Read CHAPTER II. PERSIMMON BILL of Wild Bill's Last Trail , free online book, by Ned Buntline, on

As soon as the auburn-haired man who called himself Jack had left the German restaurant, he went to a livery-stable near by, called for his own horse, which was kept there, and the instant it was saddled he mounted, and at a gallop rode westward from the town.

He did not draw rein for full an hour, and then he had covered somewhere between eight and ten miles of ground, following no course or trail, but riding in a course as straight as the flight of an arrow.

He halted then in a small ravine, nearly hidden by a growth of thick brush, and gave a peculiar whistle. Thrice had this sounded, when a man came cautiously out of the ravine, or rather out of its mouth. He was tall, slender, yet seemed to possess the bone and muscle of a giant. His eyes were jet black, fierce and flashing, and his face had a stern, almost classic beauty of feature, which would have made him a model in the ancient age of sculpture. He carried a repeating rifle, two revolvers, and a knife in his belt. His dress was buckskin, from head to foot.

“You are Persimmon Bill?” said Jack, in a tone of inquiry. “Yes. Who are you, and how came you by the signal that called me out?”

“A woman in town gave it to me, knowing she could trust me.”

“Was her first name Addie?”

“Her last name was Neidic.”

“All right. I see she has trusted you. What do you want?”

“Help in a matter of revenge.”

“Good! You can have it. How much help is wanted?”

“I want one man taken from a party, alive, when he gets beyond civilized help, so that I can see him tortured. I want him to die by inches.”

“How large is his party, and where are they now?”

“The party numbers between twenty and thirty; they are in camp in the edge of Laramie, and will start for the Black Hills in a few days.”

“If all the party are wiped out but the one you want, will it matter to you?”

“No; they are his friends, and as such I hate them!”

“All right. Get me a list of their numbers and names, how armed, what animals and stores they have, every fact, so I can be ready. They will never get more than half way to the Hills, and the one you want shall be delivered, bound into your hands. All this, and more, will I do for her who sent you here!”

“You love her?”

“She loves me! I’m not one to waste much breath on talking love. My Ogallalla Sioux warriors know me as the soldier-killer. Be cautious when you go back, and give no hint to any one but Addie Neidic that there is a living being in Dead Man’s Hollow, for so this ravine is called in there.”

“Do not fear. I am safe, for I counsel with no one. I knew Addie Neidic before I came here, met her by accident, revealed myself and wants, and she sent me to you.”

“It is right. Go back, and be cautious to give the signal if you seek me, or you might lose your scalp before you saw me.”

“My scalp?”

“Yes; my guards are vigilant and rough.”

"Your guards?"

Persimmon Bill laughed at the look of wonder in the face of his visitor, and with his hand to his mouth, gave a shrill, warbling cry.

In a second this mouth of the ravine was fairly blocked with armed and painted warriors Sioux, of the Ogallalla tribe. There were not less than fifty of them.

“You see my guards red devils, who will do my bidding at all times, and take a scalp on their own account every chance they get,” said Persimmon Bill.

Then he took an eagle feather, with its tip dipped in crimson, from the coronet of the chief, and handed it, in the presence of all the Indians, to Jack.

“Keep thus, and when out on the plains, wear it in your hat, where it can be seen, and the Sioux will ever pass you unharmed, and you can safely come and go among them. Now go back, get the list and all the news you can, and bring it here as soon as you can. Tell Addie to ride out with you when you come next.”

Jack placed the feather in a safe place inside his vest, bowed his head, and wheeling his horse, turned toward the town. Before he had ridden a hundred yards he looked back. Persimmon Bill had vanished, not an Indian was in sight, and no one unacquainted with their vicinity could have seen a sign to show that such dangerous beings were near.

No smoke rose above the trees, no horses were feeding around, nothing to break the apparent solitude of the scene.

“And that was Persimmon Bill?” muttered the auburn-haired rider, as he galloped back. “So handsome, it does not seem as if he could be the murderer they call him. And yet, if all is true, he has slain tens, where Wild Bill has killed one. No matter, he will be useful to me. That is all I care for now.”