"I mean that next to your cousin Judd was leader of that Shoshone- Teton bunch.""How do y'u know?"

"I suspected it a long time, but I knew for sure the day that your cousin held up the ranch.The man that was in charge of the crowd outside was Morgan.I could swear to it.I knew him soon as I clapped eyes to him, but I was awful careful to forget to tell him I recognized him.""That means we are in more serious trouble than I had supposed.""Y'u bet it does.We're in a hell of a hole, figure it out any way y'u like.Instead of having shot up a casual idiot, I've killed Ned Bannister's right- hand man.That will be the excuse--shooting Morgan.But the real trouble is that I won the championship belt from your cousin.He already hated y'u like poison, and he don't love me any too hard.He will have us arrested by his sheriff here.Catch the point.Y'U'RE NED BANNISTER, THE OUTLAW, AND I'M HIS RIGHT-BOWER.That's the play he's going to make, and he's going to make it right soon.""I don't care if he does.We'll fight him on his own ground.We'll prove that he's the miscreant and not us.""Prove nothing," snarled McWilliams."Do y'u reckon he'll give us a chance to prove a thing? Not on your life.He'll have us jailed first thing; then he'll stir up a sentiment against us, and before morning there will be a lynchingbee, and y'u and I will wear the neckties.How do y'u like the looks of it?""But y'u have a lot of friends.They won't stand for anything like that." "Not if they had time to stop it.Trouble is, fellow's friends think awfulslow.They'll arrive in time to cut us down and be the mourners.No, sir! It's a hike for Jimmie Mac on the back of the first bronc he can slap a saddle on."Bannister frowned."I don't like to run before the scurvy scoundrels." "Do y'u suppose I'm enjoying it? Not to any extent, I allow.But thatsweet relative of yours holds every ace in the deck, and he'll play them, too.He owns the law in this man's town, and he owns the lawless.But the best card he holds is that he can get a thousand of the best people here to join him in hanging the 'king' of the Shoshone outlaws.Explanationsnothing! Y'u rode under the name of Bannister, didn't y'u? He's Jack Holloway.""It does make a strong combination," admitted the sheepman.

"Strong! It's invincible.I can see him playing it, laughing up his sleeve all the time at the honest fools he is working.No, sir! I draw out of a game like that.Y'u don't get a run for your money.""Of course he knows already what has happened," mused Bannister."Sure he knows.That fellow with Morgan made a bee-line for him.

Just about now he's routing the sheriff out of his bed.We got no time to lose.Thing is, to burn the wind out of this town while we have the chance.""I see.It won't help us any to be spilling lead into a sheriff's posse.That would ce'tainly put us in the wrong.""Now y'u're shouting.If we're honest men why don't we surrender peaceable? That's the play the 'king' is going to make in this town.Now if we should spoil a posse and bump off one or two of them, we couldn't pile up evidence enough to get a jury to acquit.No, sir! We can't surrender and we can't fight.Consequence is, we got to roll our tails immediate.""We have an appointment with Miss Messiter and Nora for to-morrow morning.We'll have to leave word we can't keep it.""Sure.Denver and Missou are playing the wheel down at the Silver Dollar.I reckon we better make those boys jump and run errands for us while we lie low.I'll drop in casual and give them the word.Meet y'u here in ten minutes.Whatever y'u do, keep that mask on your face.""Better meet farther from the scene of trouble.Suppose we say the north gate of the grand stand?""Good enough.So-long."

The first faint streaks of day were beginning to show on the horizon when Bannister reached the grand stand.He knew that inside of another half-hour the little frontier town would be blinking in the early morning sunlight that falls so brilliantly through the limpid atmosphere.If they were going to leave without fighting their way out there was no time to lose.

Ten minutes slowly ticked away.

He glanced at his watch."Five minutes after four.I wish I had gone with Mac.He may have been recognized."But even as the thought flitted through his mind, the semi-darkness opened to let a figure out of it.

"All quiet along the Potomac, seh?" asked the foreman's blithe voice."Good.I found the boys and got them started." He flung down a Mexican vaquero's gaily trimmed costume."Get into these, seh.Denver shucked them for me.That coyote must have noticed what we wore before he slid out.Y'u can bet the orders are to watch for us as we were dressed then.""What are y u going to do?"

"Me? I'm scheduled to be Aaron Burr, seh.Missou swaps with me when he gets back here.They're going to rustle us some white men's clothes, too, but we cayn't wear them till we get out of town on account of showing our handsome faces.""What about horses?"

"Denver is rustling some for us.Y'u better be scribbling your billy-doo to the girl y'u leave behind y'u, seh.""Haven't y'u got one to scribble?" Bannister retorted."Seems to me y'u better get busy, too."So it happened that when Missou arrived a few minutes later he found this pair of gentlemen, who were about to flee for their lives, busily inditing what McWilliams had termed facetiously billets-doux.Each of them was trying to make his letter a little warmer than friendship allowed without committing himself to any chance of a rebuff.Mac got as far as Nora Darling, absentmindedly inserted a comma between the words, and there stuck hopelessly.He looked enviously across at Bannister, whose pencil was traveling rapidly down his note-book.

"My, what a swift trail your pencil leaves on that paper.That's going some.Mine's bogged down before it got started.I wisht y'u would start me off.""Well, if you ain't up and started a business college already.I had ought to have brought a typewriter along with me," murmured Missou ironically.

William MacLeod Raine