Last of the Great Scouts HTML version

Family Defender And Household Tease
THE fame to which Byron woke one historic morning was no more unexpected to him
than that which now greeted Will. The trainmen had not been over-modest in their
accounts of his pluck; and when a newspaper reporter lent the magic of his imagination to
the plain narrative, it became quite a story, headed in display type, "The Boy Indian
But Will was speedily concerned with other than his own affairs, for as soon as his
position with the freighters was assured, mother engaged a lawyer to fight the claim
against our estate. This legal light was John C. Douglass, then unknown, unhonored, and
unsung, but talented and enterprising notwithstanding. He had just settled in
Leavenworth, and he could scarcely have found a better case with which to storm the
heights of fame--the dead father, the sick mother, the helpless children, and relentless
persecution, in one scale; in the other, an eleven-year-old boy doing a man's work to earn
the money needed to combat the family's enemies. Douglass put his whole strength into
the case.
He knew as well as we that our cause was weak; it hung by a single thread-- a missing
witness, Mr. Barnhart. This man had acted as bookkeeper when the bills were paid, but
he had been sent away, and the prosecution-- or persecution--had thus far succeeded in
keeping his where-abouts a secret. To every place where he was likely to be Lawyer
Douglass had written; but we were as much in the dark as ever when the morning for the
trial of the suit arrived.
The case had excited much interest, and the court-room was crowded, many persons
having been drawn thither by a curiosity to look upon "The Boy Indian Slayer." There
was a cheerful unanimity of opinion upon the utter hopelessness of the Cody side of the
case. Not only were prominent and wealthy men arrayed against us, but our young and
inexperienced lawyer faced the heaviest legal guns of the Leavenworth bar. Our only
witnesses were a frail woman and a girl of eighteen, though by their side, with his head
held high, was the family protector, our brave young brother. Against us were might and
malignity; upon our side, right and the high courage with which Christianity steels the
soul of a believer. Mother had faith that the invisible forces of the universe were fighting
for our cause.
She and Martha swore to the fact that all the bills had been settled; and after the
opposition had rested its case, Lawyer Douglass arose for the defense. His was a
magnificent plea for the rights of the widow and the orphan, and was conceded to be one
of the finest speeches ever heard in a Kansas court-room; but though all were moved by
our counsel's eloquence--some unto tears by the pathos of it-- though the justice of our
cause was freely admitted throughout the court-room, our best friends feared the verdict.
But the climax was as stunning to our enemies as it was unexpected. As Lawyer Douglass
finished his last ringing period, the missing witness, Mr. Barnhart, hurried into the court-