“I cut off the other cars and gave the signal to start,” he explained triumphantly.
“Good boy, Bud. Knew I could tie to you,” Prince answered with the warm smile that always won him friends.
They passed into the car together. Clanton was leaning far out of the window waving a mocking hand of farewell to the crowd on the platform. He drew his head in and handed the weapons back to his friend.
“Don’t I make a good deputy, Billie? I didn’t fire even once.”
“They Can’t Hang Me If I ain’t There”
The jury brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree. Clanton was sentenced to be hanged at Live-Oaks four weeks after the day the trial ended. Prince himself had been called back to Washington County to deal with a band of rustlers who had lately pulled off a series of bold, wholesale cattle thefts. He left Goodheart to bring the prisoner back with him in case of a conviction.
The deputy sheriff left the train at Los Vegas, to which point Prince had sent a man with horses to meet Jack and the convicted murderer. It was not likely that the enemies of Clanton would make another attempt to frustrate the law, but there was a chance that they would. Goodheart did not take the direct road to Live-Oaks, but followed the river valley toward Los Portales.
The party reached the Roubideau ranch at dusk of the third night. Pauline had been at the place three months keeping house for her father. She flew to meet Jim, her eyes filled with a divine pity. Both hands went out to his manacled ones impulsively. Her face glowed with a soft, welcoming warmth.
“You poor boy! You poor, poor boy!” she cried. Then, flaming, she turned on Goodheart: “Bel et bien! Why do you load him down with chains? Are you afraid of him?”
The deputy flushed. “I have no right to take any chances of an escape. You know that.”
“I know he is innocent. Why did they find him guilty?”
“I had no evidence,” explained Jim simply. “Dad Wrayburn swore I shot twice at Webb just before I disappeared in the brush. Then a shot came out of the chaparral. It’s not reasonable to suppose some one else fired it, especially when the bullet was one that fitted a forty-four.”
“But you didn’t fire it. You told me so in your letter.”
“My word didn’t count with the jury. I’d have to claim that, anyhow, to save my life. My notion is that the bullet didn’t come from a six-gun at all, but from a seventy-three rifle. But I can’t prove that either.”
“It isn’t fair. It—it’s an outrage.” Polly burst into tears and took the slim young fellow into her arms. “They ought to know you wouldn’t do that. Why didn’t your friends tell them so?”
He smiled, a little wistfully. “A gunman doesn’t have friends, Polly. Outside of you an’ Lee an’ Billie I haven’t any. All the newspapers in the territory an’ all the politicians an’ most of the decent people have been pullin’ for a death sentence. Well, they’ve got it.” He stroked her hair softly. “Don’t you worry, girl. They won’t get a chance to hang me.”