“Fellow citizens,‘” began the mayor, raising a large freckled hand for silence.

A hush fell upon the assemblage.

“Boys,” continued the mayor, after a proper silence reigned, “I haven’t got much to say.”

“Here’s to you!” yelled a voice. “I hate a guy that’s noisy.”

The mayor frowned and waved a commanding hand for silence.

“I spotted you, Pete Bartlett,” he called. “If you don’t like silence you must hate yourself.”

The crowd roared with approving laughter.

“Boys,” began Orval Kendricks again, when the laughter had subsided, “this here is a solemn occasion. I feel called upon to summon the manhood of this here town to listen to my words, and I reckon that most of the manhood of the town is within hearin’.”

A chorus of assent followed.

“I don’t need any Daniel Webster to tell you men that this here town is hard hit,” continued Mayor Kendricks. “It don’t need no Henry Clay to tell you that these diggin’s are about to bust up unless we have the right sort of a strong arm man in town. We’ve been sufferin’ patiently from the aggressions of a red-handed desperado who I don’t need to mention, because his name just naturally burns my tongue.”

“Slim Malone!” cried a dozen voices. “We’re followin’ you, chief!”

The mayor thrust his hand into his breast and extended the other arm in imitation of a popular wood-cut of Patrick Henry. The crowd acknowledged the eloquence of the attitude with a common gaping.

“There may be some of you guys,” cried the mayor, rising to the emotion of the moment, “there may be some of you guys who don’t know the man I mean, but I reckon that a tolerable pile of Appleton’s best citizens spend a large part of their time cursing Slim Malone.”

“We ain’t through damning him yet,” yelled a voice, and the crowd voiced their assent, half in growls and half in laughter.

“He has tricked our posse as an honest man would be ashamed to do,” went on the mayor, warming to his oration; “he has shot our citizens, and he has swiped our gold! I’m askin’ you as man to man, can a self-respectin’ community stand for this? It can’t. What’s the answer that Appleton makes to this desperado?”

He paused and frowned the audience into a state of suspense.…