Cliff grimaced as the hot desert wind scoured his face. He'd gone for the job of sheriff before he knew of the brave but deadly Sioux, before he knew of their sworn hatred of white men, before he knew of their hatred for him. But now he stood alone in the awe-inspiring scenery, a bow from those same Sioux in his hand. He waited. "Show yourself to be a man with a man's weapon", the chief had said, "and we will make peace. Fail, and you will die". So he waited, ready to shoot the white bird's; birds which the Indians would exchange for tokens of peace. The more he killed, the more tokens he would get, and the longer he would live in this heat-sodden hell.
He wiped the sweat from his eyes, and squinted into the searing sun. There! The first flock flew past, flapping in the distant sky. And were gone. All except two, which his arrows had plucked from the ancient sky and laid to rest on the baked earth. Cliff reached for another arrow. Soon there were no more arrows, and no more birds except those that were to be exchanged for the precious tokens. The tribe were impressed by this white man's prowess, but Cliff had no time to accept their praise. He had to cross the desert to Kane, where the train was shortly to leave for Sinclair's Folly. Skillfully he guided Crowbag, his horse, over the blunt cacti and dry, dead bushes that littered the dusty plain, mute memorials to the rains of a year ago. But Crowbag was a bad-tempered beast, and unforgiving of errors. One mis-timed jump, and Cliff could expect to follow those birds through the air to the hard, hard ground.
He rode on. The sign to Kane appeared, and Cliff heaved a sigh of relief. Then rolled on the ground, as a .45 slug whistled past his ear. Guy Kewney and his banditos, the dreaded Eighty-Oners, were back in town! Swiftly, Cliff assessed the situation. His six-shooter was full, but Kewney had 11 other honchos gunning for him. Across the street was the gunsmith, but the dusty road would grant him no cover from the lead-born death that waited for him in Guy's guns. A bullet sung its song of death as it kicked sand in his face. He had no choice. He sprinted across the road, squeezing off shots at the white faces of the gang as they hid in doorways, on roofs, behind the trough. The Colt spat its last defiant breath as he reached the gunshop and refilled. The next few minutes were lost in noise and blood, but then there was only Cliff and 12 sad ex-Eighty-Oners. He had no time to reflect on the battle, as the scream of the train whistle in the distance reminded him of his destiny.
He jumped on Crowbag, and spurred him into action. They were soon level with the train, but the bushes by the side of the track were thicker, and his horse was hard pushed. Slowly they gained on the locomotive. The driver glanced in their direction as they pulled ahead, saw the star on Cliffs lapel, and the brakes went on. As Cliff dismounted from Crowbag, who's steaming flanks and bulging eyes bore witness to the effort, he knew with a grim satisfaction that he had survived. He had won.