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Last of the Great Scouts
Helen Cody Wetmore
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Will As Pony Express Rider
AFTER being pounded against a saddle three dashes daily for three months, to the tune of
fifteen miles an hour, Will began to feel a little loose in his joints, and weary withal, but
he was determined to "stick it out." Besides the daily pounding, the track of the Pony
Express rider was strewn with perils. A wayfarer through that wild land was more likely
to run across outlaws and Indians than to pass unmolested, and as it was known that
packages of value were frequently dispatched by the Pony Express line, the route was
punctuated by ambuscades.
Will had an eye out every trip for a hold-up, but three months went by before he added
that novelty to his other experiences. One day, as he flew around a bend in a narrow pass,
he confronted a huge revolver in the grasp of a man who manifestly meant business, and
whose salutation was:
"Halt! Throw up your hands!"
Most people do, and Will's hands were raised reluctantly. The highwayman advanced,
saying, not unkindly:
"I don't want to hurt you, boy, but I do want them bags."
Money packages were in the saddlebags, and Will was minded to save them if he could,
so, as the outlaw reached for the booty, Will touched the pony with his foot, and the
upshot was satisfactory to an unexpected degree. The plunge upset the robber, and as the
pony swept over him he got a vicious blow from one hoof. Will wheeled for a revolver
duel, but the foe was prostrate, stunned, and bleeding at the head. Will disarmed the
fellow, and pinioned his arms behind him, and then tied up his broken head. Will
surmised that the prisoner must have a horse hidden hard by, and a bit of a search
disclosed it. When he returned with the animal, its owner had opened his eyes and was
beginning to remember a few things. Will helped him to mount, and out of pure kindness
tied him on; then he straddled his own pony, and towed the dismal outfit along with him.
It was the first time that he had been behind on his run, but by way of excuse he offered
to Mr. Chrisman a broken-headed and dejected gentleman tied to a horse's back; and
Chrisman, with a grin, locked the excuse up for future reference.
A few days after this episode Will received a letter from Julia, telling him that mother
was ill, and asking him to come home. He at once sought out Mr. Chrisman, and giving
his reason, asked to be relieved.
"I'm sorry your mother is sick," was the answer, "but I'm glad something has occurred to
make you quit this life. It's wearing you out, Billy, and you're too gritty to give it up
without a good reason."