In addition to this, other offenses were hinted at; the doings of an organized gang of desperadoes and their accomplices were detailed, and facts were brought to light which made the withdrawal of the Sachem license inevitable. The defense took strong exception to this mode of procedure, pointing out that the court was only concerned with a specified offense, and that it was not permissible to drag in extraneous and largely supposititious matter. During the sweltering days the trial lasted, there were brisk encounters between the lawyers, and several points the prosecution sought to prove were ruled irrelevant. As a climax, came George’s story, which caused a sensation, though the close-packed assembly felt that he scarcely did justice to his theme.
In concluding, the Crown prosecutor pointed out how rapidly the outbreaks of turbulent lawlessness had spread. They were all, he contended, connected with and leading up to the last outrage, of which the men before him were accused. It was obvious that this unruliness must be sternly stamped out before it spread farther, and if the court agreed with him that the charge was fully proved, he must press for a drastic and deterrent penalty.
The odds were heavily against the defense from the beginning. The credibility of Flett’s witnesses could not be assailed, and cross-examination only threw a more favorable light upon their character. Inside the court, and out of it as the newspapers circulated, Grant stood revealed as a fearless citizen, with a stern sense of his duty to the community; George, somewhat to his annoyance, as a more romantic personage of the same description, and Hardie, who had been brought in to prove certain points against which the defense protested, as one who had fought and suffered in a righteous cause.
In the end, the three prisoners were convicted, and when the court broke up the police applied for several fresh warrants, which were issued.
As George was walking toward his hotel, he met Flett, to whom he had not spoken since they separated in the bluff.
“I was waiting for you,” said the constable. “I’m sorry we’ll have to call you up again as soon as the rustler’s leg is better. He’s in the guard-room, and the boys got one of the other fellows; but we can talk about it on the train. I’m going back to my post.”
George arranged to meet him, and they were sitting in a roomy smoking compartment as the big express sped across wide gray levels and past vast stretches of ripening grain, when the next allusion was made to the matter.
“I suppose you’ll be sergeant shortly,” George remarked.
“Corporal comes first,” said Flett. “They stick to the regular rotation.”
“That’s true, but they seem to use some discretion in exceptional cases. I hardly think you’ll remain a corporal.”
Flett’s eyes twinkled.
“I did get something that sounded like a hint. I’ll confess that I felt like whooping after it.”