California Joe, the Mysterious Plainsman - Part 2

Part 2

What became of Joe, after his departure from the fort, no one ever knew, for several years pa.s.sed away before those who had known him than heard of him again. Some said he had indeed gone to the Rocky Mountains, and had pa.s.sed a year or more roaming through its wilds, and others reported that a youth answering to his description, had been guiding trains over the Santa Fe trails, and had won a name in Upper Mexico as a most daring Indian-fighter, and a man whom few of the desperadoes of the plains cared to meet. But one night he came suddenly before several who had known him at the fort, when he brought his captured herd in, and it was in this way. Major Van Dorn had been pushed further west with his command, for the Star of Empire would not allow the border to remain long in one locality, as the march of civilization beat the red-skins further and further toward the Land of the Setting Sun. About his outpost Major Van Dorn had been annoyed a great deal with a gang of desperadoes, who were road agents, horse thieves and all else that was vile and he had offered a reward for their capture dead or alive. One night he had gone over to a small settlement, a few miles from the outpost he commanded, to witness the marriage of a young trapper to a settler's daughter; and as there was just then a number of his troopers off on a raid, he had been accompanied only by one of his officers and two cavalrymen. The trapper was a handsome young man, but there was that in his face which neither the girl's father nor the major liked; but the maiden had fallen in love with his good looks, and plainly told her father that he did not like her lover because he wanted her to marry the old fort sutler, who was rich.

The settler gave his consent, however, to the marriage, and the day had been set, or rather the night, for the ceremony. Promptly at sunset the young groom arrived, accompanied by several wild-looking comrades, who he said had come down from the bills to see him "spliced," as he termed it. The major saw these friends, and liked their looks less than he did the groom's, and, as more of them dropped in, until there were nearly a dozen present, he determined to he on his guard, well knowing that was a locality for characters of a most dangerous kind. One of the guests attracted the attention of the major in particular, and he was about to walk over to where he stood and ask him where they had met before, when, as though divining his purpose, the young man left the cabin abruptly. "Did you see that man, Stewart?" asked the major of his brother officer. "Yes, major, and a dashing looking follow he was, with an eye like an eagle," was the reply. The one to whom they referred was six feet in height, superbly formed, and had a ma.s.s of brown curls hanging down his back. His face was full of daring, resolute, and his eyes were black, l.u.s.trous, and in repose sad, while a slight mustache was just shading his lip. He was dressed in a full suit of buckskin, fringed and beaded, and even in the settler's cabin wore a black sombrero, the broad brim turned up in front. Around his waist was a belt made of a panther-skin, and in it were a pair of revolvers and a long bowie-knife. "I have met him somewhere before, Stewart." "So it seems to me, major," and the two officers tried to recall where and when the young man had crossed their paths in the past. At length the bride came in, upon the arm of her father, and her lover and his pards entered from outside the cabin, where they had been joking and frolicking with each other in a somewhat rude manner. It was evident that they had all been drinking, and the lover, whose name was lost under the border appellation given him of Bowie Bob, said in an insulting tone, as his eyes fell upon the major: "This hain't no military wedding, and I wants them blue coats and bra.s.s b.u.t.tons to git." His pards cheered at this; but the settler, Seth Kenton, stopped forward and said: "Bob, these gentlemen are my friends, and their being on this border prevents our homes being burned and our families ma.s.sacred, and I invited them here to see Mollie married." "Waal, I say no, old man," was the rude reply. "Pardon me, Mr. Kenton, but I do not wish to be a stumbling block in the way of your daughter's marriage, so I will retire, and Captain Stewart will accompany me," said Major Van Dorn quietly. The old settler evidently feared his intended son-in-law, and knew not what to say; but Mollie Kenton spoke up and said: "For shame, Bob, to insult my father's friends." "I'll do more than that, gal, if they don't travel quick. "Come, git out o' this and lively too, or I'll make it lively fer yer," cried the bully. Major Van Dorn was no man to be driven, and facing Bowie Bob he said sternly: "Young man, you are going too far, and I warn you that I will not be bullied by you, nor shall I now leave this house to please you." The bully winced a little at this bold front shown him, but after a glance at his pards, he said: You won't go, yer say?" "I will not, nor can you force me to do so." Come, pards, let's clip his spurs," shouted the bully and he moved toward the major. "I guess not." A form suddenly bounded forward and confronted the bully, and in each hand he hold a revolver. It was the same young man that the major had said he had seen before. "Look a-heur, Joe, what in thunder's up, thet you plays that tricky hand?" whined Bowie Bob, not liking the change affairs had taken. "It are a leetle game I hes intended springin' outer yer for some time, yer cussed cutthroat, an' of yer hands don't by up like windmills durned suddint, yer toes will," was the cool and threatening response. "Pards, does yer all stand this heur music?" cried the bully. "I guesses they heurs ther tune I are shriekin', an' hesn't got ther narve ter set another hold on thar, Pant'er Pete!" A ringing report followed as quick as a flash, and the man addressed as Panther Pete fell dead in his tracks, a bullet in his forehead, sent from the unerring pistol of the man who so boldly faced the gang of desperadoes, while, with only the interruption of the shot and the fall, he continued in the same cool way: "Yer see, pards, I set another tune, an' none o' yer hed ther nerve ter jine in ther chorus, an' it's all well yer didn't, fer I hev every durned gerloot o' yer kivered, an' 'leve more fun'rals in these weepins, while you only counts nine." "Come, Joe, is yer gone mad?" asked the expected bridegroom. "Nary, but Pant'er Pete hev gone somewhar an' you'll foller if yer drops them hands o' yourn. "Up with yer throat-cutters and gold-stealers yer varmints o' Satan, or I'll play the Dead March!" Those he addressed knew to whom he referred, and up went the hands of the desperado gang. "Oh, Lordy, anybody lookin' in through the winder w'u'd think we were havin' a pra'er meetin' in hour fer sartin. "Now, major, jist call in yer sojers an' ther gang sh.e.l.l be tuck in slick as grease." "I care not to arrest them, my fine fellow," said the major. "Thar yer is all wrong, major, fer yer hev offered a reward fer these very gerloots." "Ha! who are they? "Bowie Bob, are ther capt'in o' ther gang, an' they is knowed as- -Look out thar! " With the last word a second shot rung through the cabin and another of the men, who had, lowered his hand quickly to draw a weapon, fell his length upon the floor. "As I were sayin'," coolly went on the young man, "when thet dead pilgrim were so onperlite as ter interrupt me, this hear convention o' gerloots is knowed as ther Midnight Riders." "Ha! that robber band?" cried the major, now drawing his revolver, while Captain Stewart followed his example and both stepped to the side of the man who made the bold a.s.sertion. "I talks Gospil, major, fer I hes been fer three months with ther gang, layin' fer jist this heur moment o' joy." The honest settlers present now also stepped forward. and wholly at the mercy of their captors, the band of outlaws offered no resistance, and were soon secured beyond all possibility of escape." "Now, my friend , whom have I to thank for this night's good work" said Major Van Dorn, as he stopped up to the daring borderman who had been the means of saving his life and also of having captured the very band of outlaws he had tried so hard to hunt down. "My name are Joe, major," was the quiet reply. "Joe! By heaven, but I see it now! "You are Joe the Stampeder, as the boys called you at the fort?" "I guess I are the one thet were thet Joe," and Joe grasped the hand warmly that was extended to him, and that night accompanied the major and his prisoners back to the fort; but not one word could they get him to tell them of where he had been, and what adventures he had known since three years before he had ridden off alone as the Boy Pioneer, bound for the Rocky Mountains.



WELL, Joe, why don't you tell us what you have been doing since we saw you last" asked the major, for the twentieth time, as they rode on toward the fort that night, accompanied by Captain Stewart, and with the outlaw, bringing up the rear guarded by two soldiers. "I hev been rovin', major." "But where?" "About ther kentry." "Did you got to the Rocky Mountains?" "Yes." "And have met with many thrilling adventures, I'll wager?" "Yer's win yer money, fer I hes been through some leetle adventer in my way," was the quiet reply. "But bow did, you strike the trail of the Midnight Riders?" "I were a-ridin' along the trail one day an' comed across your dockiment stuck on a tree." "What was that, Joel" "Tellin' how yer's give dust fer ther Raider Cap's an' his gang whether the'r toes were turned up or kickin' "I jist thoughted I'd like ther job, an' I lays round loose, got ther run o' bow ter meet an' then fined ther gang with a tale o' "I been put through thet made 'em weep fer me. "Yer knows ther balance, major, an' that I jist saved thet putty gal from bein' a outlaw's bride; but wimmin is sich queer folks I dunno of she don't cuss me fer it, arter all." "No, Joe, she said " G.o.d bless you I many times." "Waal, I hopes He will, major; but does yer know I hev lost thet horse yer give me?" "No; how did you do that?" and the major hoped to draw the young man out to tell something about himself. "And ther mustang, too." "You lost your mustang, too?" "Yas." "But how?" "They got kilt." "Indeed! How did it happen?" "They got shooted."

"In a fight, I suppose?" "Yes, it were a. kind of a scrimmage like." "But I were sorry to lose your horse, and yer rifle got tuk from me." "Tell us how it happened, Joe?" "I hes been among ther Injuns, an' they hain't over honest," was the significant reply, and with this his hearers were compelled to be satisfied. "But you are well mounted and armed now, Joe." "Yas, this critter hain't slow I an' she kin keep movin' as long as any of 'em."

"Well, Joe, the paymaster of the fort hasn't paid over your money yet." "No, ther time hed not pa.s.sed." And you'll have some to add to it, as you'll get your reward for those outlaws back there." "Major, I trades in horse-flesh, I swaps rifles, revolvers, knives or buckskin, but I don't take dust for human blood. "Yer is welcome ter them pilgrims, an' kin hang 'em fer all I cares, but I don't sell 'em ter yer. "I heerd yer name spoke as I were pa.s.sin through this kentry, an, I seen yer dockymint, an' I sets out to retarn yer kindness, an' thar Is ther gerloots; but don't talk dust ter me for human flesh an' bones." "Well, Joe, I meant but to give you what is your just due." "Divide it with the sogers of yer regimint, major," "And the money I have of yours, Joe?" "Keep a keepin' on it, major, until yer heur from me ter give it away." "But I expect soon to be ordered away from here , Joe." "Waal, leave it with ther one who takes yer place, subject ter my call." By this time they had reached the fort, and when those who had known Joe before heard of his arrival, they pressed about him with warm greetings. "Joe, you have grown as handsome as a picture,?' said a young officer. "I has been told," was the innocent reply, and it caused a general laugh. That night Joe slept in the fort, the guest of the major, and when the two were breakfasting together the next morning, and the officer was striving to get the young frontiersman to enlist as a scout, the startling news was brought in that the prisoners had all escaped, having, dug out from the guard house and under the stockade wall. Squads of cavalry were at once sent in every direction in pursuit of the fugitives, while Joe mounted his horse and started off alone with the remark: "I guesses I'll strike ther trail myself."



WHEN Joe left the fort, he did not attempt to strike the trail of the fugitives, as the soldiers had done. He had heard that the outlaws had killed the guard over the horses, and -mounting the fleetest animals -had separated to each go his own way. There were eight of them, and each one had been pursued by a squad of cavalry led by an officer and a good scout. Joe however took his own way to follow them. up. Having been a member of their baud, while he was plotting their capture, he at once determined to start for their retreat in the hills. He rightly knew that when Bowie Bob had gone down to the settlement to marry pretty Mollie Kenton, he had left at the retreat a couple of pards, and plenty of arms and plunder, with a score or more of horses. Though pa.s.sing as a trapper, Bowie Bob was the captain of the gang of horse-thieves and murderers, and his handsome face and dashing way had won poor Mollie's heart, for she suspected not his vile character. Therefore Joe, knowing what he did, struck straight for the retreat, and did not spare his horse in the least. It was a hard six miles' ride, and the sun was nearing the western horizon, when Joe bid his tired horse in a ravine and went to the outlaw cabin. "Hullo, Joe, whar's the rest o' ther boys?" said one of the two men who came out of the cabin as he approached. It was a wild, desolate spot, and where few soldiers would care to follow a foe. A rudely built, but stout cabin, a fenced in lot for stolen horses, and air out-house for plunder, comprised the outlaws' retreat, over which two villainous looking men held guard during the absence of the rest of the gang. "They is comin' as last as they kin," truthfully answered Joe. "Did ther Cap git fixed?" "He did, Tom, durned well fixed." "Waal, she are a prairie flower o' a but she'll shout of she ever finds out he are what he be; but what is yer lookin' fer?" I most hev dropped my flask o' speerit as I coined up from where I left my critter." "I'll go an' git it, Joe," volunteered one only too anxious to get the opportunity to drink half of it, and fill it up with water. "Waal, my critter are dead beat, so I, left him in ther pine canyon. "Ef it hain't in my saddle pocket, Tom, I guesses I hev lost it." Tom started off rapidly in search of the treasured "speerit," and hardly had he gotten out of sight before Joe said: "Maybe I hev a leetle drop in ther old jug, Jim, so let's see." Jim followed him into the cabin, to suddenly find his throat in an iron grasp, and to see a revolver shoved into his face. "Git down on yer knees, Jim, fer I intends ter tie yer." "Don't kill me, Joe," whined the wretch, as the hold on his throat was released. "I don't want ter sile my hands with yer, but I does intend ter keep yer from doin' no more deviltry." With that, Joe gagged the outlaw, and then shoved him, all securely bound as he was, under one of the beds that occupied the four corners of' the cabin. Going to the door, he saw Tom coming up the hill with the flask in his hand. A look at him was sufficient to see that he had been drinking heavily. "Did yer take any, Tom?" "No, Joe, fer yer see it are full." "Yas, it are full o' water, an' you is full o' rum." and Joe grabbed the man in a grasp which had he been sober, he could not have shaken off. With a dexterity that was remarkable, he bound and gagged him also, and he too was rolled under the bed to keep his pard company. Joe then prepared his supper, and just as he sat down to eat it, in stepped Bowie Bob into the cabin. Seeing who it was he confronted, Bowie Bob hastily drew a revolver and covered him, a weapon he had taken from the soldier he had killed. Joe was evidently taken by surprise, for he had not expected that one of the escaped outlaws would be armed. But not a muscle quivered as the bandit captain cried: "Ha! you are here, traitor Joe, and I've got the dead drop on you." "Yas, Bowie Bob, I are here, an' I are sorry ter see yer is sich a durned fool ter think I'd come alone. "Yer has ther dead drop on me, I 'lows; but thar is some ahind yer, thet covers yer ugly carkis far all it are worth." The outlaw lowered his weapon and turned quickly to look behind him. That was all Joe wanted, for in an instant he turned the tables, and he covered Bowie Bob with his weapon, while he said coolly: "Drop that weepin, Bob!" The outlaw obeyed. "Now, I guesses you is tired sufficient ter want ter lie down on yer face. "Down yer goes!" With a curse the outlaw obeyed, and to bind and gag him was but the work of a minute, arnd he too was hustled out of sight. Soon after there came the sound of hoofs without, and a voice cried: "Ho, Tom! Ho, Jim! are you abed?" "No, come in!" gruffly answered Joe. The bolt was removed from the door, which swung open and a man stepped in with the remark: "Boys, there has been the devil to pay down in the settlements, for-" "Thar devils ter pay up hear in the mountings, Josh," said Joe, stepping from behind the door and dealing the man a blow that sent him, reeling to the ground. But, before he could follow up his advantage and bind him, two more of the outlaws entered, and seeing him, at a glance took in the situation. One was armed with a knife, and the other seizing a chair rushed upon Joe. "Back, pards, fer I'd a heap rather yer'd be hung then hev ter kill yer," he shouted. "We'll take ther chances, yer cussed traitor," cried one. But they were the last words he ever uttered, as he fell dead, shot through the heart. But before Joe could fire a second shot the man he had been trying to bind, seized his arm, and instantly a desperate struggle began for the mastery, the other outlaw rushing to his aid. Hearing the fracas Bowie Bob and his two bound and gagged companions rolled out from under the bed and made frantic efforts to speak and free themselves, so that the cabin was turned into a pandemonium for a few moments. But Joe had the strength of a giant, and was as wiry as a cat, and rose, to his feet with his two foes clinging to him, and striving all their might to prevent him from using his weapons. With a herculean effort he shook one off, and at once came the flash and crack of his revolver, and while one man fell dead, the other sung out l.u.s.tily: "Don't shoot me, Joe." "I won't, pard, fer it is better that yer be hung; but yer'll excuse me ef I ties yer." And tie him he did, after which he turned to Bowie Bob and the two others who had rolled out in a vain endeavor to join in the fight, and said: "Bein' as yer rolled out, jist roll back ag'in." They obeyed with an alacrity that pleased Joe greatly, and he said: "Thar is four more due an' they'll be along afore day, ef ther soger hasn't tuk 'em." And before daybreak, one by one the four dropped into the trap and were made prisoners, after which Joe loaded the stolen horses in the corral with his captives and the two dead bodies, and set out on his return to the fort, where he arrived in safety. "Joe, you shall not leave this fort, for I will make you chief of scouts," said the delighted major at beholding him and his prisoners. But in the morning Joe had gone, and none knew when, or whither.



In the same mysterious way in which he had before disappeared for several years, Joe again was lost sight of, after his departure from the outpost, the night of his capture of Bowie Bob and his gang. There were stories told of a white man living among the Indians, and some of the soldiers set this down as Joe. Old trappers were wont to spin tales about a Hermit who lived in the Rocky Mountains, and the description of him tallied so well with what Joe was that many believed that it must be he. Again, reports were circulated among the frontier of the doings of a man who went by the euphonious t.i.tle of "California Joe." It was said that he had guided one of the first parties of miners into what is now the Golden State, and had shown them localities where gold was to be found in a way that proved that he must have been there before, though he would never tell any of his comrades whether such was the case or not.

It was stated also that this Gold Guide had been named California Joe, and that he had few equals in strength, was a most desperate man in a fight, and could throw a bullet in the exact spot he meant it to go. Those who told camp-fire yarns about the mysterious man said he bore innumerable scars upon his body, legs and arms, but that his face was very handsome and unmarred. One of the scouts who had been at the fort, and afterward the outpost when he was at them, was seized with the "gold fever," and made his way to California in company with several others. Hearing of a mining camp in the mountains, where "dust" was panning out well, they sought its vicinity, and arrived just in time to witness a very exciting scene. It seems that a man had been shot in his "find" the day before, and his brother, a mere boy, knowing who his murderer was, had avenged his death. The murderer happened to be the leader of a desperate lot, and they at once swore to avenge their chief, and marched in force to the cabin of his slayer. He had heard of their coming, and stood boldly at his door, his pistols in hand. "We've come to hang ye, youngster, an' yer mou't as well drop them wepins," said one. "I will defend my life, so I warn you off", was the firm reply. "Come, boys, let's run on him, fer 'twon't do ter cheat ourselves out o' ther fun o' hangin' him by shootin' him." This advice was about to be followed, when a man suddenly stepped between the youth and his foes. "Waal?" said the leader, savagely. "Waal?" echoed the man. "What does yer mean?" "I means his biz yer means ter hurt thet boy," was the cool reply. "Waal, we intends ter bang him." "I guesses not." "Yer does?" "I does far sartin." "Does yer mean ter go agin' us?" "I means that boy is not ter be hurted, Tom Jones. "Yer pard kilt his brother, an' ther boy shouted back in squar' fight, an' now yer says hang him, an' I says no." "Waal, we'll do it, ef we hes ter kill yer ter git ter him," was the stern response. "I guess not." With these words the man whipped out two revolvers in the twinkling of an eye, and covered the crowd. Some one fired, who no one knew, and that set the ball going, and in six seconds a score of shots were fired, and several men lay dead in their tracks, and the and the youth be defended stood in the door of the cabin unhurt, while their a.s.sailants had fallen back before an aim that never failed. Such was the scene that the scout and his pards witnessed as they entered the mining camp, and one asked: "Who are that terror on legs, pard?" "Thar pilgrim what made that cold meat just now? inquired the one addressed. "Yes." "They was durned fools ter push him ter it." "But who are he?" "Ther squarest man in this heur camp. "Ther man who guided ther boys ter find ther dust heur, an' don't car' a durn fer diggin' it hisself." "But what are his name?" "Waal, yer hes ter ax me suthin' more easier, pard stranger." "Don't he hev no name?" "Yas, I hes heerd o' him, an' knows him," and the scout who had turned miner went up and renewed his acquaintance with Joe, who greeted him most cordially, and added: "I is glad ter see yer ag'in, on' ther boys will give yer a blow- out ter-night, an' it are a pity them fellers was sich durned fools fer they'll miss a good time," and those he referred to as the ones who would "miss a good time" were the men he had killed only a few minutes before in defending his young pard.



FROM the time of Joe receiving the prefix of "California" to his name, he began to be known from the Missouri to the Pacific. At times he was a trapper on the streams of the border, and again a scout and Indian trailer with the advance guard of the army. Then he was heard of in the mines, and again haunted the settlements for awhile with apparently no aim in life. At length he departed from his favorite haunts one day, and several weeks after he rode up to the door of a comfortable cabin in one of the most delightful of the border settlement. It was Sunday afternoon, and before the door sat the settler, a fine-looking man with hair tinged with gray, while near him was his wife, a handsome woman of forty, with a sad face. Several children were playing near the door, and together the scene was a homelike one. "Dismount, stranger, and stop with us, for night is coming on soon!" cheerily called out the settler, as California Joe drew rain a short distance drew rein a shot distance off. "Thet are what I hev come for, Pard Reynolds" was the quiet response of Joe, as he dismounted and walked toward the cabin. The settler saw before him a tall, handsome man with a bearded face and long, curling black hair. He was clad in buckskin hunting-shirt, and leggings stuck in the tops of high boots, while he wore a black sombrero turned up in front. "You know me, then, stranger?" said Mr. Reynolds. "I does, or most rather did, pard; but thet were long ago."

"And yet strange to say, I cannot recall you my friend; but you are welcome, and this is my wife, who will give you greeting, too."

"I know thet, pard, fer she were as squar' as you is, and thet are shoutin' Gospil; but whar are little Maggie?" Instantly a shadow fell over the faces of the settler and his wife at this question, and the former said sadly: "She is gone, alas!" "Dead?" asked California Joe, in a whisper.

"No, and yes, for we know not what has become of her, for one day, as was her wont, she went out hunting with her little rifle, and since then we have never seen her." "There is streams about heur?" "Yes, but she could swim well." "Were thar Injuns about?" "Yes, Indian signs were seen about that time, and we have heard that the Cheyennes had some captive children among their tribes." "Waal, It may be so, an' ef it are, I'll find out. "I guesses I won't sop ter-night, Pard Reynolds, but go on, fer I wants ter find leetle Maggie." "But, my friend, who are you that takes such a kind interest in our poor lost little girl?" asked Mrs. Reynolds, laying her hand upon Joe's arm and looking up into his honest face with eyes filled with tears. "I are Joe." "Joe!" "Joe!" "Yas, I are Joe; California Joe they calls me now." Words cannot describe the mingled amazement and joy of the poor parents at again meeting the one who, as a boy long years before, had saved them and the train from ma.s.sacre. "And you are that famous man, California Joe, of whom we have heard so much?" said Mr. Reynolds. "Yes, I are California Joe, and I has come nosin' 'round heur ter see yer all an' leetle Maggie, an' I fotched her a leetle present ter wear round her putty neck. It are dust I dug myself out o' ther mines." He drew out a necklace, as he spoke, of nuggets of solid gold which he had made into a necklace. "Now yer keep it fer her, fer I'll be back with her afore long," and all entreaties to remain longer California Joe refused, but started at once upon the duty he set himself to perform.



IN an Indian village -- Cheyennes -- for one long year had languished poor little Maggie Reynolds.

A child of twelve, at the time of her capture, she had been made the slave of the squaw of the head chief, Feather Face, and but for her plucky spirit and hope some day of rescue the girl would have died under the life of drudgery and abuse.

One day she beheld a pale-face ride into the village.

At that time there was a patched up peace between the Cheyennes and the whites, but Maggie had not seen any of the latter bold enough to come to the Indian camp.

She eyed the stranger curiously, as he came directly to the tepee of Feather Face, accompanied by several warriors.

"My red brother knows me," said the white man.

"Yes, the Feather Face has men the pale-face brave," was the reply.

"The hatchet is buried now; but the Feather Face would like to kill me."

The Indian hewed a ready a.s.sent.

"He has bore a pale-face pappoose."

"Will he sell her to me?"

"The Feather Face will sell her for the ears of the white warrior,"

was the fiendish reply.

"Good!" was the smiling reply.

"Let him take his scalping-knife and cut off my ears, and than give to me the pappoose."

"If the Feather Face lies then the soldiers will be ready to come upon him and burn his village."

"The white warrior has spoken."

"The Feather Face does not speak with a crooked tongue."

"The Feather Face is a natural liar," was the retort and the stranger stepped up to the chief and bared his head by removing his sombrero, while he added: "But I wan the Cheyenne not to break faith with me."

Poor Maggie heard and saw all, and sat crouching in the tepee, not daring to utter a word.

But as she saw the cruel chief take his scalping-knife and seize the ear of the man to claim his ransom for her, she cried: "No, no, let me stay here, for I am happy here; I do not wish to go home!"

"Thet are a screamin' lie, Maggie," said California Joe, for he it was, and turning again to the chief, he continued: "Injun, do yer carvin'."

With a satisfied grunt Feather Face took the left ear in his fingers, and skillfully sliced the outer rim off clean.

California Joe did not wince, but said coolly, while Maggie gave a cry of terror: "Now, t'other one, Injun."

The other ear was then cut in like manner, and Joe made a low bow, with the remark: "Thankee, Injun.

"Some day I hopes ter do as much far you.

"Come. Maggie."

He took the weeping girl, and placing her upon his horse, sprung into his saddle and rode out of the Indian camp, leaving the chief laughing with fiendish delight over the ransom he had received for the captive girl.

And, two weeks after his departure from the Reynolds home, he returned one night, and Maggie accompanied him.

"Go said knock at ther door, Maggie, while I stake ther critturs out," he said.

The young girl obeyed, and great was the joy of her parents when she appeared before them.

But in vain was it they looked for California Joe, for, though he staked the horse, he had given her out upon the prairie, he had mounted his own animal once more and mysteriously disappeared.



KIND reader, it is only necessary to say that California Joe continued his wanderings about the border daily winning greater fame as a plainsman and Indian-fighter, until the promise he made Feather Face, to "do as, much for him," was faithfully kept, and more so, for he took that chief's scalp instead of his ears in a fight he had with him one day, after guiding a party of soldiers to his village, to punish him for slashing about with "the hatchet," when it was supposed to be buried.

When the civil war broke out, California Joe went with the Union Army as one of a band of Border Sharpshooters.

That his deadly aim did not fall him in army service, is proven from the fact that war-correspondent of Harper's Weekly sent a report of his having "picked off" a Confederate sharpshooter at the distance of fifteen hundred yards, when even artillery had failed to dislodge him.

After the war, in which he won the name of a long-range dead-shot, California Joe returned to the border, and one day came near losing his life, as he was on his way to make a visit to the Reynolds cabin, where he had not been since the night he had carried Maggie back to her parents.

He was riding along the river bank, when suddenly he beheld a canoe and an occupant, and turned just as a rifle was leveled at him. He spoke just in time to save his life. But as Joe related the story of that meeting with Maggie Reynolds-for she it was-to Captain Jack Crawford, the "Poet-Scout of the Black Hills,"* and he has told it in rhyme, I will give my readers a few of the verses, in their own pathetic words: Beside a laughing, dancing brook. A little cabin stood, At weary with a long day's scout, Spied it in the wood.

A pretty valley stretched beyond, The mountains towered above, While near the willow bank I heard. The cooing of a dove.

T was one grand panorama; The brook was plainly seen, Like a long thread of silver In a cloth of lovely green.

The laughter of the waters, The coning of the dove, Was like some painted picture Some well-told tale of love.

While drinking in the grandeur, And resting in my saddle, I heard a gentle ripple, Like the dipping of a paddle.

I turned toward the eddy- A strange sight met my view: A maiden, with her rifle, In a little bark canoe.

She stood up in the center, The rifle to her eye; I thought (just for a second) My time had come to die.

I doffed my hat and told her (If it was all the same) To drop her little shooter, For I was not her game.

She dropped the deadly weapon, And leaped from the canoe. Said she: "I beg your pardon, I thought you were a Sioux; Your long hair and your buckskin Looked warrior-like and rough, My bead was spoiled by sunshine, Or I'd killed you, sure enough."

"Perhaps it had been better You dropped me then," said I; For surely such an angel Would bear me to the sky."

She blushed and dropped her eyelids; Her cheeks were crimson red; One half-shy glance she gave me And then hung down her head.

That blushing young huntress being Maggie Reynolds, dear reader, it need not be said that the romance of her life and that of California Joe ended in the reality of matrimony.

In his book, "My Life on the Plains," General Custer thus speaks of California Joe: "In concentrating the cavalry which had hitherto been operating in small bodies, it was found that each detachment brought with it the scouts who had been serving with them. When I joined the command I found quite a number of these scouts attached to various portions of the cavalry, but each acting separately. For the purpose of organization it was deemed best to unite them in a separate detachment under command of one of their own number. Being unacquainted with the merits or demerits of any of them, the selection of a chief had to be made somewhat at random.

"There was one among their number whose appearance would have attracted the notice of any casual observer. He was a man about forty years of age, perhaps older, over six feet in hight, and possessing a well-proportioned frame. His hand was covered with a luxuriant crop of long, almost black hair, strongly inclined to curl, and so long as to fall carelessly over his shoulders. His face, at least so much of it as was not concealed by the long, waving brown beard and mustache, was full of intelligence and pleasant to look upon. His eye was undoubtedly handsome, black and l.u.s.trous, with an expression of kindness and mildness combined. On his head was generally to be seen, whether awake or asleep, a huge sombrero, or black slouch hat. A soldier's overcoat, with its large circular cape, a pair of trowsers with the legs tucked in the top of his long boots, usually const.i.tuted the make-up of the man whom I selected as chief scout. He was known by the euphonious t.i.tle of 'California Joe,' no other name seemed ever to have been given him, and no other, name appeared to be necessary.

"This was the man whom, upon a short acquaintance, I decided to appoint as chief of the scouts.

"As the four detachments already referred to were to move as soon as it was dark, it was desirable that the scouts should be at once organised, and a.s.signed. So, sending for California Joe, I informed him of his promotion and what was expected of him and his men. After this official portion of the interview had been complete, it seemed proper to Joe's mind that a more intimate acquaintance between us should be cultivated, as we had never met before. His first interrogatory, addressed to me in furtherance of this ideal was frankly put as follows: "'See hyar, gineral, in order that we hev no misonderstandin', I'd jist like ter ax ye a few questions. First, are ye an ambulance man er a hoss man?' "Professing ignorance of his meaning, I requested him to explain.

"'I mean,' said he, 'do yer b'lieve in catchin' Injuns in ambulances or on hossback?' "Still a.s.suming ignorance, I replied, 'Well, Joe, I believe in catching Indians wherever we can find them, whether they are in ambulances or on horseback.' "'Thet ain't what I'm a-drivin' at,' he responded. 'S'pose you're after Injuns had really want to hev a ta.s.sel with 'em would yer start after low on hossback er would yer climb inter a ambulance and be hauled after 'em? That's ther p'int I'm a-headin' far.' "I answered that I would prefer the method on horseback, provided I really desired to catch the Indian; but if I wished them to catch me, I would adopt the ambulance system of attack.

"'You've hit the nail squar' on the head,' said he. 'I've bin with 'am on the plains whar they started out after Injuns on wheels jist as ef they war goin' to a town funeral in ther States, an' they stood 'bout as many chances uv catchin' Injuns ez a six-mule team would uv catchin' a pack of thievin' ki-o-tes, jist as much. Why, thet sort uv work iz only fun fer the Injuns; they don't want anything better. Yer ort to've see'd how they peppered it to us, and we a-doin' o' nuthin' all the time. Sum uv 'am wuz afraid the mules war goin' to stampede and run off with ther train and all our forage an' grub, but that wuz impossible; fer besides the big loads uv corn an' bacon an' baggage the wagons had in 'em, thar war from eight to a dozen infantry men piled into am besides. Yer ort to hev heard the quartermaster in charge uv of the train tryin' to drive infantry men out uv the wagons and git them into ther fight. I 'spect he wuz a Irishman, by his talk, fer he said to 'am: "Git out uv thim wagons; get out uv thim wagons; yez'll hev me thried for disobadieance uv orders for marchin' tin min in a wagon whin I've ord hers fer but ait.'"

California Joe was killed, as was his friend Wild Bill, by the hand of an

He was seated in front of his cabin at Red Cloud, Dakota, on Dec. 5th 1876, cleaning his dearly loved weapons, when some foe fired at him from an ambush and shot him through the heart.

Who that unseen, was no one ever knew, and the secret will doubtless remain unknown, unless the "still, small voice of conscience" may drive the murderer to confess the crime some day, for most truly, is it said that "murder will out."