“Tha’s no way to talk, son,” reproved Crawford. “It’s bad enough right as it is without you boys wantin’ it any worse. But don’t you get downhearted, Dave. We’re allowin’ to stand by you to a finish. It ain’t as if you’d got a good man. Doble was a mean-hearted scoundrel if ever I met up with one. He’s no loss to society. We’re goin’ to show the jury that too.”
They did. By the time Crawford, Hart, and a pair of victims who had been trapped by the sharpers had testified about Miller and Doble, these worthies had no shred of reputation left with the jury. It was shown that they had robbed the defendant of the horse he had trained and that he had gone to a lawyer and found no legal redress within his means.
But Dave was unable to prove self-defense. Miller stuck doggedly to his story. The cowpuncher had fired the first shot. He had continued to fire, though he must have seen Doble sink to the ground immediately. Moreover, the testimony of the doctor showed that the fatal shot had taken effect at close range.
Just prior to this time there had been an unusual number of killings in Denver. The newspapers had stirred up a public sentiment for stricter enforcement of law. They had claimed that both judges and juries were too easy on the gunmen who committed these crimes. Now they asked if this cowboy killer was going to be allowed to escape. Dave was tried when this wave of feeling was at its height and he was a victim of it.
The jury found him guilty of murder in the second degree. The judge sentenced him to ten years in the penitentiary.
When Bob Hart came to say good-bye before Dave was removed to Canon City, the young range-rider almost broke down. He was greatly distressed at the misfortune that had befallen his friend.
“We’re gonna stay with this, Dave. You know Crawford. He goes through when he starts. Soon as there’s a chance we’ll hit the Governor for a pardon. It’s a damn shame, old pal. Tha’s what it is.”
Dave nodded. A lump in his throat interfered with speech.
“The ol’ man lent me money to buy Chiquito, and I’m gonna keep the pinto till you get out. That’ll help pay yore lawyer,” continued Bob. “One thing more. You’re not the only one that’s liable to be sent up. Miller’s on the way back to Malapi. If he don’t get a term for hawss-stealin’, I’m a liar. We got a dead open-and-shut case against him.”
The guard who was to take Dave to the penitentiary bustled in cheerfully. “All right, boys. If you’re ready we’ll be movin’ down to the depot.”
The friends shook hands again.
The warden handed him a ticket back to Denver, and with it a stereotyped little lecture of platitudes.
“Your future lies before you to be made or marred by yourself, Sanders. You owe it to the Governor who has granted this parole and to the good friends who have worked so hard for it that you be honest and industrious and temperate. If you do this the world will in time forget your past mistakes and give you the right hand of fellowship, as I do now.”