Last of the Great Scouts
The "Boy Extra"
AT this sorrowful period mother was herself almost at death's door with consumption,
but far from sinking under the blow, she faced the new conditions with a steadfast calm,
realizing that should she, too, be taken, her children would be left without a protector,
and at the mercy of the enemies whose malignity had brought their father to an untimely
end. Her indomitable will opposed her bodily weakness. "I will not die," she told herself,
"until the welfare of my children is assured." She was needed, for our persecution
Hardly was the funeral over when a trumped-up claim for a thousand dollars, for lumber
and supplies, was entered against our estate. Mother knew the claim was fictitious, as all
the bills had been settled, but the business had been transacted through the agency of
Uncle Elijah, and father had neglected to secure the receipts. In those bitter, troublous
days it too often happened that brother turned against brother, and Elijah retained his
fealty to his party at the expense of his dead brother's family.
This fresh affliction but added fuel to the flame of mother's energy. Our home was paid
for, but father's business had been made so broken and irregular that our financial
resources were of the slenderest, and should this unjust claim for a thousand dollars be
allowed, we would be homeless.
The result of mother's study of the situation was, "If I had the ready money, I should fight
"You fight the claim, and I'll get the money," Will replied.
Mother smiled, but Will continued:
"Russell, Majors & Waddell will give me work. Jim Willis says I am capable of filling
the position of `extra.' If you'll go with me and ask Mr. Majors for a job, I'm sure he'll
give me one."
Russell, Majors & Waddell were overland freighters and contractors, with headquarters at
Leavenworth. To Will's suggestion mother entered a demurrer, but finally yielded before
his insistence. Mr. Majors had known father, and was more than willing to aid us, but
Will's youth was an objection not lightly overridden.
"What can a boy of your age do?" he asked, kindly.
"I can ride, shoot, and herd cattle," said Will; "but I'd rather be an `extra' on one of your
"But that is a man's work, and is dangerous besides." Mr. Majors hesitated. "But I'll let
you try it one trip, and if you do a man's work, I'll give you a man's pay."