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The Sheriff Of Siskyou
by [?]


On the fifteenth of August, 1854, what seemed to be the entire population of Wynyard’s Bar was collected upon a little bluff which overlooked the rude wagon road that was the only approach to the settlement. In general appearance the men differed but little from ordinary miners, although the foreign element, shown in certain Spanish peculiarities of dress and color, predominated, and some of the men were further distinguished by the delicacy of education and sedentary pursuits. Yet Wynyard’s Bar was a city of refuge, comprised among its inhabitants a number who were “wanted” by the State authorities, and its actual attitude at that moment was one of open rebellion against the legal power, and of particular resistance to the apprehension by warrant of one of its prominent members. This gentleman, Major Overstone, then astride of a gray mustang, and directing the movements of the crowd, had, a few days before, killed the sheriff of Siskyou county, who had attempted to arrest him for the double offense of misappropriating certain corporate funds of the State and the shooting of the editor who had imprudently exposed him. The lesser crime of homicide might have been overlooked by the authorities, but its repetition upon the body of their own over-zealous and misguided official could not pass unchallenged if they expected to arrest Overstone for the more serious offense against property. So it was known that a new sheriff had been appointed and was coming to Wynyard’s Bar with an armed posse. But it was also understood that this invasion would be resisted by the Bar to its last man.

All eyes were turned upon a fringe of laurel and butternut that encroached upon the road half a mile away, where it seemed that such of the inhabitants who were missing from the bluff were hidden to give warning or retard the approach of the posse. A gray haze, slowly rising between the fringe and the distant hillside, was recognized as the dust of a cavalcade passing along the invisible highway. In the hush of expectancy that followed, the irregular clatter of hoofs, the sharp crack of a rifle, and a sudden halt were faintly audible. The men, scattered in groups on the bluff, exchanged a smile of grim satisfaction.

Not so their leader! A quick start and an oath attracted attention to him. To their surprise he was looking in another direction, but as they looked too they saw and understood the cause. A file of horsemen, hitherto undetected, were slowly passing along the little ridge on their right. Their compact accoutrements and the yellow braid on their blue jackets, distinctly seen at that distance, showed them to be a detachment of United States cavalry.

Before the assemblage could realize this new invasion, a nearer clatter of hoofs was heard along the high road, and one of the ambuscading party dashed up from the fringe of woods below. His face was flushed, but triumphant.

“A reg’lar skunk–by the living hokey!” he panted, pointing to the faint haze that was again slowly rising above the invisible road. “They backed down as soon as they saw our hand, and got a hole through their new sheriff’s hat. But what are you lookin’ at? What’s up?”

The leader impatiently pointed with a darkening face to the distant file.

“Reg’lars, by gum!” ejaculated the other. “But Uncle Sam ain’t in this game. Wot right have THEY”–

“Dry up!” said the leader.

The detachment was now moving at right angles with the camp, but suddenly halted, almost doubling upon itself in some evident commotion. A dismounted figure was seen momentarily flying down the hillside dodging from bush to bush until lost in the underbrush. A dozen shots were fired over its head, and then the whole detachment wheeled and came clattering down the trail in the direction of the camp. A single riderless horse, evidently that of the fugitive, followed.