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    Chapter XLIX

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    Chapter 53
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    An extract or two from the newspapers of the day will furnish a
    photograph that can need no embellishment:

    FATAL SHOOTING AFFRAY.--An affray occurred, last evening, in a
    billiard saloon on C street, between Deputy Marshal Jack Williams
    and Wm. Brown, which resulted in the immediate death of the latter.
    There had been some difficulty between the parties for several
    months.

    An inquest was immediately held, and the following testimony
    adduced:

    Officer GEO. BIRDSALL, sworn, says:--I was told Wm. Brown was drunk
    and was looking for Jack Williams; so soon as I heard that I started
    for the parties to prevent a collision; went into the billiard
    saloon; saw Billy Brown running around, saying if anybody had
    anything against him to show cause; he was talking in a boisterous
    manner, and officer Perry took him to the other end of the room to
    talk to him; Brown came back to me; remarked to me that he thought
    he was as good as anybody, and knew how to take care of himself; he
    passed by me and went to the bar; don't know whether he drank or
    not; Williams was at the end of the billiard-table, next to the
    stairway; Brown, after going to the bar, came back and said he was
    as good as any man in the world; he had then walked out to the end
    of the first billiard-table from the bar; I moved closer to them,
    supposing there would be a fight; as Brown drew his pistol I caught
    hold of it; he had fired one shot at Williams; don't know the effect
    of it; caught hold of him with one hand, and took hold of the pistol
    and turned it up; think he fired once after I caught hold of the
    pistol; I wrenched the pistol from him; walked to the end of the
    billiard-table and told a party that I had Brown's pistol, and to
    stop shooting; I think four shots were fired in all; after walking
    out, Mr. Foster remarked that Brown was shot dead.

    Oh, there was no excitement about it--he merely "remarked" the small
    circumstance!

    Four months later the following item appeared in the same paper (the
    Enterprise). In this item the name of one of the city officers above
    referred to (Deputy Marshal Jack Williams) occurs again:

    ROBBERY AND DESPERATE AFFRAY.--On Tuesday night, a German named
    Charles Hurtzal, engineer in a mill at Silver City, came to this
    place, and visited the hurdy-gurdy house on B street. The music,
    dancing and Teutonic maidens awakened memories of Faderland until
    our German friend was carried away with rapture. He evidently had
    money, and was spending if freely. Late in the evening Jack
    Williams and Andy Blessington invited him down stairs to take a cup
    of coffee. Williams proposed a game of cards and went up stairs to
    procure a deck, but not finding any returned. On the stairway he
    met the German, and drawing his pistol knocked him down and rifled
    his pockets of some seventy dollars. Hurtzal dared give no alarm,
    as he was told, with a pistol at his head, if he made any noise or
    exposed them, they would blow his brains out. So effectually was he
    frightened that he made no complaint, until his friends forced him.
    Yesterday a warrant was issued, but the culprits had disappeared.

    This efficient city officer, Jack Williams, had the common reputation of
    being a burglar, a highwayman and a desperado. It was said that he had
    several times drawn his revolver and levied money contributions on
    citizens at dead of night in the public streets of Virginia.

    Five months after the above item appeared, Williams was assassinated
    while sitting at a card table one night; a gun was thrust through the
    crack of the door and Williams dropped from his chair riddled with balls.
    It was said, at the time, that Williams had been for some time aware that
    a party of his own sort (desperadoes) had sworn away his life; and it was
    generally believed among the people that Williams's friends and enemies
    would make the assassination memorable--and useful, too--by a wholesale
    destruction of each other.

    It did not so happen, but still, times were not dull during the next
    twenty-four hours, for within that time a woman was killed by a pistol
    shot, a man was brained with a slung shot, and a man named Reeder was
    also disposed of permanently. Some matters in the Enterprise account of
    the killing of Reeder are worth nothing--especially the accommodating
    complaisance of a Virginia justice of the peace. The italics in the
    following narrative are mine:

    MORE CUTTING AND SHOOTING.--The devil seems to have again broken
    loose in our town. Pistols and guns explode and knives gleam in our
    streets as in early times. When there has been a long season of
    quiet, people are slow to wet their hands in blood; but once blood
    is spilled, cutting and shooting come easy. Night before last Jack
    Williams was assassinated, and yesterday forenoon we had more bloody
    work, growing out of the killing of Williams, and on the same street
    in which he met his death. It appears that Tom Reeder, a friend of
    Williams, and George Gumbert were talking, at the meat market of the
    latter, about the killing of Williams the previous night, when
    Reeder said it was a most cowardly act to shoot a man in such a way,
    giving him "no show." Gumbert said that Williams had "as good a
    show as he gave Billy Brown," meaning the man killed by Williams
    last March. Reeder said it was a d---d lie, that Williams had no
    show at all. At this, Gumbert drew a knife and stabbed Reeder,
    cutting him in two places in the back. One stroke of the knife cut
    into the sleeve of Reeder's coat and passed downward in a slanting
    direction through his clothing, and entered his body at the small of
    the back; another blow struck more squarely, and made a much more
    dangerous wound. Gumbert gave himself up to the officers of
    justice, and was shortly after discharged by Justice Atwill, on his
    own recognizance, to appear for trial at six o'clock in the evening.
    In the meantime Reeder had been taken into the office of Dr. Owens,
    where his wounds were properly dressed. One of his wounds was
    considered quite dangerous, and it was thought by many that it would
    prove fatal. But being considerably under the influence of liquor,
    Reeder did not feel his wounds as he otherwise would, and he got up
    and went into the street. He went to the meat market and renewed
    his quarrel with Gumbert, threatening his life. Friends tried to
    interfere to put a stop to the quarrel and get the parties away from
    each other. In the Fashion Saloon Reeder made threats against the
    life of Gumbert, saying he would kill him, and it is said that he
    requested the officers not to arrest Gumbert, as he intended to kill
    him. After these threats Gumbert went off and procured a double-
    barreled shot gun, loaded with buck-shot or revolver balls, and went
    after Reeder. Two or three persons were assisting him along the
    street, trying to get him home, and had him just in front of the
    store of Klopstock & Harris, when Gumbert came across toward him
    from the opposite side of the street with his gun. He came up
    within about ten or fifteen feet of Reeder, and called out to those
    with him to "look out! get out of the way!" and they had only time
    to heed the warning, when he fired. Reeder was at the time
    attempting to screen himself behind a large cask, which stood
    against the awning post of Klopstock & Harris's store, but some of
    the balls took effect in the lower part of his breast, and he reeled
    around forward and fell in front of the cask. Gumbert then raised
    his gun and fired the second barrel, which missed Reeder and entered
    the ground. At the time that this occurred, there were a great many
    persons on the street in the vicinity, and a number of them called
    out to Gumbert, when they saw him raise his gun, to "hold on," and
    "don't shoot!" The cutting took place about ten o'clock and the
    shooting about twelve. After the shooting the street was instantly
    crowded with the inhabitants of that part of the town, some
    appearing much excited and laughing--declaring that it looked like
    the "good old times of '60." Marshal Perry and officer Birdsall
    were near when the shooting occurred, and Gumbert was immediately
    arrested and his gun taken from him, when he was marched off to
    jail. Many persons who were attracted to the spot where this bloody
    work had just taken place, looked bewildered and seemed to be asking
    themselves what was to happen next, appearing in doubt as to whether
    the killing mania had reached its climax, or whether we were to turn
    in and have a grand killing spell, shooting whoever might have given
    us offence. It was whispered around that it was not all over yet--
    five or six more were to be killed before night. Reeder was taken
    to the Virginia City Hotel, and doctors called in to examine his
    wounds. They found that two or three balls had entered his right
    side; one of them appeared to have passed through the substance of
    the lungs, while another passed into the liver. Two balls were also
    found to have struck one of his legs. As some of the balls struck
    the cask, the wounds in Reeder's leg were probably from these,
    glancing downwards, though they might have been caused by the second
    shot fired. After being shot, Reeder said when he got on his feet--
    smiling as he spoke--"It will take better shooting than that to kill
    me." The doctors consider it almost impossible for him to recover,
    but as he has an excellent constitution he may survive,
    notwithstanding the number and dangerous character of the wounds he
    has received. The town appears to be perfectly quiet at present, as
    though the late stormy times had cleared our moral atmosphere; but
    who can tell in what quarter clouds are lowering or plots ripening?

    Reeder--or at least what was left of him--survived his wounds two days!
    Nothing was ever done with Gumbert.

    Trial by jury is the palladium of our liberties. I do not know what a
    palladium is, having never seen a palladium, but it is a good thing no
    doubt at any rate. Not less than a hundred men have been murdered in
    Nevada--perhaps I would be within bounds if I said three hundred--and as
    far as I can learn, only two persons have suffered the death penalty
    there. However, four or five who had no money and no political influence
    have been punished by imprisonment--one languished in prison as much as
    eight months, I think. However, I do not desire to be extravagant--it
    may have been less.

    However, one prophecy was verified, at any rate. It was asserted by the
    desperadoes that one of their brethren (Joe McGee, a special policeman)
    was known to be the conspirator chosen by lot to assassinate Williams;
    and they also asserted that doom had been pronounced against McGee, and
    that he would be assassinated in exactly the same manner that had been
    adopted for the destruction of Williams--a prophecy which came true a
    year later. After twelve months of distress (for McGee saw a fancied
    assassin in every man that approached him), he made the last of many
    efforts to get out of the country unwatched. He went to Carson and sat
    down in a saloon to wait for the stage--it would leave at four in the
    morning. But as the night waned and the crowd thinned, he grew uneasy,
    and told the bar-keeper that assassins were on his track. The bar-keeper
    told him to stay in the middle of the room, then, and not go near the
    door, or the window by the stove. But a fatal fascination seduced him to
    the neighborhood of the stove every now and then, and repeatedly the bar-
    keeper brought him back to the middle of the room and warned him to
    remain there. But he could not. At three in the morning he again
    returned to the stove and sat down by a stranger. Before the bar-keeper
    could get to him with another warning whisper, some one outside fired
    through the window and riddled McGee's breast with slugs, killing him
    almost instantly. By the same discharge the stranger at McGee's side
    also received attentions which proved fatal in the course of two or three
    days.
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