At the same time he wheeled upon the other, who already had his hand upon his revolver, and before he could fire, his own finger touched the trigger, and the desperado fell.
Bounding into his saddle he turned his horse down the mountain side, just as the door of the cabin was thrown open and he saw the band streaming out from their den, alarmed by the shot.
In hot pursuit they rushed down the mountain side, and for a short while gained upon Billy, for he dared not urge his horse rapidly down the steep hillside.
But once in the valley and the roan bounded forward at a swift pace, and not a moment too soon, for the revolver shots began to rattle, and the bullets to fly uncomfortably near.
On, at a swift gait the roan went, and though Billy heard the clatter of hoofs in chase, he had no fear, as he well knew the speed of the animal he rode.
After a few miles’ pursuit the desperadoes gave up the chase and returned toward the mountains, while Buffalo Billy urged the roan on, and a couple of hours before dawn he reached the station, roused the men, and in fifteen minutes two score horsemen were on the way to the mountains, led by the boy, though Alf Slade himself went in command of the company.
But though they found the dug-out, and the grave of the man Billy had killed, the birds had flown, leaving one of their number in his last resting place to mark the visit of the youth to the desperadoes’ den.
A mad ride.
Back to his home in Kansas went Buffalo Billy, to cheer the heart of his mother and sisters by his presence, and win their admiration by his rapid growth into a handsome manly youth.
To please those who so dearly loved him he again attended school for a couple of months; but with the first wagon-train bound west he went as hunter, and arriving in the vicinity of the Overland again sought service as a stage-driver, and was gladly accepted and welcomed back.
He had been driving but a short time after his return, when he carried east on one trip a coach load of English tourists, whose baggage loaded down the stage.
Although he was driving at the average regulation speed, to make time at each station, the Englishmen were growling all the time at the slow pace they were going and urging Billy to push ahead.
Billy said nothing, other than that he was driving according to orders, and which was, by the way, by no means a slow gait, and then listened to their growling in silence, while they were anathematizing everything in America, as is often the case with foreigners who come to this country.
Billy heard their remarks about the “bloody ’eathen in Hamerica,” “the greatness of hall things hin Hingland,” “slow horses,” “bad drivers,” and all such talk, and drove calmly on into Horsehoe.
There the horses were changed, and the six hitched to the coach were wild Pony Express animals that had been only partially broken in as a stage team, which Billy delighted in driving.