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The Hunt Of The Grand Duke Alexis
A SPECIAL train brought the Grand Duke Alexis and party to North Platte on January
12, 1872. Will was presented to the illustrious visitor by General Sheridan, and was much
interested in him. He was also pleased to note that General Custer made one of the party.
Will had made all the arrangements, and had everything complete when the train pulled
in. As soon as the Grand Duke and party had breakfasted, they filed out to get their
horses or to find seats in the ambulances. All who were mounted were arranged
according to rank. Will had sent one of his guides ahead, while he was to remain behind
to see that nothing was left undone. Just as they were to start, the conductor of the Grand
Duke's train came up to Will and said that Mr. Thompson had not received a horse.
"What Thompson?" asked Will. "Why, Mr. Frank Thompson, who has charge of the
Grand Duke's train." Will looked over the list of names sent him by General Sheridan of
those who would require saddle-horses, but failed to find that of Mr. Thompson.
However, he did not wish to have Mr. Thompson or any one else left out. He had
following him, as he always did, his celebrated war-horse, "Buckskin Joe." This horse
was not a very prepossessing "insect." He was buckskin in color, and rather a sorry-
looking animal, but he was known all over the frontier as the greatest long-distance and
best buffalo-horse living. Will had never allowed any one but himself to ride this horse,
but as he had no other there at the time, he got a saddle and bridle, had it put on old
Buckskin Joe, and told Mr. Thompson he could ride him until he got where he could get
him another. This horse looked so different from the beautiful animals the rest of the
party were supplied with that Mr. Thompson thought it rather discourteous to mount him
in such fashion. However, he got on, and Will told him to follow up, as he wanted to go
ahead to where the general was. As Mr. Thompson rode past the wagons and ambulances
he noticed the teamsters pointing at him, and thinking the men were guying him, rode up
to one of them, and said, "Am I not riding this horse all right?" Mr. Thompson felt some
personal pride in his horsemanship, as he was a Pennsylvania fox-hunter.
The driver replied, "Yes, sir; you ride all right."
"Well, then," said Thompson, "it must be this horse you are guying."
The teamster replied:
"Guying that horse? Not in a thousand years!"
"Well, then, why am I such a conspicuous object?"
"Why, sir, are you not the king?"
"The king? Why did you take me for the king?"