5. CHAPTER V - THE SLEEPING WOLF
And then, one night, he escaped. The warders said it was
impossible, but nevertheless the cell was empty, and half in half
out of it lay the body of a dead guard. Two other dead guards
marked his trail through the prison to the outer walls, and he had
killed with his hands to avoid noise.
He was armed with the weapons of the slain guards - a live arsenal
that fled through the hills pursued by the organised might of
society. A heavy price of gold was upon his head. Avaricious
farmers hunted him with shot-guns. His blood might pay off a
mortgage or send a son to college. Public-spirited citizens took
down their rifles and went out after him. A pack of bloodhounds
followed the way of his bleeding feet. And the sleuth-hounds of
the law, the paid fighting animals of society, with telephone, and
telegraph, and special train, clung to his trail night and day.
Sometimes they came upon him, and men faced him like heroes, or
stampeded through barbed-wire fences to the delight of the
commonwealth reading the account at the breakfast table. It was
after such encounters that the dead and wounded were carted back to
the towns, and their places filled by men eager for the man-hunt.
And then Jim Hall disappeared. The bloodhounds vainly quested on
the lost trail. Inoffensive ranchers in remote valleys were held
up by armed men and compelled to identify themselves. While the
remains of Jim Hall were discovered on a dozen mountain-sides by
greedy claimants for blood-money.
In the meantime the newspapers were read at Sierra Vista, not so
much with interest as with anxiety. The women were afraid. Judge
Scott pooh-poohed and laughed, but not with reason, for it was in
his last days on the bench that Jim Hall had stood before him and
received sentence. And in open court-room, before all men, Jim
Hall had proclaimed that the day would come when he would wreak
vengeance on the Judge that sentenced him.
For once, Jim Hall was right. He was innocent of the crime for
which he was sentenced. It was a case, in the parlance of thieves
and police, of "rail-roading." Jim Hall was being "rail-roaded" to
prison for a crime he had not committed. Because of the two prior
convictions against him, Judge Scott imposed upon him a sentence of