Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood
SHOOTING FOR A PRIZE.
WHILE Mr. Cody was an Indian trader at Salt Creek Valley, in Kansas,
Billy laid the foundation for his knowledge of the redskin character,
and which served him so well in after years and won him a name as scout
and hunter that no one else has ever surpassed.
For days at a time Billy would be in the Indian villages, and
often he would go with the warriors on their buffalo and game hunts, and
now and then would join a friendly band in a war-trail against hostiles.
Another favorite resort of Billy's was Fort Leavenworth, where
his handsome face, fearlessness and manly nature made him a great
favorite with both officers and men.
On one occasion while at the fort a large Government herd of
horses, lately brought up from Texas, where they had been captured wild
on the prairies, stampeded, and could not be retaken.
Once or twice Billy had come into the fort with a pony of the
fugitive herd which he had captured, and the quartermaster said to him:
"Billy, if that herd remains much longer free, they will be
harder to take than real wild horses, so go to work and I'll give you a
reward of ten dollars for every one you bring in, for the Government
authorizes me to make that offer."
This was just to Billy's taste, and he went at once home and
spent a couple of days preparing for the work before him, and from which
his mother and sisters tried to dissuade him; but the boy saw in it a
bonanza and would not give it up.
His own pony, Rascal, he knew, was not fast enough for the work
ahead, so he determined to get a better mount, and rode over to the fort
to see a sergeant who had an animal not equaled for speed on the plains.
Rascal, some sixty dollars, a rifle, and some well-tanned skins
were offered for the sergeant's horse and refused and in despair Billy
know not what to do, for he had gotten to the end of his personal
"Sergeant," he suddenly cried, as a bright idea seized him.
"They say you are the crack shot in the fort."
"I am too, Billy."
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do to win your horse, Little Grey.
I'll put up all I have offered you against your animal and shoot for
"Why, Billy, I don't want to win your pony and money."
"And I don't want you to; but I'll shoot with you for your horse
against mine and all else I have offered."
The sergeant was a grasping man, and confident of his powers, at
last assented, and the match was to take place at once.
But the officers learning of it were determined Billy should have
fair play, and a day was set a week off, and the boy was told to
practice regularly with both pistol and rifle, for the terms were ten
off-hand shots with the latter at fifty and one hundred yards, and six
shots standing with the revolver at fifteen pace and six from horseback,
and riding at full speed by the target.
Billy at once set to work to practice, though, he had confidence
in his unerring aim, and upon the day of trial came to the fort with a
Nearly everybody in the fort went out to see the match, and the
sergeant was called first to toe the mark.
He raised his ride and his five shots at fifty yards were quickly
Billy gave a low whistle, but toed the scratch promptly, and his
five shots were truer than the sergeant's, and a wild cheer broke from,
one and all.
At one hundred yards the sergeant's shoot was better than the
boy's; and so it was with the pistol shooting, for when standing the
sergeant's shots were best, and in riding full speed by the target,
Billy's were the truest, and it was called a tie.
"How shall we shoot it off, Billy?" asked the sergeant, who
Billy made no reply, but went to his haversack and took from it
an apple, and going up to his pony placed him in position, the rein over
the horn of the saddle.
The apple he then put on the head of the pony, directly between
his ears, and stepping back while all present closely watched him, he
threw forward his pistol and fired.
The apple flew into fragments and a wild burst of applause came
from all sides, while Billy said quietly:
"I've got another apple, sergeant for you to try the same on
"I'll not run the risk, Billy, of killing him, so give in; but
I'll win him back from you some time," said the sergeant.
"Any time, sergeant, I'm willing to shoot," replied the boy, and
with a happy heart he mounted his prize and set off for home.