“You’re right he will. Good job, too. I hate a sneak like I do a side-winder.” Reb turned to his prisoner. “Git a move on you, Roush. I want this job over with. I’m no coyote herder.”
Dumont had been on the grill for three hours. He had taken refuge in dogged silence. He had been badgered into lies. He had broken down at last and told the truth. Sheriff Billie Prince, keen as a hound on the scent, persistent as a bulldog, peppered the man’s defense with a machine-gun fire of questions. Back of these loomed the shadow of a long term in the penitentiary.
For Dumont had been caught with his iron hot. The acrid smell of burnt flesh was still in the air when an angry cattleman and two of his riders came on the man and the rustled calf. Fortunately for the thief the sheriff happened to be in the neighborhood. He had rescued the captured waddy from the hands of the incensed ranchers and brought him straight to Live-Oaks.
The rustler was frightened. There had been a bad quarter of an hour when it looked as though he might be the central figure in a lynching. Even after this danger had been weathered, the outlook was full of gloom. He had to choose between a long prison sentence and the betrayal of his comrades. Dumont had no iron in his blood. He dodged and evaded and bluffed—and at last threw up his hands. If the sheriff would protect him from the vengeance of the gang, he would give any information wanted or do anything he was told to do.
The arrival of Reb and his prisoner interrupted the quiz. Prince had Dumont returned to his cell and took up the new business of Roush and his story. The sheriff knew he would be blamed for the escape of Clanton and he thought it wise to have the whole matter opened up before witnesses. Wallace Snaith and Dad Wrayburn both happened to be in town and Billie sent the boss mule-skinner to bring them. To these men he turned over the examination of Roush.
They wrung from him, a scrap at a time, the story Yankie had told his confederates at the camp-fire. A statement of the facts was drawn up and signed by Roush under protest. It was witnessed by the four men present.
Devil Dave was locked up and Dumont brought back to the office of the sheriff. Taken by surprise at the new form of the questionnaire, already broken in spirit and therefore eager to conciliate these powerful citizens, the rustler at once corroborated the story of Roush. He, too, signed a statement drawn up by Prince.
“Just shows, doggone it, how a man can be too blamed sure,” commented Wrayburn. “I’d ‘a’ bet my life Go-Get-’Em Jim killed Webb. But he didn’t. It’s plain enough now. After his rookus with the old man, Yankie must have got a seventy-three an’ waited in the chaparral. It just happened he was lyin’ hid close to where we met Clanton. It beats the Dutch.”