Owing to the gold discoveries of 1849, the state of California was born in almost a single day. The ocean route to the Pacific was tedious and circuitous, and the impetuosity of the mining population demanded quicker time for the delivery of its mails than was taken by the long sea-voyage. From the terminus of telegraphic communication in the East there intervened more than two thousand miles of a region uninhabited, except by hostile tribes of savages. The mail from the Atlantic seaboard, across the Isthmus of Darien to San Francisco, took at least twenty-two days. The route across the desert by stage occupied nearly a month.

To reduce this time was the absorbing thought of the hour. Senator Gwinn of California, known after the Maximilian escapade in Mexico as "Duke Gwinn," first made the suggestion to the proprietors of the Overland Stage Line that if they could carry the mails to the Pacific coast in a shorter time than it then required, and would keep the line open all the year, increased emigration and the building of a railroad by the government would be the result.[26]

The following is an authentic history of the Pony Express, as related to the authors of this work by Colonel Alexander Majors, the surviving member of the once great firm of Russell, Majors, Waddell, who were the originators of the scheme.

In the winter of 1859, while the senior partner of the firm was in Washington, he became intimately acquainted with Senator Gwinn of California, who, as stated previously, was very anxious that a quicker line for the transmission of letters should be established than that already worked by Butterfield; the latter was outrageously circuitous.

The senator was acquainted with the fact that the firm of Russell, Majors, Waddell were operating a daily coach from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City, and he urged Mr. Russell to consider seriously the propriety of starting a pony express over the same route, and from Salt Lake City on to Sacramento.

After a lengthy consultation, Mr. Russell consented to attempt the thing, provided he could induce his partners to take the same view of the proposed enterprise as himself, and he then returned to Leavenworth, the head-quarters of the firm, to consult the other members. On learning the proposition suggested by Senator Gwinn, both Colonel Majors and Mr. Waddell at once decided that the expense would be much greater than any possible revenue from the undertaking.

Mr. Russell, having, as he thought, partially at least, committed himself to the Senator, was much chagrined at the turn the affair had taken, and he declared that he could not abandon his promise to Mr. Gwinn, consequently his partners must stand by him.

That urgent appeal settled the question, and work was commenced to start the Pony Express.

On the Overland Stage Line operated by the firm, stations had been located every ten or twelve miles, which were at once utilized for the operation of the express; but beyond Salt Lake City new stations must be constructed, as there were no possible stopping-places on the proposed new route. In less then two months after the promise of the firm had been pledged to Senator Gwinn, the first express was ready to leave San Francisco, and St. Joseph, Missouri, simultaneously.

The fastest time ever thus far made on the "Butterfield Route" was twenty-one days between San Francisco and New York. The Pony Express curtailed that time at once by eleven days, which was a marvel of rapid transit at that period.

The plant necessary to meet the heavy demand made on the originators of the fast mail route over the barren plains and through the dangerous mountains was nearly five hundred horses, one hundred and ninety stations, two hundred men to take care of these stations, and eighty experienced riders, each of whom was to make an average of thirty-three and one-third miles. To accomplish this each man used three ponies on his route, but in cases of great emergency much longer distances were made.

The letters or despatches to be carried by the daring men were required to be written on the finest tissue paper, weighing half an ounce, five dollars being the charge for its transportation.

As suggested by two members of the firm, when they protested that the business would not begin to meet the expenses, their prophecies proved true; but they were not disappointed, for one of the main objects of the institution of the express was to learn whether the line through which the express was carried could be made a permanent one for travel during all the seasons of the year. This was determined in the affirmative.

One of the most important transactions of the Pony Express was the transmittal of President Buchanan's last message, in December, 1860, from the Missouri River to Sacramento, over two thousand miles, in eight days and a few hours, and the next in importance was the carrying of President Lincoln's message, his inaugural of March 4, 1861, over the same route in seven days and seventeen hours. This was the quickest time for horseback riding, considering the distance made, ever accomplished in this or any other country.

In the spring of 1860 Bolivar Roberts, superintendent of the western division of the Pony Express, came to Carson City, Nevada, to engage riders and station-agents for the Pony Express route across the Great Plains. In a few days fifty or sixty were engaged - men noted for their lithe, wiry physiques, bravery and coolness in moments of great personal danger, and endurance under the most trying circumstances of fatigue. Particularly were these requirements necessary in those who were to ride over the lonely route. It was no easy duty; horse and human flesh were strained to the limit of physical tension. Day or night, in sunshine or in storm, under the darkest skies, in the pale moonlight and with only the stars at times to guide him, the brave rider must speed on. Rain, hail, snow, or sleet, there was no delay; his precious burden of letters demanded his best efforts under the stern necessities of the hazardous service; it brooked no detention; on he must ride. Sometimes his pathway led across level prairies, straight as the flight of an arrow. It was oftener a zigzag trail hugging the brink of awful precipices, and dark, narrow canyons infested with watchful savages eager for the scalp of the daring man who had the temerity to enter their mountain fastnesses.

At the stations the rider must be ever ready for emergencies; frequently double duty was assigned him. He whom he was to relieve had been murdered by the Indians perhaps, or so badly wounded, that it was impossible for him to take his tour; then the already tired expressman must take his place, and be off like a shot, although he had been in the saddle for hours.

The ponies employed in the service were splendid specimens of speed and endurance; they were fed and housed with the greatest care, for their mettle must never fail the test to which it was put. Ten miles at the limit of the animal's pace was exacted from him, and he came dashing into the station flecked with foam, nostrils dilated and every hair reeking with perspiration, while his flanks thumped at every breath!

Nearly two thousand miles in eight days must be made; there was no idling for man or beast. When the express rode up to the station, both rider and pony were always ready. The only delay was a second or two as the saddle-pouch with its precious burden was thrown on and the rider leaped into his place, then away they rushed down the trail and in a moment were out of sight.

Two hundred and fifty miles a day was the distance travelled by the Pony Express, and it may be assured the rider carried no surplus weight. Neither he nor his pony were handicapped with anything that was not absolutely necessary. Even his case of precious letters made a bundle no larger than an ordinary writing tablet, but there was five dollars paid in advance for every letter transported across the continent. Their bulk was not in the least commensurable with their number, there were hundreds of them sometimes, for they were written on the thinnest tissue paper to be procured. There were no silly love missives among them nor frivolous correspondence of any kind; business letters only, that demanded the most rapid transit possible and warranted the immense expense attending their journey, found their way by the Pony Express.

The mail-bags were two pouches of leather impervious to rain, sealed, and strapped to the rider's saddle before and behind. The pouches were never to contain over twenty pounds in weight. Inside the pouches, to further protect their contents from the weather, the letters and despatches were wrapped in oil-silk, then sealed. The pockets themselves were locked and were not opened between St. Joseph and Sacramento.

The Pony Express as a means of communication between the two remote coasts was largely employed by the government, merchants, and traders, and would eventually have been a paying venture had not the construction of the telegraph across the continent usurped its usefulness.

The arms of the Pony Express rider, in order to keep the weight at a minimum, were, as a rule, limited to revolver and knife.

The first trip from St. Joseph to San Francisco, nineteen hundred and sixty-six miles, was made in ten days; the second in fourteen, the third and many succeeding trips in nine. The riders had a division of from one hundred to one hundred and forty miles, with relays of horses at distances varying from twenty to twenty-five miles.

In 1860 the Pony Express made one trip from St. Joseph to Denver, six hundred and twenty-five miles, in two days and twenty-one hours.

The Pony Express riders received from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month. But few men can appreciate the danger and excitement to which those daring and plucky men were subjected; it can never be told in all its constant variety. They were men remarkable for their lightness of weight and energy. Their duty demanded the most consummate vigilance and agility. Many among their number were skilful guides, scouts, and couriers, and had passed eventful lives on the Great Plains and in the Rocky Mountains. They possessed strong wills and a determination that nothing in the ordinary event could balk. Their horses were generally half-breed California mustangs, as quick and full of endurance as their riders, and were as sure-footed and fleet as a mountain goat; the facility and pace at which they travelled was a marvel. The Pony Express stations were scattered over a wild, desolate stretch of country, two thousand miles long. The trail was infested with "road agents," and hostile savages who roamed in formidable bands ready to murder and scalp with as little compunction as they would kill a buffalo.

Some portions of the dangerous route had to be covered at the astounding pace of twenty-five miles an hour, as the distance between stations was determined by the physical character of the region.

The day of the first start, says Colonel Majors, on the 3d of April, 1860, at noon, Harry Roff, mounted on a spirited half-breed broncho, left Sacramento on his perilous ride, covering the first twenty miles, including one change, in fifty-nine minutes. On reaching Folsom he changed again and started for Placerville at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, fifty-five miles distant. There he connected with "Boston," who took the route to Friday's Station, crossing the eastern summit of the Sierra Nevada. Sam Hamilton next fell into line and pursued his way to Genoa, Carson City, Dayton, Reed's Station, and Fort Churchill, seventy-five miles. The entire run was made in fifteen hours and twenty minutes, the whole distance being one hundred and eighty-five miles, which included the crossing of the western summit of the Sierra Nevada through thirty feet of snow! Here Robert Haslam took the trail from Fort Churchill to Smith's Creek, one hundred and twenty miles through a hostile Indian country. From that point Jay G. Kelley rode from Smith's Creek to Ruby Valley, Utah, one hundred and sixteen miles. From Ruby Valley to Deep Creek, H. Richardson, one hundred and five miles; from Deep Creek to Rush Valley, old Camp Floyd, eighty miles. From Camp Floyd to Salt Lake City, fifty miles, the end of the western division, was ridden by George Thacher.

On the same day, and the same moment, Mr. Russell superintended the start of the Pony Express from its eastern terminus. An arrangement had been made with the railroads between New York and Saint Joseph for a fast train which was scheduled to arrive with the mail at the proper time. The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad also ran a special engine, and the boat which made the crossing of the Missouri River was detained for the purpose of instantly transferring the letters. Mr. Russell in person adjusted the letter-pouch on the pony. Many of the enthusiastic crowd who had congregated to witness the inauguration of the fast mail plucked hairs from the hardy little animal's tail as talismans of good luck. In a few seconds the rider was mounted, the steamboat gave an encouraging whistle, and the pony dashed away on his long journey to the next station.

The large newspapers of both New York and the Pacific coast were ready patronizers of the express. The issues of their papers were printed on tissue manufactured purposely for this novel way of transmitting the news. On the arrival of the pony from the West, the news brought from the Pacific and along the route of the trail was telegraphed from St. Joseph to the East the moment the animal arrived with his important budget.

To form some idea of the enthusiasm created by the inauguration of the Pony Express, the St. Joseph Free Democrat said in relation to this novel method of carrying the news across the continent: -

        Take down your map and trace the footprints of our quadrupedantic animal: From St. Joseph, on the Missouri, to San Francisco, on the Golden Horn - two thousand miles - more than half the distance across our boundless continent; through Kansas, through Nebraska, by Fort Kearney, along the Platte, by Fort Laramie, past the Buttes, over the Rocky Mountains, through the narrow passes and along the steep defiles, Utah, Fort Bridger, Salt Lake City, he witches Brigham with his swift pony-ship - through the valleys, along the grassy slopes, into the snow, into sand, faster than Thor's Thialfi, away they go, rider and horse - did you see them?

        They are in California, leaping over its golden sands, treading its busy streets. The courser has unrolled to us the great American panorama, allowed us to glance at the home of one million people, and has put a girdle around the earth in forty minutes. Verily the riding is like the riding of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for he rideth furiously. Take out your watch. We are eight days from New York, eighteen from London. The race is to the swift.

A whole volume might be gathered of the stirring incidents and adventures of the hardy employees of the Pony Express in its two years of existence. The majority of the actors in that memorable enterprise have passed beyond the confines of time.

J. G. Kelley, one of the veteran riders, now living in Denver, tells his story of those eventful days, when he rode over the lonely trail carrying despatches for Russell, Majors, Waddell.

        Yes, I was a Pony Express rider in 1860, and went out with Bolivar Roberts, and I tell you it was no picnic. No amount of money could tempt me to repeat my experience of those days. To begin with, we had to build willow roads, corduroy fashion, across many places along the Carson River, carrying bundles of willows two and three hundred yards in our arms, while the mosquitoes were so thick that it was difficult to tell whether the man was white or black, so thickly were they piled on his neck, face, and arms.

        Arriving at the Sink of the Carson River, we began the erection of a fort to protect us from the Indians. As there were no rocks or logs in that vicinity, it was built of adobes, made from the mud on the shores of the lake. To mix this and get it to the proper consistency to mould into adobes, we tramped all day in our bare feet. This we did for a week or more, and the mud being strongly impregnated with alkali carbonate of soda, you can imagine the condition of our feet. They were much swollen and resembled hams. We next built a fort at Sand Springs, twenty miles from Carson Lake, and another at Cold Springs, thirty-seven miles east of Sand Springs. At the latter station I was assigned to duty as assistant station-keeper, under Jim McNaughton.

        The war against the Pi-Ute Indians was then at its height, and as we were in the middle of their country, it became necessary for us to keep a standing guard night and day. The Indians were often skulking around, but none of them ever came near enough for us to get a shot at him, till one dark night when I was on guard, I noticed one of our horses prick up his ears and stare. I looked in the direction indicated and saw an Indian's head projecting above the wall. My instructions were to shoot if I saw an Indian within rifle-range, as that would wake the boys quicker than anything else; so I fired and missed my man.

        Later on we saw the Indian camp-fires on the mountain, and in the morning many tracks. They evidently intended to stampede our horses, and if necessary kill us. The next day one of our riders, a Mexican, rode into camp with a bullet-hole through him from the left to the right side, having been shot by Indians while coming down Edwards Creek, in the Quaking Aspen Bottom. He was tenderly cared for but died before surgical aid could reach him.

        As I was the lightest man at the station, I was ordered to take the Mexican's place on the route. My weight was then one hundred pounds, while I now weigh one hundred and thirty. Two days after taking the route, on my return trip, I had to ride through the forest of quaking aspen where the Mexican had been shot. A trail had been cut through these little trees, just wide enough to allow horse and rider to pass. As the road was crooked and the branches came together from either side, just above my head when mounted, it was impossible for me to see ahead for more than ten or fifteen yards, and it was two miles through the forest. I expected to have trouble, and prepared for it by dropping my bridle-reins on the neck of the horse, putting my Sharp's rifle at full cock, and keeping both my spurs into the pony's flanks, and he went through that forest "like a streak of greased lightning."

        At the top of the hill I dismounted to rest my horse, and looking back saw the bushes moving in several places. As there were no cattle or game in that vicinity, I knew the movements to be caused by Indians, and was more positive of it, when, after firing several shots at the spot where I saw the bushes in motion, all agitation ceased. Several days after that two United States soldiers, who were on their way to their command, were shot and killed from the ambush of those bushes, and stripped of their clothing by the red devils.

        One of my rides was the longest on the route. I refer to the road between Cold Springs and Sand Springs, thirty-seven miles, and not a drop of water. It was on this ride that I made a trip which possibly gave to our company the contract for carrying the mail by stage-coach across the Plains, a contract that was largely subsidized by Congress.

        One day I trotted into Sand Springs covered with dust and perspiration. Before I reached the station I saw a number of men running toward me, all carrying rifles, and one of them with a wave of his hand said, "All right, you pooty good boy; you go." I did not need a second order, and as quickly as possible rode out of their presence, looking back, however, as long as they were in sight, and keeping my rifle handy.

        As I look back on those times I often wonder that we were not all killed. A short time before, Major Ormsby of Carson City, in command of seventy-five or eighty men, went to Pyramid Lake to give battle to the Pi-Utes, who had been killing emigrants and prospectors by the wholesale. Nearly all of the command were killed. Another regiment of about seven hundred men, under the command of Colonel Daniel E. Hungerford and Jack Hayes, the noted Texas Ranger, was raised. Hungerford was the beau-ideal of a soldier, as he was already the hero of three wars, and one of the best tacticians of his time. This command drove the Indians pell-mell for three miles to Mud Lake, killing and wounding them at every jump. Colonel Hungerford and Jack Hayes received, and were entitled, to great praise, for at the close of the war terms were made which have kept the Indians peaceable ever since. Jack Hayes died several years ago in Alameda, California. Colonel Hungerford, at the ripe age of seventy years, is hale and hearty, enjoying life and resting on his laurels in Italy, where he resides with his granddaughter, the Princess Colonna.

        As previously stated it is marvellous that the pony boys were not all killed. There were only four men at each station, and the Indians, who were then hostile, roamed over the country in bands of from thirty to a hundred.

        What I consider my most narrow escape from death was being shot at by a lot of fool emigrants, who, when I took them to task about it on my return trip, excused themselves by saying, "We thought you was an Indian."

Another of the daring riders of the Pony Express was Robert Haslam.[27] He says: About eight months after the Pony Express was established, the Pi-Ute war commenced in Nevada. Virginia City, then the principal point of interest, and hourly expecting an attack from the hostile Indians, was only in its infancy. A stone hotel on C street was in course of construction, and had reached an elevation of two stories. This was hastily transformed into a fort for the protection of the women and children. From the city the signal-fires of the Indians could be seen on every mountain peak, and all available men and horses were pressed into service to repel the impending assault of the savages.

        When I reached Reed's Station, on the Carson River, I found no change of horses, as all those at the station had been seized by the whites to take part in the approaching battle. I fed the animal that I rode, and started for the next station, called Buckland's, afterward known as Fort Churchill, fifteen miles farther down the river. It was to have been the termination of my journey (as I had changed my old route to this one, in which I had had many narrow escapes, and been twice wounded by the Indians), and I had already ridden seventy-five miles; but, to my great astonishment, the other rider refused to go on. The superintendent, W. C. Marley, was at the station, but all his persuasion could not prevail on the rider, Johnson Richardson, to take the road. Turning then to me, Marley said: -

        "Bob, I will give you fifty dollars if you make this ride."

        I replied, "I will go at once."

        Within ten minutes, when I had adjusted my Spencer rifle, which was a seven-shooter and my Colt's revolver, with two cylinders ready for use in case of emergency, I started. From the station onward it was a lonely and dangerous ride of thirty-five miles, without a change, to the Sink of the Carson. I arrived there all right, however, and pushed on to Sand Springs, through an alkali bottom and sand-hills, thirty miles farther, without a drop of water all along the route. At Sand Springs I changed horses and continued on to Cold Springs, a distance of thirty-seven miles. Another change and a ride of thirty more miles brought me to Smith's Creek. Here I was relieved by J. G. Kelley. I had ridden one hundred and eighty-five miles, stopping only to eat and change horses.

        After remaining at Smith's Creek about nine hours, I started to retrace my journey with the return express. When I arrived at Cold Springs, to my horror I found that the station had been attacked by Indians, the keeper killed, and all the horses taken away. I decided in a moment what course to pursue - I would go on. I watered my horse, having ridden him thirty miles on time, he was pretty tired, and started for Sand Springs, thirty-seven miles away. It was growing dark, and my road lay through heavy sage-brush, high enough in some places to conceal a horse. I kept a bright lookout, and closely watched every motion of my poor pony's ears, which is a signal for danger in an Indian country. I was prepared for a fight, but the stillness of the night and the howling of the wolves and coyotes made cold chills run through me at times; but I reached Sand Springs in safety and reported what had happened. Before leaving, I advised the station-keeper to come with me to the Sink of the Carson, for I was sure the Indians would be upon him the next day. He took my advice, and so probably saved his life, for the following morning Smith's Creek was attacked. The whites, however, were well protected in the shelter of a stone house, from which they fought the savages for four days. At the end of that time they were relieved by the appearance of about fifty volunteers from Cold Springs. These men reported that they had buried John Williams, the brave keeper of that station, but not before he had been nearly devoured by the wolves.

        When I arrived at the Sink of the Carson, I found the station-men badly frightened, for they had seen some fifty warriors, decked out in their war-paint and reconnoitring. There were fifteen white men here, well armed and ready for a fight. The station was built of adobe, and was large enough for the men and ten or fifteen horses, with a fine spring of water within a few feet of it. I rested here an hour, and after dark started for Buckland's, where I arrived without a mishap and only three and a half hours behind schedule time. I found Mr. Marley at Buckland's, and when I related to him the story of the Cold Springs tragedy and my success, he raised his previous offer of fifty dollars for my ride to one hundred. I was rather tired, but the excitement of the trip had braced me up to withstand the fatigue of the journey. After a rest of one and a half hours, I proceeded over my own route from Buckland's to Friday's Station, crossing the Sierra Nevada. I had travelled three hundred and eighty miles within a few hours of schedule time, and was surrounded by perils on every hand.

After the Pony Express was discontinued Pony Bob was employed by Wells, Fargo, Company as an express rider in the prosecution of their transportation business. His route was between Virginia City, Nevada, and Friday's Station and return, about one hundred miles, every twenty-four hours; schedule time, ten hours. This engagement continued for more than a year; but as the Union Pacific Railway gradually extended its line and operations, the Pony Express business as gradually diminished. Finally the track was completed to Reno, Nevada, twenty-three miles from Virginia City, and over this route Pony Bob rode for more than six months, making the run every day, with fifteen horses, inside of one hour. When the telegraph line was completed, the Pony Express over this route was withdrawn, and Pony Bob was sent to Idaho, to ride the company's express route of one hundred miles, with one horse, from Queen's River to the Owyhee River. He was at the former station when Major McDermott was killed at the breaking out of the Modoc War.

On one of his rides he passed the remains of ninety Chinamen who had been killed by the Indians, only one escaping to tell the tale. Their bodies lay bleaching in the sun for a distance of more than ten miles from the mouth of Ives Canyon to Crooked Creek. This was Pony Bob's last experience as Pony Express rider. His successor, Macaulas, was killed by the Indians on his first trip.

A few daredevil fellows generally did double duty and rode eighty or eighty-five miles. One of them was Charles Cliff, now living in Missouri, who rode from St. Joseph to Seneca and back on alternate days. He was attacked by Indians at Scott's Bluff, receiving three balls in his body and twenty-seven in his clothes. He made Seneca and back in eight hours each way.

James Moore, the first post-trader at Sidney, Nebraska, made a ride which may well lay claim to be one of the most remarkable on record. He was at Midway Station, in Western Nebraska, on June 8, 1860, when a very important government despatch for the Pacific coast arrived. Mounting his pony, he sped on to Julesburg, one hundred and forty miles away, and he got every inch of speed out of his mounts. At Julesburg he met another important government despatch for Washington. The rider who should have carried the despatch east had been killed the day before. After a rest of only seven minutes and without eating a meal, Moore started for Midway, and he made the round trip, two hundred and eighty miles, in fourteen hours and forty-six minutes. The west-bound despatch reached Sacramento from St. Joseph in eight days, nine hours, and forty minutes.

The authors of this book may be pardoned for the inevitable introduction here of the part taken by one of them in this service. Their old friend Colonel Majors, a well-known figure for many years in frontier life, when speaking of "Billy" Cody, as he was called in those days, says that while engaged in the express service, his route lay between Red Buttes and Three Crossings,[28] a distance of one hundred and sixteen miles. It was a most dangerous, long, and lonely trail, including the perilous crossing of the North Platte River, which at that place was half a mile wide and, though generally shallow, in some places reached a depth of twelve feet, a stream often much swollen and very turbulent. An average of fifteen miles an hour had to be made, including change of horses, detours for safety, and time for meals.

He passed through many a gauntlet of death in his flight from station to station, bearing express matter that was of the greatest value.

Colonel Cody, in telling the story of his own experiences with the Pony Express, says: -

        The enterprise was just being started. The line was stocked with horses and put into good running order. At Julesburg I met Mr. George Chrisman, the leading wagon-master of Russell, Majors, Waddell, who had always been a good friend to me. He had bought out "Old Jules," and was then the owner of Julesburg Ranch, and the agent of the Pony Express line. He hired me at once as a Pony Express rider, but as I was so young he thought I was not able to stand the fierce riding which was required of the messengers. He knew, however, that I had been raised in the saddle - that I felt more at home there than in any other place - and as he saw that I was confident that I could stand the racket, and could ride as far and endure it as well as some of the old riders, he gave me a short route of forty-five miles, with the stations fifteen miles apart, and three changes of horses. I was fortunate in getting well-broken animals, and being so light I easily made my forty-five miles on my first trip out, and ever afterward.

        As the warm days of summer approached I longed for the cool air of the mountains; and to the mountains I determined to go. When I returned to Leavenworth I met my old wagon-master and friend, Lewis Simpson, who was fitting out a train at Atchison and loading it with supplies for the Overland Stage Company, of which Mr. Russell, my old employer, was one of the proprietors. Simpson was going with this train to Fort Laramie and points farther west.

        "Come along with me, Billy," said he, "I'll give you a good lay-out. I want you with me."

        "I don't know that I would like to go as far west as that again," I replied, "but I do want to ride the Pony Express once more; there's some life in that."

        "Yes, that's so; but it will soon shake the life out of you," said he. "However, if that's what you've got your mind set on, you had better come to Atchison with me and see Mr. Russell, who, I'm pretty certain, will give you a situation."

        I met Mr. Russell there and asked him for employment as a Pony Express rider; he gave me a letter to Mr. Slade, who was then the stage-agent for the division extending from Julesburg to Rocky Ridge. Slade had his headquarters at Horseshoe Station, thirty-six miles west of Fort Laramie, and I made the trip thither in company with Simpson and his train.

        Almost the first person I saw after dismounting from my horse was Slade. I walked up to him and presented Mr. Russell's letter, which he hastily opened and read. With a sweeping glance of his eye he took my measure from head to foot, and then said: -

        "My boy, you are too young for a Pony Express rider. It takes men for that business."

        "I rode two months last year on Bill Trotter's division, sir, and filled the bill then; and I think I am better able to ride now," said I.

        "What! are you the boy that was riding there, and was called the youngest rider on the road?"

        "I am the same boy," I replied, confident that everything was now all right for me.

        "I have heard of you before. You are a year or so older now, and I think you can stand it. I'll give you a trial, anyhow, and if you weaken you can come back to Horseshoe Station and tend stock."

        Thus ended our interview. The next day he assigned me to duty on the road from Red Buttes on the North Platte to the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater - a distance of seventy-six miles - and I began riding at once. It was a long piece of road, but I was equal to the undertaking; and soon afterward had an opportunity to exhibit my power of endurance as a Pony Express rider.

        For some time matters progressed very smoothly, though I had no idea that things would always continue so. I was well aware that the portion of the trail to which I had been assigned was not only the most desolate and lonely, but it was more eagerly watched by the savages than elsewhere on the long route.

        Slade, the boss, whenever I arrived safely at the station, and before I started out again, was always very earnest in his suggestions to look out for my scalp.

        "You know, Billy," he would say, "I am satisfied yours will not always be the peaceful route it has been with you so far. Every time you come in I expect to hear that you have met with some startling adventure that does not always fall to the average express rider."

        I replied that I was always cautious, made detours whenever I noticed anything suspicious. "You bet I look out for number one." The change soon came.

        One day, when I galloped into Three Crossings, my home station, I found that the rider who was expected to take the trip out on my arrival, had gotten into a drunken row the night before and had been killed. This left that division without a rider. As it was very difficult to engage men for the service in that uninhabited region, the superintendent requested me to make the trip until another rider could be secured. The distance to the next station, Rocky Ridge, was eighty-five miles and through a very bad and dangerous country, but the emergency was great and I concluded to try it. I therefore started promptly from Three Crossings without more than a moment's rest. I pushed on with the usual rapidity, entering every relay station on time, and accomplished the round trip of three hundred and twenty-two miles back to Red Buttes without a single mishap and on time. This stands on the records as being the longest Pony Express journey ever made.

        A week after making this trip, and while passing over the route again, I was jumped on by a band of Sioux Indians who dashed out from a sand ravine nine miles west of Horse Creek. They were armed with pistols, and gave me a close call with several bullets, but it fortunately happened that I was mounted on the fleetest horse belonging to the express company, and one that was possessed of remarkable endurance. Being cut off from retreat back to Horseshoe, I put spurs to my horse, and lying flat on his back, kept straight for Sweetwater, the next station, which I reached without accident, having distanced my pursuers. Upon reaching that place, however, I found a sorry condition of affairs, as the Indians had made a raid on the station the morning of my adventure with them, and after killing the stock-tender had driven off all the horses, so that I was unable to get a remount. I therefore continued on to Ploutz' Station - twelve miles farther - thus making twenty-four miles straight run with one horse. I told the people at Ploutz' what had happened at Sweetwater Bridge, and went on and finished the trip without any further adventure.

        About the middle of September the Indians became very troublesome on the line of the stage-road along the Sweetwater. Between Split Rock and Three Crossings they robbed a stage, killed the driver and two passengers, and badly wounded Lieutenant Flowers, the assistant division agent. The redskinned thieves also drove off the stock from the different stations, and were continually lying in wait for the passing stages and Pony Express riders, so that we had to take many desperate chances in running the gauntlet.

        The Indians had now become so bad and had stolen so much stock that it was decided to stop the Pony Express for at least six weeks, and to run the stages only occasionally during that period; in fact, it would have been impossible to continue the enterprise much longer without restocking the line.

        While we were thus all lying idle, a party was organized to go out and search for stolen stock. This party was composed of stage-drivers, express-riders, stock-tenders, and ranchmen - forty of them all together - and they were well armed and well mounted. They were mostly men who had undergone all kinds of hardships and braved every danger, and they were ready and anxious to "tackle" any number of Indians. Wild Bill, who had been driving stage on the road and had recently come down to our division, was elected captain of the company. It was supposed that the stolen stock had been taken to the head of the Powder River and vicinity, and the party, of which I was a member, started out for that section in high hopes of success.

        Twenty miles out from Sweetwater Bridge, at the head of Horse Creek, we found an Indian trail running north toward Powder River, and we could see by the tracks that most of the horses had been recently shod and were undoubtedly our stolen stage-stock. Pushing rapidly forward, we followed this trail to Powder River; thence down this stream to within about forty miles of the spot where old Fort Reno now stands. Here the trail took a more westerly course along the foot of the mountains, leading eventually to Crazy Woman's Fork - a tributary of Powder River. At this point we discovered that the party whom we were trailing had been joined by another band of Indians, and, judging from the fresh appearance of the trail, the united body could not have left this spot more than twenty-four hours before.

        Being aware that we were now in the heart of the hostile country and might at any moment find more Indians than we had lost, we advanced with more caution than usual and kept a sharp lookout. As we were approaching Clear Creek, another tributary of Powder River, we discovered Indians on the opposite side of the creek, some three miles distant; at least we saw horses grazing, which was a sure sign that there were Indians there.

        The Indians, thinking themselves in comparative safety - never before having been followed so far into their own country by white men - had neglected to put out any scouts. They had no idea that there were any white men in that part of the country. We got the lay of their camp, and then held a council to consider and mature a plan for capturing it. We knew full well that the Indians would outnumber us at least three to one, and perhaps more. Upon the advice and suggestion of Wild Bill, it was finally decided that we should wait until it was nearly dark, and then, after creeping as close to them as possible, make a dash through their camp, open a general fire on them, and then stampede the horses.

        This plan, at the proper time, was very successfully executed. The dash upon the enemy was a complete surprise to them. They were so overcome with astonishment that they did not know what to make of it. We could not have astounded them any more had we dropped down into their camp from the clouds. They did not recover from the surprise of this sudden charge until after we had ridden pell-mell through their camp and got away with our own horses as well as theirs. We at once circled the horses around toward the south, and after getting them on the south side of Clear Creek, some twenty of our men - just as the darkness was coming on - rode back and gave the Indians a few parting shots. We then took up our line of march for Sweetwater Bridge, where we arrived four days afterward with all our own horses and about one hundred captured Indian ponies.

        The expedition had proved a grand success, and the event was celebrated in the usual manner - by a grand spree. The only store at Sweetwater Bridge did a rushing business for several days. The returned stock-hunters drank and gambled and fought. The Indian ponies, which had been distributed among the captors, passed from hand to hand at almost every deal of cards. There seemed to be no limit to the rioting and carousing; revelry reigned supreme. On the third day of the orgy, Slade, who had heard the news, came up to the bridge and took a hand in the "fun," as it was called. To add some variation and excitement to the occasion, Slade got into a quarrel with a stage-driver and shot him, killing him almost instantly.

        The boys became so elated as well as "elevated" over their success against the Indians that most of them were in favour of going back and cleaning out the whole Indian race. One old driver especially, Dan Smith, was eager to open a war on all the hostile nations, and had the drinking been continued another week he certainly would have undertaken the job, single-handed and alone. The spree finally came to an end; the men sobered down and abandoned the idea of again invading the hostile country. The recovered horses were replaced on the road, and the stages and Pony Express again began running on time.

        Slade, having taken a great fancy to me, said, "Billy, I want you to come down to my headquarters, and I'll make you a sort of supernumerary rider, and send you out only when it is necessary."

        I accepted the offer and went with him down to Horseshoe, where I had a comparatively easy time of it. I had always been fond of hunting, and I now had a good opportunity to gratify my ambition in that direction, as I had plenty of spare time on my hands. In this connection I will relate one of my bear-hunting adventures. One day, when I had nothing else to do, I saddled up an extra Pony Express horse, and, arming myself with a good rifle and pair of revolvers, struck out for the foot-hills of Laramie Peak for a bear-hunt. Riding carelessly along, and breathing the cool and bracing mountain air which came down from the slopes, I felt as only a man can feel who is roaming over the prairies of the far West, well armed and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed. The perfect freedom which he enjoys is in itself a refreshing stimulant to the mind as well as the body. Such indeed were my feelings on this beautiful day as I rode up the valley of the Horseshoe. Occasionally I scared up a flock of sage-hens or a jack-rabbit. Antelopes and deer were almost always in sight in any direction, but, as they were not the kind of game I was after on that day, I passed them by and kept on toward the mountains. The farther I rode the rougher and wilder became the country, and I knew that I was approaching the haunts of the bear. I did not discover any, however, although I saw plenty of tracks in the snow.

        About two o'clock in the afternoon, my horse having become tired, and myself being rather weary, I shot a sage-hen, and, dismounting, I unsaddled my horse and tied him to a small tree, where he could easily feed on the mountain grass. I then built a little fire, and broiling the chicken and seasoning it with salt and pepper, which I had obtained from my saddle-bags, I soon sat down to a "genuine square meal," which I greatly relished.

        After resting for a couple of hours, I remounted and resumed my upward trip to the mountain, having made up my mind to camp out that night rather than go back without a bear, which my friends knew I had gone out for. As the days were growing short, night soon came on, and I looked around for a suitable camping-place. While thus engaged, I scared up a flock of sage-hens, two of which I shot, intending to have one for supper and the other for breakfast.

        By this time it was becoming quite dark and I rode down to one of the little mountain streams, where I found an open place in the timber suitable for a camp. I dismounted, and, after unsaddling my horse and hitching him to a tree, I prepared to start a fire. Just then I was startled by hearing a horse whinnying farther up the stream. It was quite a surprise to me, and I immediately ran to my animal to keep him from answering as horses usually do in such cases. I thought that the strange horse might belong to some roaming band of Indians, as I knew of no white men being in that portion of the country at that time. I was certain that the owner of the strange horse could not be far distant, and I was very anxious to find out who my neighbour was, before letting him know that I was in his vicinity. I therefore resaddled my horse, and leaving him tied so that I could easily reach him, I took my gun and started out on a scouting expedition up the stream. I had gone about four hundred yards when, in a bend of the stream, I discovered ten or fifteen horses grazing. On the opposite side of the creek a light was shining high up the mountain bank. Approaching the mysterious spot as cautiously as possible, and when within a few yards of the light - which I discovered came from a dugout in the mountain side - I heard voices, and soon I was able to distinguish the words, as they proved to be in my own language. Then I knew that the occupants of the dugout were white men. Thinking that they might be a party of trappers, I boldly walked up to the door and knocked for admission. The voices instantly ceased, and for a moment a deathlike silence reigned inside. Then there seemed to follow a kind of hurried whispering - a sort of consultation - and then some one called out: -

        "Who's there?"

        "A friend and a white man," I replied.

        The door opened, and a big ugly-looking fellow stepped forth and said: -

        "Come in."

        I accepted the invitation with some degree of fear and hesitation, which I endeavoured to conceal, as I thought it was too late to back out, and that it would never do to weaken at that point, whether they were friends or foes. Upon entering the dugout my eyes fell upon eight as rough and villanous-looking men as I ever saw in my life. Two of them I instantly recognized as teamsters who had been driving in Lew Simpson's train, a few months before, and had been discharged.

        They were charged with the murdering and robbing of a ranchman; and, having stolen his horses, it was supposed that they had left the country. I gave them no signs of recognition, however, deeming it advisable to let them remain in ignorance as to who I was. It was a hard crowd, and I concluded the sooner I could get away from them the better it would be for me. I felt confident that they were a band of horse-thieves.

        "Where are you going, young man, and who's with you?" asked one of the men, who appeared to be the leader of the gang.

        "I am entirely alone. I left Horseshoe Station this morning for a bear-hunt, and not finding any bears I had determined to camp out for the night and wait till morning," said I; "and just as I was going into camp a few hundred yards down the creek I heard one of your horses whinnying, and then I came to your camp."

        I was thus explicit in my statement in order, if possible, to satisfy the cut-throats that I was not spying upon them, but that my intrusion was entirely accidental.

        "Where's your horse?" demanded the boss thief.

        "I left him down at the creek," I answered.

        They proposed going after the horse, but I thought that that would never do, as it would leave me without any means of escape, and I accordingly said, in hopes to throw them off the track, "Captain, I'll leave my gun here and go down and get my horse, and come back and stay all night."

        I said this in as cheerful and as careless a manner as possible, so as not to arouse their suspicious in any way or lead them to think that I was aware of their true character. I hated to part with my gun, but my suggestion of leaving it was a part of the plan of escape which I had arranged. If they have the gun, thought I, they will surely believe that I intend to come back. But this little game did not work at all, as one of the desperadoes spoke up and said: -

        "Jim and I will go down with you after your horse, and you can leave your gun here all the same, as you'll not need it."

        "All right," I replied, for I could certainly have done nothing else. It became evident to me that it would be better to trust myself with two men than with the whole party. It was apparent from this time on I would have to be on the alert for some good opportunity to give them the slip.

        "Come along," said one of them, and together we went down the creek, and soon came to the spot where my horse was tied. One of the men unhitched the animal, and said, "I'll lead the horse."

        "Very well," said I; "I've got a couple of sage-hens here. Lead on."

        I picked up the sage-hens which I had killed a few hours before, and followed the man who was leading the horse, while his companion brought up the rear. The nearer we approached the dugout the more I dreaded the idea of going back among the villanous cut-throats. My first plan of escape having failed, I now determined upon another. I had both of my revolvers with me, the thieves not having thought it necessary to search me. It was now quite dark, and I purposely dropped one of the sage-hens, and asked the man behind me to pick it up. While he was hunting for it on the ground, I quickly pulled out one of my Colt's revolvers and struck him a tremendous blow on the back of the head, knocking him senseless to the ground. I then instantly wheeled around and saw that the man ahead, who was only a few feet distant, had heard the blow and had turned to see what was the matter, his hand upon his revolver. We faced each other at about the same instant, but before he could fire, as he tried to do, I shot him dead in his tracks. Then, jumping on my horse, I rode down the creek as fast as possible, through the darkness and over the rough ground and rocks.

        The other outlaws in the dugout, having heard the shot which I had fired, knew there was trouble, and they all came rushing down the creek. I suppose by the time they reached the man whom I had knocked down that he had recovered, and hurriedly told them of what had happened. They did not stay with the man whom I had shot, but came on in hot pursuit of me. They were not mounted, and were making better time down the rough mountain than I was on horseback. From time to time I heard them gradually gaining on me.

        At last they came so near that I saw that I must abandon my horse. So I jumped to the ground, and gave him a hard slap with the butt of one of my revolvers, which started him on down the valley, while I scrambled up the mountain side. I had not ascended more than forty feet when I heard my pursuers coming closer and closer; I quickly hid behind a large pine-tree, and in a few moments they all rushed by me, being led on by the rattling footsteps of my horse, which they heard ahead of them. Soon they began firing in the direction of the horse, as they no doubt supposed I was still seated on his back. As soon as they had passed me I climbed further up the steep mountain, and knowing that I had given them the slip, and feeling certain I could keep out of their way, I at once struck out for Horseshoe Station, which was twenty-five miles distant. I had very hard travelling at first, but upon reaching lower and better ground I made good headway, walking all night and getting into the station just before daylight - footsore, weary, and generally played out.

        I immediately waked up the men of the station and told them of my adventure. Slade himself happened to be there, and he at once organized a party to go out in pursuit of the horse-thieves. Shortly after daylight twenty well-armed stage-drivers, stock-tenders, and ranchmen were galloping in the direction of the dugout. Of course I went along with the party, notwithstanding that I was very tired and had had hardly any rest at all. We had a brisk ride, and arrived in the immediate vicinity of the thieves' rendezvous at about ten o'clock in the morning. We approached the dugout cautiously, but upon getting in close proximity to it we could discover no horses in sight. We could see the door of the dugout standing wide open, and we marched up to the place. No one was inside, and the general appearance of everything indicated that the place had been deserted - that the birds had flown. Such, indeed, proved to be the case.

        We found a new-made grave, where they had evidently buried the man whom I had shot. We made a thorough search of the whole vicinity, and finally found their trail going southeast in the direction of Denver. As it would have been useless to follow them, we rode back to the station; and thus ended my eventful bear-hunt. We had no trouble for some time after that.

A friend who was once a station agent tells two more adventures of Cody's: It had become known in some mysterious manner, past finding out, that there was to be a large sum of money sent through by Pony Express, and that was what the road agents were after.

        After killing the other rider, and failing to get the treasure, Cody very naturally thought that they would make another effort to secure it; so when he reached the next relay station he walked about a while longer than was his wont.

        This was to perfect a little plan he had decided upon, which was to take a second pair of saddle-pouches and put something in them and leave them in sight, while those that held the valuable express packages he folded up in his saddle-blanket in such a way that they could not be seen unless a search was made for them. The truth was, Cody knew that he carried the valuable package, and it was his duty to protect it with his life.

        So with the clever scheme to outwit the road agents, if held up, he started once more upon his flying trip. He carried his revolver ready for instant use and flew along the trail with every nerve strung to meet any danger which might confront him. He had an idea where he would be halted, if halted at all, and it was a lonesome spot in a valley, the very place for a deed of crime.

        As he drew near the spot he was on the alert, and yet when two men suddenly stepped out from among the shrubs and confronted him, it gave him a start in spite of his nerve. They had him covered with rifles and brought him to a halt with the words: "Hold! Hands up, Pony Express Bill, for we know yer, my boy, and what yer carries."

        "I carry the express; and it's hanging for you two if you interfere with me," was the plucky response.

        "Ah, we don't want you, Billy, unless you force us to call in your checks; but it's what you carry we want."

        "It won't do you any good to get the pouch, for there isn't anything valuable in it."

        "We are to be the judges of that, so throw us the valuables or catch a bullet. Which shall it be, Billy?"

        The two men stood directly in front of the pony-rider, each one covering him with a rifle, and to resist was certain death. So Cody began to unfasten his pouches slowly, while he said, "Mark my words, men, you'll hang for this."

        "We'll take chances on that, Bill."

        The pouches being unfastened now, Cody raised them with one hand, while he said in an angry tone, "If you will have them, take them." With this he hurled the pouches at the head of one of them, who quickly dodged and turned to pick them up, just as Cody fired upon the other with his revolver in his left hand.

        The bullet shattered the man's arm while, driving the spurs into the flanks of his mare, Cody rode directly over the man who was stooping to pick up the pouches, his back turned to the pony-rider.

        The horse struck him a hard blow that knocked him down, while he half fell on top of him, but was recovered by a touch of the spurs and bounded on, while the daring pony-rider gave a wild triumphant yell as he sped on like the wind.

        The fallen man, though hurt, scrambled to his feet as soon as he could, picked up his rifle, and fired after the retreating youth, but without effect, and young Cody rode on, arriving at the station on time, and reported what had happened.

        He had, however, no time to rest, for he was compelled to start back with his express pouches. He thus made the remarkable ride of three hundred and twenty-four miles without sleep, and stopping only to eat his meals, and resting then but a few moments. For saving the express pouches he was highly complimented by all, and years afterward he had the satisfaction of seeing his prophecy regarding the two road agents verified, for they were both captured and hanged by vigilantes for their many crimes.

                     * * *

        "There's Injun signs about, so keep your eyes open." So said the station-boss of the Pony Express, addressing young Cody, who had dashed up to the cabin, his horse panting like a hound, and the rider ready for the fifteen-mile flight to the next relay. "I'll be on the watch, boss, you bet," said the pony-rider, and with a yell to his fresh pony he was off like an arrow from a bow.

        Down the trail ran the fleet pony like the wind, leaving the station quickly out of sight, and dashing at once into the solitude and dangers of the vast wilderness. Mountains were upon either side, towering cliffs here and there overhung the trail, and the wind sighed through the forest of pines like the mourning of departed spirits. Gazing ahead, the piercing eyes of the young rider saw every tree, bush, and rock, for he knew but too well that a deadly foe, lurking in ambush, might send an arrow or a bullet to his heart at any moment. Gradually, far down the valley, his quick glance fell upon a dark object above the bowlder directly in his trail.

        He saw the object move and disappear from sight down behind the rock. Without appearing to notice it, or checking his speed in the slightest, he held steadily upon his way. But he took in the situation at a glance, and saw that on each side of the bowlder the valley inclined. Upon one side was a fringe of heavy timber, upon the other a precipice, at the base of which were massive rocks.

        "There is an Indian behind that rock, for I saw his head," muttered the young rider, as his horse flew on. Did he intend to take his chances, and dash along the trail directly by his ambushed foe? It would seem so, for he still stuck to the trail.

        A moment more and he would be within range of a bullet, when, suddenly dashing his spurs into the pony's sides, Billy Cody wheeled to the right, and in an oblique course headed for the cliff. This proved to the foe in ambush that he was suspected, if not known, and at once there came the crack of a rifle, the puff of smoke rising above the rock where he was concealed. At the same moment a yell went up from a score of throats, and out of the timber on the other side of the valley darted a number of Indians, and these rode to head off the rider.

        Did he turn back and seek safety in a retreat to the station? No! he was made of sterner stuff, and would run the gauntlet.

        Out from behind the bowlder, where they had been lying in ambush, sprang two braves in all the glory of their war-paint. Their horses were in the timber with their comrades, and, having failed to get a close shot at the pony-rider, they sought to bring him down at long range with their rifles. The bullets pattered under the hoofs of the flying pony, but he was unhurt, and his rider pressed him to his full speed.

        With set teeth, flashing eyes, and determined to do or die, Will Cody rode on in the race for life, the Indians on foot running swiftly toward him, and the mounted braves sweeping down the valley at full speed.

        The shots of the dismounted Indians failing to bring down the flying pony or their human game, the mounted redskins saw that their only chance was to overtake their prey by their speed. One of the number, whose war-bonnet showed that he was a chief, rode a horse that was much faster than the others, and he drew quickly ahead. Below the valley narrowed to a pass not a hundred yards in width, and if the pony-rider could get to this wall ahead of his pursuers, he would be able to hold his own along the trail in the ten-mile run to the next relay station.

        But, though he saw that there was no more to fear from the two dismounted redskins, and that he would come out well in advance of the band on horseback, there was one who was most dangerous. That one was the chief, whose fleet horse was bringing him on at a terrible pace, and threatening to reach there at the same time with the pony-rider.

        Nearer and nearer the two drew toward the path, the horse of Cody slightly ahead, and the young rider knew that a death-struggle was at hand. He did not check his horse, but kept his eyes alternately upon the pass and the chief. The other Indians he did not then take into consideration. At length that happened for which he had been looking.

        When the chief saw that he would come out of the race some thirty yards behind his foe, he seized his bow and quick as a flash had fitted an arrow for its deadly flight. But in that instant Cody had also acted, and a revolver had sprung from his belt and a report followed the touching of the trigger. A wild yell burst from the lips of the chief, and he clutched madly at the air, reeled, and fell from his saddle, rolling over like a ball as he struck the ground.

        The death-cry of the chief was echoed by the braves coming on down the valley, and a shower of arrows was sent after the fugitive pony-rider. An arrow slightly wounded his horse, but the others did no damage, and in another second Cody had dashed into the pass well ahead of his foes. It was a hot chase from then on until the pony-rider came within sight of the next station, when the Indians drew off and Cody dashed in on time, and in another minute was away on his next run.

The history of all Colonel Cody's encounters with the savages during the time he was in the service of the Pony Express would require many pages to recite, and as there is naturally a repetition in the manner of all attacks and escapes in his struggles with the Indians of the Great Plains and mountains, it would perhaps be but supererogation to tell them all without taxing the reader's interest.

Many stories of adventure are related of those terrible times, and at the beginning of the opening of the route across the continent it was with difficulty that the projectors of the dangerous undertaking found men willing to take the chances that constantly menaced the daring riders of the lonely route.

There was an old trapper whose only cognomen among the civilized men of the border was "Whipsaw." Of course he must have had another, but none ever knew of it or cared to inquire.

One day, while in his lonely camp attending to his duties, a Sioux Indian brought to him a captive Pawnee child about two years old. The little savage was stark naked and almost frozen. The Sioux, who was plainly marked by a horrid scar across his face, desired to dispose of the child to the trapper, and the latter, as was every one of that class now vanished forever, full of pity and kind-hearted to a fault, did not hesitate a moment, but traded a knife for the helpless baby - all the savage asked for the little burden of humanity.

The old trapper took care of the young Pawnee, clothed him in his rough way, encased the little feet in moccasins, and with a soft doe-skin jacket the little fellow throve admirably under the gentle care of his rough nurse.

When the young Pawnee had reached the age of four years the old trapper was induced to take charge of one of the overland stations on the line of the Pony Express. The old agent began to love the young savage with an affection that was akin to that of a mother; and in turn the Pawnee baby loved his white father and preserver. As the little fellow grew in stature he evinced a most intense hatred for all members of his own dark-skinned race. He never let an opportunity go by when he could do them an injury, however slight.

Of course at times many of the so-called friendly Indians would visit the station and beg tobacco from the old trapper, but on every occasion the young Pawnee would try to do them some injury. Once, when he was only four years old, and a party of friendly Indians as usual had ridden up to the station, the young savage quietly crept to where their horses were picketed, cut their lariats, and stampeded all of them! At another time he made an attempt to kill an Indian who had stopped for a moment at the station, but he was too little to raise properly the rifle with which he intended to shoot him.

As it is the inherent attribute of all savages to be far in advance of the whites in the alertness and acuteness of two or three of the senses, the baby Pawnee was wonderfully so. He could hear the footsteps of a bear or the scratching of a panther, or even the tramp of a horse's hoof on the soft sod, long before the old trapper could make out the slightest sound. He could always tell when the Pony Express rider was approaching, miles before he was in sight, if in the daytime, and at night many minutes before the old trapper's ears, which were very acute also, could distinguish the slightest sound.

The boy was christened "Little Cayuse" because his ears could catch the sound of an approaching horse's foot long before any one else.

In the middle of the night, while his white father was sound asleep on his pallet of robes, the little Pawnee would wake him hurriedly, saying "Cayuse, cayuse!" whenever the Pony Express was due. The rider who was to take the place of the one nearing the station, would rise, quickly put the saddle on his broncho, and be all ready, when the pony arrived, to snatch the saddle-bags from him whom he was to relieve, and in another moment dash down the trail mountainward.

It was never too cold or too warm for the handsome little savage to get up on these occasions and give a sort of rude welcome to the tired rider, who, although nearly worn out by his arduous duty, would take up the baby boy and pet him a moment before he threw himself down on his bed of robes.

The young Pawnee had a very strange love for horses. He would always hug the animals as they came off their long trip, pat their noses, and softly murmur, "Cayuse, cayuse."[29]

The precocious little savage was known to every rider on the trail from St. Joe to Sacramento. Of course the Indians were always on the alert to steal the horses that belonged to the stations, but where Little Cayuse was living they never made a success of it, owing to his vigilance. Often he saved the animals by giving the soundly sleeping men warning of the approach of the savages who were stealthily creeping up to stampede the animals.

The boy was better than an electric battery, for he never failed to notify the men of the approach of anything that walked. So famous did he become that his wonderful powers were at last known at the headquarters of the great company, and the president sent Little Cayuse a beautiful rifle just fitted to his stature, and before he had reached the age of six he killed with it a great gray wolf that came prowling around the station one evening.

One cold night, after twelve o'clock, Whipsaw happened to get out of bed, and he found the little Pawnee sitting upright in his bed, apparently listening intently to some sound which was perfectly undistinguishable to other ears.

The station-boss whispered to him, "Horses?"

"No," replied the little Pawnee, but continued looking up into his father's face with an unmistakable air of seriousness.

"Better go to sleep," said Whipsaw.

Little Cayuse only shook his head in the negative. The station-boss then turned to the other men and said: "Wake up, all of you, something is going wrong."

"What is the matter?" inquired one of the riders as he rose.

"I don't exactly know," replied the boss, "but Cayuse keeps listening with them wonderful ears of his, and when I told him to go to sleep he only shook his head, and that boy never makes a mistake."

A candle was lighted, it was long after the express was due from the east.

The little Pawnee looked at the men and said, "Long time - no cayuse - no cayuse."

They then realized what the Pawnee meant: it was nearly two o'clock, and the rider from the East was more than two hours behind time. The little Pawnee knew it better than any clock could have told him, and both of the men sat up uneasy, fidgeting, for they felt that something had gone wrong, as it was beyond the possibility for any rider, if alive, to be so much behind the schedule time. They anxiously waited by the dim light of their candle for the sound of horses' feet, but their ears were not rewarded by the welcome sound.

Cayuse, who was still in his bed watching the countenances of the white men, suddenly sprang from his bed, and, creeping cautiously out of the door, carefully placed his ear to the ground, the men meanwhile watching him. He then came back as cautiously as he had gone out, and slowly creeping up to Whipsaw, merely said, "Heap cayuses!"

It was not the sound of the rider's horse whom they had so long been expecting, but a band of predatory Sioux bent on some errand of mischief; of that they were certain, now that the Pawnee had given them the warning. Little Cayuse took his rifle from its peg over his bed, and, walking to the door, peered out into the darkness. Then he crept along the trail, his ears ever alert. The men seized their rifles at the same moment, and followed the little savage to guard being taken by surprise.

All around the rude cabin which constituted the station, the boss had taken the precaution, when he first took charge, to dig a trench deep enough to hide a man, to be used as a rifle-pit in case the occasion ever offered.

It was to one of these ditches that Little Cayuse betook himself, and the men followed the child's example, and took up a position on either side of him. Lying there without speaking a word, even in a whisper, the determined men and the brave little Cayuse waited for developments.

Soon the band of savage horse-thieves arrived at a kind of little hollow in the trail, about an eighth of a mile from the door of the station. They got off their animals and, Indian-fashion, commenced to crawl toward the corral.

On they came, little expecting that they had been long since discovered, and that preparation was already made for their reception. One of them came so near the men hidden in the pit that the boss declared he could have touched him with his rifle. The old trapper was very much disturbed for fear that Little Cayuse would in his childish indiscretion open fire before the proper time arrived, which would be when the savages had entered the cabin. The child, however, was as discreet as his elders, and although it was his initial fight with the wily nomads of the desert, he acted as if he had thirty or forty years of experience to back him.

The band numbered six, as brave and determined a set of cut-throats as the great Sioux Nation ever sent out. The clouds had broken apart a little, and the defenders of the station could count their forms as they appeared between the diffused light of the horizon and the roof of the cabin.

On reaching the door the Indians stopped a moment, and with their customary caution listened for some sound to apprise them that the inmates were sleeping. Suspecting this to be the case, they pushed the door carefully open and entered the cabin, one after another.

Now had come the supreme moment which the boss had so patiently hoped for! Whipsaw rose to his feet, and without saying a word to them, his comrades, including Little Cayuse, followed him. He intended to charge upon the savages in the cabin, although there were six to three, for it would hardly do to count the little Pawnee in as a man. The rider who had been waiting for the arrival of the other then placed his rifle on the ground, and each taking their revolvers, two apiece in their hands, ready cocked, advanced to the door.

They knew that the fight would be short and hot, so with the Pawnee between them they arrived at the entrance. Now the Sioux evidently heard them, and came rushing out, but it was too late! The Pony Express men opened fire, and two of the savages bit the dust. They returned the salute, but with such careless aim that their shots were perfectly harmless; but as the white men fired again, two more of the savages fell, and only two were left. The rider got a shot in the shoulder, but he kept on with his revolver despite his pain, while the boss, who had fired all his shots, was compelled to throw the empty weapon into the persistent savage's face, while Little Cayuse kept peppering the other with small shot from his rifle.

Then the Indian at whom the boss had thrown his revolver came at him with his knife, and was getting the best of it, when Little Cayuse, watching his chance, got up close to the savage who was about to finish his father, and let drive into the brute's side a charge of shot that made a hole as big as a water-bucket, and the red devil fell without knowing what had hit him.

Both of the men were weak from loss of blood, and when they had recovered a little, not far away in the hollow they found the horses the savages had ridden and that of the express rider, all together. About a mile farther down the trail they found the dead body of the rider, shot through the head. His pony still had on the saddle and the mail-pouch, which the Indians had not disturbed. In the morning the men carried the remains of the unfortunate rider to the cabin and buried it near the station, and it may be truthfully said that if it had not been for the plucky little Pawnee, there would have been no mourners at the funeral.

That afternoon the men dug a trench into which they threw the dead Indians to get them out of the way, but while they were employed in the thankless work, Little Cayuse was discovered most unmercifully kicking and clubbing one of the dead warriors; then he took his little rifle and cooking it emptied its contents into the prostrate body.

The boss then took the weapon away from him, but the boy cried out to him, "See! see!"

Looking down closely into the face of the object of the boy's wrath, he discovered by that hideous scar the fiend who had captured Little Cayuse when a mere baby, the scar-faced Sioux from whom Whipsaw had purchased the boy.[30]

The employees of the Pony Express were different in character from the ordinary plainsmen of those days. The latter as a class were usually boisterous, indulged in profanity, and were fond of whiskey. Russell, Majors, Waddell were God-fearing, temperate gentlemen themselves, and tried to engage no man who did not come up to their own standard of morality.

There was one notable exception in the person of Jack Slade, the station-agent at Fort Kearney, who was a desperado in the strictest definition of the term; that is, he was a coward at heart, as all of his class are, and brave only when every advantage was in his favour. The number of men he killed in cold blood would probably aggregate more than a score. One of his most damnable acts was the killing of an old French-Canadian trapper, whose name was Jules Bernard, who lived on a ranch on the eastern border of Colorado. While he lived there he got into a quarrel with Slade, and the latter swore he would kill Jules on sight. Slade waited five years for his opportunity. The story is told by an eye-witness as follows:[31] -

        I was thirteen years old when Jules married me and took me to his ranch at Cottonwood Springs. He had three log buildings side by side; one contained our private apartments, one was the store, and the other the kitchen and quarters for the man and his wife who ran the ranch for us.

        Slade was a Kentuckian, a very quiet man when sober, but terribly ugly when drinking. He came to our store one day fearfully drunk and swore he would shoot some d - d Frenchman before night, at the same time reaching for his pistol. Jules knew what he meant and sprang for his shot-gun, the only weapon near; before Slade could bring his pistol to bear, Jules levelled his gun and shot him in the stomach, filling it full of fine shot. He fell, and Jules, going to him, said he would take him to Denver and pay all his doctor-bills and other expenses if he would shake hands. Slade agreed to this, and Jules hitched up a team, hauled him clear to Denver, and paid his bills there for four or five months. He came near dying. Jules afterward heard that when Slade got well and left Denver, he had sworn he would shoot him the first time they met; so Jules was always ready for him.

        One morning long after this Jules started for his old ranch to get some horses and cattle that had been left there. He had to pass by Slade's place, and knowing that Slade had sworn to kill him, he took along a Frenchman living with us, called Pete Gazzous, and an American named Smith. They rode in a light wagon, and as they were all armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, Jules thought he was well prepared to defend himself.

        They watched very close until they got past Slade's ranch, but saw no signs of any one. They stopped at a spring a mile or two beyond to water their horses, and as Jules was stooping down to get a drink, a shot struck him in the leg and broke it just above the knee. He called to Smith to unharness the horses, bring him one, and help him on so that they could get away; but the crowd was so frightened they could not stir, and in a few moments they were surrounded by Slade and his band of twenty-five men.

        They carried Jules to the ranch, and tied him up to a dry-goods box. Slade shot at him for a while, aiming as near as he could without hitting him, finally shooting off one of his ears; and then he ordered his twenty-five men to empty the contents of their revolvers into him. They then threw his body into a hole which they dug.

        The next day a lot of Slade's men came and took away all the goods in the trading-post; they left me about six hundred dollars. They got three thousand dollars that Jules had when he left, and they got the stock, I suppose. I never heard anything about them. They said afterward that Jules had money in the bank, but we could not find any bank-book, and if he had one it was probably on his person. I was just a child and did not know what to do. In a day or two a man came along who lived on a ranch farther west; he was going to Denver for goods; he took me, the man, and woman with him to Denver.[32]

Slade eventually drifted into Montana, and in 1865 was hanged by the vigilantes on suspicion of being the leader of a band of road agents.

He was living on a ranch near Virginia City at the time, and every few days came into town outrageously drunk, alarming the people by shooting through the streets, riding into saloons, and proclaiming himself to be the veritable "Bad man from Bitter Creek."

The belief that he was connected with matters worse than bad whiskey had overstrained the patience of the long-suffering citizens. Soon the suggestive and mysterious triangular little pieces of paper dropped upon the sidewalks of the town, surmounted with the skull and cross-bones, called the vigilantes to a meeting at which the death of Slade and two of his companions was determined upon. The next morning following the evening of the meeting, Slade came to town with his two men, actually sober, and went into a drug-store for a prescription. While waiting for his preparation, twelve shotguns suddenly covered them, and they were ordered to throw up their hands. Slade complied smilingly, but proposed to reason with them as to the absurdity of taking him for a bad man.

The only concession granted, however, was permission to send a note to his wife at the ranch, and an hour allowed to make his peace with the unknown.

Ropes were placed around the necks of the three men, who at the end of the allotted time were given short shrift and were soon hanging between heaven and earth. While their bodies were swaying in the breeze, Slade's wife suddenly appeared mounted on a fine horse, with a cocked pistol in each hand, determined to attempt a rescue. On observing that it was too late, she quailed before the determined countenances of the vigilantes. She soon left the scene of the lynching, and in a short time moved out of the country, carrying with her, as it was believed, a large amount of the proceeds of her husband's robberies.

In the winter of 1860 Mr. Edward Creighton, who had for many years been engaged in constructing telegraph lines all over the United States, determined to inaugurate a pet project he had entertained for a long time, to build one to the Pacific Coast.

In the year above referred to, he had many consultations with the stockholders of the Western Union, the result of which was that a preliminary survey was decided upon. Notwithstanding that travelling by the Overland coach was beset with great danger from attacks by road agents and Indians, Mr. Creighton was compelled to cross the continent by the only means of transportation; and, stopping at Salt Lake City, he excited the interest and enlisted the support of the great head of the Mormon Church.

It had been arranged to invite the association of the California Telegraph Company in the enterprise, and, notwithstanding the terrors of a midwinter journey, Mr. Creighton pressed on on horseback for Sacramento. It was a fearful trip, but the man who made it was stout of heart and he braved the rigours of the mountains, accomplished his mission, and in the spring of 1861 returned to Omaha to commence the great work. The United States, meanwhile, had granted a subsidy of forty thousand dollars a year to the first company who should build a line across the continent. It may well be imagined that a great race was immediately inaugurated for heavy wagers, between Mr. Creighton's force and that of the Californians, who were building eastwardly, each party trying to reach Salt Lake City before the other.

Mr. Creighton had eleven hundred miles to construct, while the California company's distance from the objective point was only four hundred and fifty; yet the indefatigable Mr. Creighton reached Salt Lake City with his completed line on the 17th of October, one week ahead of his competitors.

On the 24th of the same month, but a little more than half a year after its commencement, Mr. Creighton had established telegraphic communication from ocean to ocean. For his remuneration he took one hundred thousand dollars worth of the stock of the new enterprise at about eighteen cents on the dollar. When the project was completed, the company trebled its amount of shares and Mr. Creighton's one hundred thousand dollars immediately enhanced to three hundred thousand. The stock at once rose to the value of eighty-five cents, and he sold out his original one hundred thousand dollars for eight hundred and fifty thousand, still retaining two hundred thousand dollars worth of stock.[33]

With the completion of the telegraph across the continent all the important news could be flashed from ocean to ocean in a few seconds, so the Pony Express ceased to be necessary; the great Concord coach, too, was limited to the mere transportation of passengers and express matter. It was the avant courier of more rapid transit by the palatial trains of the magnificent Union Pacific system which shod the old trail with steel, though at the beginning of the era of the Overland Stage such a railroad was regarded as an idle dream.