He paused and frowned the audience into a state of suspense.
“There is only one answer to this gunfighter, and that answer stands at my right hand,” bellowed the mayor, when he judged that the silence had sunk into his hearers sufficiently. “The name of the answer is Lefty Cornwall!”
The following burst of applause brought a momentary blush into even Lefty’s cheek. At the reiterated demands for a speech he hitched at his revolver in its skeleton holster, removed his sombrero, and mopped his forehead with a ponderous hand. When it became evident that the hero was about to break into utterance the crowd became silent.
“Fellows,” began the gun-fighter, “makin’ speeches ain’t much in my line.”
“Makin’ dead men is more your game,” broke in the wit of the assemblage.
A universal hiss attested that the crowd was anxious to hear the Texan gun-man out.
“But if you are goin’ to do me the honor of makin’ me sheriff of this here county and this here city of Appleton,” he continued, letting his eye rove down Appleton’s one street, “I’m here to state that law and order is goin’ to be maintained here at all costs. Right here I got to state that the only costs I’m referrin’ to is the price of the powder and lead for this here cannon of mine.”
The crowd broke in upon the speech with noisy appreciation, and many cries of “That’s the stuff, old boy!”
“I been hearin’ a tolerable pile about one Slim Malone,” went on the new sheriff.
“So have we,” broke in the irrepressible wit of the assemblage, only to be choked into silence by more serious-minded neighbors.
“Sure,” agreed the sheriff. “I reckon you’ve heard a lot too much about him. But I’m here to state that all this talk about Slim Malone has got to stop, and has got to stop sudden. I’m here to stop it.”
He hitched his holster a little forward again…