“You’re threatenin’ me, eh?”
“If that’s what you want to call it.”
“You’re a killer, I’m told,” flashed back Webb hotly. “Now listen to me. You an’ yore kind belong in the penitentiary, an’ that’s where the honest folks of Washington County are goin’ to send you soon. Give me half a chance an’ I’ll offer a reward of ten thousand dollars for you alive or dead. That’s the way to get rid of gunmen.”
“Is it?” Clanton laughed mockingly. “You advise the fellow that tries to collect that reward to get his life insured heavy for his widow.”
If this was a boast, it was also a warning. Jimmie-Go-Get-’Em may not have been the best target shot on the border, but give him a man behind a spitting revolver as his mark and he could throw bullets with swifter, deadlier accuracy than any old-timer of them all. He did not take the time to aim; it was enough for him to look at his opponent as he fired.
The young fellow swung his horse expertly and cantered into the mesquite.
“I’ll give you two months before you’re wiped off the map,” the cattleman called after him angrily.
At the edge of a heavy growth of brush Clanton pulled up, flashed a six-shooter, and dropped two bullets in the dust at the feet of the horses in the road. Then, with a wave of his hand, he laughed derisively and plunged into the chaparral.
Webb, stung to irritable action, fired into the cholla and the arrowweed thickets. Shot after shot he sent at the man who had disappeared in the maze.
“Let him go. Homer. You’re well quit of him,” urged Wrayburn.
The words were still on his lips when out of the dense tangle of vegetation rang a shot. The owner of the Flying Vy clutched at his saddle-horn. A spasmodic shudder shook the heavy body and it began to sink.
Wrayburn ran to help. He was in time to catch his friend as he fell, but before he could lower the inert weight to the ground the life of Homer Webb had flickered out.
Jimmie-Go-Get-’Em Leaves a Note
Prince and his posse were camped in a little park near the headquarters of Saco de Oro Creek when a trapper brought word to Billie of the death of Webb. The heart of the young sheriff sank at the news. It was not only that he had always liked and admired the bluff cattleman. What shocked him more was that Jim Clanton had killed him. Webb was one of the most popular ranchmen on the river. There would be an instant, widespread demand for the arrest and conviction of his slayer. Billie had taken an oath to uphold the law. His clear duty was to go out and capture Jim alive or dead.
Not for a moment did Billie doubt what he would do. He had pledged himself to blot out the “bad man,” and he would go through no matter what the cost to his personal feelings.
A slow anger at Clanton burned in him. Why had he done this wanton and lawless thing? The boy he had known three years ago would never have shot down from cover a man like Webb. That he could have done it now marked the progress of the deterioration of his moral fiber. What right had he to ask those who remained loyal to him to sacrifice so often their sense of right in his favor?