Leave No Trail.
We learned this after we killed Stillwell.
I say 'we' and though in truth I myself, upon whose shoulders fell the responsibility and in the end the geas, did not actually pull the trigger, I surely would have, given the opportunity. It was only chance that I did not.
We made several mistakes that day, which we took to heart, when we saw their effects. There was no blame. One errs - one learns.
For those of you who do not know the tale, Wyatt and I went to Tucson with Virgil, and Allie, his wife. Virgil had had his arm shattered by a shotgun blast from ambush by the Cowboys, and was helpless and vulnerable by himself. Morgan had been similarly ambushed, fatally, and we had much to do to rectify matters, and could not risk Virgil, unable to defend himself from the retaliation that would surely follow in our wake. We were seeing them safely out of the area and Arizona Territory, lest they be murdered. Jim and Bessie had already returned with Morgan's body to California and his grieving Louisa. Wyatt and I rode with Warren, Texas Jack Vermilion, and Sherm McMasters, but we had left the others up the tracks, the two of us.
Our error was leaving so publicly, letting all know where we would be and at what time, proving our opportunity ourselves beyond doubt, our open weapons providing proof means, and motive declared with pride.
And indeed, when we got to Tucson, Morgan's murderers were there, waiting for us, and for Virgil. We arrived at the Tucson train station, and searched the area. Finding nothing, Wyatt took Virgil and Allie onto the train, while I got food for us at the lunchcounter. And it was then that Wyatt found Frank Stillwell, Hank Swilling, and Ike Clanton in the dark, waiting by the tracks. He actually spoke to Swilling, but he was wearing unaccustomed clothing style and hid his voice and Wyatt let him go, suspicious only. And Ike ran, of course. Leaving Frank to Wyatt's shotgun and pistol. He had a warrant in his pocket. This man had wounded one of his brothers to permanent handicap. He had killed Morgan. And who can criticise him for being a little liberal with rounds? Surely not I, who, as I say would have done exactly the same. Perhaps I, more hot-headed as they say, would not have asked questions and let Swilling live. That is the story.
And after we left Arizona, lawmen and outlaws, I did not hide, did not run. And yet there were charges, extradition measures from Colorado. Behan and his cronies went to amazing lengths to bring me back by law for this, and murder me once I was given unto their charge. I will not say more of that now, for there is still something I hold with pride and pain. The end was that a geas, as in a long-ago tale, was laid upon me that I could not leave Colorado, ever again, lest proceeding resume.
And the moral was not to spurn pursuing justice ourselves, for the law, apart from us, was helpless. There was no one else. And we rode and killed, and we cleaned up Arizona. But we learned the moral well, and after Stillwell, there was no sure trail.
And later, there was no trail. Not a whisper. Making Leadville a completely different story.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 574
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Nulli Virtute Secundus