The Masked Duel;
Or, The Fancy Scout at Bay
J. B. Omohundro
Vickery’s Fireside Visitor Volume 2 Issue 10
July 1, 1876
Along the entire Texan and Mexican borders Wild Dare was known as the "Fancy Scout," for it was his wont to be a totally different man, when on the trail, from what he was in the town off duty.
On the prairies, or in the mountains, he was splendidly mounted, his bridle and saddle heavy with silver mountings, and his suit of buckskin, moccasins, and sombrero, all embroidered and worked with quills and beads.
His rifle, pistols, and knife, also glittered with silver, and his get-up generally was more that of a fancy masquerader than a scout of the plains.
When in town, off duty for a few weeks, his appearance totally changed, for the dress of a prairie man was thrown aside, and in its stead he wore a suit of as fine broadcloth as could be purchased of the best tailor, while the moccasins gave place to a pair of polished calfskin boots, the broad sombrero to a soft felt hat.
If he carried any weapons of offence or defense about him, they were not visible, and even had not been shown in several affrays in which he had unintentionally mingled while acting the part of a gentleman.
"Wild Dare, the Fancy Scout," men called him, because they knew no other name for him, and at fandangos, or in society, the fair senoritas of Mexico, or the border belles of Texas, were wont to address him as Mr. Dare—and permit me to here say that he was a general favorite with all — friendly with many, intimate with none of his own sex, and the hero of old and young women alike.
‘Twas said he won his name by his wild daring, and prairie men had bestowed the title upon him; moreover, men said that no truer eye or steadier hand was there in the mountains or upon the plains; but who he was, none knew.
He had turned up on the prairie one day and joined a party of hunters, and his handsome face and elegant appearance generally had won their admiration, while his reckless daring in the first Indian fight they had, was something that they long loved to talk about.
One day Wild Dare was riding slowly across the prairie in company with a train of traders, when suddenly there was descried in the distance several horsemen rapidly dashing along.
"By heavens! those fellows belong to the Rio Grande Bandits—if we had time we might give chase," said Wild Dare, glancing at them through his field glass, which he always carried.
"Ha! they have a captive, and it is a woman! I am off on the trail," he continued, quickly.
Dismounting, he readjusted his saddle, took from one of the wagons a haversack of provisions, slung his rifle on his back, and was off, followed by half a dozen daring plainsmen.
Like the wind the small party flew over the rolling prairie; but the steed of Wild Dare had no equal on the plains, and quickly flew away from the rest of his companions, and in an hour's ride had left them miles behind, while he had greatly lessened the distance between himself and those in his front, whom his master saw were seven in number—six men, evidently Mexicans, and a young girl—all pressing on at the full speed of their horses.
Gradually the half dozen followers of Wild Dare gave up the chase and returned to their train; but not so with the Fancy Scout.
His blood was up, and he was upon one of those expeditions where he meant "do or die."
Steadily he gained upon the party in front, whom he now felt certain were Rio Grande bandits, and, though alone, he determined to attempt the rescue of the maiden, who twice had cried out to him to save her from her captors.
At length night fell upon the prairie, but still Wild Dare urged on his tired steed, for he would not lose them in the darkness; yet, fearing a trap, he was ever on the alert, and carried his rifle well in hand.
Presently the trap was disclosed—a flash, a report in his front, where one of the bandits had lain in ambush for him.
But the flash had not darkened ere there came another, and the ringing rattle of Wild Dare's rifle was heard, followed by a loud cry of pain.
Instantly the Fancy Scout spurred forward, and, as had expected, found his would-be destroyer caught in his trap—he lay dead upon the prairie.
"Now for those other fellows," he muttered, and leaving the dead man where he had fallen, he rode cautiously on, for he expected another leaden messenger.
He was not disappointed, for soon came the flash and crack of a rifle from the prairie grass, and Wild Dare tumbled heavily from his horse to the ground.
Instantly there was a shout of joy from the bandit, who rushed towards him with rapid steps, crying in Spanish, as he bent over the prostrate man,
"I'll be promoted for this—I, Carlos Aquero, the slayer of the Fancy Scout."
"Will you, Senor Carlos Aquero?" said a stern voice in his ear, and a clutch of iron was upon his throat, while the same voice continued:
"Now, Senor Carlos Aquero, tell me the names of your companions, or I will drive my knife into your heart.”
"That is not their names."
"No, senor; it is the chief, El Sol, and his band."
"So l thought; El Sol is there in person, is he?” asked Wild Dare, who spoke Spanish fluently.
“Si Senor, El Sol, and Manton, and Murroy.”
“Buenas! Now, my esteemed friend, you came near ending my life; but I’ll forgive you, if I catch El Sol—if not, I’ll promote you—to the limb of the tree in yonder matte,” and Wild Dare pointed to a clump of timber a mile away.
"Now get your horse up, sir, and follow me—if you attempt to escape I will kill you, and you know I never miss my aim."
The frightened man called to his trained steed, that was lying down in the grass, and was soon in the saddle, but unarmed.
“Now keep directly behind me and come up.”
So saying, Wild Dare also mounted, and as if disdaining to ask where El Sol was, kept rapidly on in the direction of the matte, the Mexican following like a faithful dog close behind.
The quick eye of Wild Dare saw the fugitive ahead, and he turned to his captive and said:
“Now, sir, tune up that voice of yours and do some lying for me.”