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The Colonel And The Horse-Thief
by [?]

Those marks on my arm? Oh! I got ’em playin’ horse-thief. Yes, playin’. I wasn’t a real one, you know–Well, I s’pose it was sort of a queer game. Came near bein’ my last too, and if Black Hawk hadn’t been the best horse in Texas the old Colonel would’ve killed me sure. He chased me six miles as it was–me with one arm full of his buckshot and anxious to explain, and him strainin’ to get in range again and not wishin’ any further particulars.

That was way back in the sixties, when I was as wild a lad as ever straddled a pony.

You see five of us had gone over into the Crow Nation to race horses with the Indians, and it was on the way back that the old man and the bullet holes figger in the story.

At the beginnin’ it was Jim Barrett’s plan, and it had jest enough risk and devilment in it to suit a harum-scarum young feller like me; so we got five of the boys who had good horses, lumped together all of our money, and rode out to invade the reservation.

You know how an Indian loves to run horses? Well, the Crows had a good deal of money then, and our scheme was to go over there, get up a big race, back our horses with all we had, and take down the wealth.

Takin’ chances? Don’t you believe it. That’s where the beauty of Jim’s plan commenced to sort of shine through.

You see, as soon as the money was up and the horses started, every Indian would be watchin’ the race and yellin’ at the nags, then, in the confusion, our boys was to grab the whole pot, Indian’s money and ours too, and we’d make our get away across the river back into Texas.

We figured that we could get a few minutes start of ’em, and, with the horses we had under us, there wasn’t much danger of their gettin’ in range before we crossed back to where they couldn’t follow us.

Well, sir! I never see anything work out like that scheme did. Them Crows was dead anxious to run their ponies and seemed skeered that we wouldn’t let ’em get all their money up.

As we was eatin’ supper the night before the race, Donnelly says: “Boys, I’m sore that we didn’t have more coin. If we’d worked ’em right they’d ‘a’ give us odds. We could ‘a’ got five to three anyhow, and maybe more.”

“They shore have got a heap of confidence in them skates of their’n,” says Kink Martin. “I never see anybody so anxious to play a race in my life. If it wasn’t all planned out the way it is, I’d like to stick and see which hoss is the best. I’d back Black Hawk agin any hunk of meat in the Territory, with the Kid here in the saddle.”

They’d ribbed it up for me to ride Martin’s mare, Black Hawk, while a little feller named Hollis rode his own horse.

Donnelly’s part was to stay in the saddle and keep the other horses close to Barrett and Martin. They was to stick next to the money, and one of ’em do the bearin’ off of the booty while the other made the protection play.

We hoped in the excitement to get off without harmin’ any of Uncle Sam’s pets, but all three of the boys had been with the Rangers and I knew if it came to a show down, they wouldn’t hesitate to “pot” one or two in gittin’ away.

We rode out from camp the next mornin’ to where we’d staked out a mile track on the prairie and it seemed as if the whole Crow Nation was there, and nary a white but us five.