roof. The Indians menaced them without, cracked skulls seemed
their fate within.

Will plied the whip relentlessly, and so nobly did the powerful horses
respond that the Indians gained but slowly on them. There were some
fifty redskins in the band, but Will assumed that if he could reach the
relay station, the two stock-tenders there, with himself, Lieutenant
Flowers, and the passengers, would be more than a match for the

When the pursuers drew within fair rifle range, Will handed the reins to
the lieutenant, swung round in his seat, and fired at the chief.

"There," shouted one of the passengers, "that fellow with the feathers
is shot!" and another fusillade from the coach interior drove holes in
the air.

The relay station was now hard by, and attracted by the firing, the
stock-tenders came forth to take a hand in the engagement. Disheartened
by the fall of their chief, the Indians weakened at the sign of
reinforcements, and gave up the pursuit.

Lieutenant Flowers and two of the passengers were wounded, but Will
could not repress a smile at the excited assurance of one of his fares
that they (the passengers) had "killed one Indian and driven the rest
back." The stock-tenders smiled also, but said nothing. It would have
been too bad to spoil such a good story.

The gravest fears for the safety of the coach had been expressed when
it was known that the reds were on the war-path; it was not thought
possible that it could get through unharmed, and troops were sent out
to scour the country. These, while too late to render service in the
adventure just related, did good work during the remainder of the
winter. The Indians were thoroughly subdued, and Will saw no more of

There was no other adventure of special note until February. Just before
Will started on his run, Trotter took him to one side and advised
him that a small fortune was going by the coach that day, and extra
vigilance was urged, as the existence of the treasure might have become

"I'll do the best I can," said Will; and he had scarcely driven away
when he suspected the two ill-favored passengers he carried. The
sudden calling away of the conductor, whereby he was left alone, was a
suspicious circumstance. He properly decided that it would be wiser
for him to hold up his passengers than to let them hold up him, and he
proceeded to take time by the forelock. He stopped the coach, jumped
down, and examined the harness as if something was wrong; then he
stepped to the coach door and asked his passengers to hand him a rope
that was inside. As they complied, they looked into the barrels of two
cocked revolvers.

"Hands up!" said Will.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded one of the pair, as their arms
were raised.

"Thought I'd come in first--that's all," was the answer.

The other was not without appreciation of humor.

"You're a cute one, youngster," said he, "but you'll find more'n your
match down the road, or I miss my guess."

"I'll look after that when I get to it," said Will. "Will you oblige me
by tying your friend's hands? Thank you. Now throw out your guns. That
all? All right. Let me see your hands."

When both outlaws had been securely trussed up and proven to be
disarmed, the journey was resumed. The remark dropped by one of the pair
was evidence that they were part of the gang. He must reach the relay
station before the attack. If he could do that, he had a plan for
farther on.

The relay station was not far away, and was safely reached. The
prisoners were turned over to the stock-tenders, and then Will disposed
of the treasure against future molestation. He cut open one of the
cushions of the coach, taking out part of the filling, and in the
cavity thus made stored everything of value, including his own watch
and pocketbook; then the filling was replaced and the hole smoothed to a
natural appearance.

If there were more in the gang, he looked for them at the ford where the
Indians had sought to cut him off, and he was not disappointed. As he
drew near the growth of willows that bordered the road, half a dozen men
with menacing rifles stepped out.

"Halt, or you're a dead man!" was the conventional salutation, in this
case graciously received.

"Well, what do you want?" asked Will.

"The boodle you carry. Fork it over!"

"Gentlemen," said Will, smiling, "this is a case where it takes a thief
to catch a thief."

"What's that?" cried one of the outlaws, his feelings outraged by the
frank description.

"Not that I'm the thief," continued Will, "but your pals were one too
many for you this time."

"Did they rob you?" howled the gang in chorus, shocked by such depravity
on the part of their comrades.

"If there's anything left in the coach worth having, don't hesitate to
take it," offered Will, pleasantly.

"Where's your strong-box?" demanded the outlaws, loath to believe there
was no honor among thieves.

Will drew it forth and exposed its melancholy emptiness. The profanity
that ensued was positively shocking.

"Where did they hold you up?" demanded the leader of the gang.

"Eight or nine miles back. You'll find some straw in the road. You can
have that, too."

"Were there horses to meet them?"

"On foot the last I saw them."

"Then we can catch 'em, boys," shouted the leader, hope upspringing in
his breast. "Come, let's be off!"

They started for the willows on the jump, and presently returned,
spurring their horses.

"Give them my regards!" shouted Will. But only the thud! thud! of
horsehoofs answered him. Retribution was sweeping like a hawk upon its

Will pushed along to the end of his run, and handed over his trust
undisturbed. Fearing that his ruse might have been discovered, he put
the "extra vigilance" urged by Trotter into the return trip, but the
trail was deserted. He picked up the prisoners at the relay station and
carried them to Fort Kearny. If their companions were to discover the
sorry trick played upon them, they would have demanded his life as a

At the end of this exciting trip he found a letter from Miss Frederici
awaiting him. She urged him to give up the wild life he was leading,
return East, and find another calling. This was precisely what Will
himself had in mind, and persuasion was not needed. In his reply he
asked that the wedding-day be set, and then he handed Trotter his
resignation from the lofty perch of a stage-driver.

"I don't like to let you go," objected Trotter.

"But," said Will, "I took the job only in order to save enough money to
get married on."

"In that case," said Trotter, "I have nothing to do but wish you joy."


WHEN Will reached home, he found another letter from Miss Frederici,
who, agreeably to his request, had fixed the wedding-day, March 6, 1866.

The wedding ceremony was quietly performed at the home of the bride, and
the large number of friends that witnessed it united in declaring that
no handsomer couple ever bowed for Hymen's benediction.

The bridal journey was a trip to Leavenworth on a Missouri steamer. At
that time there was much travel by these boats, and their equipment was
first-class. They were sumptuously fitted out, the table was excellent,
and except when sectional animosities disturbed the serenity of their
decks, a trip on one of them was a very pleasant excursion.

The young benedict soon discovered, however, that in war times the
"trail of the serpent" is liable to be over all things; even a wedding
journey is not exempt from the baneful influence of sectional animosity.
A party of excursionists on board the steamer manifested so extreme
an interest in the bridal couple that Louise retired to a stateroom
to escape their rudeness. After her withdrawal, Will entered into
conversation with a gentleman from Indiana, who had been very polite
to him, and asked him if he knew the reason for the insolence of the
excursion party. The gentleman hesitated a moment, and then answered:

"To tell the truth, Mr. Cody, these men are Missourians, and say they
recognize you as one of Jennison's Jayhawkers; that you were an enemy of
the South, and are, therefore, an enemy of theirs."

Will answered, steadily: "I was a soldier during the war, and a scout
in the Union army, but I had some experience of Southern chivalry before
that time." And he related to the Indianian some of the incidents of the
early Kansas border warfare, in which he and his father had played so
prominent a part.

The next day the insolent behavior was continued. Will was much inclined
to resent it, but his wife pleaded so earnestly with him to take no
notice of it that he ignored it.

In the afternoon, when the boat landed at a lonely spot to wood up, the
Missourians seemed greatly excited, and all gathered on the guards and
anxiously scanned the riverbank.

The roustabouts were just about to make the boat fast, when a party of
armed horsemen dashed out of the woods and galloped toward the landing.
The captain thought the boat was to be attacked, and hastily gave orders
to back out, calling the crew on board at the same time. These orders
the negroes lost no time in obeying, as they often suffered severely at
the hands of these reckless marauders. The leader of the horsemen rode
rapidly up, firing at random. As he neared the steamer he called out,
"Where is that Kansas Jayhawker? We have come for him." The other men
caught sight of Will, and one of them cried, "We know you, Bill Cody."
But they were too late. Already the steamer was backing away from the
shore, dragging her gang-plank through the water; the negro roustabouts
were too much terrified to pull it in. When the attacking party saw
their plans were frustrated, and that they were balked of their prey,
they gave vent to their disappointment in yells of rage. A random volley
was fired at the retreating steamer, but it soon got out of range, and
continued on its way up the river.

Will had prepared himself for the worst; he stood, revolver in hand, at
the head of the steps, ready to dispute the way with his foes.

There was also a party of old soldiers on board, six or eight in number;
they were dressed in civilians' garb, and Will knew nothing of them; but
when they heard of their comrade's predicament, they hastily prepared
to back up the young scout. Happily the danger was averted, and their
services were not called into requisition. The remainder of the trip was
made without unpleasant incident.

It was afterward learned that as soon as the Missourians became aware of
the presence of the Union scout on board, they telegraphed ahead to the
James and Younger brothers that Will was aboard the boat, and asked to
have a party meet it at this secluded landing, and capture and carry
off the young soldier. Will feared that Louise might be somewhat
disheartened by such an occurrence on the bridal trip, but the welcome
accorded the young couple on their arrival at Leavenworth was flattering
enough to make amends for all unpleasant incidents. The young wife found
that her husband numbered his friends by the score in his own home; and
in the grand reception tendered them he was the lion of the hour.

Entreated by Louise to abandon the plains and pursue a vocation along
more peaceful paths, Will conceived the idea of taking up the business
in which mother had won financial success--that of landlord. The house
she had built was purchased after her death by Dr. Crook, a surgeon in
the Seventh Kansas Regiment. It was now for rent, which fact no doubt
decided Will in his choice of an occupation. It was good to live again
under the roof that had sheltered his mother in her last days; it was
good to see the young wife amid the old scenes. So Will turned boniface,
and invited May and me to make our home with him.

There was a baby in Julia's home, and it had so wound itself around
May's heartstrings that she could not be enticed away; but there was
never anybody who could supplant Will in my heart; so I gladly accepted
his invitation.

Thoreau has somewhere drawn a sympathetic portrait of the Landlord, who
is supposed to radiate hospitality as the sun throws off heat--as its
own reward--and who feeds and lodges men purely from a love of the
creatures. Yet even such a landlord, if he is to continue long in
business, must have an eye to profit, and make up in one corner what
he parts with in another. Now, Will radiated hospitality, and his
reputation as a lover of his fellowman got so widely abroad that
travelers without money and without price would go miles out of
their way to put up at his tavern. Socially, he was an irreproachable
landlord; financially, his shortcomings were deplorable.

And then the life of an innkeeper, while not without its joys and
opportunities to love one's fellowman, is somewhat prosaic, and our
guests oftentimes remarked an absent, far-away expression in the eyes of
Landlord Cody. He was thinking of the plains. Louise also remarked that
expression, and the sympathy she felt for his yearnings was accentuated
by an examination of the books of the hostelry at the close of the first
six months' business. Half smiling, half tearful, she consented to his
return to his Western life.

Will disposed of the house and settled his affairs, and when all the
bills were paid, and Sister Lou and I cozily ensconced in a little home
at Leavenworth, we found that Will's generous thought for our comfort
through the winter had left him on the beach financially. He had planned
a freighting trip on his own account, but the acquiring of a team,
wagon, and the rest of the outfit presented a knotty problem when he
counted over the few dollars left on hand.

For the first time I saw disappointment and discouragement written on
his face, and I was sorely distressed, for he had never denied me a
desire that he could gratify, and it was partly on my account that he
was not in better financial condition. I was not yet sixteen; it would
be two years more before I could have a say as to the disposition of my
own money, yet something must be done at once.

I decided to lay the matter before Lawyer Douglass. Surely he
could suggest some plan whereby I might assist my brother. I had a
half-matured plan of my own, but I was assured that Will would not
listen to it.

Mr. Douglass had been the legal adviser of the family since he won our
first lawsuit, years before. We considered the problem from every side,
and the lawyer suggested that Mr. Buckley, an old friend of the family,
had a team and wagon for sale; they were strong and serviceable, and
just the thing that Will would likely want. I was a minor, but if Mr.
Buckley was willing to accept me as security for the property, there
would be no difficulty in making the transfer.

Mr. Buckley proved entirely agreeable to the proposition. Will could
have the outfit in return for his note with my indorsement.

That disposed of, the question of freight to put into the wagon arose. I
thought of another old friend of the family, M. E. Albright, a wholesale
grocer in Leavenworth. Would he trust Will for a load of supplies? He

Thus everything was arranged satisfactorily, and I hastened home to not
the easiest task--to prevail upon Will to accept assistance at the hands
of the little sister who, not so long ago, had employed his aid in the
matter of a pair of shoes.

But Will could really do nothing save accept, and proud and happy, he
sallied forth one day as an individual freighter, though not a very
formidable rival of Russell, Majors & Waddell.

Alas for enterprises started on borrowed capital! How many of them end
in disaster, leaving their projectors not only penniless, but in debt.
Our young frontiersman, whose life had been spent in protecting the
property of others, was powerless to save his own. Wagon, horses, and
freight were all captured by Indians, and their owner barely escaped
with his life. From a safe covert he watched the redskins plunge him
into bankruptcy. It took him several years to recover, and he has
often remarked that the responsibility of his first business venture on
borrowed capital aged him prematurely.

The nearest station to the scene of this disaster was Junction City, and
thither he tramped, in the hope of retrieving his fortunes. There he met
Colonel Hickok, and in the pleasure of the greeting forgot his business
ruin for a space. The story of his marriage and his stirring adventures
as a landlord and lover of his fellowman were first to be related, and
when these were commented upon, and his old friend had learned, too, of
the wreck of the freighting enterprise, there came the usual inquiry:

"And now, do you know of a job with some money in it?"

"There isn't exactly a fortune in it," said Wild Bill, "but I'm scouting
for Uncle Sam at Fort Ellsworth. The commandant needs more scouts, and I
can vouch for you as a good one."

"All right," said Will, always quick in decision; "I'll go along with
you, and apply for a job at once."

He was pleased to have Colonel Hickok's recommendation, but it turned
out that he did not need it, as his own reputation had preceded him. The
commandant of the fort was glad to add him to the force. The territory
he had to scout over lay between Forts Ellsworth and Fletcher, and he
alternated between those points throughout the winter.

It was at Fort Fletcher, in the spring of 1867, that he fell in with the
dashing General Custer, and the friendship established between them was
ended only by the death of the general at the head of his gallant three

This spring was an exceedingly wet one, and the fort, which lay upon the
bank of Big Creek, was so damaged by floods that it was abandoned. A new
fort was erected, some distance to the westward, on the south fork of
the creek, and was named Fort Hayes.

Returning one day from an extended scouting trip, Will discovered signs
indicating that Indians in considerable force were in the neighborhood.
He at once pushed forward at all speed to report the news, when a second
discovery took the wind out of his sails; the hostiles were between him
and the fort.

At that moment a party of horsemen broke into view, and seeing they
were white men, Will waited their approach. The little band proved to
be General Custer and an escort of ten, en route from Fort Ellsworth to
Fort Hayes.

Informed by Will that they were cut off by Indians, and that the only
hope of escape lay in a rapid flank movement, Custer's reply was a

"Lead on, scout, and we'll follow."

Will wheeled, clapped spurs to his horse, and dashed away, with the
others close behind. All hands were sufficiently versed in Indian
warfare to appreciate the seriousness of their position. They pursued
a roundabout trail, and reached the fort without seeing a hostile, but
learned from the reports of others that their escape had been a narrow

Custer was on his way to Larned, sixty miles distant, and he needed a
guide. He requested that Will be assigned to the position, so pleased
was he by the service already rendered.

"The very man I proposed to send with you, General," said the
commandant, who knew well the keen desire of the Indians to get at
"Yellow Hair," as they called Custer. "Cody knows this part of the
country like a book; he is up to all the Indian games, and he is as full
of resources as a nut is of meat."

At daybreak the start was made, and it was planned to cover the sixty
miles before nightfall. Will was mounted on a mouse-colored mule,
to which he was much attached, and in which he had every confidence.
Custer, however, was disposed to regard the lowly steed in some disdain.

"Do you think, Cody, that mule can set the pace to reach Larned in a
day?" he asked.

"When you get to Larned, General," smiled Will, "the mule and I will be
with you."

Custer said no more for a while, but the pace he set was eloquent, and
the mouse-colored mule had to run under "forced draught" to keep up with
the procession. It was a killing pace, too, for the horses, which did
not possess the staying power of the mule. Will was half regretting
that he had ridden the animal, and was wondering how he could crowd on
another pound or two of steam, when, suddenly glancing at Custer, he
caught a gleam of mischief in the general's eye. Plainly the latter was
seeking to compel an acknowledgment of error, but Will only patted the
mouse-colored flanks.

Fifteen miles were told off; Custer's thoroughbred horse was still in
fine fettle, but the mule had got the second of its three or four winds,
and was ready for a century run.

"Can you push along a little faster, General?" asked Will, slyly.

"If that mule of yours can stand it, go ahead," was the reply.

To the general's surprise, the long-eared animal did go ahead, and when
the party got into the hills, and the traveling grew heavy, it set a
pace that seriously annoyed the general's thoroughbred.

Fifteen miles more were pounded out, and a halt was called for luncheon.
The horses needed the rest, but the mouse-colored mule wore an impatient
expression. Having got its third wind, it wanted to use it.

"Well, General," said Will, when they swung off on the trail again,
"what do you think of my mount?"

Custer laughed. "It's not very handsome," said he, "but it seems to know
what it's about, and so does the rider. You're a fine guide, Cody.
Like the Indian, you seem to go by instinct, rather than by trails and

The praise of Custer was sweeter to the young scout than that of any
other officer on the plains would have been.

At just four o'clock the mouse-colored mule jogged into Fort Larned and
waved a triumphant pair of ears. A short distance behind rode Custer, on
a thoroughly tired thoroughbred, while the escort was strung along the
trail for a mile back.

"Cody," laughed the general, "that remarkable quadruped of yours looks
equal to a return trip. Our horses are pretty well fagged out, but we
have made a quick trip and a good one. You brought us 'cross country
straight as the crow flies, and that's the sort of service I appreciate.
Any time you're in need of work, report to me. I'll see that you're kept

It was Custer's intention to remain at Fort Larned for some time, and
Will, knowing that he was needed at Hayes, tarried only for supper and a
short rest before starting back.

When night fell, he proceeded warily. On the way out he had directed
Custer's attention to signs denoting the near-by presence of a small
band of mounted Indians.

Suddenly a distant light flashed into view, but before he could check
his mule it had vanished. He rode back a few paces, and the light
reappeared. Evidently it was visible through some narrow space, and the
matter called for investigation. Will dismounted, hitched his mule, and
went forward.

After he had covered half a mile, he found himself between two
sandhills, the pass leading into a little hollow, within which were
a large number of Indians camped around the fire whose light he had
followed. The ponies were in the background.

Will's position was somewhat ticklish, as, without a doubt, an Indian
sentinel was posted in the pass; yet it was his duty, as he understood
it, to obtain a measurably accurate estimate of the number of warriors
in the band. Himself a very Indian in stealth, he drew nearer the
camp-fire, when suddenly there rang out upon the night air--not a
rifle-shot, but the unearthly braying of his mule.

Even in the daylight, amid scenes of peace and tranquillity, the voice
of a mule falls short of the not enchanting music of the bagpipe.
At night in the wilderness, when every nerve is keyed up to the
snapping-point, the sound is simply appalling.

Will was startled, naturally, but the Indians were thrown into dire
confusion. They smothered the campfires and scattered for cover, while a
sentinel sprang up from behind a rock not twenty feet from Will, and was
off like a deer.

The scout held his ground till he had made a good guess at the number of
Indians in the party; then he ran for his mule, whose voice, raised in
seeming protest, guided him unerringly.

As he neared the animal he saw that two mounted Indians had laid hold of
it, and were trying to induce it to follow them; but the mule, true to
tradition and its master, stubbornly refused to budge a foot.

It was a comical tableau, but Will realized that it was but a step from
farce to tragedy. A rifle-shot dropped one of the Indians, and the other
darted off into the darkness.

Another bray from the mule, this time a paean of triumph, as Will
jumped into the saddle, with an arrow from the bow of the wounded Indian
through his coat-sleeve. He declined to return the fire of the wounded
wretch, and rode away into the timber, while all around the sound of
Indians in pursuit came to his ears.

"Now, my mouse-colored friend," said Will, "if you win this race your
name is Custer."

The mule seemed to understand; at all events, it settled down to work
that combined the speed of a racer with the endurance of a buffalo. The
Indians shortly abandoned the pursuit, as they could not see their game.

Will reached Fort Hayes in the early morning, to report the safe arrival
of Custer at Larned and the discovery of the Indian band, which he
estimated at two hundred braves. The mule received "honorable mention"
in his report, and was brevetted a thoroughbred.

The colonel prepared to dispatch troops against the Indians, and
requested Will to guide the expedition, if he were sufficiently rested,
adding, with a smile:

"You may ride your mule if you like."

"No, thank you," laughed Will. "It isn't safe, sir, to hunt Indians with
an animal that carries a brass-band attachment."

Captain George A. Armes, of the Tenth Cavalry, was to command the
expedition, which comprised a troop of colored cavalry and a howitzer.
As the command lined up for the start, a courier on a foam-splashed
horse rode up with the news that the workmen on the Kansas Pacific
Railroad had been attacked by Indians, six of them killed, and over a
hundred horses and mules and a quantity of stores stolen.

The troops rode away, the colored boys panting for a chance at the
redskins, and Captain Armes more than willing to gratify them.

At nightfall the command made camp near the Saline River, at which point
it was expected to find the Indians. Before dawn they were in the saddle
again, riding straight across country, regardless of trails, until the
river was come up with.

Will's judgment was again verified by the discovery of a large camp of
hostiles on the opposite bank of the stream. The warriors were as
quick of eye, and as they greatly outnumbered the soldiers, and were
emboldened by the success of their late exploit, they did not wait the
attack, but came charging across the river.

They were nearly a mile distant, and Captain Armes had time to plant the
howitzer on a little rise of ground. Twenty men were left to handle it.
The rest of the command advanced to the combat.

They were just at the point of attack when a fierce yelling was heard in
the rear, and the captain discovered that his retreat to the gun was cut
off by another band of reds, and that he was between two fires. His only
course was to repulse the enemy in front. If this were done, and the
colored gunners did not flee before the overwhelming numbers, he might
unite his forces by another charge.

The warriors came on with their usual impetuosity, whooping and
screaming, but they met such a raking fire from the disciplined troops
that they fell back in disorder. Just then the men at the howitzer
opened fire. The effect of this field-piece on the children of the
plains was magical--almost ludicrous. A veritable stampede followed.

"Follow me!" shouted Captain Armes, galloping in pursuit; but in their
eagerness to give chase the troops fell into such disorder that a
bugle-blast recalled them before any further damage was done the flying
foe. The Indians kept right along, however; they were pretty badly

Captain Armes was somewhat chagrined that he had no prisoners, but
there was consolation in taking back nearly all the horses that had been
stolen. These were found picketed at the camp across the river, where
likely they had been forgotten by the Indians in their flight.

Shortly after this, Will tried his hand at land speculation. During
one of his scouting trips to Fort Harker, he visited Ellsworth, a new
settlement, three miles from the fort. There he met a man named Rose,
who had a grading contract for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, near Fort
Hayes. Rose had bought land at a point through which the railroad was to
run, and proposed staking it out as a town, but he needed a partner in
the enterprise.

The site was a good one. Big Creek was hard by, and it was near enough
to the fort to afford settlers reasonable security against Indian raids.
Will regarded the enterprise favorably. Besides the money sent home
each month, he had put by a small sum, and this he invested in the
partnership with Rose.

The town site was surveyed and staked off into lots; a cabin was
erected, and stocked with such goods as are needed on the frontier, and
the budding metropolis was weighted with the classic name of Rome.

As an encouragement to settlers, a lot was offered to any one that would
agree to erect a building. The proprietors, of course, reserved the
choicest lots.

Rome boomed. Two hundred cabins went up in less than sixty days.
Mr. Rose and Will shook hands and complimented each other on their
penetration and business sagacity. They were coming millionaires, they
said. Alas! they were but babes in the woods.

One day Dr. W. E. Webb alighted in Rome. He was a gentleman of most
amiable exterior, and when he entered the store of Rose & Cody they
prepared to dispose of a large bill of goods. But Dr. Webb was not
buying groceries. He chatted a while about the weather and Rome, and
then suggested that the firm needed a third partner. But this was the
last thing the prospective millionaires had in mind, and the suggestion
of their visitor was mildly but firmly waived.

Dr. Webb was not a gentleman to insist upon a suggestion. He was
locating towns for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, he said, and as Rome was
well started, he disliked to interfere with it; but, really, the company
must have a show.

Neither Mr. Rose nor Will had had experience with the power of a big
corporation, and satisfied that they had the only good site for a town
in that vicinity, they declared that the railroad could not help itself.

Dr. Webb smiled pleasantly, and not without compassion. "Look out for
yourselves," said he, as he took his leave.

And within sight of Rome he located a new town. The citizens of Rome
were given to understand that the railroad shops would be built at the
new settlement, and that there was really nothing to prevent it becoming
the metropolis of Kansas.

Rome became a wilderness. Its citizens stampeded to the new town,
and Mr. Rose and Will revised their estimate of their penetration and
business sagacity.

Meantime, the home in Leavenworth had been gladdened by the birth of a
little daughter, whom her father named Arta. As it was impossible for
Will to return for some months, it was planned that the mother, the
baby, and I should make a visit to the St. Louis home. This was
accomplished safely; and while the grandparents were enraptured with the
baby, I was enjoying the delight of a first visit to a large city.

While the new town of Rome was regarded as an assured success by Will,
he had journeyed to St. Louis after his wife and little one. They
proceeded with him to the cozy cabin home he had fitted up, while I went
back to Leavenworth.

After the fall of Rome the little frontier home was no longer the
desirable residence that Will's dreams had pictured it, and as Rome
passed into oblivion the little family returned to St. Louis.


IN frontier days a man had but to ask for work to get it. There was
enough and to spare for every one. The work that paid best was the kind
that suited Will, it mattered not how hard or dangerous it might be.

At the time Rome fell, the work on the Kansas Pacific Railroad was
pushing forward at a rapid rate, and the junior member of the once
prosperous firm of Rose & Cody saw a new field of activity open for
him--that of buffalo-hunting. Twelve hundred men were employed on the
railroad construction, and Goddard Brothers, who had undertaken to board
the vast crew, were hard pressed to obtain fresh meat. To supply this
indispensable, buffalo-hunters were employed, and as Will was known to
be an expert buffalo-slayer, Goddard Brothers were glad to add him to
their "commissary staff." His contract with them called for en average
of twelve buffaloes daily, for which he was to receive five hundred
dollars a month. It was "good pay," the desired feature, but the work
was hard and hazardous. He must first scour the country for his game,
with a good prospect always of finding Indians instead of buffalo; then,
when the game was shot, he must oversee its cutting and dressing, and
look after the wagons that transported it to the camp where the workmen
messed. It was while working under this contract that he acquired the
sobriquet of "Buffalo Bill." It clung to him ever after, and he wore
it with more pride than he would have done the title of prince or grand
duke. Probably there are thousands of people to-day who know him by that
name only.

At the outset he procured a trained buffalo-hunting horse, which went
by the unconventional name of "Brigham," and from the government he
obtained an improved breech-loading needle-gun, which, in testimony of
its murderous qualities, he named "Lucretia Borgia."

Buffaloes were usually plentiful enough, but there were times when the
camp supply of meat ran short. During one of these dull spells, when the
company was pressed for horses, Brigham was hitched to a scraper. One
can imagine his indignation. A racer dragging a street-car would have
no more just cause for rebellion than a buffalo-hunter tied to a work
implement in the company of stupid horses that never had a thought above
a plow, a hay-rake, or a scraper. Brigham expostulated, and in such
plain language, that Will, laughing, was on the point of unhitching
him, when a cry went up--the equivalent of a whaler's "There she
blows!"--that a herd of buffaloes was coming over the hill.

Brigham and the scraper parted company instantly, and Will mounted him
bareback, the saddle being at the camp, a mile away. Shouting an order
to the men to follow him with a wagon to take back the meat, he galloped
toward the game.

There were other hunters that day. Five officers rode out from the
neighboring fort, and joined Will while waiting for the buffaloes to
come up. They were recent arrivals in that part of the country, and
their shoulder-straps indicated that one was a captain and the others
were lieutenants. They did not know "Buffalo Bill." They saw nothing but
a good-looking young fellow, in the dress of a working man, astride a
not handsome horse, which had a blind bridle and no saddle. It was not a
formidable-looking hunting outfit, and the captain was disposed to be a
trifle patronizing.

"Hello!" he called out. "I see you're after the same game we are."

"Yes, sir," returned Will. "Our camp's out of fresh meat."

The officer ran a critical eye over Brigham. "Do you expect to run down
a buffalo with a horse like that?" said he.

"Why," said Will, innocently, "are buffaloes pretty speedy?"

"Speedy? It takes a fast horse to overhaul those animals on the open

"Does it?" said Will; and the officer did not see the twinkle in his
eye. Nothing amuses a man more than to be instructed on a matter that
he knows thoroughly, and concerning which his instructor knows nothing.
Probably every one of the officers had yet to shoot his first buffalo.

"Come along with us," offered the captain, graciously. "We're going to
kill a few for sport, and all we care for are the tongues and a chunk of
the tenderloin; you can have the rest."

"Thank you," said Will. "I'll follow along."

There were eleven buffaloes in the herd, and the officers started after
them as if they had a sure thing on the entire number. Will noticed that
the game was pointed toward a creek, and understanding "the nature of
the beast," started for the water, to head them off.

As the herd went past him, with the military quintet five hundred yards
in the rear, he gave Brigham's blind bridle a twitch, and in a few jumps
the trained hunter was at the side of the rear buffalo; Lucretia Borgia
spoke, and the buffalo fell dead. Without even a bridle signal, Brigham
was promptly at the side of the next buffalo, not ten feet away, and
this, too, fell at the first shot. The maneuver was repeated until the
last buffalo went down. Twelve shots had been fired; then Brigham, who
never wasted his strength, stopped. The officers had not had even a shot
at the game. Astonishment was written on their faces as they rode up.

"Gentlemen," said Will, courteously, as he dismounted, "allow me to
present you with eleven tongues and as much of the tenderloin as you

"By Jove!" exclaimed the captain, "I never saw anything like that
before. Who are you, anyway?"

"Bill Cody's my name."

"Well, Bill Cody, you know how to kill buffalo, and that horse of yours
has some good running points, after all."

"One or two," smiled Will.

Captain Graham--as his name proved to be--and his companions were
a trifle sore over missing even the opportunity of a shot, but they
professed to be more than repaid for their disappointment by witnessing
a feat they had not supposed possible in a white man--hunting buffalo
without a saddle, bridle, or reins. Will explained that Brigham knew
more about the business than most two-legged hunters. All the rider
was expected to do was to shoot the buffalo. If the first shot failed,
Brigham allowed another; if this, too, failed, Brigham lost patience,
and was as likely as not to drop the matter then and there.

It was this episode that fastened the name of "Buffalo Bill" upon Will,
and learning of it, the friends of Billy Comstock, chief of scouts at
Fort Wallace, filed a protest. Comstock, they said, was Cody's superior
as a buffalo hunter. So a match was arranged to determine whether it
should be "Buffalo Bill" Cody or "Buffalo Bill" Comstock.

The hunting-ground was fixed near Sheridan, Kansas, and quite a crowd of
spectators was attracted by the news of the contest. Officers, soldiers,
plainsmen, and railroadmen took a day off to see the sport, and one
excursion party, including many ladies, among them Louise, came up from
St. Louis.

Referees were appointed to follow each man and keep a tally of the
buffaloes slain. Comstock was mounted on his favorite horse, and carried
a Henry rifle of large caliber. Brigham and Lucretia went with Will. The
two hunters rode side by side until the first herd was sighted and the
word given, when off they dashed to the attack, separating to the right
and left. In this first trial Will killed thirty-eight and Comstock
twenty-three. They had ridden miles, and the carcasses of the dead
buffaloes were strung all over the prairie. Luncheon was served at noon,
and scarcely was it over when another herd was sighted, composed mainly
of cows with their calves. The damage to this herd was eighteen and
fourteen, in favor of Cody.

In those days the prairies were alive with buffaloes, and a third herd
put in an appearance before the rifle-barrels were cooled. In order to
give Brigham a share of the glory, Will pulled off saddle and bridle,
and advanced bareback to the slaughter.

That closed the contest. Score, sixty-nine to forty-eight. Comstock's
friends surrendered, and Cody was dubbed "Champion Buffalo Hunter of the

The heads of the buffaloes that fell in this hunt were mounted by
the Kansas Pacific Company, and distributed about the country, as
advertisements of the region the new road was traversing. Meanwhile,
Will continued hunting for the Kansas Pacific contractors, and during
the year and a half that he supplied them with fresh meat he killed four
thousand two hundred and eighty buffaloes. But when the railroad reached
Sheridan it was decided to build no farther at that time, and Will was
obliged to look for other work.

The Indians had again become so troublesome that a general war
threatened all along the border, and General P. H. Sheridan came West
to personally direct operations. He took up his quarters at Fort
Leavenworth, but the Indian depredations becoming more widespread, he
transferred his quarters to Fort Hayes, then the terminus of the Kansas
Pacific Railroad. Will was then in the employ of the quartermaster's
department at Fort Larned, but was sent with an important dispatch to
General Sheridan announcing that the Indians near Larned were preparing
to decamp. The distance between Larned and Hayes was sixty-five miles,
through a section infested with Indians, but Will tackled it, and
reached the commanding General without mishap.

Shortly afterward it became necessary to send dispatches from Fort Hayes
to Fort Dodge. Ninety-five miles of country lay between, and every mile
of it was dangerous ground. Fort Dodge was surrounded by Indians, and
three scouts had lately been killed while trying to get dispatches
through, but Will's confidence in himself or his destiny was unshakable,
and he volunteered to take the dispatches, as far, at least, as the
Indians would let him.

"It is a dangerous undertaking," said General Sheridan, "but it is most
important that the dispatches should go through; so, if you are willing
to risk it, take the best horse you can find, and the sooner you start
the better."

Within an hour the scout was in the saddle. At the outset Will permitted
his horse to set his own pace, for in case of pursuit he should want
the animal fresh enough to at least hold his own. But no pursuit
materialized, and when the dawn came up he had covered seventy miles,
and reached a station on Coon Creek, manned by colored troops. Here
he delivered a letter to Major Cox, the officer in command, and after
eating breakfast, took a fresh horse, and resumed his journey before the
sun was above the plain.

Fort Dodge was reached, the dispatches delivered by nine o'clock, and
Will turned in for a needed sleep. When he awoke, he was assured by John
Austin, chief of the scouts at Dodge, that his coming through unharmed
from Fort Hayes was little short of a miracle. He was also assured
that a journey to his own headquarters, Fort Larned, would be even more
ticklish than his late ride, as the hostiles were especially thick in
that direction. But the officer in command at Dodge desired to send
dispatches to Larned, and as none of the other scouts were willing to
take them, Will volunteered his services.

"Larned's my headquarters," said he, "and I must go there anyway; so if
you'll give me a good horse, I'll take your dispatches."

"We haven't a decent horse left," said the officer; "but you can take
your pick of some fine government mules."

Will made a gesture of despair. Another race on mule-back with Indians
was not an inviting prospect. There were very few mules like unto his
quondam mouse-colored mount. But he succumbed to the inevitable, picked
out the most enterprising looking mule in the bunch, and set forth. And
neither he nor the mule guessed what was in store for each of them.

At Coon Creek Will dismounted for a drink of water, and the mule
embraced the opportunity to pull away, and start alone on the
wagon-trail to Larned. Will did not suspect that he should have any
trouble in overtaking the capricious beast, but at the end of a mile
he was somewhat concerned. He had threatened and entreated, raged
and cajoled. 'Twas all wasted. The mule was as deaf to prayer as to
objurgation. It browsed contentedly along the even tenor of its way, so
near and yet so far from the young man, who, like "panting time, toil'd
after it in vain." And Larned much more than twenty miles away.

What the poet calls "the golden exhalations of the dawn" began to warm
the gray of the plain. The sun was in the roots of the grass. Four miles
away the lights of Larned twinkled. The only blot on a fair landscape
was the mule--in the middle distance. But there was a wicked gleam in
the eye of the footsore young man in the foreground.

Boom! The sunrise gun at the fort. The mule threw back its head, waved
its ears, and poured forth a song of triumph, a loud, exultant bray.

Crack! Will's rifle. Down went the mule. It had made the fatal mistake
of gloating over its villainy. Never again would it jeopardize the life
of a rider.

It had been a thirty-five-mile walk, and every bone in Will's body
ached. His shot alarmed the garrison, but he was soon on the ground with
the explanation; and after turning over his dispatches, he sought his

During the day General Hazen returned, under escort, from Fort Harker,
with dispatches for Sheridan, and Will offered to be the bearer of them.
An army mule was suggested, but he declined to again put his life in the
keeping of such an animal. A good horse was selected, and the journey
made without incident.

General Sheridan was roused at daylight to receive the scout's report
and praised Will warmly for having undertaken and safely accomplished
three such long and dangerous rides.

"In all," says General Sheridan, in his Memoirs, "Cody rode three
hundred and fifty miles in less than sixty hours, and such an exhibition
of endurance and courage was more than enough to convince me that his
services would be extremely valuable in the campaign; so I retained him
at Fort Hayes until the battalion of Fifth Cavalry arrived, and then
made him chief of scouts for that regiment."


WITHIN plain view of Fort Larned lay a large camp of Kiowas and
Comanches. They were not yet bedaubed with war paint, but they were as
restless as panthers in a cage, and it was only a matter of days when
they would whoop and howl with the loudest.

The principal chief of the Kiowas was Satanta, a powerful and
resourceful warrior, who, because of remarkable talents for
speech-making, was called "The Orator of the Plains." Satanta was short
and bullet-headed. Hatred for the whites swelled every square inch
of his breast, but he had the deep cunning of his people, with some
especially fine points of treachery learned from dealings with dishonest
agents and traders. There probably never was an Indian so depraved that
he could not be corrupted further by association with a rascally white

When the Kiowas were friendly with the government, Satanta received a
guest with all the magnificence the tribe afforded. A carpet was spread
for the white man to sit upon, and a folding board was set up for a
table. The question of expense never intruded.

Individually, too, Satanta put on a great deal of style. Had the
opportunity come to him, he would have worn a silk hat with a sack-coat,
or a dress suit in the afternoon. As it was, he produced some startling
effects with blankets and feathers.

It was part of General Hazen's mission to Fort Larned to patch up a
treaty with the outraged Kiowas and Comanches, if it could be brought
about. On one warm August morning, the general set out for Fort Zarah,
on a tour of inspection. Zarah was on the Arkansas, in what is now
Barton County, Kansas. An early start was made, as it was desired to
cover the thirty miles by noon. The general rode in a four-mule army
ambulance, with an escort of ten foot soldiers, in a four-mule escort

After dinner at Zarah the general went on to Fort Harker, leaving orders
for the scout and soldiers to return to Larned on the following day. But
as there was nothing to do at Fort Zarah, Will determined to return at
once; so he trimmed the sails of his mule-ship, and squared away for

The first half of the journey was without incident, but when Pawnee Rock
was reached, events began to crowd one another. Some forty Indians rode
out from behind the rock and surrounded the scout.

"How? How?" they cried, as they drew near, and offered their hands for
the white man's salutation.

The braves were in war paint, and intended mischief; but there was
nothing to be lost by returning their greeting, so Will extended his

One warrior seized it and gave it a violent jerk; another caught the
mule's bridle; a third pulled the revolvers from the holsters; a fourth
snatched the rifle from across the saddle; while a fifth, for a climax,
dealt Will a blow on the head with a tomahawk that nearly stunned him.

Then the band started for the Arkansas River, lashing the mule, singing,
yelling, and whooping. For one supposed to be stolid and taciturn, the
Indian makes a good deal of noise at times.

Across the river was a vast throng of warriors, who had finally decided
to go on the war-path. Will and his captors forded the shallow stream,
and the prisoner was conducted before the chiefs of the tribe, with some
of whom he was acquainted.

His head throbbed from the tomahawking, but his wits were still in
working order, and when asked by Satanta where he had been, he replied
that he had been out searching for "whoa-haws."

He knew that the Indians had been promised a herd of "whoa-haws," as
they termed cattle, and he knew, too, that the herd had not arrived, and
that the Indians had been out of meat for several weeks; hence he hoped
to enlist Satanta's sympathetic interest.

He succeeded. Satanta was vastly interested. Where were the cattle? Oh,
a few miles back. Will had been sent forward to notify the Indians that
an army of sirloin steaks was advancing upon them.

Satanta was much pleased, and the other chiefs were likewise interested.
Did General Hazen say the cattle were for them? Was there a chance that
the scout was mistaken?

Not a chance; and with becoming dignity Will demanded a reason for the
rough treatment he had received.

Oh, that was all a joke, Satanta explained. The Indians who had captured
the white chief were young and frisky. They wished to see whether he was
brave. They were simply testing him. It was sport--just a joke.

Will did not offer to argue the matter. No doubt an excellent test of a
man's courage is to hit him over the head with a tomahawk. If he lives
through it, he is brave as Agamemnon. But Will insisted mildly that it
was a rough way to treat friends; whereupon Satanta read the riot act to
his high-spirited young men, and bade them return the captured weapons
to the scout.

The next question was, were there soldiers with the cattle? Certainly,
replied Will; a large party of soldiers were escorting the succulent
sirloins. This intelligence necessitated another consultation. Evidently
hostilities must be postponed until after the cattle had arrived. Would
Will drive the cattle to them? He would be delighted to. Did he desire
that the chief's young men should accompany him? No, indeed. The
soldiers, also, were high-spirited, and they might test the bravery of
the chief's young men by shooting large holes in them. It would be much
better if the scout returned alone.

Satanta agreed with him, and Will recrossed the river without
molestation; but, glancing over his shoulder, he noted a party of ten
or fifteen young braves slowly following him. Satanta was an extremely
cautious chieftain.

Will rode leisurely up the gentle slope of the river's bank, but when
he had put the ridge between him and the Indian camp he pointed his mule
westward, toward Fort Larned, and set it going at its best pace. When
the Indians reached the top of the ridge, from where they could scan the
valley, in which the advancing cattle were supposed to be, there was not
a horn to be seen, and the scout was flying in an opposite direction.

They gave chase, but the mule had a good start, and when it got its
second wind--always necessary in a mule--the Indian ponies gained but
slowly. When Ash Creek, six miles from Larned, was reached, the race
was about even, but two miles farther on, the Indians were uncomfortably
close behind. The sunset gun at the fort boomed a cynical welcome to the
man four miles away, flying toward it for his life.

At Pawnee Fork, two miles from the fort, the Indians had crept up to
within five hundred yards. But here, on the farther bank of the stream,
Will came upon a government wagon containing half a dozen soldiers and
Denver Jim, a well-known scout.

The team was driven among the trees, and the men hid themselves in the
bushes, and when the Indians came along they were warmly received. Two
of the reds were killed; the others wheeled and rode back in safety.

In 1868 General Sheridan had taken command of all the troops in the
field. He arranged what is known as the winter expeditions against the
Kiowas, Comanches, Southern Cheyennes, and Arapahoes. He personally
commanded the expedition which left Fort Dodge, with General Custer as
chief of cavalry. General Penrose started for Fort Lyon, Colorado, and
General Eugene A. Carr was ordered from the Republican River country,
with the Fifth Cavalry, to Fort Wallace, Kansas. Will at this time had
a company of forty scouts with General Carr's command. He was ordered by
General Sheridan, when leaving Fort Lyon, to follow the trail of General
Penrose's command until it was overtaken. General Carr was to proceed to
Fort Lyon, and follow on the trail of General Penrose, who had started
from there three weeks before, when, as Carr ranked Penrose, he would
then take command of both expeditions. It was the 21st of November when
Carr's expedition left Fort Lyon. The second day out they encountered a
terrible snow-storm and blizzard in a place they christened "Freeze
Out Canon," by which name it is still known. As Penrose had only a
pack-train and no heavy wagons, and the ground was covered with snow, it
was a very difficult matter to follow his trail. But taking his general
course, they finally came up with him on the south fork of the Canadian
River, where they found him and his soldiers in a sorry plight,
subsisting wholly on buffalo-meat. Their animals had all frozen to

General Carr made what is known as a supply camp, leaving Penrose's
command and some of his own disabled stock therein. Taking with him
the Fifth Cavalry and the best horses and pack-mules, he started south
toward the main fork of the Canadian River, looking for the Indians. He
was gone from the supply camp thirty days, but could not locate the
main band of Indians, as they were farther to the east, where General
Sheridan had located them, and had sent General Custer in to fight them,
which he did, in what is known as the great battle of Wichita.

They had a very severe winter, and returned in March to Fort Lyon,

In the spring of 1869, the Fifth Cavalry, ordered to the Department of
the Platte, took up the line of march for Fort McPherson, Nebraska.

It was a large command, including seventy-six wagons for stores,
ambulance wagons, and pack-mules. Those chief in authority were Colonel
Royal (afterward superseded by General Carr), Major Brown, and Captain

The average distance covered daily was only ten miles, and when the
troops reached the Solomon River there was no fresh meat in camp.
Colonel Royal asked Will to look up some game.

"All right, sir," said Will. "Will you send a couple of wagons along to
fetch in the meat?"

"We'll send for the game, Cody, when there's some game to send for,"
curtly replied the colonel.

That settled the matter, surely, and Will rode away, a trifle ruffled in

He was not long in rounding up a herd of seven buffaloes, and he headed
them straight for camp. As he drew near the lines, he rode alongside
his game, and brought down one after another, until only an old bull
remained. This he killed in almost the center of the camp.

The charge of the buffaloes had nearly stampeded the picketed horses,
and Colonel Royal, who, with the other officers, had watched the hunt,
demanded, somewhat angrily:

"What does this mean, Cody?"

"Why," said Will, "I thought, sir, I'd save you the trouble of sending
after the game."

The colonel smiled, though perhaps the other officers enjoyed the joke
more than he.

At the north fork of the Beaver, Will discovered a large and fresh
Indian trail. The tracks were scattered all over the valley, showing
that a large village had recently passed that way. Will estimated that
at least four hundred lodges were represented; that would mean from
twenty-five hundred to three thousand warriors, squaws, and children.

When General Carr (who had taken the command) got the news, he followed
down a ravine to Beaver Creek, and here the regiment went into camp.
Lieutenant Ward and a dozen men were detailed to accompany Will on a
reconnoissance. They followed Beaver Creek for twelve miles, and
then the lieutenant and the scout climbed a knoll for a survey of the
country. One glance took in a large Indian village some three miles
distant. Thousands of ponies were picketed out, and small bands of
warriors were seen returning from the hunt, laden with buffalo-meat.

"I think, Lieutenant," said Will, "that we have important business at

"I agree with you," said Ward. "The quicker we get out of here, the

When they rejoined the men at the foot of the hill, Ward dispatched a
courier to General Carr, the purpose of the lieutenant being to follow
slowly and meet the troops which he knew would be sent forward.

The courier rode away at a gallop, but in a few moments came riding
back, with three Indians at his horse's heels. The little company
charged the warriors, who turned and fled for the village.

"Lieutenant," said Will, "give me that note." And as it was passed over,
he clapped spurs to his horse and started for the camp.

He had proceeded but a short distance when he came upon another party of
Indians, returning to the village with buffalo-meat. Without stopping,
he fired a long-range shot at them, and while they hesitated, puzzled by
the action, he galloped past. The warriors were not long in recovering
from their surprise, and cutting loose their meat, followed; but their
ponies were tired from a long hunt, and Will's fresh horse ran away from

When General Carr received the lieutenant's dispatch, he ordered the
bugler to sound the inspiring "Boots and Saddles," and, while two
companies remained to guard the wagons, the rest of the troops hastened
against the Indians.

Three miles out they were joined by Lieutenant Ward's company, and five
miles more brought them within sight of a huge mass of mounted Indians
advancing up the creek. These warriors were covering the retreat of
their squaws, who were packing up and getting ready for hasty flight.

General Carr ordered a charge on the red line. If it were broken, the
cavalry was to continue, and surround the village. The movement was
successfully executed, but one officer misunderstood the order, and,
charging on the left wing of the hostiles, was speedily hemmed in by
some three hundred redskins. Reinforcements were dispatched to his
relief, but the plan of battle was spoiled, and the remainder of the
afternoon was spent in contesting the ground with the Indians, who
fought for their lodges, squaws, and children with desperate and dogged
courage. When night came on, the wagon-trains, which had been ordered to
follow, had not put in an appearance, and, though the regiment went back
to look for them, it was nine o'clock before they were reached.

Camp was broken at daybreak, and the pursuit began, but not an Indian
was in sight. All the day the trail was followed. There was evidence
that the Indians had abandoned everything that might hinder their
flight. That night the regiment camped on the banks of the Republican,
and the next morning caught a distant glimpse of the foe.

About eleven o'clock a charge was made by three hundred mounted
warriors, but they were repulsed with considerable loss, and when they
discovered that defeat was certain, they evaded further pursuit by
breaking up into companies and scattering to all points of the compass.
A large number of ponies were collected as trophies of this expedition.


IN due time the Fifth Cavalry reached Fort McPherson, which became its
headquarters while they were fitting out a new expedition to go into
the Republican River country. At this time General Carr recommended to
General Augur, who was in command of the Department, that Will be made
chief of scouts in the Department of the Platte.

Will's fancy had been so taken by the scenery along the line of march
that he proceeded to explore the country around McPherson, the result
being a determination to make his future home in the Platte Valley.

Shortly after reaching the fort, the scouts' division of the Fifth
Cavalry was reinforced by Major Frank North and three companies of the
celebrated Pawnee scouts. These became the most interesting and amusing
objects in camp, partly on account of their race, but mainly because
of the bizarre dress fashions they affected. My brother, in his
autobiography, describes the appearance presented by these scouts during
a review of the command by Brigadier-General Duncan.

The regiment made a fine showing, the men being well drilled and
thoroughly versed in tactics. The Pawnees also showed up well on drill,
but their full dress uniforms were calculated to excite even the army
horses to laughter. Regular cavalry suits had been furnished them, but
no two of the Pawnees seemed to agree as to the correct manner in which
the various articles should be worn. As they lined up for dress parade,
some of them wore heavy overcoats, others discarded even pantaloons,
content with a breech-clout. Some wore large black hats, with brass
accouterments, others were bareheaded. Many wore the pantaloons, but
declined the shirts, while a few of the more original cut the seats from
the pantaloons, leaving only leggings. Half of them were without boots
or moccasins, but wore the clinking spurs with manifest pride.

They were a quaint and curious lot, but drilled remarkably well for
Indians, and obeyed orders. They were devoted to their white chief,
Major North, who spoke Pawnee like a native, and they were very proud
of their position in the United States army. Good soldiers they made,
too--hard riders, crack shots, and desperate fighters.

At the close of the parade and review referred to, the officers and the
ladies attended an Indian dance, given by the Pawnees, which climaxed a
rather exciting day.

The following morning an expedition moved back to the Republican River,
to curb the high spirits of a band of Sioux, who had grown boldly
troublesome. This was the sort of service the Pawnees welcomed, as they
and the Sioux were hereditary enemies.

At the journey's end, camp was made at the mouth of the Beaver, and the
Sioux were heard from within the hour. A party of them raided the mules
that had been taken to the river, and the alarm was given by a herder,
who dashed into camp with an arrow sticking in his shoulder.

Will did not wait to saddle his horse, but the Pawnees were as quick as
he, and both of them rather surprised the Sioux, who did not expect
such a swift response. Especially were they surprised to find themselves
confronted by their tribal foe, the Pawnee, and they fell back hastily,
closely pressed by Will and his red allies. A running fight was kept up
for fifteen miles, and when many of the Sioux had been stretched upon
the plain and the others scattered, the pursuing party returned to camp.

Will himself, on a fine horse, had been somewhat chagrined at being
passed in the chase by a Pawnee on an inferior-looking steed. Upon
inquiring of Major North, he found that the swifter horse was, like his
own, government property. The Pawnee was much attached to his mount,
but he was also fond of tobacco, and a few pieces of that commodity,
supplemented by some other articles, induced him to exchange horses.
Will named his new charge "Buckskin Joe," and rode him for four years.
Joe proved a worthy successor to Brigham for speed, endurance, and

This was the first adventure that Will and the Pawnees had pursued
together, and they emerged with an increased esteem for each other. Not
long afterward, Will's skill as a buffalo-hunter raised the admiration
of the Indians to enthusiasm.

Twenty Pawnees that circled around one herd of buffaloes killed only
twenty-two, and when the next herd came in view Will asked Major North
to keep the Indians in the background while he showed them a thing
or two. Buckskin Joe was a capital buffalo-hunter, and so well did he
perform his part that Will brought down thirty-six, about one at every

The Pawnees were delighted. They held it considerable of an achievement
to kill two or three of the monarchs of the plains at a single run, and
Will's feat dazzled them. He was at once pronounced a great chief, and
ever after occupied a high place in their regard.

Moving up the Republican River, the troops went into camp on Black Tail
Deer Fork. Scarcely were the tents pitched when a band of Indians were
seen sweeping toward them at full speed, singing, yelling, and waving
lances. The camp was alive in an instant, but the Pawnees, instead
of preparing for defense, began to sing and yell in unison with the
advancing braves. "Those are some of our own Indians," said Major North;
"they've had a fight, and are bringing in the scalps."

And so it proved. The Pawnees reported a skirmish with the Sioux, in
which a few of the latter had been killed.

The next day the regiment set forth upon the trail of the Sioux. They
traveled rapidly, and plainly gained ground.

At every camp the print of a woman's shoe was noted among the tracks
of moccasined feet. The band evidently had a white captive in tow, and
General Carr, selecting the best horses, ordered a forced march, the
wagon-trains to follow as rapidly as possible. Will, with six Pawnees,
was to go ahead and locate the hostiles, and send back word, so that a
plan of attack might be arranged before the Indian village was reached.

This village the scouts discovered among the sand-hills at Summit
Springs, a few miles from the South Platte River; and while the Pawnees
remained to watch, Will returned to General Carr with the news.

There was suppressed excitement all along the line, as officers and men
prepared for what promised to be a lively scrimmage. The troops moved
forward by a circuitous route, and reached a hill overlooking the
hostile camp without their presence being dreamed of by the red men.

The bugler was ordered to sound the charge, but he was trembling with
excitement, and unable to blow a note.

"Sound the charge, man!" ordered General Carr a second time; but
the unhappy wight could scarcely hold his horn, much less blow it.
Quartermaster Hays snatched the instrument from the flustered man's
hands, and as the call rang out loud and clear the troops rushed to the

Taken wholly by surprise, the Indian village went to pieces in a
twinkling. A few of the Sioux mounted and rode forward to repel the
assault, but they turned back in half a minute, while those that were
not mounted scattered for the foothills hard by. The cavalry swept
through the village like a prairie fire, and pursued the flying Indians
until darkness put an end to the chase.

By the next morning the bugler had grown calm enough to sound "Boots
and Saddles!" and General Carr split his force into companies, as it was
discovered that the Indians had divided. Each company was to follow a
separate trail.

Will made one of a band of two hundred, and for two days they dogged
the red man's footsteps. At sunrise of the third day the trail ran into
another, showing that the Sioux had reunited their forces. This was
serious for the little company of regulars, but they went ahead, eager
for a meeting with the savages.

They had not long to wait. The sun was scarcely an hour high when some
six hundred Sioux were espied riding in close ranks along the bank of
the Platte. The Indians discovered the troops at the same moment, and
at once gave battle. The Indian is not a coward, though he frequently
declines combat if the odds are not largely in his favor.

In this engagement the Sioux outnumbered the soldiers three to one,
and the latter fell back slowly until they reached a ravine. Here they
tethered their horses and waited the course of Indian events, which,
as usual, came in circular form. The Sioux surrounded the regulars, and
finding them comparatively few in number, made a gallant charge.

But bows and arrows are futile against powder and ball, and the warriors
reeled back from a scathing fire, leaving a score of their number dead.

Another charge, another repulse; and then a council of war. This lasted
an hour, and evidently evolved a brilliant stratagem, for the Sioux
divided into two bands, and while one made a show of withdrawing, the
other circled around and around the position where the soldiers lay.

At a point in this revolving belt of redskins rode a well-mounted,
handsome warrior, plainly a chief. It had been Will's experience that
to lay low a chief was half the battle when fighting Indians, but this
particular mogul kept just out of rifle-shot. There are, however, as
many ways of killing an Indian as of killing a cat; so Will crawled on
hands and knees along the ravine to a point which he thought would be
within range of the chief when next he swung around the circle.

The calculation was close enough, and when the warrior came loping
along, slacking his pace to cross the ravine, Will rose and fired.

It was a good four hundred yards, but the warrior pitched from his seat,
and his pony ran down the ravine into the ranks of the soldiers, who
were so elated over the success of the shot that they voted the animal
to Will as a trophy.

The fallen warrior was Tall Bull, one of the ablest chiefs the Sioux
ever had. His death so disheartened his braves that they at once

A union of General Carr's scattered forces followed, and a few days
later an engagement took place in which three hundred warriors and a
large number of ponies were captured. Some white captives were released,
and several hundred squaws made prisoners.

Among these latter was the amiable widow of Tall Bull, who, far from
cherishing animosity against Will as the slayer of her spouse, took
pride in the fact that he had fallen under the fire of so great a
warrior as "Pahaska," Long-haired Chief, by which name our scout was
known among the Indians.


IN the spring of 1870 Will proceeded to put into effect the
determination of the previous year--to establish a home in the lovely
country of the westerly Platte. After preparing quarters wherein his
family might be comfortable, he obtained a leave of absence and departed
for St. Louis to fetch his wife and daughter Arta, now a beautiful child
of three.

The fame of "Buffalo Bill" had extended far beyond the plains, and
during his month's sojourn in St. Louis he was the object of a great
deal of attention. When the family prepared to depart for the frontier
home, my sister-in-law wrote to me to ask if I did not wish to accompany
them. I should have been delighted to accept the invitation, but at that
especial time there were strong attractions for me in my childhood's
home; besides, I felt that sister May, who had not enjoyed the pleasure
of the St. Louis trip, was entitled to the Western jaunt.

So May made a visit to McPherson, and a delightful time she had, though
she was at first inclined to quarrel with the severe discipline of
army life. Will ranked with the officers, and as a result May's social
companions were limited to the two daughters of General Augur, who were
also on a visit to the fort. To compensate for the shortage of feminine
society, however, there were a number of young unmarried officers.

Every day had its curious or enlivening incident, and May's letters
to me were filled with accounts of the gayety of life at an army post.
After several months I was invited to join her. She was enthusiastic
over a proposed buffalo-hunt, as she desired to take part in one before
her return to Leavenworth, and wished me to enjoy the sport with her.

In accepting the invitation I fixed a certain day for my arrival at
McPherson, but I was delayed in my journey, and did not reach the fort
until three days after the date set. May was much disturbed. She had
allowed me three days for recuperation from the journey, and I had
arrived on the eve of the buffalo-hunt. Naturally, I was too fatigued
to rave over buffaloes, and I objected to joining the hunt; and I was
encouraged in my objecting by the discovery that my brother was away on
a scouting trip.

"You don't think of going buffalo-hunting without Will, do you?" I asked

"Why," said she, "we can never tell when he will be in camp and when
away; he's off scouting nearly all the time. And we can't get up a
buffalo-hunt on five minutes' notice; we must plan ahead. Our party is
all ready to start, and there's a reporter here from an Omaha paper to
write it up. We can't put it off, and you must go."

After that, of course, there was nothing more to be said, and when the
hunting-party set forth I made one of it.

A gay party it was. For men, there were a number of officers, and the
newspaper man, Dr. Frank Powell, now of La Crosser for women, the wives
of two of the officers, the daughters of General Augur, May, and myself.
There was sunshine, laughter, and incessant chatter, and when one is
young and fond of horseback-riding, and a handsome young officer rides
by one's side, physical fatigue is apt to vanish for a time.

The fort was soon nothing but a break in the sky-line, and with a
sense almost of awe I looked for the first time upon the great American
Desert. To our left, as we rode eastward, ran the swift and shallow
Platte, dotted with green-garbed islands. This river Washington Irving
called "the most magnificent and the most useless of streams" "The
islands," he wrote, "have the appearance of a labyrinth of groves
floating on the waters. Their extraordinary position gives an air
of youth and loveliness to the whole scene. If to this be added the
undulations of the river, the waving of the verdure, the alternations
of light and shade, and the purity of the atmosphere, some idea may
be formed of the pleasing sensations which the traveler experiences on
beholding a scene that seems to have started fresh from the hands of the

In sharp contrast was the sandy plain over which we rode. On this grew
the short, stubby buffalo-grass, the dust-colored sage-brush, and cactus
in rank profusion. Over to the right, perhaps a mile away, a long range
of foothills ran down to the horizon, with here and there the great
canons, through which entrance was effected to the upland country, each
canon bearing a historical or legendary name.

To my eyes the picture was as beautiful as it was novel. As far as
one could see there was no sign of human habitation. It was one vast,
untenanted waste, with the touch of infinity the ocean wears.

As we began to get into the foothills, one of our equestriennes narrowly
escaped a fall. Her horse dropped a foot into a prairie-dog's hole, and
came to an abrupt stop. The foot was extricated, and I was instructed in
the dangers that beset the prairie voyager in these blind traps of the

The trail had been ascending at a gentle grade, and we had a slight
change of scene--desert hill instead of desert plain. The sand-hills
rose in tiers before us, and I was informed that they were formed ages
ago by the action of water. What was hard, dry ground to our horses'
hoofs was once the bottom of the sea.

I was much interested in the geology of my environments; much more so
than I should have been had I been told that those strange, weird hills
were the haunt of the red man, who was on the war-path, and looking
constantly for scalps. But these unpleasant facts were not touched upon
by the officers, and in blissful ignorance we pursued the tenor of our

We were obliged to ride a great distance before we sighted any game,
and after twenty miles had been gone over, my temporarily forgotten
weariness began to reassert itself. Dr. Powell proposed that the ladies
should do the shooting, but my interest in the hunt had waned. It had
been several years since I had ridden a horse, and after the first few
miles I was not in a suitable frame of mind or body to enjoy the most
exciting hunt.

A herd of buffaloes finally came into view, and the party was instantly
alive. One old bull was a little apart from the others of the herd, and
was singled out for the first attack. As we drew within range, a rifle
was given to May, with explicit directions as to its handling. The
buffalo has but one vulnerable spot, and it is next to impossible for
a novice to make a fatal shot. May fired, and perhaps her shot might be
called a good one, for the animal was struck: but it was only wounded
and infuriated, and dropping its shaggy head, it rushed toward us. The
officers fusilladed the mountain of flesh, succeeding only in rousing it
to added fury. Another rifle was handed to May, and Dr. Powell directed
its aim; but terrified by the near presence of the charging bull, May
discharged it at random.

Although this is strictly a narrative of facts, exercising the privilege
of the novelist, we leave our present heroine in her perilous position,
and return, for a space, to the fort.

Will returned from his scouting trip shortly after the departure of the
hunting party, and his first query was:

"Is Nellie here?"

"Come and gone," replied his wife; and she informed him of the manner
in which I had been carried off on the long-talked-of buffalo-hunt.
Whereupon Will gave way to one of his rare fits of passion. The scouting
trip had been long and arduous, he was tired and hungry, but also keenly
anxious for our safety. He knew what we were ignorant of--that should
we come clear of the not insignificant dangers attendant upon a
buffalo-hunt, there remained the possibility of capture by Indians.

"I must go after them at once," said he; and off he went, without
thought of rest or food. He did take time, however, to visit the
officers' quarters and pour a vial of wrath upon the bewildered head of
the inferior who occupied the place of the absent commandant.

"Didn't you know," cried Will, "that my continued absence meant danger
in the air? Fine idea, to let a party of ladies go beyond the fort on
such a foolhardy expedition before I had assured you it was safe to
do so! Understand, if any harm comes to my sisters, I'll hold the
government responsible!"

With which tremendous threat he mounted the swiftest horse in camp and
rode away before the astonished officer had recovered from his surprise.

He was able to track us over the sand-hills, and reached us, in accepted
hero fashion, in the very nick of time. The maddened bull buffalo was
charging on May, unchecked by a peppering fire from the guns of the
officers. All hands were so absorbed by the intense excitement of the
moment that the sound of approaching hoof-beats was unnoted. But I
heard, from behind us, the crack of a rifle, and saw the buffalo fall
dead almost at our feet.

The ill-humor of our rescuer dampened the ardor of the welcome we gave
him. The long ride on an empty stomach had not smoothed a ripple of his
ruffled temper, and we were all properly lectured. We were ordered back
to the fort at once, and the command was of such a nature that no one
thought of disputing it. The only question was, whether we could make
the fort before being cut off by Indians. There was no time to be
wasted, even in cutting meat from the tongue of the fallen buffalo. Will
showed us the shortest cut for home, and himself zigzagged ahead of us,
on the watch for a danger signal.

For my part, I was so worn out that I would as soon be captured by
Indians, if they would agree to provide me with a wigwam wherein I might
lie down and rest; but no Indians appeared. Five miles from the fort was
the ranch of a wealthy bachelor, and at May's request a halt was here
called. It was thought that the owner of the ranch might take pity upon
my deplorable condition, and provide some sort of vehicle to convey the
ladies the remainder of the journey.

We were heartily welcomed, and our bachelor host made us extremely
comfortable in his cozy apartments, while he ordered supper for the
party. Will considered that we were within the safety zone, so he
continued on to the fort to obtain his postponed rest; and after supper
the ladies rode to the fort in a carriage.

The next day's Omaha paper contained an account of the hunt from Dr.
Powell's graphic pen, and in it May Cody received all the glory of
the shot that laid the buffalo low. Newspaper men are usually ready to
sacrifice exact facts to an innate sense of the picturesque.

At this time the fort was somewhat concerned over numerous petty crimes
among the civilians, and General Emory, now chief in authority at the
post, requested the county commissioners to appoint Will a justice of
the peace. This was done, much to the dismay of the new Justice, who, as
he phrased it, "knew no more of law than a mule knows of singing." But
he was compelled to bear the blushing honors thrust upon him, and his
sign was posted In a conspicuous place:

     --------------------------      |    WILLIAM F. CODY,      |

     Almost the first thing he was called upon to do in his new
     capacity was to perform a wedding ceremony.  Cold sweat stood upon
     his brow as he implored our aid in this desperate emergency.
     The big law book with which he had been equipped at his
     installation was ransacked in vain for the needed information.
     The Bible was examined more diligently, perhaps, than it had
     ever been by him before, but the Good Book was as unresponsive
     as the legal tome.  "Remember your own wedding ceremony,"
     was our advice "Follow that as nearly as possible."
     But he shook his head despondently The cool-headed scout
     and Indian fighter was dismayed, and the dignity of the law
     trembled in the balance.

     To put an edge on the crisis, nearly the entire fort attended
     the wedding.  All is well, said we, as we watched the justice take
     his place before the bridal pair with not a sign of trepidation.
     At the outset his conducting of the ceremony was irreproachable,
     and we were secretly congratulating ourselves upon his success,
     when our ears were startled by the announcement:

     "Whom God and Buffalo Bill hath joined together, let no man
          put asunder."

     So far as I am informed, no man has attempted it.

     Before May returned home, Will became the very proud father of
          a son.
     He had now three children, a second daughter, Orra, having
          been born two
     years before.  The first boy of the family was the object of
          the undivided
     interest of the post for a time, and names by the dozen were
     Major North offered Kit Carson as an appropriate name for the
          son of a great
     scout and buffalo-hunter, and this was finally settled on.

     My first touch of real anxiety came with an order to Will
     to report at headquarters for assignment to duty.
     The country was alive with Indians, the officer in command
     informed him, and this intelligence filled me with dread.
     My sister-in-law had grown accustomed to her husband's excursions
     into danger-land, and accepted such sallies as incidents of
     his position.  Later, I, too, learned this stoical philosophy,
     but at first my anxiety was so keen that Will laughed at me.

     "Don't worry," said he; "the Indians won't visit the fort to-night.
     There's no danger of them scalping you."

     "But," said I, "it is for you, not for myself, that I am afraid.
     It is horrible to think of you going out alone among those
     which swarm with Indians."

     The fort was on the prairie, but the distant foothills
          stretched away
     interminably, and these furnished favorite lurking-places for
          the redskins.
     Will drew me to a window, and pointed out the third tier of hills,
     some twelve or fifteen miles away.

     "I would advise you," said he, "to go to bed and sleep,
     but if you insist on keeping awake and worrying, I will kindle
     a blaze on top of that hill at midnight.  Watch closely.
     I can send up only one flash, for there will be Indian eyes
     unclosed as well as yours."

     One may imagine with what a beating heart I stared into the
     when the hour of twelve drew on.  The night was a veil that hid
     a thousand terrors, but a gauzy veil, to my excited fancy,
     behind which passed a host of shadowy horsemen with uptossing
     How could a man ride alone into such a gloomy, terror-haunted
     The knights of old, who sallied forth in search of dismal ogres
     and noxious dragons, were not of stouter heart, and they breasted
     only fancied perils.

     Twelve o'clock! The night had a thousand eyes, but they did
          not pierce
     the darkness of the foothills.

     Ah!  A thin ribbon of light curled upward for an instant, then
     Will was safe thus far.  But there were many hours--and the
          darkest--before the dawn, and I carried to my bed the
          larger share of my forebodings.

     Next day the scout came home to report the exact location
     of the hostile-Sioux. The troops, ready for instant action,
     were hurled against them, and the Indians were thoroughly thrashed.
     A large number of chiefs were captured, among them "Red Shirt,"
     an interesting redskin, who afterward traveled with the "Wild

     Captive chiefs were always esteemed of great interest by the ladies
     of the fort.  To me the braves taken in the last raid were
     mainly for economy of apparel and sulkiness of demeanor.

     This same fall the fort was visited by a gentleman introduced as
     Colonel Judson, though the public knows him better as "Ned
     the story-writer. He desired to accompany the scouts on a certain
     proposed trip, and Major Brown informed Will that the ulterior
     of the author was to project Buffalo Bill into a novel as hero.

     "Now, I'd look pretty in a novel, wouldn't I?" said Will,
     sarcastically and blushingly.

     "Yes, I think you would," returned the major, eying the other's
     splendid proportions critically.

     Whereupon the scout blushed again, and doffed his sombrero in
     of the compliment, for--

     "'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print;
     A book's a book, although there's nothing in't."

A retired naval officer, Ned Buntline wore a black undress military
suit. His face was bronzed and rugged, determined yet kindly; he walked
with a slight limp, and carried a cane. He shook Will's hand cordially
when they were introduced, and expressed great pleasure in the meeting.
This was the genesis of a friendship destined to work great changes in
Buffalo Bill's career.

During the scouting expedition that followed, the party chanced upon an
enormous bone, which the surgeon pronounced the femur of a human body.
Will understood the Indian tongues well enough to be in part possession
of their traditions, and he related the Sioux legend of the flood.

It was taught by the wise men of this tribe that the earth was
originally peopled by giants, who were fully three times the size
of modern men. They were so swift and powerful that they could run
alongside a buffalo, take the animal under one arm, and tear off a leg,
and eat it as they ran. So vainglorious were they because of their own
size and strength that they denied the existence of a Creator. When it
lightened, they proclaimed their superiority to the lightning; when it
thundered, they laughed.

This displeased the Great Spirit, and to rebuke their arrogance he sent
a great rain upon the earth. The valleys filled with water, and the
giants retreated to the hills. The water crept up the hills, and the
giants sought safety on the highest mountains. Still the rain continued,
the waters rose, and the giants, having no other refuge, were drowned.

The Great Spirit profited by his former mistake. When the waters
subsided, he made a new race of men, but he made them smaller and less

This tradition has been handed down from Sioux father to Sioux son since
earliest ages. It shows, at least, as the legends of all races do, that
the story of the Deluge is history common to all the world.

Another interesting Indian tradition bears evidence of a later origin.
The Great Spirit, they say, once formed a man of clay, and he was placed
in the furnace to bake, but he was subjected to the heat too long a
time, and came out burnt. Of him came the negro race. At another trial
the Great Spirit feared the second clay man might also burn, and he was
not left in the furnace long enough. Of him came the paleface man. The
Great Spirit was now in a position to do perfect work, and the third
clay man was left in the furnace neither too long nor too short a time;
he emerged a masterpiece, the _ne plus ultra_ of creation--the noble red


ALTHOUGH the glory of killing the buffalo on our hunt was accredited to
sister May, to me the episode proved of much more moment. In the spring
of 1871 I was married to Mr. Jester, the bachelor ranchman at whose
place we had tarried on our hurried return to the fort. His house had a
rough exterior, but was substantial and commodious, and before I entered
it, a bride, it was refitted in a style almost luxurious. I returned to
Leavenworth to prepare for the wedding, which took place at the home of
an old friend, Thomas Plowman, his daughter Emma having been my chum in

In our home near McPherson we were five miles "in the country." Nature
in primitive wildness encompassed us, but life's song never ran into a
monotone. The prairie is never dull when one watches it from day to day
for signs of Indians. Yet we were not especially concerned, as we were
near enough to the fort to reach it on short notice, and besides our
home there was another house where the ranchmen lived. With these I had
little to do. My especial factotum was a negro boy, whose chief duty was
to saddle my horse and bring it to the door, attend me upon my rides,
and minister to my comfort generally. Poor little chap! He was one of
the first of the Indians' victims.

Early one morning John, as he was called, was sent out alone to look
after the cattle. During breakfast the clatter of hoofs was heard, and
Will rode up to inform us that the Indians were on the war-path and
massed in force just beyond our ranch. Back of Will were the troops,
and we were advised to ride at once to the fort. Hastily packing a few
valuables, we took refuge at McPherson, and remained there until the
troops returned with the news that all danger was over.

Upon our return to the ranch we found that the cattle had been driven
away, and poor little John was picked up dead on the skirts of the
foothills. The redskins had apparently started to scalp him, but had
desisted. Perhaps they thought his wool would not make a desirable
trophy, perhaps they were frightened away. At all events, the poor
child's scalp was left to him, though the mark of the knife was plain.

Shortly after this episode, some capitalists from the East visited
my husband. One of them, Mr. Bent, owned a large share in the
cattle-ranches. He desired to visit this ranch, and the whole party
planned a hunt at the same time. As there were no banking facilities on
the frontier, drafts or bills of exchange would have been of no use;
so the money designed for Western investment had been brought along in
cash. To carry this on the proposed trip was too great a risk, and I was
asked banteringly to act as banker. I consented readily, but imagine
my perturbation when twenty-five thousand dollars in bank-notes were
counted out and left in my care. I had never had the responsibility
of so large a sum of money before, and compared to me the man with
the elephant on his hands had a tranquil time of it. After considering
various methods for secreting the money, I decided for the hair mattress
on my bed. This I ripped open, inserted the envelope containing the
bank-notes, and sewed up the slit. No one was aware of my trust, and I
regarded it safe.

A few mornings later I ordered my pony and rode away to visit my nearest
neighbor, a Mrs. Erickson, purposing later to ride to the fort and
spend the day with Lou, my sister-in-law. When I reached Mrs. Erickson's
house, that good woman came out in great excitement to greet me.

"You must come right in, Mrs. Jester!" said she. "The foothills are
filled with Indians on the warpath."

She handed me her field-glasses, and directed my gaze to the trail below
our ranch, over which buffaloes, cattle, and Indians passed down to the
Platte. I could plainly see the warriors tramping along Indian-file,
their head-feathers waving in the breeze and their blankets flapping
about them as they walked. Instantly the thought of the twenty-five
thousand dollars intrusted to my care flashed across my mind.

"Oh, Mrs. Erickson," I exclaimed, "I must return to the ranch

"You must not do so, Mrs. Jester; it's as much as your life is worth to
attempt it," said she.

But I thought only of the money, and notwithstanding warning and
entreaty, mounted my horse and flew back on the homeward path, not even
daring to look once toward the foothills. When I reached the house, I
called to the overseer:

"The Indians are on the war-path, and the foothills are full of them!
Have two or three men ready to escort me to the fort by the time I have
my valise packed."

"Why, Mrs. Jester," was the reply, "there are no Indians in sight."

"But there are," said I. "I saw them as plainly as I see you, and the
Ericksons saw them, too."

"You have been the victim of a mirage," said the overseer. "Look! there
are no Indians now in view."

I scanned the foothills closely, but there was no sign of a warrior.
With my field-glasses I searched the entire rim of the horizon; it was
tranquillity itself. I experienced a great relief, nevertheless. My
nerves were so shaken that I could not remain at home; so I packed a
valise, taking along the package of bank-notes, and visited another
neighbor, a Mrs. McDonald, a dear friend of many years' standing, who
lived nearer the fort.

This excellent woman was an old resident of the frontier. After she had
heard my story, she related some of her own Indian experiences. When she
first settled in her present home, there was no fort to which she could
flee from Indian molestation, and she was often compelled to rely upon
her wits to extricate her from dangerous situations. The story that
especially impressed me was the following:

"One evening when I was alone," said Mrs. McDonald, "I became conscious
that eyes were peering at me from the darkness outside my window. Flight
was impossible, and my husband would not likely reach home for an
hour or more. What should I do? A happy thought came to me. You know,
perhaps, that Indians, for some reason, have a strange fear of a drunken
woman, and will not molest one. I took from a closet a bottle filled
with a dark-colored liquid, poured out a glassful and drank it. In a few
minutes I repeated the dose, and then seemingly it began to take effect.
I would try to walk across the room, staggering and nearly falling. I
became uproariously 'happy.' I flung my arms above my head, lurched from
side to side, sang a maudlin song, and laughed loudly and foolishly.
The stratagem succeeded. One by one the shadowy faces at the window
disappeared, and by the time my husband and the men returned there was
not an Indian in the neighborhood. I became sober immediately. Molasses
and water is not a very intoxicating beverage."

I plucked up courage to return to the ranch that evening, and shortly
afterward the hunting-party rode up. When I related the story of my
fright, Mr. Bent complimented me upon what he was pleased to call my

"You are your brother's own sister," said he. "We'll make you banker

"Thank you, but I do not believe you will," said I. "I have had all the
experience I wish for in the banking business in this Indian country."

Upon another occasion Indians were approaching the fort from the farther
side, but as we were not regarded as in danger, no warning was sent to
us. The troops sallied out after the redskins, and the cunning warriors
described a circle. To hide their trail they set fire to the prairie,
and the hills about us were soon ablaze. The flames spread swiftly,
and the smoke rolled upon us in suffocating volume. We retreated to the
river, and managed to exist by dashing water upon our faces. Here we
were found by soldiers sent from the fort to warn settlers of their
peril, and at their suggestion we returned to the ranch, saddled horses,
and rode through the dense smoke five miles to the fort. It was the most
unpleasant ride of my life.

In the preceding chapter mention was made of the finding of a remarkable
bone. It became famous, and in the summer of 1871 Professor Marsh, of
Yale College, brought out a party of students to search for fossils.
They found a number, but were not rewarded by anything the most
credulous could torture into a human relic.

This summer also witnessed an Indian campaign somewhat out of the common
in several of its details. More than one volume would be required
to record all the adventures Scout Cody had with the Children of the
Plains, most of which had so many points in common that it is necessary
to touch upon only those containing incidents out of the ordinary.

An expedition, under command of General Duncan, was fitted out for the
Republican River country. Duncan was a jolly officer and a born fighter.
His brother officers had a story that once on a time he had been shot
in the head by a cannon-ball, and that while he was not hurt a particle,
the ball glanced off and killed one of the toughest mules in the army.

Perhaps it was because the Pawnees spoke so little English, and spoke
that little so badly, that General Duncan insisted upon their repeating
the English call, which would be something like this: "Post Number One.
Nine o'clock. All's well." The Pawnee effort to obey was so ludicrous,
and provocative of such profanity (which they could express passing
well), that the order was countermanded.

One afternoon Major North and Will rode ahead of the command to select
a site for the night's camp. They ran into a band of some fifty Indians,
and were obliged to take the back track as fast as their horses could
travel. Will's whip was shot from his hand and a hole put through his
hat. As they sighted the advance-guard of the command, Major North rode
around in a circle--a signal to the Pawnees that hostiles were near.
Instantly the Pawnees broke ranks and dashed pell-mell to the relief of
their white chief. The hostiles now took a turn at retreating, and kept
it up for several miles.

The troops took up the trail on the following day, and a stern chase set
in. In passing through a deserted camp the troops found an aged squaw,
who had been left to die. The soldiers built a lodge for her, and she
was provided with sufficient rations to last her until she reached the
Indian heaven, the happy hunting-grounds. She was in no haste, however,
to get to her destination, and on their return the troops took her to
the fort with them. Later she was sent to the Spotted Tail agency.

In September of 1871 General Sheridan and a party of friends arrived
at the post for a grand hunt. Between him and Will existed a warm
friendship, which continued to the close of the general's life. Great
preparations were made for the hunt. General Emory, now commander of the
fort, sent a troop of cavalry to meet the distinguished visitors at the
station and escort them to the fort. Besides General Sheridan, there
were in the party Leonard and Lawrence Jerome, Carroll Livingstone,
James Gordon Bennett, J. G. Heckscher, General Fitzhugh, Schuyler
Crosby, Dr. Asch, Mr. McCarthy, and other well-known men. When they
reached the post they found the regiment drawn up on dress parade;
the band struck up a martial air, the cavalry were reviewed by General
Sheridan, and the formalities of the occasion were regarded as over.

It was Sheridan's request that Will should act as guide and scout for
the hunting-party. One hundred troopers under Major Brown were detailed
as escort, and the commissary department fairly bulged. Several
ambulances were also taken along, for the comfort of those who might
weary of the saddle.

Game was abundant, and rare sport was had. Buffalo, elk, and deer were
everywhere, and to those of the party who were new to Western life the
prairie-dog villages were objects of much interest. These villages are
often of great extent. They are made up of countless burrows, and so
honeycombed is the country infested by the little animals that travel
after nightfall is perilous for horses. The dirt is heaped around the
entrance to the burrows a foot high, and here the prairie-dogs, who are
sociability itself, sit on their hind legs and gossip with one another.
Owls and rattlesnakes share the underground homes with the rightful
owners, and all get along together famously.

When the hunting-party returned to McPherson its members voted Will a
veritable Nimrod--a mighty hunter, and he was abundantly thanked for his
masterly guidance of the expedition.

That winter a still more distinguished party visited the post--the Grand
Duke Alexis and his friends. As many of my readers will recall, the
nobleman's visit aroused much enthusiasm in this country. The East had
wined and dined him to satiety, but wining and dining are common to all
nations, and the Grand Duke desired to see the wild life of America--the
Indian in his tepee and the prairie monarch in his domain, as well as
the hardy frontiersman, who feared neither savage warrior nor savage

The Grand Duke had hunted big game in Eastern lands, and he was a
capital shot. General Sheridan engineered this expedition also, and, as
on the previous occasion, he relied upon Will to make it a success. The
latter received word to select a good camp on Red Willow Creek, where
game was plentiful, and to make all needed arrangements for the comfort
and entertainment of the noble party. A special feature suggested by
Sheridan for the amusement and instruction of the continental guests
was an Indian war-dance and Indian buffalo-hunt. To procure this
entertainment it was necessary to visit Spotted Tail, chief of the
Sioux, and persuade him to bring over a hundred warriors. At this time
there was peace between the Sioux and the government, and the dance idea
was feasible; nevertheless, a visit to the Sioux camp was not without
its dangers. Spotted Tail himself was seemingly sincere in a desire to
observe the terms of the ostensible peace between his people and the
authorities, but many of the other Indians would rather have had the
scalp of the Long-haired Chief than a century of peace.

Will so timed his trip as to reach the Indian camp at dusk, and hitching
his horse in the timber, he wrapped his blanket closely about him, so
that in the gathering darkness he might easily pass for a warrior. Thus
invested, he entered the village, and proceeded to the lodge of Spotted

The conference with the distinguished redskin was made smooth sailing
by Agent Todd Randall, who happened to be on hand, and who acted as
interpreter. The old chief felt honored by the invitation extended to
him, and readily promised that in "ten sleeps" from that night he, with
a hundred warriors, would be present at the white man's camp, which was
to be pitched at the point where the government trail crossed Red Willow

As Spotted Tail did not repose a great amount of confidence in his
high-spirited young men, he kept Will in his own lodge through the
night. In the morning the chief assembled the camp, and presenting his
guest, asked if his warriors knew him.

"It is Pa-has-ka, the Long-haired Chief!" they answered.

Whereupon Spotted Tail informed them that he had eaten bread with the
Long-haired Chief, thus establishing a bond of friendship, against
violating which the warriors were properly warned.

After that Will was entirely at his ease, although there were many
sullen faces about him. They had long yearned for his scalp, and it was
slightly irritating to find it so near and yet so far.


A SPECIAL train brought the Grand Duke Alexis and party to North Platte
on January 12, 1872. Will was presented to the illustrious visitor by
General Sheridan, and was much interested in him. He was also pleased to
note that General Custer made one of the party.

Will had made all the arrangements, and had everything complete when the
train pulled in. As soon as the Grand Duke and party had breakfasted,
they filed out to get their horses or to find seats in the ambulances.
All who were mounted were arranged according to rank. Will had sent one
of his guides ahead, while he was to remain behind to see that nothing
was left undone. Just as they were to start, the conductor of the Grand
Duke's train came up to Will and said that Mr. Thompson had not received
a horse. "What Thompson?" asked Will. "Why, Mr. Frank Thompson, who has
charge of the Grand Duke's train." Will looked over the list of names
sent him by General Sheridan of those who would require saddle-horses,
but failed to find that of Mr. Thompson. However, he did not wish to
have Mr. Thompson or any one else left out. He had following him, as he
always did, his celebrated war-horse, "Buckskin Joe." This horse was not
a very prepossessing "insect." He was buckskin in color, and rather
a sorry-looking animal, but he was known all over the frontier as the
greatest long-distance and best buffalo-horse living. Will had never
allowed any one but himself to ride this horse, but as he had no
other there at the time, he got a saddle and bridle, had it put on old
Buckskin Joe, and told Mr. Thompson he could ride him until he got
where he could get him another. This horse looked so different from
the beautiful animals the rest of the party were supplied with that Mr.
Thompson thought it rather discourteous to mount him in such fashion.
However, he got on, and Will told him to follow up, as he wanted to go
ahead to where the general was. As Mr. Thompson rode past the wagons and
ambulances he noticed the teamsters pointing at him, and thinking the
men were guying him, rode up to one of them, and said, "Am I not riding
this horse all right?" Mr. Thompson felt some personal pride in his
horsemanship, as he was a Pennsylvania fox-hunter.

The driver replied, "Yes, sir; you ride all right."

"Well, then," said Thompson, "it must be this horse you are guying."

The teamster replied:

"Guying that horse? Not in a thousand years!"

"Well, then, why am I such a conspicuous object?"

"Why, sir, are you not the king?"

"The king? Why did you take me for the king?"

"Because you are riding that horse. I guess you don't know what horse
you are riding, do you? Nobody gets to ride that horse but Buffalo Bill.
So when we all saw you riding him we supposed that of course you were
the king, for that horse, sir, is Buckskin Joe."

Thompson had heard General Sheridan telling about Buckskin Joe on the
way out, and how Buffalo Bill had once run him eighty miles when the
Indians were after him. Thompson told Will afterward that he grew about
four feet when he found out that he was riding that most celebrated
horse of the plains. He at once galloped ahead to overtake Will and
thank him most heartily for allowing him the honor of such a mount. Will
told him that he was going to let the Grand Duke kill his first buffalo
on Buckskin Joe. "Well," replied Thompson, "I want to ask one favor
of you. Let me also kill a buffalo on this horse." Will replied that
nothing would afford him greater pleasure. Buckskin Joe was covered with
glory on this memorable hunt, as both the Grand Duke of Russia and Mr.
Frank Thompson, later president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, killed
their first buffalo mounted on his back, and my brother ascribes to old
Joe the acquisition of Mr. Frank Thompson's name to his list of life
friendships. This hunt was an unqualified success, nothing occurring to
mar one day of it.

Spotted Tail was true to his promise. He and his hundred braves were
on hand, shining in the full glory of war paint and feathers, and the
war-dance they performed was of extraordinary interest to the Grand Duke
and his friends. The outlandish contortions and grimaces of the Indians,
their leaps and crouchings, their fiendish yells and whoops, made up a
barbaric jangle of picture and sound not soon to be forgotten. To the
European visitors the scene was picturesque rather than ghastly, but
it was not a pleasing spectacle to the old Indian fighters looking on.
There were too many suggestions of bloodshed and massacre in the past,
and of bloodshed and massacre yet to come.

The Indian buffalo-hunt followed the Terpsichorean revelry, and all
could enjoy the skill and strength displayed by the red huntsmen. One
warrior, Two-Lance by name, performed a feat that no other living Indian
could do; he sent an arrow entirely through the body of a bull running
at full speed.

General Sheridan desired that the Grand Duke should carry away with
him a knowledge of every phase of life on the frontier, and when the
visitors were ready to drive to the railroad station, Will was requested
to illustrate, for their edification, the manner in which a stagecoach
and six were driven over the Rocky Mountains.

Will was delighted at the idea; so was Alexis at the outset, as he had
little idea of what was in store for him. The Grand Duke and the general
were seated in a closed carriage drawn by six horses, and were cautioned
to fasten their hats securely on their heads, and to hang onto the
carriage; then Will climbed to the driver's seat.

"Just imagine," said he to his passengers, "that fifty Indians are
after us." And off went the horses, with a jump that nearly spilled the
occupants of the coach into the road.

The three miles to the station were covered in just ten minutes, and the
Grand Duke had the ride of his life. The carriage tossed like a ship in
a gale, and no crew ever clung to a life-line with more desperate grip
than did Will's passengers to their seats. Had the fifty Indians of the
driver's fancy been whooping behind, he would not have plied the whip
more industriously, or been deafer to the groans and ejaculations of
his fares. When the carriage finally drew up with another teeth-shaking
jerk, and Will, sombrero in hand, opened the coach door to inquire of
his Highness how he had enjoyed the ride, the Grand Duke replied, with
suspicious enthusiasm:

"I would not have missed it for a large sum of money; but rather than
repeat it, I would return to Russia via Alaska, swim Bering Strait, and
finish my journey on one of your government mules."

This ride completed a trip which the noble party pronounced satisfactory
in every detail. The Grand Duke invited Will into his private car, where
he received the thanks of the company for his zeal and skill as pilot
of a hunting-party. He was also invited by Alexis to visit him at his
palace should he ever make a journey to Russia, and was, moreover, the
recipient of a number of valuable souvenirs.

At that time Will had very little thought of crossing the seas, but he
did decide to visit the East, whither he had more than once journeyed in
fancy. The Indians were comparatively quiet, and he readily obtained a
leave of absence.

The first stopping-place was Chicago, where he was entertained by
General Sheridan; thence he went to New York, to be kindly received by
James Gordon Bennett, Leonard and Lawrence Jerome, J. G. Heckscher, and
others, who, it will be recalled, were members of the hunting-party
of the preceding year. Ned Buntline also rendered his sojourn in
the metropolis pleasant in many ways. The author had carried out his
intention of writing a story of Western life with Scout Cody for the
hero, and the result, having been dramatized, was doing a flourishing
business at one of the great city's theaters. Will made one of a party
that attended a performance of the play one evening, and it was shortly
whispered about the house that "Buffalo Bill" himself was in the
audience. It is customary to call for the author of a play, and no doubt
the author of this play had been summoned before the footlights in due
course, but on this night the audience demanded the hero. To respond to
the call was an ordeal for which Will was unprepared; but there was no
getting out of it, and he faced a storm of applause. The manager of the
performance, enterprising like all of his profession, offered Will
five hundred dollars a week to remain in New York and play the part of
"Buffalo Bill," but the offer was declined with thanks.

During his stay in the city Will was made the guest of honor at sundry
luncheons and dinners given by his wealthy entertainers. He found
considerable trouble in keeping his appointments at first, but soon
caught on to the to him unreasonable hours at which New Yorkers dined,
supped, and breakfasted. The sense of his social obligations lay so
heavily on his mind that he resolved to balance accounts with a dinner
at which he should be the host. An inventory of cash on hand discovered
the sum of fifty dollars that might be devoted to playing Lucullus.
Surely that would more than pay for all that ten or a dozen men could
eat at one meal. "However," he said to himself, "I don't care if it
takes the whole fifty. It's all in a lifetime, anyway."

In all confidence he hied him to Delmonico's, at which famous restaurant
he had incurred a large share of his social obligations. He ordered the
finest dinner that could be prepared for a party of twelve, and set as
date the night preceding his departure for the West. The guests were
invited with genuine Western hospitality. His friends had been kind to
him, and he desired to show them that a man of the West could not only
appreciate such things, but return them.

The dinner was a thorough success. Not an invited guest was absent.
The conversation sparkled. Quip and repartee shot across the "festive
board," and all went merry as a dinner-bell. The host was satisfied, and
proud withal. The next morning he approached Delmonico's cashier with an
air of reckless prodigality.

"My bill, please," said he, and when he got it, he looked hard at it for
several minutes. It dawned on him gradually that his fifty dollars would
about pay for one plate. As he confided to us afterward, that little
slip of paper frightened him more than could the prospect of a combat
single-handed with a whole tribe of Sioux Indians.

Unsophisticated Will! There was, as he discovered, a wonderful
difference between a dinner at Delmonico's and a dinner on the plains.
For the one, the four corners of the earth are drawn upon to provide
the bill of fare; for the other, all one needs is an ounce of lead and a
charge of powder, a bundle of fagots and a match.

But it would never do to permit the restaurant cashier to suspect that
the royal entertainer of the night before was astonished at his bill; so
he requested that the account be forwarded to his hotel, and sought the
open air, where he might breathe more freely.

There was but one man in New York to whom he felt he could turn in
his dilemma, and that was Ned Buntline. One who could invent plots for
stories, and extricate his characters from all sorts of embarrassing
situations, should be able to invent a method of escape from so
comparatively simple a perplexity as a tavern bill. Will's confidence
in the wits of his friend was not unfounded. His first great financial
panic was safely weathered, but how it was done I do not know to this

One of Will's main reasons for visiting the East was to look up our only
living relatives on mother's side--Colonel Henry R. Guss and family,
of Westchester, Pennsylvania. Mother's sister, who had married this
gentleman, was not living, and we had never met him or any of his
family. Ned Buntline accompanied Will on his trip to Westchester.

To those who have passed through the experience of waiting in a strange
drawing-room for the coming of relatives one has never seen, and of
whose personality one has but the vaguest idea, there is the uncertainty
of the reception. Will it be frank and hearty, or reserved and doubtful?
During the few minutes succeeding the giving of his and Buntline's cards
to the servant, Will rather wished that the elegant reception-room might
be metamorphosed into the Western prairie. But presently the entrance to
the parlor was brightened by the loveliest girl he had ever looked upon,
and following her walked a courtly, elegant gentleman. These were
Cousin Lizzie and Uncle Henry. There was no doubt of the quality of the
welcome; it was most cordial, and Will enjoyed a delightful visit with
his relatives. For his cousin he conceived an instant affection.
The love he had held for his mother--the purest and strongest of his
affections--became the heritage of this beautiful girl.


THE Fifth Cavalry at Fort McPherson had been ordered to Arizona, and was
replaced by the Third Cavalry under command of General Reynolds. Upon
Will's return to McPherson he was at once obliged to take the field
to look for Indians that had raided the station during his absence
and carried off a considerable number of horses. Captain Meinhold and
Lieutenant Lawson commanded the company dispatched to recover the stolen
property. Will acted as guide, and had as an assistant T. B. Omohundro,
better known by his frontier name of "Texas Jack."

Will was not long in finding Indian tracks, and accompanied by six men,
he went forward to locate the redskin camp. They had proceeded but a
short distance when they sighted a small party of Indians, with horses
grazing. There were just thirteen Indians--an unlucky number--and Will
feared that they might discover the scouting party should it attempt
to return to the main command. He had but to question his companions
to find them ready to follow wheresoever he might lead, and they moved
cautiously toward the Indian camp.

At the proper moment the seven rushed upon the unsuspecting warriors,
who sprang for their horses and gave battle. But the rattle of the
rifles brought Captain Meinhold to the scene, and when the Indians saw
the reinforcements coming up they turned and fled. Six of their number
were dead on the plain, and nearly all of the stolen horses were
recovered. One soldier was killed, and this was one of the few occasions
when Will received a wound.

And now once more was the versatile plainsman called upon to enact a new
role. Returning from a long scout in the fall of 1872, he found that his
friends had made him a candidate for the Nebraska legislature from the
twenty-sixth district. He had never thought seriously of politics,
and had a well-defined doubt of his fitness as a law-maker. He made
no campaign, but was elected by a flattering majority. He was now
privileged to prefix the title "Honorable" to his name, and later this
was supplanted by "Colonel"--a title won in the Nebraska National Guard,
and which he claims is much better suited to his attainments.

Will, unlike his father, had no taste for politics or for political
honors. I recall one answer--so characteristic of the man--to some
friends who were urging him to enter the political arena. "No," said he,
"politics are by far too deep for me. I think I can hold my own in any
fair and no foul fight; but politics seem to me all foul and no fair.
I thank you, my friends, but I must decline to set out on this trail,
which I know has more cactus burs to the square inch than any I ever
followed on the plains."

Meantime Ned Buntline had been nurturing an ambitious project. He had
been much impressed by the fine appearance made by Will in the New York
theater, and was confident that a fortune awaited the scout if he would
consent to enter the theatrical profession. He conceived the idea of
writing a drama entitled "The Scout of the Plains," in which Will was
to assume the title role and shine as a star of the first magnitude. The
bait he dangled was that the play should be made up entirely of frontier
scenes, which would not only entertain the public, but instruct it.

The bait was nibbled at, and finally swallowed, but there was a proviso
that Wild Bill and Texas Jack must first be won over to act as "pards"
in the enterprise. He telegraphed his two friends that he needed their
aid in an important business matter, and went to Chicago to meet them.
He was well assured that if he had given them an inkling of the nature
of the "business matter," neither would put in an appearance; but he
relied on Ned Buntline's persuasive powers, which were well developed.

There had never been a time when Wild Bill and Texas Jack declined
to follow Will's lead, and on a certain morning the trio presented
themselves at the Palmer House in Chicago for an interview with Colonel

The author could scarcely restrain his delight. All three of the scouts
were men of fine physique and dashing appearance. It was very possible
that they had one or two things to learn about acting, but their
inexperience would be more than balanced by their reputation and
personal appearance, and the knowledge that they were enacting on the
stage mock scenes of what to them had oft been stern reality.

"Don't shoot, pards!" began Will, when the conference opened. "I
guess, Judson," he continued, after vainly trying to find a diplomatic
explanation, "you'd better tell them what we want."

Buntline opened with enthusiasm, but he did not kindle Wild Bill
and Texas Jack, who looked as if they might at any moment grab their
sombreros and stampede for the frontier. Will turned the scale.

"We're bound to make a fortune at it," said he. "Try it for a while,

The upshot of a long discussion was that the scouts gave a reluctant
consent to a much-dreaded venture. Will made one stipulation.

"If the Indians get on the rampage," said he, "we must be allowed leave
of absence to go back and settle them."

"All right, boys," said Buntline; "that shall be put in the contract.
And if you're called back into the army to fight redskins, I'll go with

This reply established the author firmly in the esteem of the scouts.
The play was written in four hours (most playwrights allow themselves
at least a week), and the actor-scouts received their "parts." Buntline
engaged a company to support the stellar trio, and the play was widely

When the critical "first night" arrived, none of the scouts knew a line
of his part, but each had acquired all the varieties of stage fright
known to the profession. Buntline had hinted to them the possibility of
something of the sort, but they had not realized to what a condition
of abject dismay a man may be reduced by the sight of a few hundred
inoffensive people in front of a theater curtain. It would have done
them no good to have told them (as is the truth) that many experienced
actors have touches of stage fright, as well as the unfortunate novice.
All three declared that they would rather face a band of war-painted
Indians, or undertake to check a herd of stampeding buffaloes, than
face the peaceful-looking audience that was waiting to criticise their
Thespian efforts.

Like almost all amateurs, they insisted on peering through the
peep-holes in the curtain, which augmented their nervousness, and if the
persuasive Colonel Judson had not been at their elbows, reminding them
that he, also, was to take part in the play, it is more than likely
they would have slipped quietly out at the stage door and bought railway
passage to the West.

Presently the curtain rolled up, and the audience applauded
encouragingly as three quaking six-footers, clad in buckskin, made their
first bow before the footlights.

I have said that Will did not know a line of his part, nor did he when
the time to make his opening speech arrived. It had been faithfully
memorized, but oozed from his mind like the courage from Bob Acres's
finger-tips. "Evidently," thought Buntline, who was on the stage with
him, "he needs time to recover." So he asked carelessly:

"What have you been about lately, Bill?"

This gave "The Scout of the Plains" an inspiration. In glancing over
the audience, he had recognized in one of the boxes a wealthy gentleman
named Milligan, whom he had once guided on a big hunt near McPherson.
The expedition had been written up by the Chicago papers, and the
incidents of it were well known.

"I've been out on a hunt with Milligan," replied Will, and the house
came down. Milligan was quite popular, but had been the butt of
innumerable jokes because of his alleged scare over the Indians. The
applause and laughter that greeted the sally stocked the scout with
confidence, but confidence is of no use if one has forgotten his part.
It became manifest to the playwright-actor that he would have to prepare
another play in place of the one he had expected to perform, and that he
must prepare it on the spot.

"Tell us about it, Bill," said he, and the prompter groaned.

One of the pleasures of frontier life consists in telling stories around
the camp-fire. A man who ranks as a good frontiersman is pretty sure
to be a good raconteur. Will was at ease immediately, and proceeded
to relate the story of Milligan's hunt in his own words. That it was
amusing was attested by the frequent rounds of applause. The prompter,
with a commendable desire to get things running smoothly, tried again
and again to give Will his cue, but even cues had been forgotten.

The dialogue of that performance must have been delightfully absurd.
Neither Texas Jack nor Wild Bill was able to utter a line of his part
during the entire evening. In the Indian scenes, however, they scored
a great success; here was work that did not need to be painfully
memorized, and the mock red men were slain at an astonishing rate.

Financially the play proved all that its projectors could ask for.
Artistically--well, the critics had a great deal of fun with the hapless
dramatist. The professionals in the company had played their parts
acceptably, and, oddly enough, the scouts were let down gently in the
criticisms; but the critics had no means of knowing that the stars of
the piece had provided their own dialogue, and poor Ned Buntline was
plastered with ridicule. It had got out that the play was written
in four hours, and in mentioning this fact, one paper wondered, with
delicate sarcasm, what the dramatist had been doing all that time.
Buntline had played the part of "Gale Durg," who met death in the second
act, and a second paper, commenting on this, suggested that it would
have been a happy consummation had the death occurred before the play
was written. A third critic pronounced it a drama that might be begun
in the middle and played both ways, or played backward, quite as well as
the way in which it had been written.

However, nothing succeeds like success. A number of managers offered
to take hold of the company, and others asked for entrance to the
enterprise as partners. Ned Buntline took his medicine from the critics
with a smiling face, for "let him laugh who wins."

The scouts soon got over their stage fright, in the course of time were
able to remember their parts, and did fully their share toward making
the play as much of a success artistically as it was financially. From
Chicago the company went to St. Louis, thence to Cincinnati and other
large cities, and everywhere drew large and appreciative houses.

When the season closed, in Boston, and Will had made his preparations
to return to Nebraska, an English gentleman named Medley, presented
himself, with a request that the scout act as guide on a big hunt and
camping trip through Western territory. The pay offered was liberal--a
thousand dollars a month and expenses--and Will accepted the offer.
He spent that summer in his old occupation, and the ensuing winter
continued his tour as a star of the drama. Wild Bill and Texas Jack
consented again to "support" him, but the second season proved too much
for the patience of the former, and he attempted to break through the
contract he had signed for the season. The manager, of course, refused
to release him, but Wild Bill conceived the notion that under certain
circumstances the company would be glad to get rid of him.

That night he put his plan into execution by discharging his blank
cartridges so near the legs of the dead Indians on the stage that
the startled "supers" came to life with more realistic yells than had
accompanied their deaths. This was a bit of "business" not called for
in the play-book, and while the audience was vastly entertained, the
management withheld its approval.

Will was delegated to expostulate with the reckless Indian-slayer; but
Wild Bill remarked calmly that he "hadn't hurt the fellows any," and he
continued to indulge in his innocent pastime.

Severe measures were next resorted to. He was informed that he must stop
shooting the Indians after they were dead, or leave the company. This
was what Wild Bill had hoped for, and when the curtain went up on the
next performance he was to be seen in the audience, enjoying the play
for the first time since he had been mixed up with it.

Will sympathized with his former "support," but he had a duty to
perform, and faithfully endeavored to persuade the recreant actor to
return to the company. Persuasion went for nothing, so the contract was
annulled, and Wild Bill returned to his beloved plains.

The next season Will removed his family to Rochester, and organized a
theatrical company of his own. There was too much artificiality about
stage life to suit one that had been accustomed to stern reality, and he
sought to do away with this as much as possible by introducing into
his own company a band of real Indians. The season of 1875-76 opened
brilliantly; the company played to crowded houses, and Will made a large
financial success.

One night in April, when the season was nearing its close, a telegram
was handed to him, just as he was about to step upon the stage. It was
from his wife, and summoned him to Rochester, to the bedside of his only
son, Kit Carson Cody. He consulted with his manager, and it was arranged
that after the first act he should be excused, that he might catch the

That first act was a miserable experience, though the audience did not
suspect that the actor's heart was almost stopped by fear and anxiety.
He caught his train, and the manager, John Burke, an actor of much
experience, played out the part.

It was, too, a miserable ride to Rochester, filled up with the gloomiest
of forebodings, heightened by memories of every incident in the precious
little life now in danger.

Kit was a handsome child, with striking features and curly hair. His
mother always dressed him in the finest clothes, and tempted by these
combined attractions, gypsies had carried him away the previous summer.
But Kit was the son of a scout, and his young eyes were sharp. He marked
the trail followed by his captors, and at the first opportunity gave
them the slip and got safely home, exclaiming as he toddled into the
sobbing family circle, "I tumed back adain, mama; don't cry." Despite
his anxiety, Will smiled at the recollection of the season when his
little son had been a regular visitor at the theater. The little fellow
knew that the most important feature of a dramatic performance, from a
management's point of view, is a large audience. He watched the seats
fill in keen anxiety, and the moment the curtain rose and his father
appeared on the stage, he would make a trumpet of his little hands, and
shout from his box, "Good house, papa!" The audience learned to
expect and enjoy this bit of by-play between father and son. His duty
performed, Kit settled himself in his seat, and gave himself up to
undisturbed enjoyment of the play.

When Will reached Rochester he found his son still alive, though beyond
the reach of medical aid. He was burning up with fever, but still
conscious, and the little arms were joyfully lifted to clasp around his
father's neck. He lingered during the next day and into the night, but
the end came, and Will faced a great sorrow of his life. He had built
fond hopes for his son, and in a breath they had been swept away. His
boyhood musings over the prophecy of the fortune-teller had taken a turn
when his own boy was born. It might be Kit's destiny to become President
of the United States; it was not his own. Now, hope and fear had
vanished together, the fabric of the dream had dissolved, and left "not
a rack behind."

Little Kit was laid to rest in Mount Hope Cemetery, April 24, 1876. He
is not dead, but sleeping; not lost, but gone before. He has joined the
innumerable company of the white-souled throng in the regions of the
blest. He has gone to aid my mother in her mission unfulfilled--that of
turning heavenward the eyes of those that loved them so dearly here on


VERY glad was the sad-hearted father that the theatrical season was so
nearly over. The mummeries of stage life were more distasteful to him
than ever when he returned to his company with his crushing grief fresh
upon him. He played nightly to crowded houses, but it was plain that his
heart was not in his work. A letter from Colonel Mills, informing him
that his services were needed in the army, came as a welcome relief.
He canceled his few remaining dates, and disbanded his company with a
substantial remuneration.

This was the spring of the Centennial year. It has also been called the
"Custer year," for during that summer the gallant general and his heroic
Three Hundred fell in their unequal contest with Sitting Bull and his

Sitting Bull was one of the ablest chiefs and fighters the Sioux nation
ever produced. He got his name from the fact that once when he had shot
a buffalo he sprang astride of it to skin it, and the wounded bull rose
on its haunches with the Indian on its back. He combined native Indian
cunning with the strategy and finesse needed to make a great general,
and his ability as a leader was conceded alike by red and white man. A
dangerous man at best, the wrongs his people had suffered roused all his
Indian cruelty, vindictiveness, hatred, and thirst for revenge.

The Sioux war of 1876 had its origin, like most of its predecessors
and successors, in an act of injustice on the part of the United States
government and a violation of treaty rights.

In 1868 a treaty had been made with the Sioux, by which the Black Hills
country was reserved for their exclusive use, no settling by white men
to be allowed. In 1874 gold was discovered, and the usual gold fever
was followed by a rush of whites into the Indian country. The Sioux
naturally resented the intrusion, and instead of attempting to placate
them, to the end that the treaty might be revised, the government sent
General Custer into the Black Hills with instructions to intimidate
the Indians into submission. But Custer was too wise, too familiar with
Indian nature, to adhere to his instructions to the letter. Under cover
of a flag of truce a council was arranged. At this gathering coffee,
sugar, and bacon were distributed among the Indians, and along with
those commodities Custer handed around some advice. This was to the
effect that it would be to the advantage of the Sioux if they permitted
the miners to occupy the gold country. The coffee, sugar, and bacon were
accepted thankfully by Lo, but no nation, tribe, or individual since
the world began has ever welcomed advice. It was thrown away on Lo.
He received it with such an air of indifference and in such a stoical
silence that General Custer had no hope his mission had succeeded.

In 1875 General Crook was sent into the Hills to make a farcical
demonstration of the government's desire to maintain good faith, but no
one was deceived, the Indians least of all. In August Custer City was
laid out, and in two weeks its population numbered six hundred. General
Crook drove out the inhabitants, and as he marched triumphantly out of
one end of the village the people marched in again at the other.

The result of this continued bad faith was inevitable; everywhere the
Sioux rose in arms. Strange as it might seem to one who has not followed
the government's remarkable Indian policy, it had dispensed firearms
to the Indians with a generous hand. The government's Indian policy,
condensed, was to stock the red man with rifles and cartridges, and then
provide him with a first-class reason for using them against the whites.
During May, June, and July of that year the Sioux had received 1,120
Remington and Winchester rifles and 13,000 rounds of patent ammunition.
During that year they received several thousand stands of arms and more
than a million rounds of ammunition, and for three years before that
they had been regularly supplied with weapons. The Sioux uprising of
1876 was expensive for the government. One does not have to go far to
find the explanation.

Will expected to join General Crook, but on reaching Chicago he found
that General Carr was still in command of the Fifth Cavalry, and
had sent a request that Will return to his old regiment. Carr was at
Cheyenne; thither Will hastened at once. He was met at the station
by Captain Charles King, the well-known author, and later serving as
brigadier-general at Manila, then adjutant of the regiment. As the pair
rode into camp the cry went up, "Here comes Buffalo Bill!" Three ringing
cheers expressed the delight of the troopers over his return to his old
command, and Will was equally delighted to meet his quondam companions.
He was appointed guide and chief of scouts, and the regiment proceeded
to Laramie. From there they were ordered into the Black Hills country,
and Colonel Merritt replaced General Carr.

The incidents of Custer's fight and fall are so well known that it is
not necessary to repeat them here. It was a better fight than the famous
charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, for not one of the three
hundred came forth from the "jaws of death." As at Balaklava, "some
one had blundered," not once, but many times, and Custer's command
discharged the entire debt with their lifeblood.

When the news of the tragedy reached the main army, preparations
were made to move against the Indians in force. The Fifth Cavalry was
instructed to cut off, if possible, eight hundred Cheyenne warriors
on their way to join the Sioux, and Colonel Wesley Merritt, with five
hundred men, hastened to Hat, or War-Bonnet, Creek, purposing to reach
the trail before the Indians could do so. The creek was reached on the
17th of July, and at daylight the following morning Will rode forth to
ascertain whether the Cheyennes had crossed the trail. They had not, but
that very day the scout discerned the warriors coming up from the south.

Colonel Merritt ordered his men to mount their horses, but to remain out
of sight, while he, with his adjutant, Charles King, accompanied Will
on a tour of observation. The Cheyennes came directly toward the troops,
and presently fifteen or twenty of them dashed off to the west along the
trail the army had followed the night before. Through his glass Colonel
Merritt remarked two soldiers on the trail, doubtless couriers with
dispatches, and these the Indians manifestly designed to cut off. Will
suggested that it would be well to wait until the warriors were on the
point of charging the couriers, when, if the colonel were willing, he
would take a party of picked men and cut off the hostile delegation from
the main body, which was just coming over the divide.

The colonel acquiesced, and Will, galloping back to camp, returned with
fifteen men. The couriers were some four hundred yards away, and their
Indian pursuers two hundred behind them. Colonel Merritt gave the word
to charge, and Will and his men skurried toward the redskins.

In the skirmish that ensued three Indians were killed. The rest started
for the main band of warriors, who had halted to watch the fight, but
they were so hotly pursued by the soldiers that they turned at a point
half a mile distant from Colonel Merritt, and another skirmish took

Here something a little out of the usual occurred--a challenge to a
duel. A warrior, whose decorations and war-bonnet proclaimed him a
chief, rode out in front of his men, and called out in his own tongue,
which Will could understand:

"I know you, Pa-has-ka! Come and fight me, if you want to fight!"

Will rode forward fifty yards, and the warrior advanced a like distance.
The two rifles spoke, and the Indian's horse fell; but at the same
moment Will's horse stumbled into a gopher-hole and threw its rider.
Both duelists were instantly on their feet, confronting each other
across a space of not more than twenty paces. They fired again
simultaneously, and though Will was unhurt, the Indian fell dead.

The duel over, some two hundred warriors dashed up to recover the
chieftain's body and to avenge his death. It was now Colonel Merritt's
turn to move. He dispatched a company of soldiers to Will's aid, and
then ordered the whole regiment to the charge. As the soldiers advanced,
Will swung the Indian's topknot and war-bonnet which he had secured, and
shouted, "The first scalp for Custer!"

The Indians made a stubborn resistance, but as they found this useless,
began a retreat toward Red Cloud agency, whence they had come. The
retreat continued for thirty-five miles, the troops following into the
agency. The fighting blood of the Fifth was at fever heat, and they were
ready to encounter the thousands of warriors at the agency should they
exhibit a desire for battle. But they manifested no such desire.

Will learned that the name of the chief he had killed that morning was
"Yellow Hand." He was the son of "Cut Nose," a leading spirit among the
Cheyennes. This old chieftain offered Will four mules if he would return
the war-bonnet and accouterments worn by the young warrior and captured
in the fight, but Will did not grant the request, much as he pitied Cut
Nose in his grief.

The Fifth Cavalry on the following morning started on its march to join
General Crook's command in the Big Horn Mountains. The two commands
united forces on the 3d of August, and marched to the confluence of
the Powder River with the Yellowstone. Here General Miles met them, to
report that no Indians had crossed the stream.

No other fight occurred; but Will made himself useful in his capacity of
scout. There were many long, hard rides, carrying dispatches that no one
else would volunteer to bear. When he was assured that the fighting was
all over, he took passage, in September, on the steamer "Far West," and
sailed down the Missouri.

People in the Eastern States were wonderfully interested in the stirring
events on the frontier, and Will conceived the idea of putting the
incidents of the Sioux war upon the stage. Upon his return to Rochester
he had a play written for his purpose, organized a company, and opened
his season. Previously he had paid a flying visit to Red Cloud agency,
and induced a number of Sioux Indians to take part in his drama.

The red men had no such painful experience as Wild Bill and Texas Jack.
All they were expected to do in the way of acting was what came natural
to them. Their part was to introduce a bit of "local color," to give
a war-dance, take part in a skirmish, or exhibit themselves in some
typical Indian fashion.

At the close of this season Will bought a large tract of land near North
Platte, and started a cattle-ranch. He already owned one some distance
to the northward, in partnership with Major North, the leader of the
Pawnee scouts. Their friendship had strengthened since their first
meeting, ten years before.

In this new ranch Will takes great pride. He has added to its area until
it now covers seven thousand acres, and he has developed its resources
to the utmost. Twenty-five hundred acres are devoted to alfalfa and
twenty-five hundred sown to corn. One of the features of interest
to visitors is a wooded park, containing a number of deer and young
buffaloes. Near the park is a beautiful lake. In the center of the broad
tract of land stands the picturesque building known as "Scout's Rest
Ranch," which, seen from the foothills, has the appearance of an old

The ranch is one of the most beautiful spots that one can imagine, and
is, besides, an object-lesson in the value of scientific investigation
and experiment joined with persistence and perseverance. When Will
bought the property he was an enthusiastic believer in the possibilities
of Nebraska development. His brother-in-law, Mr. Goodman, was put in
charge of the place.

The whole Platte Valley formed part of the district once miscalled the
Great American Desert. It was an idea commonly accepted, but, as the
sequel proved, erroneous, that lack of moisture was the cause of lack of
vegetation. An irrigating ditch was constructed on the ranch, trees were
planted, and it was hoped that with such an abundance of moisture
they would spring up like weeds. Vain hope! There was "water, water
everywhere," but not a tree would grow.

Will visited his old Kansas home, and the sight of tall and stately
trees filled him with a desire to transport some of this beauty to his
Nebraska ranch.

"I'd give five hundred dollars," said he, "for every tree I had like
that in Nebraska!"

Impressed by the proprietor's enthusiasm for arboreal development, Mr.
Goodman began investigation and experiment. It took him but a short time
to acquire a knowledge of the deficiencies of the soil, and this done,
the bigger half of the problem was solved.

Indian legend tells us that this part of our country was once an inland
sea. There is authority for the statement that to-day it is a vast
subterranean reservoir, and the conditions warrant the assertion. The
soil in all the region has a depth only of from one to three feet, while
underlying the shallow arable deposit is one immense bedrock, varying
in thickness, the average being from three to six feet. Everywhere water
may be tapped by digging through the thin soil and boring through the
rock formation. The country gained its reputation as a desert, not
from lack of moisture, but from lack of soil. In the pockets of the
foothills, where a greater depth of soil had accumulated from the
washings of the slopes above, beautiful little groves of trees might
be found, and the islands of the Platte River were heavily wooded.
Everywhere else was a treeless waste.

The philosophy of the transformation from sea to plain is not fully
understood. The most tenable theory yet advanced is that the bedrock
is an alkaline deposit, left by the waters in a gradually widening and
deepening margin. On this the prairie wind sifted its accumulation of
dust, and the rain washed down its quota from the bank above. In the
slow process of countless years the rock formation extended over the
whole sea; the alluvial deposit deepened; seeds lodged in it, and the
buffalo-grass and sage-brush began to grow, their yearly decay adding to
the ever-thickening layer of soil.

Having learned the secret of the earth, Mr. Goodman devoted himself to
the study of the trees. He investigated those varieties having lateral
roots, to determine which would flourish best in a shallow soil. He
experimented, he failed, and he tried again. All things come round to
him who will but work. Many experiments succeeded the first, and many
failures followed in their train. But at last, like Archimedes, he could
cry "Eureka! I have found it!" In a very short time he had the ranch
charmingly laid out with rows of cottonwoods, box-elder, and other
members of the tree family. The ranch looked like an oasis in the
desert, and neighbors inquired into the secret of the magic that had
worked so marvelous a transformation. The streets of North Platte are
now beautiful with trees, and adjoining farms grow many more. It
is "Scout's Rest Ranch," however, that is pointed out with pride to
travelers on the Union Pacific Railroad.

Mindful of his resolve to one day have a residence in North Platte, Will
purchased the site on which his first residence was erected. His family
had sojourned in Rochester for several years, and when they returned to
the West the new home was built according to the wishes and under the
supervision of the wife and mother. To the dwelling was given the name
"Welcome Wigwam."


IT was during this period of his life that my brother's first literary
venture was made. As the reader has seen, his school-days were few in
number, and as he told Mr. Majors, in signing his first contract with
him, he could use a rifle better than a pen. A life of constant
action on the frontier does not leave a man much time for acquiring an
education; so it is no great wonder that the first sketch Will wrote for
publication was destitute of punctuation and short of capitals in many
places. His attention was directed to these shortcomings, but Western
life had cultivated a disdain for petty things.

"Life is too short," said he, "to make big letters when small ones will
do; and as for punctuation, if my readers don't know enough to take
their breath without those little marks, they'll have to lose it, that's

But in spite of his jesting, it was characteristic of him that when
he undertook anything he wished to do it well. He now had leisure for
study, and he used it to such good advantage that he was soon able
to send to the publishers a clean manuscript, grammatical, and well
spelled, capitalized, and punctuated. The publishers appreciated the
improvement, though they had sought after his work in its crude state,
and paid good prices for it.

Our author would never consent to write anything except actual scenes
from border life. As a sop to the Cerberus of sensationalism, he did
occasionally condescend to heighten his effects by exaggeration. In
sending one story to the publisher he wrote:

"I am sorry to have to lie so outrageously in this yarn. My hero has
killed more Indians on one war-trail than I have killed in all my life.
But I understand this is what is expected in border tales. If you think
the revolver and bowie-knife are used too freely, you may cut out a
fatal shot or stab wherever you deem it wise."

Even this story, which one accustomed to border life confessed to be
exaggerated, fell far short of the sensational and blood-curdling tales
usually written, and was published exactly as the author wrote it.

During the summer of 1877 I paid a visit to our relatives in
Westchester, Pennsylvania. My husband had lost all his wealth before his
death, and I was obliged to rely upon my brother for support. To meet
a widespread demand, Will this summer wrote his autobiography. It was
published at Hartford, Connecticut, and I, anxious to do something
for myself, took the general agency of the book for the state of Ohio,
spending a part of the summer there in pushing its sale. But I soon
tired of a business life, and turning over the agency to other hands,
went from Cleveland to visit Will at his new home in North Platte, where
there were a number of other guests at the time.

Besides his cattle-ranch in the vicinity of North Platte, Will had
another ranch on the Dismal River, sixty-five miles north, touching the
Dakota line. One day he remarked to us:

"I'm sorry to leave you to your own resources for a few days, but I must
take a run up to my ranch on Dismal River."

Not since our early Kansas trip had I had an experience in camping out,
and in those days I was almost too young to appreciate it; but it had
left me with a keen desire to try it again.

"Let us all go with you, Will," I exclaimed. "We can camp out on the

Our friends added their approval, and Will fell in with the suggestion
at once.

"There's no reason why you can't go if you wish to," said he. Will owned
numerous conveyances, and was able to provide ways and means to carry us
all comfortably. Lou and the two little girls, Arta and Orra, rode in
an open phaeton. There were covered carriages, surreys, and a variety of
turn-outs to transport the invited guests. Several prominent citizens of
North Platte were invited to join the party, and when our arrangements
were completed we numbered twenty-five.

Will took a caterer along, and made ample provisions for the inner man
and woman. We knew, from long experience, that a camping trip without an
abundance of food is rather a dreary affair.

All of us except Will were out for pleasure solely, and we found time to
enjoy ourselves even during the first day's ride of twenty-five miles.
As we looked around at the new and wild scenes while the tents were
pitched for the night, Will led the ladies of the party to a tree,

"You are the first white women whose feet have trod this region. Carve
your names here, and celebrate the event."

After a good night's rest and a bounteous breakfast, we set out in high
spirits, and were soon far out in the foothills.

One who has never seen these peculiar formations can have but little
idea of them. On every side, as far as the eye can see, undulations
of earth stretch away like the waves of the ocean, and on them no
vegetation flourishes save buffalo-grass, sage-brush, and the cactus,
blooming but thorny.

The second day I rode horseback, in company with Will and one or two
others of the party, over a constant succession of hill and vale;
we mounted an elevation and descended its farther side, only to be
confronted by another hill. The horseback party was somewhat in advance
of those in carriages.

From the top of one hill Will scanned the country with his field-glass,
and remarked that some deer were headed our way, and that we should have
fresh venison for dinner. He directed us to ride down into the valley
and tarry there, so that we might not startle the timid animals, while
he continued part way up the hill and halted in position to get a good
shot at the first one that came over the knoll. A fawn presently bounded
into view, and Will brought his rifle to his shoulder; but much to our
surprise, instead of firing, dropped the weapon to his side. Another
fawn passed him before he fired, and as the little creature fell we rode
up to Will and began chaffing him unmercifully, one gentleman remarking:

"It is difficult to believe we are in the presence of the crack shot of
America, when we see him allow two deer to pass by before he brings one

But to the laughing and chaffing Will answered not a word, and recalling
the childish story I had heard of his buck fever, I wondered if, at this
late date, it were possible for him to have another attack of that kind.
The deer was handed over to the commissary department, and we rode on.

"Will, what was the matter with you just now?" I asked him, privately.
"Why didn't you shoot that first deer; did you have another attack like
you had when you were a little boy?"

He rode along in silence for a few moments, and then turned to me with
the query:

"Did you ever look into a deer's eyes?" And as I replied that I had not,
he continued:

"Every one has his little weakness; mine is a deer's eye. I don't want
you to say anything about it to your friends, for they would laugh more
than ever, but the fact is I have never yet been able to shoot a deer if
it looked me in the eye. With a buffalo, or a bear, or an Indian, it is
different. But a deer has the eye of a trusting child, soft, gentle, and
confiding. No one but a brute could shoot a deer if he caught that look.
The first that came over the knoll looked straight at me; I let it go
by, and did not look at the second until I was sure it had passed me."

He seemed somewhat ashamed of his soft-heartedness; yet to me it was
but one of many little incidents that revealed a side of his nature the
rough life of the frontier had not corrupted.

Will expected to reach the Dismal River on the third day, and at noon
of it he remarked that he had better ride ahead and give notice of our
coming, for the man who looked after the ranch had his wife with him,
and she would likely be dismayed at the thought of preparing supper for
so large a crowd on a minute's notice.

Sister Julia's son, Will Goodman, a lad of fifteen, was of our party,
and he offered to be the courier.

"Are you sure you know the way?" asked his uncle.

"Oh, yes," was the confident response; "you know I have been over the
road with you before, and I know just how to go."

"Well, tell me how you would go."

Young Will described the trail so accurately that his uncle concluded
it would be safe for him to undertake the trip, and the lad rode ahead,
happy and important.

It was late in the afternoon when we reached the ranch; and the greeting
of the overseer was:

"Well, well; what's all this?"

"Didn't you know we were coming?" asked Will, quickly. "Hasn't Will
Goodman been here?" The ranchman shook his head.

"Haven't seen him, sir," he replied, "since he was here with you

"Well, he'll be along," said Will, quietly; but I detected a ring
of anxiety in his voice. "Go into the house and make yourselves
comfortable," he added. "It will be some time before a meal can be
prepared for such a supper party." We entered the house, but he remained
outside, and mounting the stile that served as a gate, examined the
nearer hills with his glass. There was no sign of Will, Jr.; so the
ranchman was directed to dispatch five or six men in as many directions
to search for the boy, and as they hastened away on their mission Will
remained on the stile, running his fingers every few minutes through the
hair over his forehead--a characteristic action with him when worried.
Thinking I might reassure him, I came out and chided him gently for what
I was pleased to regard as his needless anxiety. It was impossible for
Willie to lose his way very long, I explained, without knowing anything
about my subject. "See how far you can look over these hills. It is not
as if he were in the woods," said I.

Will looked at me steadily and pityingly for a moment. "Go back in the
house, Nell," said he, with a touch of impatience; "you don't know what
you are talking about."

That was true enough, but when I returned obediently to the house I
repeated my opinion that worry over the absent boy was needless, for it
would be difficult, I declared, for one to lose himself where the
range of vision was so extensive as it was from the top of one of these

"But suppose," said one of the party, "that you were in the valley
behind one of the foothills--what then?"

This led to an animated discussion as to the danger of getting lost in
this long-range locality, and in the midst of it Will walked in, his
equanimity quite restored.

"It's all right," said he; "I can see the youngster coming along."

We flocked to the stile, and discovered a moving speck in the distance.
Looked at through the field-glasses, it proved to be the belated
courier. Then we appealed to Will to settle the question that had been
under discussion.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he answered, impressively, "if one of you were
lost among these foothills, and a whole regiment started out in search
of you, the chances are ten to one that you would starve to death, to
say the least, before you could be found."

To find the way with ease and locate the trail unerringly over an
endless and monotonous succession of hills identical in appearance is an
ability the Indian possesses, but few are the white men that can imitate
the aborigine. I learned afterward that it was accounted one of Will's
great accomplishments as a scout that he was perfectly at home among the
frozen waves of the prairie ocean.

When the laggard arrived, and was pressed for particulars, he declared
he had traveled eight or ten miles when he found that he was off the
trail. "I thought I was lost," said he; "but after considering the
matter I decided that I had one chance--that was to go back over my own
tracks. The marks of my horse's hoofs led me out on the main trail, and
your tracks were so fresh that I had no further trouble."

"Pretty good," said Will, patting the boy's shoulder. "Pretty good. You
have some of the Cody blood in you, that's plain."

The next day was passed in looking over the ranch, and the day following
we visited, at Will's solicitation, a spot that he had named "The Garden
of the Gods." Our thoughtful host had sent ranchmen ahead to prepare the
place for our reception, and we were as surprised and delighted as he
could desire. A patch on the river's brink was filled with tall and
stately trees and luxuriant shrubs, laden with fruits and flowers, while
birds of every hue nested and sang about us. It was a miniature
paradise in the midst of a desert of sage-brush and buffalo-grass. The
interspaces of the grove were covered with rich green grass, and in one
of these nature-carpeted nooks the workmen, under Will's direction,
had put up an arbor, with rustic seats and table. Herein we ate our
luncheon, and every sense was pleasured.

As it was not likely that the women of the party would ever see the
place again, so remote was it from civilization, belonging to the as yet
uninhabited part of the Western plains, we decided to explore it, in
the hope of finding something that would serve as a souvenir. We had
not gone far when we found ourselves out of Eden and in the desert that
surrounded it, but it was the desert that held our great discovery. On
an isolated elevation stood a lone, tall tree, in the topmost branches
of which reposed what seemed to be a large package. As soon as our
imaginations got fairly to work the package became the hidden treasure
of some prairie bandit, and while two of the party returned for our
masculine forces the rest of us kept guard over the cachet in the
treetop. Will came up with the others, and when we pointed out to
him the supposed chest of gold he smiled, saying that he was sorry to
dissipate the hopes which the ladies had built in the tree, but that
they were not gazing upon anything of intrinsic value, but on the
open sepulcher of some departed brave. "It is a wonder," he remarked,
laughingly, "you women didn't catch on to the skeleton in that closet."

As we retraced our steps, somewhat crestfallen, we listened to the tale
of another of the red man's superstitions.

When some great chief, who particularly distinguishes himself on the
war-path, loses his life on the battle-field without losing his scalp,
he is regarded as especially favored by the Great Spirit. A more exalted
sepulcher than mother earth is deemed fitting for such a warrior.
Accordingly he is wrapped in his blanket-shroud, and, in his war paint
and feathers and with his weapons by his side, he is placed in the top
of the highest tree in the neighborhood, the spot thenceforth being
sacred against intrusion for a certain number of moons. At the end of
that period messengers are dispatched to ascertain if the remains have
been disturbed. If they have not, the departed is esteemed a spirit
chief, who, in the happy hunting-grounds, intercedes for and leads on to
sure victory the warriors who trusted to his leadership in the material

We bade a reluctant adieu to the idyllic retreat, and threw it many
a backward glance as we took our way over the desert that stretched
between us and the ranch. Here another night was passed, and then we
set out for home. The brief sojourn "near to Nature's heart" had been a
delightful experience, holding for many of us the charm of novelty, and
for all recreation and pleasant comradeship.

With the opening of the theatrical season Will returned to the stage,
and his histrionic career continued for five years longer. As an actor
he achieved a certain kind of success. He played in every large city of
the United States, always to crowded houses, and was everywhere received
with enthusiasm. There was no doubt of his financial success, whatever
criticisms might be passed on the artistic side of his performance. It
was his personality and reputation that interested his audiences. They
did not expect the art of Sir Henry Irving, and you may be sure that
they did not receive it.

Will never enjoyed this part of his career; he endured it simply because
it was the means to an end. He had not forgotten his boyish dream--his
resolve that he would one day present to the world an exhibition that
would give a realistic picture of life in the Far West, depicting its
dangers and privations, as well as its picturesque phases. His first
theatrical season had shown him how favorably such an exhibition would
be received, and his long-cherished ambition began to take shape. He
knew that an enormous amount of money would be needed, and to acquire
such a sum he lived for many years behind the footlights.

I was present in a Leavenworth theater during one of his last
performances--one in which he played the part of a loving swain to a
would-be charming lassie. When the curtain fell on the last act I went
behind the scenes, in company with a party of friends, and congratulated
the star upon his excellent acting.

"Oh, Nellie," he groaned, "don't say anything about it. If heaven will
forgive me this foolishness, I promise to quit it forever when this
season is over."

That was the way he felt about the stage, so far as his part in it was
concerned. He was a fish out of water The feeble pretensions to a stern
reality, and the mock dangers exploited, could not but fail to seem
trivial to one who had lived the very scenes depicted.


MY brother was again bereaved in 1880 by the death of his little
daughter Orra. At her own request, Orra's body was interred in
Rochester, in beautiful Mount Hope Cemetery, by the side of little Kit

But joy follows upon sadness, and the summer before Will spent his last
season on the stage was a memorable one for him. It marked the birth
of another daughter, who was christened Irma. This daughter is the very
apple of her father's eye; to her he gives the affection that is her
due, and round her clings the halo of the tender memories of the other
two that have departed this life.

This year, 1882, was also the one in which Will paid his first visit to
the valley of the Big Horn. He had often traversed the outskirts of
that region, and heard incredible tales from Indians and trappers of its
wonders and beauties, but he had yet to explore it himself. In his early
experience as Pony Express rider, California Joe had related to him the
first story he had heard of the enchanted basin, and in 1875, when
he was in charge of a large body of Arapahoe Indians that had been
permitted to leave their reservation for a big hunt, he obtained more

The agent warned Will that some of the Indians were dissatisfied, and
might attempt to escape, but to all appearances, though he watched them
sharply, they were entirely content. Game was plentiful, the weather
fine, and nothing seemed omitted from the red man's happiness.

One night about twelve o'clock Will was aroused by an Indian guide, who
informed him that a party of some two hundred Arapahoes had started away
some two hours before, and were on a journey northward. The red man does
not wear his heart upon his sleeve for government daws to peck at.
One knows what he proposes to do after he has done it. The red man is
conspicuously among the things that are not always what they seem.

Pursuit was immediately set on foot, and the entire body of truant
warriors were brought back without bloodshed. One of them, a young
warrior, came to Will's tent to beg for tobacco. The Indian--as all know
who have made his acquaintance--has no difficulty in reconciling
begging with his native dignity. To work may be beneath him, to beg is a
different matter, and there is frequently a delightful hauteur about his
mendicancy. In this respect he is not unlike some of his white brothers.
Will gave the young chief the desired tobacco, and then questioned him
closely concerning the attempted escape.

"Surely," said he, "you cannot find a more beautiful spot than this. The
streams are full of fish, the grazing is good, the game is plentiful,
and the weather is fine. What more could you desire?"

The Indian drew himself up. His face grew eager, and his eyes were full
of longing as he answered, by the interpreter:

"The land to the north and west is the land of plenty. There the buffalo
grows larger; and his coat is darker. There the bu-yu (antelope) comes
in droves, while here there are but few. There the whole region is
covered with the short, curly grass our ponies like. There grow the wild
plums that are good for my people in summer and winter. There are the
springs of the Great Medicine Man, Tel-ya-ki-y. To bathe in them gives
new life; to drink them cures every bodily ill.

"In the mountains beyond the river of the blue water there is gold and
silver, the metals that the white man loves. There lives the eagle,
whose feathers the Indian must have to make his war-bonnet. There, too,
the sun shines always.

"It is the Ijis (heaven) of the red man. My heart cries for it. The
hearts of my people are not happy when away from the Eithity Tugala."

The Indian folded his arms across his breast, and his eyes looked
yearningly toward the country whose delights he had so vividly pictured;
then he turned and walked sorrowfully away. The white man's government
shut him out from the possession of his earthly paradise. Will learned
upon further inquiry that Eithity Tugala was the Indian name of the Big
Horn Basin.

In the summer of 1882 Will's party of exploration left the cars at
Cheyenne, and struck out from this point with horses and pack-mules.
Will's eyes becoming inflamed, he was obliged to bandage them, and turn
the guidance of the party over to a man known as "Ready." For days he
traveled in a blinded state, and though his eyes slowly bettered, he did
not remove the bandage until the Big Horn Basin was reached. They had
paused for the midday siesta, and Reddy inquired whether it would not be
safe to uncover the afflicted eyes, adding that he thought Will "would
enjoy looking around a bit."

Off came the bandage, and I shall quote Will's own words to describe the
scene that met his delighted gaze:

"To my right stretched a towering range of snow-capped mountains, broken
here and there into minarets, obelisks, and spires. Between me and this
range of lofty peaks a long irregular line of stately cottonwoods told
me a stream wound its way beneath. The rainbow-tinted carpet under me
was formed of innumerable brilliant-hued wild flowers; it spread about
me in every direction, and sloped gracefully to the stream. Game of
every kind played on the turf, and bright-hued birds flitted over it.
It was a scene no mortal can satisfactorily describe. At such a moment a
man, no matter what his creed, sees the hand of the mighty Maker of
the universe majestically displayed in the beauty of nature; he becomes
sensibly conscious, too, of his own littleness. I uttered no word for
very awe; I looked upon one of nature's masterpieces.

"Instantly my heart went out to my sorrowful Arapahoe friend of 1875. He
had not exaggerated; he had scarcely done the scene justice. He spoke of
it as the Ijis, the heaven of the red man. I regarded it then, and still
regard it, as the Mecca of all appreciative humanity."

To the west of the Big Horn Basin, Hart Mountain rises abruptly from
the Shoshone River. It is covered with grassy slopes and deep ravines;
perpendicular rocks of every hue rise in various places and are fringed
with evergreens. Beyond this mountain, in the distance, towers the hoary
head of Table Mountain. Five miles to the southwest the mountains recede
some distance from the river, and from its bank Castle Rock rises in
solitary grandeur. As its name indicates, it has the appearance of a
castle, with towers, turrets, bastions, and balconies.

Grand as is the western view, the chief beauty lies in the south. Here
the Carter Mountain lies along the entire distance, and the grassy
spaces on its side furnish pasturage for the deer, antelope, and
mountain sheep that abound in this favored region. Fine timber, too,
grows on its rugged slopes; jagged, picturesque rock-forms are seen in
all directions, and numerous cold springs send up their welcome nectar.

It is among the foothills nestling at the base of this mountain that
Will has chosen the site of his future permanent residence. Here there
are many little lakes, two of which are named Irma and Arta, in honor
of his daughters. Here he owns a ranch of forty thousand acres, but the
home proper will comprise a tract of four hundred and eighty acres. The
two lakes referred to are in this tract, and near them Will proposes to
erect a palatial residence. To him, as he has said, it is the Mecca
of earth, and thither he hastens the moment he is free from duty and
obligation. In that enchanted region he forgets for a little season the
cares and responsibilities of life.

A curious legend is told of one of the lakes that lie on the border of
this valley. It is small--half a mile long and a quarter wide--but its
depth is fathomless. It is bordered and shadowed by tall and stately
pines, quaking-asp and birch trees, and its waters are pure and ice-cold
the year round. They are medicinal, too, and as yet almost unknown to
white men. Will heard the legend of the lake from the lips of an old
Cheyenne warrior.

"It was the custom of my tribe," said the Indian, "to assemble around
this lake once every month, at the hour of midnight, when the moon is
at its full. Soon after midnight a canoe filled with the specters of
departed Cheyenne warriors shot out from the eastern side of the
lake and crossed rapidly to the western border; there it suddenly

"Never a word or sound escaped from the specters in the canoe. They sat
rigid and silent, and swiftly plied their oars. All attempts to get a
word from them were in vain.

"So plainly were the canoe and its occupants seen that the features of
the warriors were readily distinguished, and relatives and friends were

For years, according to the legend, the regular monthly trip was made,
and always from the eastern to the western border of the lake. In 1876
it suddenly ceased, and the Indians were much alarmed. A party of them
camped on the bank of the lake, and watchers were appointed for every
night. It was fancied that the ghostly boatmen had changed the date
of their excursion. But in three months there was no sign of canoe or
canoeists, and this was regarded as an omen of evil.

At a council of the medicine men, chiefs, and wiseacres of the tribe
it was decided that the canoeing trip had been a signal from the Great
Spirit--the canoe had proceeded from east to west, the course always
followed by the red man. The specters had been sent from the Happy
Hunting-Grounds to indicate that the tribe should move farther west, and
the sudden disappearance of the monthly signal was augured to mean the
extinction of the race.

Once when Will was standing on the border of this lake a Sioux warrior
came up to him. This man was unusually intelligent, and desired that
his children should be educated. He sent his two sons to Carlisle, and
himself took great pains to learn the white man's religious beliefs,
though he still clung to his old savage customs and superstitions. A
short time before he talked with Will large companies of Indians
had made pilgrimages to join one large conclave, for the purpose
of celebrating the Messiah, or "Ghost Dance." Like all religious
celebrations among savage people, it was accompanied by the grossest
excesses and most revolting immoralities. As it was not known what
serious happening these large gatherings might portend, the President,
at the request of many people, sent troops to disperse the Indians. The
Indians resisted, and blood was spilled, among the slain being the sons
of the Indian who stood by the side of the haunted lake.

"It is written in the Great Book of the white man," said the old chief
to Will, "that the Great Spirit--the Nan-tan-in-chor--is to come to
him again on earth. The white men in the big villages go to their
council-lodges (churches) and talk about the time of his coming. Some
say one time, some say another, but they all know the time will come,
for it is written in the Great Book. It is the great and good among the
white men that go to these council-lodges, and those that do not go say,
'It is well; we believe as they believe; He will come.' It is written in
the Great Book of the white man that all the human beings on earth are
the children of the one Great Spirit. He provides and cares for them.
All he asks in return is that his children obey him, that they be good
to one another, that they judge not one another, and that they do not
kill or steal. Have I spoken truly the words of the white man's Book?"

Will bowed his head, somewhat surprised at the tone of the old chief's
conversation. The other continued:

"The red man, too, has a Great Book. You have never seen it; no white
man has ever seen it; it is hidden here." He pressed his hand against
his heart. "The teachings of the two books are the same. What the Great
Spirit says to the white man, the Nan-tan-in-chor says to the red man.
We, too, go to our council-lodges to talk of the second coming. We
have our ceremony, as the white man has his. The white man is solemn,
sorrowful; the red man is happy and glad. We dance and are joyful, and
the white man sends soldiers to shoot us down. Does their Great Spirit
tell them to do this?

"In the big city (Washington) where I have been, there is another big
book (the Federal Constitution), which says the white man shall not
interfere with the religious liberty of another. And yet they come out
to our country and kill us when we show our joy to Nan-tan-in-chor.

"We rejoice over his second coming; the white man mourns, but he sends
his soldiers to kill us in our rejoicing. Bah! The white man is false. I
return to my people, and to the customs and habits of my forefathers. I
am an Indian!"

The old chief strode away with the dignity of a red Caesar, and Will,
alone by the lake, reflected that every question has two sides to it.
The one the red man has held in the case of the commonwealth versus the
Indian has ever been the tragic side.


IT was not until the spring of 1883 that Will was able to put into
execution his long-cherished plan--to present to the public an
exhibition which should delineate in throbbing and realistic color, not
only the wild life of America, but the actual history of the West, as it
was lived for, fought for, died for, by Indians, pioneers, and soldiers.

The wigwam village; the Indian war-dance; the chant to the Great Spirit
as it was sung over the plains; the rise and fall of the famous tribes;
the "Forward, march!" of soldiers, and the building of frontier posts;
the life of scouts and trappers; the hunt of the buffalo; the coming
of the first settlers; their slow, perilous progress in the prairie
schooners over the vast and desolate plains; the period of the Deadwood
stage and the Pony Express; the making of homes in the face of fire and
Indian massacre; United States cavalry on the firing-line, "Death to
the Sioux!"--these are the great historic pictures of the Wild West,
stirring, genuine, heroic.

It was a magnificent plan on a magnificent scale, and it achieved
instant success. The adventurous phases of Western life never fail to
quicken the pulse of the East.

An exhibition which embodied so much of the historic and picturesque,
which resurrected a whole half-century of dead and dying events, events
the most thrilling and dramatic in American history, naturally stirred
up the interest of the entire country. The actors, too, were historic
characters--no weakling imitators, but men of sand and grit, who had
lived every inch of the life they pictured.

The first presentation was given in May, 1883, at Omaha, Nebraska, the
state Will had chosen for his home. Since then it has visited nearly
every large city on the civilized globe, and has been viewed by
countless thousands--men, women, and children of every nationality. It
will long hold a place in history.

The "grand entrance" alone has never failed to chain the interest of the
onlooker. The furious galloping of the Indian braves--Sioux, Arapahoe,
Brule, and Cheyenne, all in war paint and feathers; the free dash of the
Mexicans and cowboys, as they follow the Indians into line at break-neck
speed; the black-bearded Cossacks of the Czar's light cavalry; the
Riffian Arabs on their desert thoroughbreds; a cohort from the "Queen's
Own" Lancers; troopers from the German Emperor's bodyguard; chasseurs
and cuirassiers from the crack cavalry regiments of European standing
armies; detachments from the United States cavalry and artillery;
South American gauchos; Cuban veterans; Porto Ricans; Hawaiians; again
frontiersmen, rough riders, Texas rangers--all plunging with dash and
spirit into the open, each company followed by its chieftain and its
flag; forming into a solid square, tremulous with color; then a quicker
note to the music; the galloping hoofs of another horse, the finest of
them all, and "Buffalo Bill," riding with the wonderful ease and stately
grace which only he who is "born to the saddle" can ever attain, enters
under the flash of the lime-light, and sweeping off his sombrero, holds
his head high, and with a ring of pride in his voice, advances before
his great audience and exclaims:

"Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to introduce to you a congress of the
rough riders of the world."

As a child I wept over his disregard of the larger sphere predicted
by the soothsayer; as a woman, I rejoice that he was true to his own
ideals, for he sits his horse with a natural grace much better suited to
the saddle than to the Presidential chair.

From the very beginning the "Wild West" was an immense success.
Three years were spent in traveling over the United States; then Will
conceived the idea of visiting England, and exhibiting to the mother
race the wild side of the child's life. This plan entailed enormous
expense, but it was carried out successfully.

Still true to the state of his adoption, Will chartered the steamer
"State of Nebraska," and on March 31, 1886 a living freight from the
picturesque New World began its voyage to the Old.

At Gravesend, England, the first sight to meet the eyes of the watchers
on the steamer was a tug flying American colors. Three ringing cheers
saluted the beautiful emblem, and the band on the tug responded with
"The Star-Spangled Banner." Not to be outdone, the cowboy band on
the "State of Nebraska" struck up "Yankee Doodle." The tug had been
chartered by a company of Englishmen for the purpose of welcoming the
novel American combination to British soil.

When the landing was made, the members of the Wild West company entered
special coaches and were whirled toward London. Then even the stolidity
of the Indians was not proof against sights so little resembling those
to which they had been accustomed, and they showed their pleasure and
appreciation by frequent repetition of the red man's characteristic

Major John M. Burke had made the needed arrangements for housing the big
show, and preparations on a gigantic scale were rapidly pushed to please
an impatient London public. More effort was made to produce spectacular
effects in the London amphitheater than is possible where a merely
temporary staging is erected for one day's exhibition. The arena was a
third of a mile in circumference, and provided accommodation for
forty thousand spectators. Here, as at Manchester, where another great
amphitheater was erected in the fall, to serve as winter quarters, the
artist's brush was called on to furnish illusions.

The English exhibited an eager interest in every feature of the
exhibition--the Indian war-dances, the bucking broncho, speedily
subjected by the valorous cowboy, and the stagecoach attacked by Indians
and rescued by United States troops. The Indian village on the plains
was also an object of dramatic interest to the English public. The
artist had counterfeited the plains successfully.

It is the hour of dawn. Scattered about the plains are various wild
animals. Within their tents the Indians are sleeping. Sunrise, and a
friendly Indian tribe comes to visit the wakening warriors. A friendly
dance is executed, at the close of which a courier rushes in to announce
the approach of a hostile tribe. These follow almost at the courier's
heels, and a sham battle occurs, which affords a good idea of the
barbarity of Indian warfare. The victors celebrate their triumph with a
wild war-dance.

A Puritan scene follows. The landing of the Pilgrims is shown, and
the rescue of John Smith by Pocahontas. This affords opportunity for
delineating many interesting Indian customs on festive celebrations,
such as weddings and feast-days.

Again the prairie. A buffalo-lick is shown. The shaggy monsters come
down to drink, and in pursuit of them is "Buffalo Bill," mounted on his
good horse "Charlie." He has been acting as guide for an emigrant party,
which soon appears. Camp-fires are lighted, supper is eaten, and the
camp sinks into slumber with the dwindling of the fires. Then comes a
fine bit of stage illusion. A red glow is seen in the distance, faint
at first, but slowly deepening and broadening. It creeps along the whole
horizon, and the camp is awakened by the alarming intelligence that the
prairie is on fire. The emigrants rush out, and heroically seek to fight
back the rushing, roaring flames. Wild animals, driven by the flames,
dash through the camp, and a stampede follows. This scene was extremely

A cyclone was also simulated, and a whole village blown out of

The "Wild West" was received with enthusiasm, not only by the general
public, but by royalty. Gladstone made a call upon Will, in company with
the Marquis of Lorne, and in return a lunch was tendered to the "Grand
Old Man" by the American visitors. In an after-dinner speech, the
English statesman spoke in the warmest terms of America. He thanked Will
for the good he was doing in presenting to the English public a picture
of the wild life of the Western continent, which served to illustrate
the difficulties encountered by a sister nation in its onward march of

The initial performance was before a royal party comprising the Prince
and Princess of Wales and suite. At the close of the exhibition the
royal guests, at their own request, were presented to the members of the
company. Unprepared for this contingency, Will had forgotten to coach
the performers in the correct method of saluting royalty, and when the
girl shots of the company were presented to the Princess of Wales, they
stepped forward in true democratic fashion and cordially offered their
hands to the lovely woman who had honored them.

According to English usage, the Princess extends the hand, palm down, to
favored guests, and these reverently touch the finger-tips and lift
the hand to their lips. Perhaps the spontaneity of the American girls'
welcome was esteemed a pleasing variety to the established custom. At
all events, her Highness, true to her breeding, appeared not to notice
any breach of etiquette, but took the proffered hands and shook them

The Indian camp was also visited, and Red Shirt, the great chief, was,
like every one else, delighted with the Princess. Through an interpreter
the Prince expressed his pleasure over the performance of the braves,
headed by their great chief, and the Princess bade him welcome to
England. Red Shirt had the Indian gift of oratory, and he replied, in
the unimpassioned speech for which the race is noted, that it made his
heart glad to hear such kind words from the Great White Chief and his
beautiful squaw.

During the round the Prince stopped in at Will's private quarters, and
took much interest in his souvenirs, being especially pleased with a
magnificent gold-hilted sword, presented to Will by officers of the
United States army in recognition of his services as scout.

This was not the only time the exhibition was honored by the visit
of royalty. That the Prince of Wales was sincere in his expression of
enjoyment of the exhibition was evidenced by the report that he carried
to his mother, and shortly afterward a command came from Queen Victoria
that the big show appear before her. It was plainly impossible to take
the "Wild West" to court; the next best thing was to construct a special
box for the use of her Majesty. This box was placed upon a dais covered
with crimson velvet trimmings, and was superbly decorated. When the
Queen arrived and was driven around to the royal box, Will stepped
forward as she dismounted, and doffing his sombrero, made a low courtesy
to the sovereign lady of Great Britain. "Welcome, your Majesty," said
he, "to the Wild West of America!"

One of the first acts in the performance is to carry the flag to the
front. This is done by a soldier, and is introduced to the spectators
as an emblem of a nation desirous of peace and friendship with all the
world. On this occasion it was borne directly before the Queen's box,
and dipped three times in honor of her Majesty. The action of the Queen
surprised the company and the vast throng of spectators. Rising,
she saluted the American flag with a bow, and her suite followed her
example, the gentlemen removing their hats. Will acknowledged the
courtesy by waving his sombrero about his head, and his delighted
company with one accord gave three ringing cheers that made the arena
echo, assuring the spectators of the healthy condition of the lungs of
the American visitors.

The Queen's complaisance put the entire company on their mettle, and the
performance was given magnificently. At the close Queen Victoria asked
to have Will presented to her, and paid him so many compliments as
almost to bring a blush to his bronzed cheek. Red Shirt was also
presented, and informed her Majesty that he had come across the Great
Water solely to see her, and his heart was glad. This polite speech
discovered a streak in Indian nature that, properly cultivated, would
fit the red man to shine as a courtier or politician. Red Shirt walked
away with the insouciance of a king dismissing an audience, and some
of the squaws came to display papooses to the Great White Lady. These
children of nature were not the least awed by the honor done them. They
blinked at her Majesty as if the presence of queens was an incident of
their everyday existence.

A second command from the Queen resulted in another exhibition before
a number of her royal guests. The kings of Saxony, Denmark, and Greece,
the Queen of the Belgians, and the Crown Prince of Austria, with others
of lesser rank, illumined this occasion.

The Deadwood coach was peculiarly honored. This is a coach with a
history. It was built in Concord, New Hampshire, and sent to the Pacific
Coast to run over a trail infested by road agents. A number of times
was it held up and the passengers robbed, and finally both driver and
passengers were killed and the coach abandoned on the trail, as no one
could be found who would undertake to drive it. It remained derelict
for a long time, but was at last brought into San Francisco by an old
stage-driver and placed on the Overland trail. It gradually worked its
way eastward to the Deadwood route, and on this line figured in a number
of encounters with Indians. Again were driver and passengers massacred,
and again was the coach abandoned. Will ran across it on one of his
scouting expeditions, and recognizing its value as an adjunct to his
exhibition, purchased it. Thereafter the tragedies it figured in were of
the mock variety.

One of the incidents of the Wild West, as all remember, is an Indian
attack on the Deadwood coach. The royal visitors wished to put
themselves in the place of the traveling public in the Western regions
of America; so the four potentates of Denmark, Saxony, Greece, and
Austria became the passengers, and the Prince of Wales sat on the box
with Will. The Indians had been secretly instructed to "whoop 'em up" on
this interesting occasion, and they followed energetically the letter of
their instructions. The coach was surrounded by a demoniac band, and the
blank cartridges were discharged in such close proximity to the coach
windows that the passengers could easily imagine themselves to be actual
Western travelers. Rumor hath it that they sought refuge under the
seats, and probably no one would blame them if they did; but it is only
rumor, and not history.

When the wild ride was over, the Prince of Wales, who admires the
American national game of poker, turned to the driver with the remark:

"Colonel, did you ever hold four kings like that before?"

"I have held four kings more than once," was the prompt reply; "but,
your Highness, I never held four kings and the royal joker before."

The Prince laughed heartily; but Will's sympathy went out to him when
he found that he was obliged to explain his joke in four different
languages to the passengers.

In recognition of this performance, the Prince of Wales sent Will a
handsome souvenir. It consisted of his feathered crest, outlined
in diamonds, and bearing the motto "_Ich dien_," worked in jewels
underneath. An accompanying note expressed the pleasure of the royal
visitors over the novel exhibition.

Upon another occasion the Princess of Wales visited the show incognito,
first advising Will of her intention; and at the close of the
performance assured him that she had spent a delightful evening.

The set performances of the "Wild West" were punctuated by social
entertainments. James G. Blaine, Chauncey M. Depew, Murat Halstead, and
other prominent Americans were in London at the time, and in their honor
Will issued invitations to a rib-roast breakfast prepared in Indian
style. Fully one hundred guests gathered in the "Wild West's"
dining-tent at nine o'clock of June 10, 1887. Besides the novel
decorations of the tent, it was interesting to watch the Indian cooks
putting the finishing touches to their roasts. A hole had been dug in
the ground, a large tripod erected over it, and upon this the ribs
of beef were suspended. The fire was of logs, burned down to a bed of
glowing coals, and over these the meat was turned around and around
until it was cooked to a nicety. This method of open-air cooking over
wood imparts to the meat a flavor that can be given to it in no other

The breakfast was unconventional. Part of the bill of fare was hominy,
"Wild West" pudding, popcorn, and peanuts. The Indians squatted on the
straw at the end of the dining-tables, and ate from their fingers or
speared the meat with long white sticks. The striking contrast of
table manners was an interesting object-lesson in the progress of

The breakfast was a novelty to the Americans who partook of it, and they
enjoyed it thoroughly.

Will was made a social lion during his stay in London, being dined and
feted upon various occasions. Only a man of the most rugged health could
have endured the strain of his daily performances united with his social

The London season was triumphantly closed with a meeting for the
establishing of a court of arbitration to settle disputes between
America and England.

After leaving the English metropolis the exhibition visited Birmingham,
and thence proceeded to its winter headquarters in Manchester.
Arta, Will's elder daughter, accompanied him to England, and made a
Continental tour during the winter.

The sojourn in Manchester was another ovation. The prominent men of the
city proposed to present to Will a fine rifle, and when the news of
the plan was carried to London, a company of noblemen, statesmen, and
journalists ran down to Manchester by special car. In acknowledgment of
the honor done him, Will issued invitations for another of his unique
American entertainments. Boston pork and beans, Maryland fried chicken,
hominy, and popcorn were served, and there were other distinctly
American dishes. An Indian rib-roast was served on tin plates, and the
distinguished guests enjoyed--or said they did--the novelty of eating
it from their fingers, in true aboriginal fashion. This remarkable
meal evoked the heartiest of toasts to the American flag, and a poem, a
parody on "Hiawatha," added luster to the occasion.

The Prince of Wales was Grand Master of the Free Masons of England,
which order presented a gold watch to Will during his stay in
Manchester. The last performance in this city was given on May 1, 1887,
and as a good by to Will the spectators united in a rousing chorus of
"For he's a jolly good fellow!" The closing exhibition of the English
season occurred at Hull, and immediately afterward the company sailed
for home on the "Persian Monarch." An immense crowd gathered on the
quay, and shouted a cordial "bon voyage."

One sad event occurred on the homeward voyage, the death of "Old
Charlie," Will's gallant and faithful horse.

He was a half-blood Kentucky horse, and had been Will's constant and
unfailing companion for many years on the plains and in the "Wild West."

He was an animal of almost human intelligence, extraordinary speed,
endurance, and fidelity. When he was quite young Will rode him on a hunt
for wild horses, which he ran down after a chase of fifteen miles. At
another time, on a wager of five hundred dollars that he could ride him
over the prairie one hundred miles in ten hours, he went the distance in
nine hours and forty-five minutes.

When the "Wild West" was opened at Omaha, Charlie was the star horse,
and held that position at all the exhibitions in this country and in
Europe. In London the horse attracted a full share of attention, and
many scions of royalty solicited the favor of riding him. Grand Duke
Michael of Russia rode Charlie several times in chase of the herd of
buffaloes in the "Wild West," and became quite attached to him.

On the morning of the 14th Will made his usual visit to Charlie, between
decks. Shortly after the groom reported him sick. He grew rapidly worse,
in spite of all the care he received, and at two o'clock on the morning
of the 17th he died. His death cast an air of sadness over the whole
ship, and no human being could have had more sincere mourners than the
faithful and sagacious old horse. He was brought on deck wrapped in
canvas and covered with the American flag. When the hour for the ocean
burial arrived, the members of the company and others assembled on deck.
Standing alone with uncovered head beside the dead was the one whose
life the noble animal had shared so long. At length, with choking
utterance, Will spoke, and Charlie for the first time failed to hear the
familiar voice he had always been so prompt to obey:

"Old fellow, your journeys are over. Here in the ocean you must rest.
Would that I could take you back and lay you down beneath the billows of
that prairie you and I have loved so well and roamed so freely; but it
cannot be. How often at break of day, the glorious sun rising on the
horizon has found us far from human habitation! Yet, obedient to my
call, gladly you bore your burden on, little heeding what the day might
bring, so that you and I but shared its sorrows and pleasures alike. You
have never failed me. Ah, Charlie, old fellow, I have had many friends,
but few of whom I could say that. Rest entombed in the deep bosom of the
ocean! I'll never forget you. I loved you as you loved me, my dear old
Charlie. Men tell me you have no soul; but if there be a heaven, and
scouts can enter there, I'll wait at the gate for you, old friend."

On this homeward trip Will made the acquaintance of a clergyman
returning from a vacation spent in Europe. When they neared the American
coast this gentleman prepared a telegram to send to his congregation.
It read simply: "2 John i. 12." Chancing to see it, Will's interest was
aroused, and he asked the clergyman to explain the significance of the
reference, and when this was done he said: "I have a religious sister at
home who knows the Bible so well that I will wire her that message and
she will not need to look up the meaning."

He duplicated to me, as his return greeting, the minister's telegram to
his congregation, but I did not justify his high opinion of my Biblical
knowledge. I was obliged to search the Scriptures to unravel the enigma.
As there may be others like me, but who have not the incentive I had to
look up the reference, I quote from God's word the message I received:
"Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and
ink; but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy
may be full."


WHEN the "Wild West" returned to America from its first venture across
seas, the sail up the harbor was described by the New York _World_ in
the following words:

     "The harbor probably has never witnessed a more picturesque
     scene than that of yesterday, when the 'Persian Monarch'
     steamed up from quarantine. Buffalo Bill stood on the
     captain's bridge, his tall and striking figure clearly
     outlined, and his long hair waving in the wind; the gayly
     painted and blanketed Indians leaned over the ship's rail;
     the flags of all nations fluttered from the masts and
     connecting cables. The cowboy band played 'Yankee Doodle'
     with a vim and enthusiasm which faintly indicated the joy
     felt by everybody connected with the 'Wild West' over the
     sight of home."

Will had been cordially welcomed by our English cousins, and had been
the recipient of many social favors, but no amount of foreign flattery
could change him one hair from an "American of the Americans," and he
experienced a thrill of delight as he again stepped foot upon his native
land. Shortly afterward he was much pleased by a letter from William T.
Sherman--so greatly prized that it was framed, and now hangs on the wall
of his Nebraska home. Following is a copy:



"_Dear Sir_: In common with all your countrymen, I want to let you know
that I am not only gratified but proud of your management and success.
So far as I can make out, you have been modest, graceful, and dignified
in all you have done to illustrate the history of civilization on this
continent during the past century. I am especially pleased with the
compliment paid you by the Prince of Wales, who rode with you in the
Deadwood coach while it was attacked by Indians and rescued by cowboys.
Such things did occur in our days, but they never will again.

"As nearly as I can estimate, there were in 1865 about nine and one-half
million of buffaloes on the plains between the Missouri River and the
Rocky Mountains; all are now gone, killed for their meat, their skins,
and their bones. This seems like desecration, cruelty, and murder, yet
they have been replaced by twice as many cattle. At that date there were
about 165,000 Pawnees, Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, who depended
upon these buffaloes for their yearly food. They, too, have gone, but
they have been replaced by twice or thrice as many white men and women,
who have made the earth to blossom as the rose, and who can be counted,
taxed, and governed by the laws of nature and civilization. This change
has been salutary, and will go on to the end. You have caught one epoch
of this country's history, and have illustrated it in the very heart of
the modern world--London, and I want you to feel that on this side of
the water we appreciate it.

"This drama must end; days, years, and centuries follow fast; even the
drama of civilization must have an end. All I aim to accomplish on this
sheet of paper is to assure you that I fully recognize your work. The
presence of the Queen, the beautiful Princess of Wales, the Prince,
and the British public are marks of favor which reflect back on America
sparks of light which illuminate many a house and cabin in the land
where once you guided me honestly and faithfully, in 1865-66, from Fort
Riley to Kearny, in Kansas and Nebraska.

"Sincerely your friend,


Having demonstrated to his satisfaction that the largest measure of
success lay in a stationary exhibition of his show, where the population
was large enough to warrant it, Will purchased a tract of land on Staten
Island, and here he landed on his return from England. Teamsters for
miles around had been engaged to transport the outfit across the island
to Erastina, the site chosen for the exhibition. And you may be certain
that Cut Meat, American Bear, Flat Iron, and the other Indians furnished
unlimited joy to the ubiquitous small boy, who was present by the
hundreds to watch the unloading scenes.

The summer season at this point was a great success. One incident
connected with it may be worth the relating.

Teachers everywhere have recognized the value of the "Wild West"
exhibition as an educator, and in a number of instances public schools
have been dismissed to afford the children an opportunity of attending
the entertainment. It has not, however, been generally recognized as
a spur to religious progress, yet, while at Staten Island, Will was
invited to exhibit a band of his Indians at a missionary meeting given
under the auspices of a large mission Sunday-school. He appeared with
his warriors, who were expected to give one of their religious dances as
an object-lesson in devotional ceremonials.

The meeting was largely attended, and every one, children especially,
waited for the exercises in excited curiosity and interest. Will sat on
the platform with the superintendent, pastor, and others in authority,
and close by sat the band of stolid-faced Indians.

The service began with a hymn and the reading of the Scriptures; then,
to Will's horror, the superintendent requested him to lead the meeting
in prayer. Perhaps the good man fancied that Will for a score of years
had fought Indians with a rifle in one hand and a prayer-book in the
other, and was as prepared to pray as to shoot. At least he surely did
not make his request with the thought of embarrassing Will, though
that was the natural result. However, Will held holy things in deepest
reverence; he had the spirit of Gospel if not the letter; so, rising, he
quietly and simply, with bowed head, repeated the Lord's Prayer.

A winter exhibition under roof was given in New York, after which the
show made a tour of the principal cities of the United States. Thus
passed several years, and then arrangements were made for a grand
Continental trip. A plan had been maturing in Will's mind ever since the
British season, and in the spring of 1889 it was carried into effect.

The steamer "Persian Monarch" was again chartered, and this time its
prow was turned toward the shores of France. Paris was the destination,
and seven months were passed in the gay capital. The Parisians received
the show with as much enthusiasm as did the Londoners, and in Paris
as well as in the English metropolis everything American became a fad
during the stay of the "Wild West." Even American books were read--a
crucial test of faddism; and American curios were displayed in all
the shops. Relics from American plain and mountain--buffalo-robes,
bearskins, buckskin suits embroidered with porcupine quills, Indian
blankets, woven mats, bows and arrows, bead-mats, Mexican bridles and
saddles--sold like the proverbial hot cakes.

In Paris, also, Will became a social favorite, and had he accepted a
tenth of the invitations to receptions, dinners, and balls showered upon
him, he would have been obliged to close his show.

While in this city Will accepted an invitation from Rosa Bonheur to
visit her at her superb chateau, and in return for the honor he extended
to her the freedom of his stables, which contained magnificent horses
used for transportation purposes, and which never appeared in the public
performance--Percherons, of the breed depicted by the famous artist in
her well-known painting of "The Horse Fair." Day upon day she visited
the camp and made studies, and as a token of her appreciation of the
courtesy, painted a picture of Will mounted on his favorite horse, both
horse and rider bedecked with frontier paraphernalia. This souvenir,
which holds the place of honor in his collection, he immediately shipped

The wife of a London embassy attache relates the following story:

"During the time that Colonel Cody was making his triumphant tour of
Europe, I was one night seated at a banquet next to the Belgian Consul.
Early in the course of the conversation he asked:

"'Madame, you haf undoubted been to see ze gr-rand Bouf-falo Beel?'

"Puzzled by the apparently unfamiliar name, I asked:

"'Pardon me, but whom did you say?'

"'Vy, Bouf-falo Beel, ze famous Bouf-falo Beel, zat gr-reat countryman
of yours. You must know him.'

"After a moment's thought, I recognized the well-known showman's name in
its disguise. I comprehended that the good Belgian thought his to be one
of America's most eminent names, to be mentioned in the same breath with
Washington and Lincoln."

After leaving Paris, a short tour of Southern France was made, and at
Marseilles a vessel was chartered to transport the company to Spain. The
Spanish grandees eschewed their favorite amusement--the bull-fight--long
enough to give a hearty welcome to the "Wild West." Next followed a
tour of Italy; and the visit to Rome was the most interesting of the
experiences in this country.

The Americans reached the Eternal City at the time of Pope Leo's
anniversary celebration, and, on the Pope's invitation, Will visited
the Vatican. Its historic walls have rarely, if ever, looked upon a more
curious sight than was presented when Will walked in, followed by the
cowboys in their buckskins and sombreros and the Indians in war paint
and feathers. Around them crowded a motley throng of Italians, clad in
the brilliant colors so loved by these children of the South, and nearly
every nationality was represented in the assemblage.

Some of the cowboys and Indians had been reared in the Catholic faith,
and when the Pope appeared they knelt for his blessing. He seemed
touched by this action on the part of those whom he might be disposed
to regard as savages, and bending forward, extended his hands and
pronounced a benediction; then he passed on, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that the Indians were restrained from expressing
their emotions in a wild whoop. This, no doubt, would have relieved
them, but it would, in all probability, have stampeded the crowd.

When the Pope reached Will he looked admiringly upon the frontiersman.
The world-known scout bent his head before the aged "Medicine Man," as
the Indians call his reverence, the Papal blessing was again bestowed,
and the procession passed on. The Thanksgiving Mass, with its fine
choral accompaniment, was given, and the vast concourse of people poured
out of the building.

This visit attracted much attention.

     "I'll take my stalwart Indian braves
     Down to the Coliseum
     And the old Romans from their graves
     Will all arise to see 'em.
     Praetors and censors will return
     And hasten through the Forum
     The ghostly Senate will adjourn
     Because it lacks a quorum.

     "And up the ancient Appian Way
     Will flock the ghostly legions
     From Gaul unto Calabria,
     And from remoter regions;
     From British bay and wild lagoon,
     And Libyan desert sandy,
     They'll all come marching to the tune
     Of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy.'

     "Prepare triumphal cars for me,
     And purple thrones to sit on,
     For I've done more than Julius C.--
     He could not down the Briton!
     Caesar and Cicero shall bow
     And ancient warriors famous,
     Before the myrtle-wreathed brow
     Of Buffalo Williamus.

     "We march, unwhipped, through history--
     No bulwark can detain us--
     And link the age of Grover C.
     And Scipio Africanus.
     I'll take my stalwart Indian braves
     Down to the Coliseum,
     And the old Romans from their graves
     Will all arise to see 'em."

It may be mentioned in passing that Will had visited the Coliseum with
an eye to securing it as an amphitheater for the "Wild West" exhibition,
but the historic ruin was too dilapidated to be a safe arena for such a
purpose, and the idea was abandoned.

The sojourn in Rome was enlivened by an incident that created much
interest among the natives. The Italians were somewhat skeptical as to
the abilities of the cowboys to tame wild horses, believing the
bronchos in the show were specially trained for their work, and that the
horse-breaking was a mock exhibition.

The Prince of Sermonetta declared that he had some wild horses in
his stud which no cowboys in the world could ride. The challenge was
promptly taken up by the daring riders of the plains, and the Prince
sent for his wild steeds. That they might not run amuck and injure the
spectators, specially prepared booths of great strength were erected.

The greatest interest and enthusiasm were manifested by the populace,
and the death of two or three members of the company was as confidently
looked for as was the demise of sundry gladiators in the "brave days of

But the cowboys laughed at so great a fuss over so small a matter, and
when the horses were driven into the arena, and the spectators held
their breath, the cowboys, lassos in hand, awaited the work with the
utmost nonchalance.

The wild equines sprang into the air, darted hither and thither, and
fought hard against their certain fate, but in less time than would be
required to give the details, the cowboys had flung their lassos, caught
the horses, and saddled and mounted them. The spirited beasts still
resisted, and sought in every way to throw their riders, but the
experienced plainsmen had them under control in a very short time; and
as they rode them around the arena, the spectators rose and howled with
delight. The display of horsemanship effectually silenced the skeptics;
it captured the Roman heart, and the remainder of the stay in the city
was attended by unusual enthusiasm.

Beautiful Florence, practical Bologna, and stately Milan, with its
many-spired cathedral, were next on the list for the triumphal march.
For the Venetian public the exhibition had to be given at Verona, in
the historic amphitheater built by Diocletian, A. D. '90. This is
the largest building in the world, and within the walls of this
representative of Old World civilization the difficulties over which New
World civilization had triumphed were portrayed. Here met the old and
new; hoary antiquity and bounding youth kissed each other under the
sunny Italian skies.

The "Wild West" now moved northward, through the Tyrol, to Munich, and
from here the Americans digressed for an excursion on the "beautiful
blue Danube." Then followed a successful tour of Germany.

During this Continental circuit Will's elder daughter, Arta, who
had accompanied him on his British expedition, was married. It was
impossible for the father to be present, but by cablegram he sent his
congratulations and check.


IN view of the success achieved by my brother, it is remarkable that he
excited so little envy. Now for the first time in his life he felt
the breath of slander on his cheek, and it flushed hotly. From an idle
remark that the Indians in the "Wild West" exhibition were not properly
treated, the idle gossip grew to the proportion of malicious and
insistent slander. The Indians being government wards, such a charge
might easily become a serious matter; for, like the man who beat his
wife, the government believes it has the right to maltreat the red man
to the top of its bent, but that no one else shall be allowed to do so.

A winter campaign of the "Wild West" had been contemplated, but the
project was abandoned and winter quarters decided on. In the quaint
little village of Benfield was an ancient nunnery and a castle, with
good stables. Here Will left the company in charge of his partner, Mr.
Nate Salisbury, and, accompanied by the Indians for whose welfare he was
responsible, set sail for America, to silence his calumniators.

The testimony of the red men themselves was all that was required to
refute the notorious untruths. Few had placed any belief in the reports,
and friendly commenters were also active.

As the sequel proved, Will came home very opportunely. The Sioux in
Dakota were again on the war-path, and his help was needed to subdue the
uprising. He disbanded the warriors he had brought back from Europe,
and each returned to his own tribe and people, to narrate around
the camp-fire the wonders of the life abroad, while Will reported at
headquarters to offer his services for the war. Two years previously he
had been honored by the commission of Brigadier-General of the Nebraska
National Guard, which rank and title were given to him by Governor

The officer in command of the Indian campaign was General Nelson A.
Miles, who has rendered so many important services to his country, and
who, as Commander-in-Chief of our army, played so large a part in the
recent war with Spain. At the time of the Indian uprising he held the
rank of Brigadier-General.

This brilliant and able officer was much pleased when he learned that he
would have Will's assistance in conducting the campaign, for he knew the
value of his good judgment, cool head, and executive ability, and of his
large experience in dealing with Indians.

The "Wild West," which had served as an educator to the people of
Europe in presenting the frontier life of America, had quietly worked as
important educational influences in the minds of the Indians connected
with the exhibition. They had seen for themselves the wonders of the
world's civilization; they realized how futile were the efforts of the
children of the plains to stem the resistless tide of progress flowing
westward. Potentates had delighted to do honor to Pa-has-ka, the
Long-haired Chief, and in the eyes of the simple savage he was as
powerful as any of the great ones of earth. To him his word was law; it
seemed worse than folly for their brethren to attempt to cope with so
mighty a chief, therefore their influence was all for peace; and the
fact that so many tribes did not join in the uprising may be attributed,
in part, to their good counsel and advice.

General Miles was both able and energetic, and managed the campaign in
masterly fashion. There were one or two hard-fought battles, in one of
which the great Sioux warrior, Sitting Bull, the ablest that nation ever
produced, was slain. This Indian had traveled with Will for a time, but
could not be weaned from his loyalty to his own tribe and a desire to
avenge upon the white man the wrongs inflicted on his people.

What promised at the outset to be a long and cruel frontier war was
speedily quelled. The death of Sitting Bull had something to do with the
termination of hostilities. Arrangements for peace were soon perfected,
and Will attributed the government's success to the energy of its
officer in command, for whom he has a most enthusiastic admiration. He
paid this tribute to him recently:

"I have been in many campaigns with General Miles, and a better general
and more gifted warrior I have never seen. I served in the Civil War,
and in any number of Indian wars; I have been under at least a dozen
generals, with whom I have been thrown in close contact because of the
nature of the services which I was called upon to render. General Miles
is the superior of them all.

"I have known Phil Sheridan, Tecumseh Sherman, Hancock, and all of our
noted Indian fighters. For cool judgment and thorough knowledge of all
that pertains to military affairs, none of them, in my opinion, can be
said to excel General Nelson A. Miles.

"Ah, what a man he is! I know. We have been shoulder to shoulder in
many a hard march. We have been together when men find out what their
comrades really are. He is a man, every inch of him, and the best
general I ever served under."

After Miles was put in command of the forces, a dinner was given in his
honor by John Chamberlin. Will was a guest and one of the speakers, and
took the opportunity to eulogize his old friend. He dwelt at length on
the respect in which the red men held the general, and in closing said:

"No foreign invader will ever set foot on these shores as long as
General Miles is at the head of the army. If they should--just call on

The speaker sat down amid laughter and applause.

While Will was away at the seat of war, his beautiful home in North
Platte, "Welcome Wigwam," burned to the ground. The little city is not
equipped with much of a fire department, but a volunteer brigade held
the flames in check long enough to save almost the entire contents of
the house, among which were many valuable and costly souvenirs that
could never be replaced.

Will received a telegram announcing that his house was ablaze, and his
reply was characteristic:

"Save Rosa Bonheur's picture, and the house may go to blazes."

When the frontier war was ended and the troops disbanded, Will made
application for another company of Indians to take back to Europe with
him. Permission was obtained from the government, and the contingent
from the friendly tribes was headed by chiefs named Long Wolf, No Neck,
Yankton Charlie, and Black Heart. In addition to these a company was
recruited from among the Indians held as hostages by General Miles at
Fort Sheridan, and the leaders of these hostile braves were such noted
chiefs as Short Bull, Kicking Bear, Lone Bull, Scatter, and Revenge. To
these the trip to Alsace-Lorraine was a revelation, a fairy-tale more
wonderful than anything in their legendary lore. The ocean voyage,
with its seasickness, put them in an ugly mood, but the sight of the
encampment and the cowboys dissipated their sullenness, and they shortly
felt at home. The hospitality extended to all the members of the company
by the inhabitants of the village in which they wintered was most
cordial, and left them the pleasantest of memories.

An extended tour of Europe was fittingly closed by a brief visit to
England. The Britons gave the "Wild West" as hearty a welcome as if it
were native to their heath. A number of the larger cities were visited,
London being reserved for the last.

Royalty again honored the "Wild West" by its attendance, the Queen
requesting a special performance on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The
requests of the Queen are equivalent to commands, and the entertainment
was duly given. As a token of her appreciation the Queen bestowed upon
Will a costly and beautiful souvenir.

Not the least-esteemed remembrance of this London visit was an
illuminated address presented by the English Workingman's Convention. In
it the American plainsman was congratulated upon the honors he had won,
the success he had achieved, and the educational worth of his great
exhibition. A banquet followed, at which Will presented an autograph
photograph to each member of the association.

Notwithstanding tender thoughts of home, English soil was left
regretfully. To the "Wild West" the complacent Briton had extended a
cordial welcome, and manifested an enthusiasm that contrasted strangely
with his usual disdain for things American.

A singular coincidence of the homeward voyage was the death of Billy,
another favorite horse of Will's.


EUROPEAN army officers of all nationalities regarded my brother with
admiring interest. To German, French, Italian, or British eyes he was
a commanding personality, and also the representative of a peculiar and
interesting phase of New World life. Recalling their interest in his
scenes from his native land, so unlike anything to be found in Europe
to-day, Will invited a number of these officers to accompany him on an
extended hunting-trip through Western America.

All that could possibly do so accepted the invitation. A date was set
for them to reach Chicago, and from there arrangements were made for a
special train to convey them to Nebraska.

When the party gathered, several prominent Americans were of the number.
By General Miles's order a military escort attended them from Chicago,
and the native soldiery remained with them until North Platte was

Then the party proceeded to "Scout's Rest Ranch," where they were
hospitably entertained for a couple of days before starting out on their
long trail.

At Denver ammunition and supplies were taken on board the train. A
French chef was also engaged, as Will feared his distinguished guests
might not enjoy camp-fare. But a hen in water is no more out of
place than a French cook on a "roughing-it" trip. Frontier cooks, who
understand primitive methods, make no attempt at a fashionable cuisine,
and the appetites developed by open-air life are equal to the rudest,
most substantial fare.

Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods, and other places in Colorado
were visited. The foreign visitors had heard stories of this wonderland
of America, but, like all of nature's masterpieces, the rugged beauties
of this magnificent region defy an adequate description. Only one who
has seen a sunrise on the Alps can appreciate it. The storied Rhine is
naught but a story to him who has never looked upon it. Niagara is only
a waterfall until seen from various view-points, and its tremendous
force and transcendent beauty are strikingly revealed. The same is true
of the glorious wildness of our Western scenery; it must be seen to be

The most beautiful thing about the Garden of the Gods is the entrance
known as the Gateway. Color here runs riot. The mass of rock in the
foreground is white, and stands out in sharp contrast to the rich red of
the sandstone of the portals, which rise on either side to a height of
three hundred feet. Through these giant portals, which in the sunlight
glow with ruddy fire, is seen mass upon mass of gorgeous color, rendered
more striking by the dazzling whiteness of Pike's Peak, which soars
upward in the distance, a hoary sentinel of the skies. The whole picture
is limned against the brilliant blue of the Colorado sky, and stands out
sharp and clear, one vivid block of color distinctly defined against the

The name "Garden of the Gods" was doubtless applied because of the
peculiar shape of the spires, needles, and basilicas of rock that rise
in every direction. These have been corroded by storms and worn smooth
by time, until they present the appearance of half-baked images of clay
molded by human hands, instead of sandstone rocks fashioned by wind and
weather. Each grotesque and fantastic shape has received a name. One
is here introduced to the "Washerwoman," the "Lady of the Garden," the
"Siamese Twins," and the "Ute God," and besides these may be seen
the "Wreck," the "Baggage Room," the "Eagle," and the "Mushroom." The
predominating tone is everywhere red, but black, brown, drab, white,
yellow, buff, and pink rocks add their quota to make up a harmonious and
striking color scheme, to which the gray and green of clinging mosses
add a final touch of picturesqueness.

At Flagstaff, Arizona, the train was discarded for the saddle and the
buckboard. And now Will felt himself quite in his element; it was a
never-failing pleasure to him to guide a large party of guests over
plain and mountain. From long experience he knew how to make ample
provision for their comfort. There were a number of wagons filled with
supplies, three buckboards, three ambulances, and a drove of ponies.
Those who wished to ride horseback could do so; if they grew tired of
a bucking broncho, opportunity for rest awaited them in ambulance or
buckboard. The French chef found his occupation gone when it was a
question of cooking over a camp-fire; so he spent his time picking
himself up when dislodged by his broncho. The daintiness of his menu was
not a correct gauge for the daintiness of his language on these numerous

Through the Grand Canon of the Colorado Will led the party, and the
dwellers of the Old World beheld some of the rugged magnificence of
the New. Across rushing rivers, through quiet valleys, and over lofty
mountains they proceeded, pausing on the borders of peaceful lakes, or
looking over dizzy precipices into yawning chasms.

There was no lack of game to furnish variety to their table; mountain
sheep, mountain lions, wildcats, deer, elk, antelope, and even coyotes
and porcupines, were shot, while the rivers furnished an abundance of

It seemed likely at one time that there might be a hunt of bigger game
than any here mentioned, for in crossing the country of the Navajos the
party was watched and followed by mounted Indians. An attack was feared,
and had the red men opened fire, there would have been a very animated
defense; but the suspicious Indians were merely on the alert to see that
no trespass was committed, and when the orderly company passed out of
their territory the warriors disappeared.

The visitors were much impressed with the vastness and the undeveloped
resources of our country. They were also impressed with the climate, as
the thermometer went down to forty degrees below zero while they were
on Buckskin Mountain. Nature seemed to wish to aid Will in the effort to
exhibit novelties to his foreign guests, for she tried her hand at
some spectacular effects, and succeeded beyond mortal expectation. She
treated them to a few blizzards; and shut in by the mass of whirling,
blinding snowflakes, it is possible their thoughts reverted with a
homesick longing to the sunny slopes of France, the placid vales of
Germany, or the foggy mildness of Great Britain.

On the summit of San Francisco Mountain, the horse of Major St.
John Mildmay lost its footing, and began to slip on the ice toward a
precipice which looked down a couple of thousand feet. Will saw the
danger, brought out his ever-ready lasso, and dexterously caught the
animal in time to save it and its rider--a feat considered remarkable by
the onlookers.

Accidents happened occasionally, many adventures were met with, Indian
alarms were given, and narrow were some of the escapes. On the whole,
it was a remarkable trail, and was written about under the heading, "A
Thousand Miles in the Saddle with Buffalo Bill."

At Salt Lake City the party broke up, each going his separate way. All
expressed great pleasure in the trip, and united in the opinion that
Buffalo Bill's reputation as guide and scout was a well-deserved one.

Will's knowledge of Indian nature stands him in good stead when he
desires to select the quota of Indians for the summer season of the
"Wild West." He sends word ahead to the tribe or reservation which he
intends to visit. The red men have all heard of the wonders of the great
show; they are more than ready to share in the delights of travel, and
they gather at the appointed place in great numbers.

Will stands on a temporary platform in the center of the group. He looks
around upon the swarthy faces, glowing with all the eagerness which the
stolid Indian nature will permit them to display. It is not always the
tallest nor the most comely men who are selected. The unerring judgment
of the scout, trained in Indian warfare, tells him who may be relied
upon and who are untrustworthy. A face arrests his attention--with a
motion of his hand he indicates the brave whom he has selected; another
wave of the hand and the fate of a second warrior is settled. Hardly a
word is spoken, and it is only a matter of a few moments' time before
he is ready to step down from his exalted position and walk off with his
full contingent of warriors following happily in his wake.

The "Wild West" had already engaged space just outside the World's Fair
grounds for an exhibit in 1893, and Will was desirous of introducing
some new and striking feature. He had succeeded in presenting to the
people of Europe some new ideas, and, in return, the European trip had
furnished to him the much-desired novelty. He had performed the work of
an educator in showing to Old World residents the conditions of a new
civilization, and the idea was now conceived of showing to the world
gathered at the arena in Chicago a representation of the cosmopolitan
military force. He called it "A Congress of the Rough Riders of the
World." It is a combination at once ethnological and military.

To the Indians and cowboys were added Mexicans, Cossacks, and South
Americans, with regular trained cavalry from Germany, France, England,
and the United States. This aggregation showed for the first time in
1893, and was an instantaneous success. Of it Opie Read gives a fine

"Morse made the two worlds touch the tips of their fingers together.
Cody has made the warriors of all nations join hands.

"In one act we see the Indian, with his origin shrouded in history's
mysterious fog; the cowboy--nerve-strung product of the New World; the
American soldier, the dark Mexican, the glittering soldier of Germany,
the dashing cavalryman of France, the impulsive Irish dragoon, and that
strange, swift spirit from the plains of Russia, the Cossack.

"Marvelous theatric display, a drama with scarcely a word--Europe, Asia,
Africa, America in panoramic whirl, and yet as individualized as if they
had never left their own country."

In 1893 the horizon of my brother's interests enlarged. In July of that
year I was married to Mr. Hugh A. Wetmore, editor of the Duluth _Press_.
My steps now turned to the North, and the enterprising young city on
the shore of Lake Superior became my home. During the long years of my
widowhood my brother always bore toward me the attitude of guardian
and protector; I could rely upon his support in any venture I deemed a
promising one, and his considerate thoughtfulness did not fail when
I remarried. He wished to see me well established in my new home; he
desired to insure my happiness and prosperity, and with this end in view
he purchased the Duluth _Press_ plant, erected a fine brick building to
serve as headquarters for the newspaper venture, and we became business
partners in the untried field of press work.

My brother had not yet seen the Zenith City. So in January of 1894 he
arranged to make a short visit to Duluth. We issued invitations for
a general reception, and the response was of the genuine Western
kind--eighteen hundred guests assembling in the new Duluth _Press_
Building to bid welcome and do honor to the world-famed Buffalo Bill.

His name is a household word, and there is a growing demand for
anecdotes concerning him. As he does not like to talk about himself,
chroniclers have been compelled to interview his associates, or are
left to their own resources. Like many of the stories told about Abraham
Lincoln, some of the current yarns about Buffalo Bill are of doubtful
authority. Nevertheless, a collection of those that are authentic would
fill a volume. Almost every plainsman or soldier who met my brother
during the Indian campaigns can tell some interesting tale about him
that has never been printed. During the youthful season of redundant
hope and happiness many of his ebullitions of wit were lost, but he
was always beloved for his good humor, which no amount of carnage could
suppress. He was not averse to church-going, though he was liable even
in church to be carried away by the rollicking spirit that was in him.
Instance his visit to the little temple which he had helped to build at
North Platte.

His wife and sister were in the congregation, and this ought not only to
have kept him awake, but it should have insured perfect decorum on his
part. The opening hymn commenced with the words, "Oh, for a thousand
tongues to sing," etc. The organist, who played "by ear," started the
tune in too high a key to be followed by the choir and congregation, and
had to try again. A second attempt ended, like the first, in failure.
"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing, my blest--" came the opening words
for the third time, followed by a squeak from the organ, and a relapse
into painful silence. Will could contain himself no longer, and blurted
out: "Start it at five hundred, and mebbe some of the rest of us can get

Another church episode occurred during the visit of the "Wild West"
to the Atlanta Exposition. A locally celebrated colored preacher had
announced that he would deliver a sermon on the subject of Abraham
Lincoln. A party of white people, including my brother, was made up, and
repaired to the church to listen to the eloquent address. Not wishing
to make themselves conspicuous, the white visitors took a pew in the
extreme rear, but one of the ushers, wishing to honor them, insisted
on conducting them to a front seat. When the contribution platter came
around, our hero scooped a lot of silver dollars from his pocket and
deposited them upon the plate with such force that the receptacle was
tilted and its contents poured in a jingling shower upon the floor.
The preacher left his pulpit to assist in gathering up the scattered
treasure, requesting the congregation to sing a hymn of thanksgiving
while the task was being performed. At the conclusion of the hymn the
sable divine returned to the pulpit and supplemented his sermon with the
following remarks:

"Brudderen an' sisters: I obsahve dat Co'nel and Gen'l Buflo Bill am
present. [A roar of 'Amens' and 'Bless God's' arose from the audience.]
You will wifhold yuh Amens till I git froo. You all owes yuh freedom to
Abraham's bosom, but he couldn't hab went an' gone an' done it widout
Buflo Bill, who he'ped him wid de sinnoose ob wah! Abraham Lincum was de
brack man's fren'--Buflo Bill am de fren' ob us all. ['Amen!' screamed
a sister.] Yes, sistah, he am yo' fren', moreova, an' de fren' ob every
daughtah ob Jakup likewise. De chu'ch debt am a cross to us, an' to dat
cross he bends his back as was prefigu'd in de scriptu's ob ol', De
sun may move, aw de sun mought stan' still, but Buflo Bill nebba stan's
still--he's ma'ching froo Geo'gia wid his Christian cowboys to sto'm
de Lookout Mountain ob Zion. Deacon Green Henry Turner will lead us in
prayah fo' Buflo Bill."

The following is one of Will's own stories: During the first years of
his career as an actor Will had in one of his theatrical companies a
Westerner named Broncho Bill. There were Indians in the troupe, and a
certain missionary had joined the aggregation to look after the morals
of the Indians. Thinking that Broncho Bill would bear a little looking
after also, the good man secured a seat by his side at the dinner-table,
and remarked pleasantly:

"This is Mr. Broncho Bill, is it not?"


"Where were you born?"

"Near Kit Bullard's mill, on Big Pigeon."

"Religious parents, I suppose?"


"What is your denomination?"

"My what?"

"Your denomination?"

"O--ah--yaas. Smith & Wesson."

While on his European tour Will was entertained by a great many
potentates. At a certain dinner given in his honor by a wealthy English
lord, Will met for the first time socially a number of blustering
British officers, fresh from India. One of them addressed himself to
the scout as follows: "I understand you are a colonel. You Americans
are blawsted fond of military titles, don't cherneow. By gad, sir, we'll
have to come over and give you fellows a good licking!"

"What, again?" said the scout, so meekly that for an instant his
assailant did not know how hard he was hit, but he realized it when the
retort was wildly applauded by the company.

Before closing these pages I will give an account of an episode which
occurred during the Black Hills gold excitement, and which illustrates
the faculty my hero possesses of adapting himself to all emergencies.
Mr. Mahan, of West Superior, Wisconsin, and a party of adventurous
gold-seekers were being chased by a band of Indians, which they had
succeeded in temporarily eluding. They met Buffalo Bill at the head of
a squad of soldiers who were looking for redskins. The situation was
explained to the scout, whereupon he said:

"I am looking for that identical crowd. Now, you draw up in line, and I
will look you over and pick out the men that I want to go back with me."

Without any questioning he was able to select the men who really wanted
to return and fight the Indians. He left but two behind, but they were
the ones who would have been of no assistance had they been allowed to
go to the front. Will rode some distance in advance of his party, and
when the Indians sighted him, they thought he was alone, and made a dash
for him. Will whirled about and made his horse go as if fleeing for
his life. His men had been carefully ambushed. The Indians kept up a
constant firing, and when he reached a certain point Will pretended to
be hit, and fell from his horse. On came the Indians, howling like a
choir of maniacs. The next moment they were in a trap, and Will and his
men opened fire on them, literally annihilating the entire squad. It was
the Indian style of warfare, and the ten "good Indians" left upon the
field, had they been able to complain, would have had no right to do so.

Will continued the march, and as the day was well advanced, began
looking for a good place to camp. Arriving at the top of a ridge
overlooking a little river, Will saw a spot where he had camped on a
previous expedition; but, to his great disappointment, the place was
in possession of a large village of hostiles, who were putting up their
tepees, building camp fires, and making themselves comfortable for the
coming night.

Quick as a flash Will decided what to do. "There are too many of them
for us to whip in the tired condition of ourselves and horses," said
our hero. Then he posted his men along the top of the ridge, with
instructions to show themselves at a signal from him, and descended at
once, solitary and alone, to the encampment of hostiles. Gliding rapidly
up to the chief, Will addressed him in his own dialect as follows:

"I want you to leave here right away, quick! I don't want to kill your
women and children. A big lot of soldiers are following me, and they
will destroy your whole village if you are here when they come."

As he waved his hand in the direction of the hilltop, brass buttons and
polished gun-barrels began to glitter in the rays of the setting sun,
and the chief ordered his braves to fold their tents and move on.


SINCE 1893 the "Wild West" exhibitions have been restricted to the
various cities of our own land. Life in "Buffalo Bill's Tented City,"
as it is called, is like life in a small village. There are some six
hundred persons in the various departments. Many of the men have their
families with them; the Indians have their squaws and papooses, and the
variety of nationalities, dialects, and costumes makes the miniature
city an interesting and entertaining one.

The Indians may be seen eating bundles of meat from their fingers
and drinking tankards of iced buttermilk. The Mexicans, a shade more
civilized, shovel with their knives great quantities of the same food
into the capacious receptacles provided by nature. The Americans,
despite what is said of their rapid eating, take time to laugh and crack
jokes, and finish their repast with a product only known to the highest

When the "Wild West" visited Boston, one hot June day the parade passed
a children's hospital on the way to the show-grounds. Many of the little
invalids were unable to leave their couches. All who could do so ran to
the open windows and gazed eagerly at the passing procession, and
the greatest excitement prevailed. These more fortunate little ones
described, as best they could, to the little sufferers who could not
leave their beds the wonderful things they saw. The Indians were the
special admiration of the children. After the procession passed, one wee
lad, bedridden by spinal trouble, cried bitterly because he had not
seen it. A kind-hearted nurse endeavored to soothe the child, but words
proved unavailing. Then a bright idea struck the patient woman; she told
him he might write a letter to the great "Buffalo Bill" himself and ask
him for an Indian's picture.

The idea was taken up with delight, and the child spent an eager hour
in penning the letter. It was pathetic in its simplicity. The little
sufferer told the great exhibitor that he was sick in bed, was unable to
see the Indians when they passed the hospital, and that he longed to see
a photograph of one.

The important missive was mailed, and even the impatient little invalid
knew it was useless to expect an answer that day. The morning had hardly
dawned before a child's bright eyes were open. Every noise was listened
to, and he wondered when the postman would bring him a letter. The nurse
hardly dared to hope that a busy man like Buffalo Bill would take time
to respond to the wish of a sick child.

"Colonel Cody is a very busy man," she said. "We must be patient."

At perhaps the twentieth repetition of this remark the door opened
noiselessly. In came a six-foot Indian, clad in leather trousers and
wrapped in a scarlet blanket. He wore a head-dress of tall, waving
feathers, and carried his bow in his hand.

The little invalids gasped in wonder; then they shrieked with delight.
One by one, silent and noiseless, but smiling, six splendid warriors
followed the first. The visitors had evidently been well trained, and
had received explicit directions as to their actions.

So unusual a sight in the orderly hospital so startled the nurse that
she could not even speak. The warriors drew up in a line and saluted
her. The happy children were shouting in such glee that the poor woman's
fright was unnoticed.

The Indians ranged themselves in the narrow space between the cots, laid
aside their gay blankets, placed their bows upon the floor, and waving
their arms to and fro, executed a quiet war-dance. A sham battle was
fought, followed by a song of victory. After this the blankets were
again donned, the kindly red men went away, still smiling as benignly as
their war paint would allow them to do. A cheer of gratitude and delight
followed them down the broad corridors. The happy children talked about
Buffalo Bill and the "Wild West" for weeks after this visit.

North Platte had long urged my brother to bring the exhibition there.
The citizens wished to see the mammoth tents spread over the ground
where the scout once followed the trail on the actual war-path; they
desired that their famous fellow-citizen should thus honor his home
town. A performance was finally given there on October 12, 1896, the
special car bearing Will and his party arriving the preceding day,
Sunday. The writer of these chronicles joined the party in Omaha, and we
left that city after the Saturday night performance.

The Union Pacific Railroad had offered my brother every inducement
to make this trip; among other things, the officials promised to make
special time in running from Omaha to North Platte.

When we awoke Sunday morning, we found that in some way the train had
been delayed, that instead of making special time we were several hours
late. Will telegraphed this fact to the officials. At the next station
double-headers were put on, and the gain became at once perceptible.
At Grand Island a congratulatory telegram was sent, noting the gain in
time. At the next station we passed the Lightning Express, the "flyer,"
to which usually everything gives way, and the good faith of the company
was evidenced by the fact that this train was side-tracked to make way
for Buffalo Bill's "Wild West" train. Another message was sent over the
wires to the officials; it read as follows:

"Have just noticed that Lightning Express is side-tracked to make way
for Wild west. I herewith promote you to top seat in heaven."

The trip was a continued ovation. Every station was thronged, and Will
was obliged to step out on the platform and make a bow to the assembled
crowds, his appearance being invariably greeted with a round of cheers.
When we reached the station at North Platte, we found that the entire
population had turned out to receive their fellow-townsman. The "Cody
Guards," a band to which Will presented beautiful uniforms of white
broadcloth trimmed with gold braid, struck up the strains of "See, the
Conquering Hero Comes." The mayor attempted to do the welcoming honors
of the city, but it was impossible for him to make himself heard. Cheer
followed cheer from the enthusiastic crowd.

We had expected to reach the place some hours earlier, but our late
arrival encroached upon the hour of church service. The ministers
discovered that it was impossible to hold their congregations; so they
were dismissed, and the pastors accompanied them to the station, one
reverend gentleman humorously remarking:

"We shall be obliged to take for our text this morning 'Buffalo Bill and
his Wild West,' and will now proceed to the station for the discourse."

Will's tally-ho coach, drawn by six horses, was in waiting for the
incoming party. The members of his family seated themselves in that
conveyance, and we passed through the town, preceded and followed by
a band. As we arrived at the home residence, both bands united in a
welcoming strain of martial music.

My oldest sister, Julia, whose husband is manager of "Scout's Rest
Ranch," when informed that the "Wild West" was to visit North Platte,
conceived the idea of making this visit the occasion of a family
reunion. We had never met in an unbroken circle since the days of
our first separation, but as a result of her efforts we sat thus that
evening in my brother's home. The next day our mother-sister, as she had
always been regarded, entertained us at "Scout's Rest Ranch."

The "Wild West" exhibition had visited Duluth for the first time that
same year. This city has a population of 65,000. North Platte numbers
3,500. When he wrote to me of his intention to take the exhibition to
Duluth, Will offered to make a wager that his own little town would
furnish a bigger crowd than would the city of my residence. I could
not accept any such inferred slur upon the Zenith City, so accepted the
wager, a silk hat against a fur cloak.

October 12th, the date of the North Platte performance, dawned bright
and cloudless. "To-day decides our wager," said Will. "I expect there
will be two or three dozen people out on this prairie. Duluth turned
out a good many thousands, so I suppose you think your wager as good as

The manager of the tents evidently thought the outlook a forlorn one. I
shared his opinion, and was, in fancy, already the possessor of a fine
fur cloak.

"Colonel, shall we stretch the full canvas?" asked the tentman.

"Every inch of it," was the prompt response. "We want to show North
Platte the capacity of the 'Wild West,' at any rate."

As we started for the grounds Will was evidently uncertain over the
outcome, in spite of his previous boast of the reception North Platte
would give him. "We'll have a big tent and plenty of room to spare in
it," he observed.

But as we drove to the grounds we soon began to see indications of a
coming crowd. The people were pouring in from all directions; the very
atmosphere seemed populated; as the dust was nearly a foot deep on the
roads, the moving populace made the air almost too thick for breathing.
It was during the time of the county fair, and managers of the Union
Pacific road announced that excursion trains would be run from every
town and hamlet, the officials and their families coming up from Omaha
on a special car. Where the crowds came from it was impossible to say.
It looked as if a feat of magic had been performed, and that the stones
were turned into men, or, perchance, that, as in olden tales, they came
up out of the earth.

Accustomed though he is to the success of the show, Will was dumfounded
by this attendance. As the crowds poured in I became alarmed about my
wager. I visited the ticket-seller and asked how the matter stood.

"It's pretty close," he answered. "Duluth seems to be dwindling away
before the mightiness of the Great American Desert."

This section of the country, which was a wilderness only a few years
ago, assembled over ten thousand people to attend a performance of the
"Wild West."

Omaha, where the opening performance of this exhibition was given,
honored Will last year by setting apart one day as "Cody Day." August
31st was devoted to his reception, and a large and enthusiastic crowd
gathered to do the Nebraska pioneer honor. The parade reached the
fair-grounds at eleven o'clock, where it was fittingly received by one
hundred and fifty mounted Indians from the encampment. A large square
space had been reserved for the reception of the party in front of the
Sherman gate. As it filed through, great applause was sent up by the
waiting multitude, and the noise became deafening when my brother made
his appearance on a magnificent chestnut horse, the gift of General
Miles. He was accompanied by a large party of officials and Nebraska
pioneers, who dismounted to seat themselves on the grand-stand.
Prominent among these were the governor of the state, Senator Thurston,
and Will's old friend and first employer, Mr. Alexander Majors. As
Will ascended the platform he was met by General Manager Clarkson,
who welcomed him in the name of the president of the exposition, whose
official duties precluded his presence. Governor Holcomb was then
introduced, and his speech was a brief review of the evolution of
Nebraska from a wilderness of a generation ago to the great state which
produced this marvelous exposition. Manager Clarkson remarked, as
he introduced Mr. Majors: "Here is the father of them all, Alexander
Majors, a man connected with the very earliest history of Nebraska, and
the business father of Colonel Cody."

This old pioneer was accorded a reception only a shade less enthusiastic
than that which greeted the hero of the day. He said:

"_Gentlemen, and My Boy, Colonel Cody_: [Laughter.] Can I say a few
words of welcome? Friend Creighton and I came down here together to-day,
and he thought I was not equal to the occasion. Gentlemen, I do not know
whether I am equal to the occasion at this time, but I am going to do
the best for you that I can. Give me your hand, Colonel. Gentlemen,
forty-three years ago this day, this fine-looking physical specimen
of manhood was brought to me by his mother--a little boy nine years
old--and little did I think at that time that the boy that was standing
before me, asking for employment of some kind by which I could afford to
pay his mother a little money for his services, was going to be a boy of
such destiny as he has turned out to be. In this country we have great
men, we have great men in Washington, we have men who are famous as
politicians in this country; we have great statesmen, we have had
Jackson and Grant, and we had Lincoln; we have men great in agriculture
and in stock-growing, and in the manufacturing business men who have
made great names for themselves, who have stood high in the nation.
Next, and even greater, we have a Cody. He, gentlemen, stands before you
now, known the wide world over as the last of the great scouts. When the
boy Cody came to me, standing straight as an arrow, and looked me in the
face, I said to my partner, Mr. Russell, who was standing by my side,
'We will take this little boy, and we will pay him a man's wages,
because he can ride a pony just as well as a man can.' He was lighter
and could do service of that kind when he was nine years old. I remember
when we paid him twenty-five dollars for the first month's work. He was
paid in half-dollars, and he got fifty of them. He tied them up in his
little handkerchief, and when he got home he untied the handkerchief and
spread the money all over the table."

Colonel Cody--"I have been spreading it ever since."

A few remarks followed indicative of Mr. Majors's appreciation of the
exhibition, and he closed with the remark, "Bless your precious heart,
Colonel Cody!" and sat down, amid great applause.

Senator Thurston's remarks were equally happy. He said:

"Colonel Cody, this is your day. This is your exposition. This is your
city. And we all rejoice that Nebraska is your state. You have carried
the fame of our country and of our state all over the civilized world;
you have been received and honored by princes, by emperors and by kings;
the titled women in the courts of the nations of the world have been
captivated by your charm of manner and your splendid manhood. You are
known wherever you go, abroad or in the United States, as Colonel Cody,
the best representative of the great and progressive West. You
stand here to-day in the midst of a wonderful assembly. Here are
representatives of the heroic and daring characters of most of the
nations of the world. You are entitled to the honor paid you to-day, and
especially entitled to it here. This people know you as a man who has
carried this demonstration of yours to foreign lands, and exhibited it
at home. You have not been a showman in the common sense of the word.
You have been a great national and international educator of men. You
have furnished a demonstration of the possibilities of our country that
has advanced us in the opinion of all the world. But we who have been
with you a third, or more than a third, of a century, we remember you
more dearly and tenderly than others do. We remember that when this
whole Western land was a wilderness, when these representatives of the
aborigines were attempting to hold their own against the onward tide
of civilization, the settler and the hardy pioneer, the women and the
children, felt safe whenever Cody rode along the frontier; he was their
protector and defender.

"Cody, this is your home. You live in the hearts of the people of our
state. God bless you and keep you and prosper you in your splendid

Will was deeply touched by these strong expressions from his friends. As
he moved to the front of the platform to respond, his appearance was the
signal for a prolonged burst of cheers. He said:

"You cannot expect me to make adequate response for the honor which
you have bestowed upon me to-day. You have overwhelmed my speaking
faculties. I cannot corral enough ideas to attempt a coherent reply in
response to the honor which you have accorded me. How little I dreamed
in the long ago that the lonely path of the scout and the pony-express
rider would lead me to the place you have assigned me to-day. Here, near
the banks of the mighty Missouri, which flows unvexed to the sea, my
thoughts revert to the early days of my manhood. I looked eastward
across this rushing tide to the Atlantic, and dreamed that in that
long-settled region all men were rich and all women happy. My friends,
that day has come and gone. I stand among you a witness that nowhere in
the broad universe are men richer in manly integrity, and women happier
in their domestic kingdom, than here in our own Nebraska.

"I have sought fortune in many lands, but wherever I have wandered, the
flag of our beloved state has been unfurled to every breeze: from the
Platte to the Danube, from the Tiber to the Clyde, the emblem of our
sovereign state has always floated over the 'Wild West.' Time goes on
and brings with it new duties and responsibilities, but we 'old men,'
we who are called old-timers, cannot forget the trials and tribulations
which we had to encounter while paving the path for civilization and
national prosperity.

"The whistle of the locomotive has drowned the howl of the coyote;
the barb-wire fence has narrowed the range of the cow-puncher; but
no material evidence of prosperity can obliterate our contribution to
Nebraska's imperial progress.

"Through your kindness to-day I have tasted the sweetest fruit that
grows on ambition's tree. If you extend your kindness and permit me to
fall back into the ranks as a high private, my cup will be full.

"In closing, let me call upon the 'Wild West, the Congress of Rough
Riders of the World,' to voice their appreciation of the kindness you
have shown them to-day."

At a given signal the "Wild West" gave three ringing cheers for Nebraska
and the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. The cowboy band followed with
the "Red, White, and Blue," and an exposition band responded with the
"Star-Spangled Banner." The company fell into line for a parade around
the grounds, Colonel Cody following on his chestnut horse, Duke. After
him came the officials and invited guests in carriages; then came the
Cossacks, the Cubans, the German cavalry, the United States cavalry, the
Mexicans, and representatives of twenty-five countries.

As the parade neared its end, my brother turned to his friends and
suggested that as they had been detained long past the dinner-hour in
doing him honor, he would like to compensate them by giving an informal
spread. This invitation was promptly accepted, and the company adjourned
to a cafe, where a tempting luncheon was spread before them. Never
before had such a party of pioneers met around a banquet-table, and
many were the reminiscences of early days brought out. Mr. Majors,
the originator of the Pony Express line, was there. The two Creighton
brothers, who put through the first telegraph line, and took the
occupation of the express riders from them, had seats of honor. A. D.
Jones was introduced as the man who carried the first postoffice of
Omaha around in his hat, and who still wore the hat. Numbers of other
pioneers were there, and each contributed his share of racy anecdotes
and pleasant reminiscences.


THE story of frontier days is a tale that is told. The "Wild West"
has vanished like mist in the sun before the touch of the two great
magicians of the nineteenth century--steam and electricity.

The route of the old historic Santa Fe trail is nearly followed by the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, which was completed in 1880.
The silence of the prairie was once broken by the wild war-whoop of the
Indian as he struggled to maintain his supremacy over some adjoining
tribe; the muffled roar caused by the heavy hoof-beats of thousands
of buffaloes was almost the only other sound that broke the stillness.
To-day the shriek of the engine, the clang of the bell, and the clatter
of the car-wheels form a ceaseless accompaniment to the cheerful hum of
busy life which everywhere pervades the wilderness of thirty years ago.
Almost the only memorials of the struggles and privations of the hardy
trappers and explorers, whose daring courage made the achievements of
the present possible, are the historic landmarks which bear the names of
some of these brave men. But these are very few in number. Pike's Peak
lifts its snowy head to heaven in silent commemoration of the early
traveler whose name it bears. Simpson's Rest, a lofty obelisk,
commemorates the mountaineer whose life was for the most part passed
upon its rugged slopes, and whose last request was that he should be
buried on its summit. Another cloud-capped mountain-height bears the
name of Fisher's Peak, and thereby hangs a tale.

{illust. caption = {signature of} W. F. Cody}

Captain Fisher commanded a battery in the army engaged in the conquest
of New Mexico. His command encamped near the base of the mountain which
now bears his name. Deceived by the illusive effect of the atmosphere,
he started out for a morning stroll to the supposed near-by elevation,
announcing that he would return in time for breakfast. The day passed
with no sign of Captain Fisher, and night lengthened into a new day.
When the second day passed without his return, his command was forced to
believe that he had fallen a prey to lurking Indians, and the soldiers
were sadly taking their seats for their evening meal when the haggard
and wearied captain put in an appearance. His morning stroll had
occupied two days and a night; but he set out to visit the mountain, and
he did it.

The transcontinental line which supplanted the Old Salt Lake trail,
and is now known as the Union Pacific Railroad, antedated the Atchison,
Topeka and Santa Fe by eleven years. The story of the difficulties
encountered, and the obstacles overcome in the building of this road,
furnishes greater marvels than any narrated in the Arabian Nights'

This railroad superseded the Pony Express line, the reeking, panting
horses of which used their utmost endeavor and carried their tireless
riders fifteen miles an hour, covering their circuit in eight days'
time at their swiftest rate of speed. The iron horse gives a sniff of
disdain, and easily traverses the same distance, from the Missouri line
to the Pacific Coast, in three days.

Travelers who step aboard the swiftly moving, luxurious cars of to-day
give little thought to their predecessors; for the dangers the early
voyagers encountered they have no sympathy. The traveler in the
stagecoach was beset by perils without from the Indians and the outlaws;
he faced the equally unpleasant companionship of fatigue and discomfort
within. The jolting, swinging coach bounced and jounced the unhappy
passengers as the reckless driver lashed the flying horses. Away they
galloped over mountains and through ravines, with no cessation of speed.
Even the shipper pays the low rate of transportation asked to-day with
reluctance, and forgets the great debt he owes this adjunct of our

But great as are the practical benefits derived from the railways, we
cannot repress a sigh as we meditate on the picturesque phases of the
vanished era. Gone are the bullwhackers and the prairie-schooners!
Gone are the stagecoaches and their drivers! Gone are the Pony Express
riders! Gone are the trappers, the hardy pioneers, the explorers, and
the scouts! Gone is the prairie monarch, the shaggy, unkempt buffalo!

In 1869, only thirty years ago, the train on the Kansas Pacific-road was
delayed eight hours in consequence of the passage of an enormous herd
of buffaloes over the track in front of it. But the easy mode of travel
introduced by the railroad brought hundreds of sportsmen to the plains,
who wantonly killed this noble animal solely for sport, and thousands
of buffaloes were sacrificed for their skins, for which there was a
widespread demand. From 1868 to 1881, in Kansas alone, there was paid
out $2,500,000 for the bones of this animal, which were gathered up on
the prairie and used in the carbon works of the country. This represents
a total death-rate of 31,000,000 buffaloes in one state. As far as I am
able to ascertain, there remains at this writing only one herd, of less
than twenty animals, out of all the countless thousands that roamed the
prairie so short a time ago, and this herd is carefully preserved in a
private park. There may be a few isolated specimens in menageries
and shows, but this wholesale slaughter has resulted in the practical
extermination of the species.

As with the animal native to our prairies, so has it been with the
race native to our land. We may deplore the wrongs of the Indian,
and sympathize with his efforts to wrest justice from his so-called
protectors. We may admire his poetic nature, as evidenced in the myths
and legends of the race. We may be impressed by the stately dignity
and innate ability as orator and statesman which he displays. We may
preserve the different articles of his picturesque garb as relics. But
the old, old drama of history is repeating itself before the eyes
of this generation; the inferior must give way to the superior
civilization. The poetic, picturesque, primitive red man must inevitably
succumb before the all-conquering tread of his pitiless, practical,
progressive white brother.

Cooper has immortalized for us the extinction of a people in the "Last
of the Mohicans." Many another tribe has passed away, unhonored and
unsung. Westward the "Star of Empire" takes its way; the great domain
west of the Mississippi is now peopled by the white race, while the
Indians are shut up in reservations. Their doom is sealed; their sun is
set. "Kismet" has been spoken of them; the total extinction of the race
is only a question of time. In the words of Rudyard Kipling:

     "Take up the White Man's burden--
     Ye dare not stoop to less--
     Nor call too loud on freedom
     To cloke your weariness.
     By all ye will or whisper,
     By all ye leave or do,
     The silent, sullen peoples
     Shall weigh your God and you."

Of this past epoch of our national life there remains but one well-known
representative. That one is my brother. He occupies a unique place in
the portrait gallery of famous Americans to-day. It is not alone his
commanding personality, nor the success he has achieved along various
lines, which gives him the strong hold he has on the hearts of the
American people, or the absorbing interest he possesses in the eyes of
foreigners. The fact that in his own person he condenses a period of
national history is a large factor in the fascination he exercises over
others. He may fitly be named the "Last of the Great Scouts." He has
had great predecessors. The mantle of Kit Carson has fallen upon his
shoulders, and he wears it worthily. He has not, and never can have, a
successor. He is the vanishing-point between the rugged wilderness of
the past in Western life and the vast achievement in the present.

When the "Wild West" disbands, the last vestige of our frontier life
passes from the scene of active realities, and becomes a matter of

"Life is real, life is earnest," sings the poet, and real and earnest it
has been for my brother. It has been spent in others' service. I cannot
recall a time when he has not thus been laden with heavy burdens. Yet
for himself he has won a reputation, national and international. A
naval officer visiting in China relates that as he stepped ashore he
was offered two books for purchase--one the Bible, the other a "Life of
Buffalo Bill."

For nearly half a century, which comprises his childhood, youth, and
manhood, my brother has been before the public. He can scarcely be said
to have had a childhood, so early was he thrust among the rough scenes
of frontier life, therein to play a man's part at an age when most boys
think of nothing more than marbles and tops. He enlisted in the Union
army before he was of age, and did his share in upholding the flag
during the Civil War as ably as many a veteran of forty, and since then
he has remained, for the most part, in his country's service, always
ready to go to the front in any time of danger. He has achieved
distinction in many and various ways. He is president of the largest
irrigation enterprise in the world, president of a colonization company,
of a town-site company, and of two transportation companies. He is the
foremost scout and champion buffalo-hunter of America, one of the
crack shots of the world, and its greatest popular entertainer. He is
broad-minded and progressive in his views, inheriting from both father
and mother a hatred of oppression in any form. Taking his mother as
a standard, he believes the franchise is a birthright which should
appertain to intelligence and education, rather than to sex. It is his
public career that lends an interest to his private life, in which he
has been a devoted and faithful son and brother, a kind and considerate
husband, a loving and generous father. "Only the names of them that
are upright, brave, and true can be honorably known," were the mother's
dying words; and honorably known has his name become, in his own country
and across the sea.

With the fondest expectation he looks forward to the hour when he shall
make his final bow to the public and retire to private life. It is his
long-cherished desire to devote his remaining years to the development
of the Big Horn Basin, in Wyoming. He has visited every country in
Europe, and has looked upon the most beautiful of Old World scenes. He
is familiar with all the most splendid regions of his own land, but to
him this new El Dorado of the West is the fairest spot on earth.

He has already invested thousands of dollars and given much thought and
attention toward the accomplishment of his pet scheme. An irrigating
ditch costing nearly a million dollars now waters this fertile region,
and various other improvements are under way, to prepare a land
flowing with milk and honey for the reception of thousands of homeless
wanderers. Like the children of Israel, these would never reach the
promised land but for the untiring efforts of a Moses to go on before;
but unlike the ancient guide and scout of sacred history, my brother has
been privileged to penetrate the remotest corner of this primitive land
of Canaan. The log cabin he has erected there is not unlike the one of
our childhood days. Here he finds his haven of rest, his health-resort,
to which he hastens when the show season is over and he is free again
for a space. He finds refreshment in the healthful, invigorating
atmosphere of his chosen retreat; he enjoys sweet solace from the cares
of life under the influence of its magnificent scenery.

And here, in the shadow of the Rockies, yet in the very "light of
things," it is his wish to finish his days as he began them, in
opening up for those who come after him the great regions of the still
undeveloped West, and in poring over the lesson learned as a boy on the

     "That nature never did betray
     The heart that loved her."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Last of the Great Scouts : the life story of Col. William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill" as told by his sister" ***

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