“He was captured the same day. He had hired a horse out of a livery stable the day before, to ride out to look at a ranch he thought of buying. The liveryman noticed that he limped slightly. He had collided with lead in Texas, as was learned afterward. The horse which had been hired to the ranch-buyer of the day before was returned to the corral of the livery barn at an unknown hour during the night, and suspicion settled on the lame man. When he got off the train at Pueblo, he walked into the arms of officers. The limp had marked him clearly.
“In a grip which he carried were a number of sacks, which he supposed contained gold dust, but held only taulk on its way to assayers in Denver. These he had gotten out of the express the night before, supposing they were valuable. We were all detained as witnesses. He was tried for robbing the mails, and was the coolest man in the court room. He was a tall, awkward-looking fellow, light complexioned, with a mild blue eye. His voice, when not disguised, would mark him amongst a thousand men. It was peculiarly mild and soft, and would lure a babe from its mother’s arms.
“At the trial he never tried to hide his past, and you couldn’t help liking the fellow for his frank answers.
“‘Were you ever charged with any crime before?’ asked the prosecution. ‘If so, when and where?’
“‘Yes,’ said the prisoner, ’in Texas, for robbing the mails in ‘77.’
“‘What was the result?’ continued the prosecution.
“‘They sent me over the road for ninety-nine years.’
“‘Then how does it come that you are at liberty?’ quizzed the attorney.
“’Well, you see the President of the United States at that time was a warm personal friend of mine, though we had drifted apart somewhat. When he learned that the Federal authorities had interfered with my liberties, he pardoned me out instantly.’
“‘What did you do then?’ asked the attorney.
“’Well, I went back to Texas, and was attending to my own business, when I got into a little trouble and had to kill a man. Lawyers down there won’t do anything for you without you have money, and as I didn’t have any for them, I came up to this country to try and make an honest dollar.’
“He went over the road a second time, and wasn’t in the Federal prison a year before he was released through influence. Prison walls were never made to hold as cool a rascal as he was. Have you a match?”
* * * * *
It was an ideal night. Millions of stars flecked the sky overhead. No one seemed willing to sleep. We had heard the evening gun and the trumpets sounding tattoo over at the fort, but their warnings of the closing day were not for us. The guards changed, the cattle sleeping like babes in a trundle-bed. Finally one by one the boys sought their blankets, while sleep and night wrapped these children of the plains in her arms.