Gopher Hill had determined that it could not endure Jude any longer.
The inhabitants of Gopher Hill possessed an unusual amount of kindness and long-suffering, as was proved by the fact that Chinamen were allowed to work all abandoned claims at the Hill. Had further proof been necessary, it would have been afforded by the existence of a church directly beside the saloon, although the frequenters of the sacred edifice had often, during week-evening meetings, annoyed convivial souls in the saloon by requesting them to be less noisy.
But Jude was too much for Gopher Hill. No one molested him when he first appeared, but each citizen entered a mental protest within his own individual consciousness; for Jude had a bad reputation in most of the settlements along Spanish Creek.
It was not that he had killed his man, and stolen several horses and mules, and got himself into a state of most disorderly inebriation, for, in the opinion of many Gopher Hillites, these actions might have been the visible results of certain virtuous conditions of mind.
But Jude had, after killing a man, spent the victim’s money; he had stolen from men who had befriended him; he had jumped claims; he had denied his score at the storekeeper’s; he had lied on all possible occasions; and had gambled away money which had been confided to him in trust.
One mining camp after another had become too hot for him; but he never adopted a new set of principles when he staked a new claim, so his stay in new localities was never of sufficient length to establish the fact of legal residence. His name seemed to be a respectable cognomen of Scriptural extraction, but it was really a contraction of a name which, while equally Scriptural and far more famous, was decidedly unpopular—the name of Judas Iscariot.
The whole name had been originally bestowed upon Jude, in recognition of his success in swindling a mining partner; but, with an acuteness of perception worthy of emulation, the miners determined that the length of the appellation detracted from its force, so they shortened it to Jude.
As a few of the more enterprising citizens of Gopher Hill were one morning discussing the desirableness of getting rid of Jude, and wondering how best to effect such a result, they received important foreign aid.
A man rode up to the saloon, dismounted, and tacked on the wall a poster offering one thousand dollars reward for the apprehension of a certain person who had committed an atrocious murder a month before at Duck Run.
The names and aliases of the guilty person were unfamiliar to those who gathered about the poster, but the description of the murderer’s appearance was so suggestive, that Squire Bogern, one of the bystanders, found Jude, and requested him to read the poster.
“Well, ’twasn’t me done it,” sulkily growled the namesake of the apostolic treasurer.