[i)“I’ll start preparin fer a weddin,” Cody promised. “An as soon as I heal up we’ll git hitched. I love you Mattie Hicks!” [/i]

A few folk from town snickered, and mothers, who brought their children to see the hanging, gasped and shielded their young one’s eyes as Cody kissed Mattie in the center of town.

“Then you best heal up fast, Bucky.” She smiled. “This way you don’t have a chance t’come to your senses and run off. Just know I'd find ya." She tipped her hat back. "Mattie Hicks knows how to track a man down." She'd have to get used to sayin' Mattie Franks, but there weren't a sweeter sound to her ears, not even when they started reading the charges off against Calvin Cade. "

"Calvin Andrew Cade, wanted for murder, horse thievery, stage coach robbery and all crimes as such committed by the Silver Hand gang, you have been sentenced on this day by Judge Jedidiah Dowd to be hanged until dead. Do you have any last words to say?" Mattie had heard it all, cussin', prayin', declarations of innocence, but the most commonly uttered phrase was the one uttered by Calvin Cade.

"I got nothin' to say."

"Most of 'em say that." She whispered to Cody. "On account of they seen the preacher to ask for forgiveness, and no one wants to meet their maker with a lie fresh off confession." The black hood was put over his face, and Mattie steadied herself. It wasn't that she looked forward to anyone dying. She... well, now she and Cody, brought him in. Her father used to stress the importance, him being sheriff, of having the fortitude to see justice through. Judge Dowd was there, the sentencer. It was only right they be there too.

The plank was released, the creaking and thud would be the last thing Calvin Cade would hear before the rope went taut.

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