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   Chapter 8 No.8

Peck's Bad Boy with the Cowboys By George W. Peck Characters: 10552

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

Pa and the Bad Boy Visit a Buffalo Ranch-Pa Pays for the Privilege of Killing a Buffalo, but Doesn't Accomplish His Purpose-He Hires a Herd for the Show Next Year.

This is the last week Pa and I will be in the far west looking for freaks for the wild west department of our show for next year. Next week, if Pa lives, we shall be back under the tent, to see the show close up the season, and shake hands all around with our old friends, the freaks, the performers, the managers and all of 'em.

It will be a glad day for us, for we have had an awful time out west. If Pa would only take advice, and travel like a plain, ordinary citizen, who is willing to learn things, it would be different, but he wants to show people that he knows it all, and he wants to pose as the one to give information, and so when he is taught anything new it jars him. Any man with horse sense would know that it takes years to learn how to rope steers, and keep from being tipped off the horse, and run over by a procession of cows, but because Pa had lassoed hitching posts in his youth, with a clothes line, with a slip noose in it, he posed among cowboys as being an expert roper, and where did he land? In the cactus.

He was just meat for the natives to have fun with, and he has sure been hashed up on this trip. But the worst of all was this trip to the buffalo ranch, to secure buffaloes for the show, and if I was in pa's place I would go into retirement, and never look a man in the face. Pa's idea was that these buffaloes on the ranch were just as wild as they used to be when they run at large on the plains. When we got to the ranch at evening, Pa put in the whole time until it was time to go to bed telling the ranchman and his hired man what great things he had done killing wild animals, and what dangerous places he had been in, and what bold things he had done. He said, while the object of his visit to the ranch was to buy a herd of buffaloes for the show, the thing he wanted to do, above all, was to kill a buffalo bull in single-handed combat, and have the head and horns to ornament his den, and the hide for a lap robe, but the ranchmen would be welcome to the meat. He asked the man who owned the ranch if he might have the privilege, by paying for it, of killing a buffalo.

The ranchman said he would arrange it all right in the morning, and Pa and I went to bed. After Pa got to snoring, and killing buffaloes in his sleep, I could hear the ranchman and his helpers planning pa's humiliation, and when I tried to tell Pa in the morning that the crowd were stringing him he got mad at me and asked me to mind my own business, and that is something I never could do to save my life.

Well, about daylight we were all out on the veranda, and they gave Pa instructions about what he was to do. The ranchman said it was against the state laws to kill buffalo, except in self-defense, so Pa would have to get in a blind, like the German emperor, and have the game driven to him. They gave Pa two big revolvers, loaded with blank cartridges, I know, because I heard them whisper about it the night before, and they gave him a peck measure of salt and told him to sneak up to a little shed out in a field and conceal himself until the game came along, and then open fire, and when his buffalo fell, mortally wounded, to go out and skin it.

Pa asked what the salt was for, and they told him it was to salt the hide. Say, I knew that the place they sent Pa to wait for buffalo was where they salted the animals once a week, and started to tell pa, but the rancher called me off and told me I could go with the men and help drive the game to destruction.

We waited until the ranchman had gone out with Pa and got him nicely concealed, the way they conceal Emperor William when he slaughters stags, and Pa looked as brave as any emperor as he got his two big revolvers ready for an emergency. The ranchman told pa that he had twelve shots in the revolvers, and he better begin firing when the big bull came over the ridge, on the trail, at the head of the herd, and as the animal advanced, as he no doubt would, to keep firing until the whole 12 shots were fired, and then if the animal was not killed, to use his own judgment as to what to do, whether to run for the house, or lay down and pretend to be dead.

Pa said he expected to kill the animal before three shots had been fired, but if the worst came he could run some, but the ranchman said if he should run that the whole herd would be apt to stampede on him and run him down, and he thought Pa better lay down and let them go by.

Gee, but I pitied Pa when we got out on the prairie and found the herd. They were as tame as Jersey cows, and the old bull, the fiercest of the lot, with a head as big as a barrel, came up to the ranchman and wanted to be scratched, like a big dog, and the calves and cows came up and licked our hands. It was hard work to drive them towards pa's blind, 'cause they wanted to be petted, but the ranchman said as soon as we could get the bull up to the top of the ridge, so the old man would open fire on him, they would hurry right along to pa's blind, 'cause they always came to be salted at the signal of a revolver shot.

So we pushed them along up towards the

ridge, out of sight of pa, by punching them, and slapping them on the hams, and finally the head of the old bull appeared above the ridge on the regular cattle trail, and not more than ten rods from where Pa was concealed. Then we heard a shot and we knew Pa was alive to his danger.

"There she blows," said the ranchman, and then there was another shot, and by that time the whole herd of about 20 was on the ridge, and the shots came thick, and the herd started on a trot for the shed where Pa was, to get their salt. When we had counted 12 shots and knew pa's guns were empty we showed up on the ridge, and watched pa.

He started to run, with the peck measure of salt, but fell down and spilled the salt on the grass, and before he could get up the bull was so near that he dassent run, so he laid down and played dead, and the buffaloes surrounded him and licked up the salt, and paid no more attention to him than they would to a log until they had licked up all the salt. Then the bull began to lick pa's hands and face, and Pa yelled for help, but we got behind the ridge and went around towards the ranch, the ranchman telling us that the animals were perfectly harmless and that as soon as they had licked pa's face a little they would go off to a water hole to drink, and then go out and graze.

We left Pa yelling for help, and I guess he was praying some, 'cause once he got on his knees, but a couple of pet buffalo calves, that one of the rancher's boys drives to a cart, went up to Pa and began to lick his bald head, and chew his hair.

Well, we got around to the ranch house, where we could, see the herd, and see Pa trying to push the calves away from being so familiar, and then the herd all left Pa and went back over the ridge, and Pa was alone with his empty revolvers and the peck measure. Pa seemed to be stunned at first, and then we all started out to rescue him, and he saw us coming, and he came to meet us.

Pa was a sight. His hair was all mussed up, and his face was red and sore from contact with the rough buffaloes' tongues, and the salt on their tongues made it smart, and his coat sleeves and trousers legs had been chewed off by the buffaloes, and he looked as though he had been through a corn shredder, and yet he was still brave and noble, and as we got near to him he said:

{Illustration: The Buffaloes Licked Pa's Bald Head-Pa Began to Pray.}

"Got any trailing dogs?"

"What you want trailing dogs for?" asked the ranchman. "What you want is a bath. Have any luck this morning buffaloing?"

"Well I guess yes," said pa, as he dropped the peck measure, and got out a revolver and asked for more cartridges. "I put twelve bullets into that bull's carcass when he was charging on me, and how he carried them away is more than I know. Get me some dogs and a Winchester rifle and I will follow him till he drops in his tracks. That bull is my meat, you hear me?" and Pa bent over and looked at his chewed clothes.

"You don't mean to tell me the bull charged on you and didn't kill you?" said the ranchman, winking at the hired man. "How did you keep from being gored?"

"Well it takes a pretty smart animal to get the best of me," said pa, looking wise. "You see, when the bull came over the hill I gave him a couple of shots, one in the eye and another in the chest, but he came on, with his other eye flashing fire, and the hair on his head and on his hump sticking up like a porcupine, and the whole herd followed, bellowing and fairly shaking the earth, but I kept my nerve. I shot the bull full of lead, and he tottered along towards me, bound to have revenge, but just as he was going to gore me with his wicked horns I caught hold of the long hair on his head and yelled 'Get out of here, condemn you,' and I looked him in the one eye, like this," and Pa certainly did look fierce, "and he threw up his head, with me hanging to his hair, and when I came down I kicked him in the ribs and he gave a grunt and a mournful bellow, as though he was all in, and was afraid of me, and went off over the hill, followed by the herd, scared to death at a man that was not afraid to stand his ground against the fiercest animal that ever trod the ground. Now, come on and help me find the carcass." Pa looked as though he meant it.

"Well, you are a wonder," said the ranch-man, looking at Pa in admiration. "I have seen men before that could lie some, but you have got Annanias beaten a block. Now we will go to the house and settle this thing, and I will send my trusty henchmen out henching after your bull."

Then we went to the house and got dinner, and the men drove up the buffalo into the barnyard and fed them hay, and we went out and played with the buffaloes, and Pa found his bull hadn't a scratch on him, and that he would lean up against Pa and rub against him just like he was a fencepost.

The ranchman told Pa they had been stringing him, and that the animals were so tame you could feed them out of your hand, and that he had been shooting blank cartridges, and the only thing he regretted was that Pa would lie so before strangers. Then pa bought the herd for the show, and next year Pa will show audiences how he can tame the wildest of the animal kingdom, so they will eat out of his hand.

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