Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood to Manhood
BOY TRAPPER'S ADVENTURES.
IT was a proud day for Buffalo Billy when he returned home and was
welcomed by his mother and sisters, to whom he gave all of his earnings,
which were considerable, as his pay had been liberal.
The neighborhood, hearing from members of the train of Billy's
exploits, for he was very close-mouthed about what he had done, made a
hero of him, and many a pretty girl of seventeen regretted that the boy
was not a man grown, to have him for a lover.
But Billy's restless nature would not allow him to remain idle at
home, so he joined a party of trappers who were going to trap the
streams of the Laramie and Chugwater for otter, beaver and other animals
possessing valuable fur, as well as to shoot wolves for their pelts.
This expedition did not prove very profitable, and not wishing
to return home without enough furs to bring a fair sum, Buffalo Billy
joined a young man, only a few years his senior, by the name of Dave
Harrington, and the two started off for the Republican.
Their outfit consisted of a wagon and yoke of oxen, for the
transportation of their supplies and pelts, and they began trapping in
the vicinity of Junction City, Kansas and went up the Republican to
Prairie Dog creek, where they found plenty of beaver.
While catching a large number of beavers, one day they returned
to camp to find one of their oxen had fallen over a precipice and killed
himself, and they were left without a team.
But the Boy Trappers, for Dave Harrington was not eighteen,
determined to trap on through the winter, and in the spring one of them
would go for a team to haul back their wagon.
Ill fortune seemed however to dog their steps as trappers, for
one day, while chasing elk, Buffalo Billy fell and broke his leg, and
Dave Harrington had to carry him to camp.
Here was a sad predicament, for the nearest settlement was one
hundred miles distant.
But Dave set the leg as skillfully as he could, built a
"dug-out," for the wounded boy to live in, filled it with wood and
provisions, and then set out to procure a yoke of oxen and sled to
return for Billy and their pelts.
The "dug-out," was a hole in the side of a bank, covered with
poles, grass and sod, and with a fire-place in one end, and a bunk near
it, was by no means uncomfortable; but the prospect of remaining there
for a month alone, for it would take Harrington that time to go and
return through the deep snow, was by no means a pleasant prospect for a
boy under fourteen, and with a broken leg.
Dave started the following morning on foot, and Billy was left
alone, helpless, and in the solitude of the mountain wilds.
To throw wood on the fire was a painful effort for him, and to
move so as to cook his food was torture, and boys of his age can well
feel for him in distress and loneliness.
But Buffalo Billy was made of stern stuff, and knew not what fear
was; but who can picture the thoughts that were constantly in his young
brain, when the winds were sweeping through the pines at night, the
wolves were howling about his door, and the sleet and snow was almost
It were enough to drive a strong man mad, let alone a boy.
But he stood it bravely, each day however counting with longing
heart the hours that went so slowly by and hoping for his comrade's
"Perhaps he has been frozen to death."
That was his thought one day about Harrington.
The next it was:
"I wonder if he has not lost his way?"
Again it was:
"I fear the Indians may have killed him."
When Dave had been gone about two weeks, Buffalo Billy was
startled one day from a sound nap, to see an Indian standing by his
He was in full war-paint and feathers, which showed he was on the
warpath, and Billy felt that it was all over with him.
Speaking to him in Sioux, which the boy understood, he asked:
"What pale-face boy do here?"
"My leg is broken."
"What for come here?"
"To get furs."
"This red-skin country!"
This laconic assertion Billy could not contradict, so he wisely
hold his peace.
"Let see leg," came next.
Billy showed him the bandaged limb, which was broken between the
knee and ankle.
Just then another Indian entered whom Billy recognized, as having
seen before, and whom he knew to be the great Sioux Chief, Rain-in-the-Face.
Billy called him by name, and he kept back the warriors who were
about to end the boy's life then and there.
"Boy pale-face know chief?" asked Rain-in-the-Face.
"Yes, I saw you at Fort Laramie, and gave you a knife," said
Billy with hope in his heart
"Ugh! chief don't forget; have knife here," and he showed a knife
which be had doubtless often used upon the scalps of pale-faces.
"What pale-face boy do here?"
Billy told him.
"Gone after team."
"When come back?"
Billy was afraid to tell him the truth, so said:
"In two moons."
"Yes; but do your young men intend to kill me?"
"Me have talk and see."
The Indians then held a council together, and Billy could see
that the chances were against him; but old Rain-in-the-Face triumphed in
the end, and said:
"As pale-face boy is only pappoose, my young men not kill him."
Billy had often longed to be a man; but now he was happy that he
was a boy, and answered;
"Yes, I am only a little pappoose."
"Him heap bad pappoose, me remember," said Rain-in-the-Face,
recalling some of the jokes the boy played at Fort Laramie.
The Indians then unsaddled their ponies and camped at the dug-out
for two days, and when they left they carried with them the sugar and
coffee, Billy's rifle and one revolver, and most of the ammunition,
besides what cooking utensils they needed.
Then old Rain-in-the-Face bade the boy good-by, and they rode off
without poor Billy's blessing following them.
Hardly had they gone before a severe snowstorm sprung up, and it
was hard indeed for the crippled boy to get wood enough to build a fire,
for the red-skins had put it out before leaving.
The wolves, seemingly understanding how helpless the boy was,
scratched at the door, and ran over the roof of the dug-out at the same
time howling viciously; but Billy frightened them off with an occasional
shot, and resigned himself to his lonely fate.
But at last a month passed away, and with its end appeared brave
He had passed through innumerable dangers, but had at last come
back in safety, and brought with him an ox-team.
Never in his life had Buffalo Billy felt the joy of that moment,
and, though not a boy given to showing his feelings, he burst into tears
As it was impossible to at once return, on account of the very
great depth of the snow, Dave told Billy they would wait until spring,
as he had plenty of provisions, and that fur animals were plenty.
As soon as the snow began to melt Dave got his traps in,
collected his pelts, which numbered a thousand, and putting them on the
wagon, so as to serve as a bed for Billy, started his oxen homeward.
After twelve days they reached the ranch where Dave had purchased
the oxen, paid in furs for the team, and started on to Junction City.
Arriving there they sold their team, wagon and furs, the latter bringing
them about two hundred and fifty dollars, a handsome sum for each when
divided, and which made Billy's heart glad to take home with him, for it
paid off a mortgage on his mother's farm.