Hearing the war-whoop and the shot, and at the same time missing Billy, the men came running back and found him dragging the red-skin along in the stream after him.
“It’s my Injun, boys,” he cried exultantly.
“It are fer a fact, an’ I’ll show yer how ter take his scalp,” replied Frank McCarthy the train-master, and he skillfully cut off the scalp-lock and handed it to Billy, adding:
“Thar, thet is yer first scalp, boy, an’ I’m willin’ ter swear it won’t be yer last, for Billy, you is ther boss boy I ever see.”
Billy thanked McCarthy for the gory trophy, gave a slight shudder as he took it, and said significantly:
“I ain’t so tired as I was, and I guess I’ll keep up with you all now, for if the bank hadn’t caved in that Injun would have had me.”
At daylight they came in sight of Kearney, and after a volley or two at the Indians still dogging their steps, made for the fort and reached it in safety.
The commanding officer at once sent out a force in pursuit of the red-skins; but they neither found them or the cattle they had driven off.
After a short stay at Fort Kearney Billy returned with a train to Leavenworth, where the papers dubbed him the “Boy Indian-Killer,” and made a hero of him for his exploit on the South Platte.
Winning A name.
When Billy returned home, after his first Indian-killing expedition, he carried with him the pay of a bullwhacker, and all of it he placed in his mother’s hands, for the death of Mr. Cody had left the family in indigent circumstances.
Finding that she could not keep Billy at home when he had found out that by his exertions, boy though he was, he could support the family, Mrs. Cody gave a reluctant consent for him to make another trip to the far West under an old and experienced wagon-master named Lew Simpson, and who had taken a great fancy to the youthful Indian-fighter.
Bill was accordingly enlisted as an “extra,” which meant that he was to receive full pay and be on hand ready to take the place of any one of the train that was killed, wounded, or got sick.
The wagon train pulled out of Leavenworth, all heavily freighted, each one carrying about six thousand pounds weight, and each also drawn by four yoke of oxen under charge of a driver, or “bullwhacker.”
The train consisted of twenty-five wagons, under Lew Simpson, then an assistant wagon-master, next Billy, the “extra,” a night herder, a cavallard driver, whose duty was driving the loose and lame cattle, and the bullwhacker for each team.
All were armed with yagers and Colt’s revolvers, and each man had a horse along, Billy’s being Sable Satan, still as good as the day he captured him, and a piece of equine property all envied the boy the possession of; in fact there were several of the men who swore they would yet have the horse.