So dangerous had it become to drive the mountain passes, as several drivers had been shot, the company found it difficult to get men to carry the stages through, and offered double wages to any one who had the courage to drive over the road-agents dominions.
Buffalo Billy at once volunteered for the perilous work, and his first trip through he met with no resistance.
The next he was halted, and promptly obeying the order to throw up his hands, he was not molested, though the gold-box was taken from the coach, and all the passengers were robbed.
After this it was almost a daily occurrence for the road-agents to rob a stage-coach, and the Overland Company offered a reward of five thousand dollars for the capture of their chief and the band.
One day Billy drove away from the station with a coach full of women, not a single man having the pluck to go, and promptly, at their favorite place, the road-agents appeared.
“Halt! up with your hands!”
With military promptitude Buffalo Billy obeyed, and putting on the California brakes, he drew his horses to a stand-still.
“Well, what have you got to-day that’s worthy our picking, my Boy Driver?” said the road-agent leader approaching the coach.
“Only women, and I beg you not to be brute enough to scare ’em,” said Billy.
“Oh! they must pay toll; and they generally have good watches; but what is it, a woman’s rights meeting, or a Seminary broke loose?’
“Ask ’em,” was the quiet reply, and as the leader of the road-agents, closely followed by his half-dozen men, all in masks, rode up to the stage door, Billy suddenly drew his revolver and with the flash the chief fell dead.
“Out, boys!” yelled Billy, and the stage doors flew open, dresses and bonnets were cast aside, and nine splendid fellows began a rapid fire upon the amazed road-agents.
One or two managed to escape; but that was all, for after four of their number had fallen, the balance were glad enough to cry for quarter, which was shown them only until a rope could be thrown over the limb of a tree and they drawn up to expiate their crimes by hanging.
It was Billy’s little plot, and he got the larger part of the reward, and the credit of ridding the country of a daring band of desperate men.
Shortly after this bold act, hearing of the continued failing health of his mother, Buffalo Billy, like the dutiful son he was, once more resigned his position as stage-driver, and returned to Kansas, arriving there a few months after the breaking out of the civil war in 1861.
The boy soldier.
After a very short stay at home Buffalo Billy began to show signs of uneasiness, for he was too near Leavenworth, then an important military post, not to get the soldier’s fever for battles and marches.