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Wild Bill's Last Trail   By: (1823?-1886)

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Wild Bill's Last Trail.

By NED BUNTLINE, Author of "Harry Bluff, The Reefer," "Navigator Ned," etc.


"Bill! Wild Bill! Is this you, or your ghost? What, in great Creation's name, are you doing here?"

"Gettin' toward sunset, old pard gettin' toward sunset, before I pass in my checks!"

The first speaker was an old scout and plainsman, Sam Chichester by name, and he spoke to a passenger who had just left the west ward bound express train at Laramie, on the U.P.R.R.

That passenger was none other than J. B. Hickok, or "Wild Bill," one of the most noted shots, and certainly the most desperate man of his age and day west of the Mississippi River.

"What do you mean, Bill, when you talk of passing in your checks? You're in the very prime of life, man, and "

"Hush! Talk low! There are listening ears everywhere, Sam! I don't know why, but there is a chill at my heart, and I know my time has about run out. I've been on East with Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack, trying to show people what our plains life is. But I wasn't at home there. There were crowds on crowds that came to see us, and I couldn't stir on the streets of their big cities without having an army at my heels, and I got sick of it. But that wasn't all. There was a woman that fell in love with me, and made up her mind to marry me. I told her that I was no sort of a man to tie to that I was likely to be wiped out any day 'twixt sunrise and sunset, for I had more enemies than a candidate for President; but she wouldn't listen to sense, and so we buckled! Thank Heaven, I've coaxed her to stay East with friends while I've come out here; for, Sam, she'll be a widow inside of six weeks!"

"Bill, you've been hitting benzine heavy of late haven't you?

"No; I never drank lighter in my life than I have for a year past. But there's a shadow cold as ice on my soul! I've never felt right since I pulled on that red haired Texan at Abilene, in Kansas. You remember, for you was there. It was kill or get killed, you know, and when I let him have his ticket for a six foot lot of ground he gave one shriek it rings in my ears yet. He spoke but one word 'Sister!' Yet that word has never left my ears, sleeping or waking, from that time to this. I had a sister once myself, Sam, and I loved her a thousand times more than I did life. In fact I never loved life after I lost her. And I can't tell you all about her I'd choke if I tried. It is enough that she died, and the cause of her death died soon after, and I wasn't far away when when he went under. But that isn't here nor there, Sam let's go and warm up. Where do you hang out?"

"I'm in camp close by. I'm heading a party that is bound in for the Black Hills. Captain Jack Crawford is along. You know him. And California Joe, too."

"Good! It is the first streak of luck I've had in a year. I'll join your crowd, Sam, if you'll let me. Captain Jack and Joe are as good friends as I ever had always barring one."

"And that is?"

"My old six shooter here. Truth Teller I call it. It never speaks without saying something. But come, old boy I see a sign ahead. I must take in a little benzine to wash the car dust out of my throat."

Bill pointed to a saloon near at hand, and the two old scouts and companions moved toward it.

As they did so, a young man, roughly dressed, with a face fair and smooth, though shadowed as if by exposure to sun and and wind, stepped from behind a shade tree, where he had stood while these two talked, listening with breathless interest to every word. His hair, a deep, rich auburn, hung in curling masses clear to his shoulders, and his blue eyes seemed to burn with almost feverish fire as he gazed in the direction the scouts had taken.

"So! He remembers Abilene, does he?"

And the tone of the young man was low and fierce us an angered serpent's hiss.

"And he thinks his time is near. So do I. But he shall not die in a second, as his victim did, I would prolong his agonies for years, if every hour was like a living death; a speechless misery... Continue reading book >>

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