Tall Tale: Late With the Mail
Pony Express riders delivered mail with amazing speed for the 1860’s. In order to accelerate the pace, when a rider approached within half a mile of a station, they would either shout or blow a horn in order to notify the stock tender of their approach, so the station could have a fresh horse saddled and waiting.
One day a Pony Express rider neared the Rock Creek station in western Kansas where he was scheduled to change horses. He began shouting as usual at the proper distance, but the stock-tender, who had just recently been married, did not make his expected appearance. The rider galloped up and instead of finding a fresh horse, he discovered the stock tender lying across the stable door with the blood oozing from a bullet hole to his head.
The rider jumped from his horse and looked in the direction of the house to see a man coming toward him. The approaching man fired on him at once, but missed his aim. Quick as lightning the rider pulled his revolver and returned the fire. The stranger fell dead, shot through the head. You see, this Pony Express rider was no regular cow-puncher, this was Wild Bill Hickok in the flesh.
“Bill, Bill! Help! Help! Save me!” cried out the shrill and pitiful voice of the dead stock tender's wife from a window of the house. She had heard the exchange of shots and knew that Wild Bill had arrived.
Hickok dashed over the dead body of the villain whom he had shot, and just as he sprang into the door of the house, he saw two powerful men assaulting the woman.
One of the desperadoes was in the act of striking her with the butt end of a revolver, and while his arm was still raised, Bill fired his revolver, dropping the man instantly. Two other men now came rushing from an adjoining room, and Bill, seeing that the odds were three to one against him, jumped into a corner, and then fired with dead aim, killing another of the villains.
Before he could shoot again the remaining two men closed in upon him, one of whom had drawn a large Bowie knife. Bill wrenched the knife from the other man’s grasp and drove it through the outlaw’s chest.
The fifth and last man now grabbed Bill by the throat, and held him at arm's length, but it was only for a moment, as Bill raised his own powerful right arm and struck the antagonist's left arm such a terrible blow that he snapped the bone. The disabled desperado, seeing that he was no longer a match for Bill, jumped through the door. Mounting a horse, he succeeded in making his escape, being the sole survivor of the Jake McCandless gang.
Wild Bill remained at the station with the terrified woman until the stage came along, and he then consigned her to the care of the driver. Mounting his horse he at once galloped off at breakneck speed, and soon disappeared in the distance, riding hard to make up for lost time.
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