The negro swept as he had never swept before. Twice a bullet cut the floor at his feet; and at last the stick of the broom was shattered in his hand. “Coloured scion,” said Ike Anderson, as though in surprise, “yore broom is damaged. Kneel down and pray for another.” The negro knelt and surely prayed.
On all sides swept the wide and empty streets. It was Ike Anderson’s town. A red film seemed to his gaze to come over the face of things. He slipped his revolver back into the scabbard and paused again to think. A quiet footstep sounded on the walk behind him, and he wheeled, still puzzled with the red film and the mental problem.
The sheriff stood quietly facing him, with his thumbs resting lightly in his belt. He had not drawn his own revolver. He was chewing a splinter. “Ike,” said he, “throw up your hands!”
The nerves of some men act more quickly than those of others, and such men make the most dangerous pistol shots, when they have good digestion and long practice at the rapid drawing of the revolver, an art at that time much cultivated. Ike Anderson’s mind and nerves and muscles were always lightning-like in the instantaneous rapidity of their action. The eye could scarce have followed the movement by which the revolver leaped to a level from his right-hand scabbard. He had forgotten, in his moment of study, that with this six-shooter he had fired once at the whisky barrel, once at the glass of straws, once at the negro’s heel, twice at the floor, and once at the broomstick. The click on the empty shell was heard clearly at the hotel bar, distinctly ahead of the double report that followed. For, such was the sharpness of this man’s mental and muscular action, he had dropped the empty revolver from his right hand and drawn the other with his left hand in time to meet the fire of the sheriff.
The left arm of the sheriff dropped. The whole body of Ike Anderson, shot low through the trunk, as was the sheriff’s invariable custom, melted down and sank into a sitting posture, leaning against the edge of the stoop. The sheriff with a leap sprang behind the fallen man, not firing again. Ike Anderson, with a black film now come upon his eyes, raised his revolver and fired once, twice, three times, four times, five times, tapping the space in front of him regularly and carefully with his fire. Then he sank back wearily into the sheriff’s arms.
“All right, mammy!” remarked Ike Anderson, somewhat irrelevantly.
THE BODY OF THE CRIME