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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
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CAUGHT BY THE INDIANS
"Well, Bill," Captain Lyons said, "these papers from Davison determine my actions. There is proof here that Governor Jackson is with the South and that he is planning to raise troops and turn over the fortifications and ammunition to them.
"We shall forstall them by taking immediate action. We have the Southerners confined to the lower hart of Missouri so it should not be too difficult to drive them from the state."
Bill's way back was comparatively undisturbed. He was given a warm welcome by Davison. Then he reported for further duty to Majors -- all thought of a vacation a thing of the past.
The Indians were making trouble again with the advent of the big war. The garrisons in Colorado and Kansas, as in the West, had been reduced and it did not take the Indians long to realize this fact. They became bolder and bolder and overran much of the territory between the Rockies and the Missouri.
Bill was back in the Service. He and the other men had many hairbreadth encounters with the savages. Comanche, Sioux and Kiowa were rampant and caused much devastation.
On one of his trips Bill had been suddenly beset by fifteen redskins. But his horse was one of the fastest in the Service and it was not a hard matter to make his escape. Yet, in this instance he jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
He was making his way along the trail when an arrow pierced his hat. The next instant his horse stumbled and all about him the redskins swarmed.
It was the one time when the swiftness of the savage was too much for Bill. There were hundreds of the Indians and escape was impossible. They bound the boy and carried him to their camp a few miles away. In order to make sure of him they tied him to a tree. It was evident they were holding a big war council for the Indians were sitting about their fires in animated discussion.
Bill had by no means given up hope. He knew that if the Indians decided for peace he would he freed. But should they go on the warpath before he gained his freedom, his fate was sealed.
Long the Indians discussed the question. The squaws prepared for the evening meal; the Indian papooses played about, some of them watching Bill with much curiosity.
The war council was over. The Indians retired. Bill watched, with more than casual interest, for what was to follow.
It was war -- the savages were putting on their war-paint.
Despite the fact that his fate was but a matter of hours, Bill was interested in the scenes that followed. At sundown the Indians had sent forth fleet messengers whose destination Bill could not determine. But at about ten or eleven o'clock other Indians began to arrive. There evidently was to be still another council with another tribe. Bill recognized the newcomers as Comanches. Then an all-night orgy followed. The Indians began to work themselves into a fury. Sometime during the night the war-dance began and the sun was high over the distant hill before the swaying, hypnotized savages had ceased their weird dance.
Except for the fact that Bill had been released from the tree so that he could lie down, he was completely ignored by the red-men. But his case evidently was to come up during the morning for he could see several of the Indians looking toward him.
Then one of them arose in great excitement for an Indian. He came hurriedly forward. Bill felt his good fortune had not deserted him. The Indian was one of the late comers.
It was Lonely Bear. He looked long and searchingly at the prisoner. Then a friendly smile came over his face.
"Lonely Bear is sad for his brother's plight, but is glad that he is given the chance to pay his debt."
"Lonely Bear is truly a friend in need," the boy replied.
The Indian returned to his companions seated in council. Long he argued with them. He must have had great influence, for when he ceased he came back to the imprisoned boy and unbound him. Not an Indian objected.
"My brother is free. He may go."
But Bill could not move for almost a half hour, so cramped had his limbs become. In the meantime the Indians served him with food and made him comfortable.
It was a narrow escape -- this the boy realized. He made his way back to the trail and rode west to meet Drose who doubtless was working east.
When he arrived at the post, Drose was nowhere about. The stock-tender told him that Drose had not been relayed and so had found it necessary to continue west. But he was due in five hours.Bill required sleep and he needed no urging to devote five hours before the arrival of Drose to refreshing slumber