Vigilante Days and Ways. Miners keep stampeding to the next, more promising placer, always seeking the mother lode. Towns rise and fall in the wake of stampedes. In the last installment we learned how Cherokee Bob died trying to avenge the reputation of his girlfriend, Cynthia, a fallen woman who then falls even deeper into a life of ill repute with no man to protect her. Next, Langford introduces us to a truly dangerous man, Boone Helm.
Chapter XIII: Boone Helm Some men are villains by nature, others become so by circumstances….The wretch I am now about to introduce to the reader was one of those hideous monsters of depravity whom neither precept nor example could have saved from a life of crime. Boone Helm was a native of Kentucky. His parents emigrated to one of the newest settlements in Missouri while he was a boy. The rough pursuits of border-life were congenial to his tastes. He excelled in feats of physical strength, and delighted in nothing more than a quarrel which brought his prowess into full display. He was an inordinate drinker, and when excited by liquor gave way to all the evil passions of his nature….In the year 1848 he married a respectable girl, but neither her affection nor the infant daughter born to him a year later could prevail with him to abandon his vicious and profligate habits. His wife sought security from his ill-treatment in divorce, which was readily granted.
Langford goes into some detail about a murder committed by Helm, his subsequent flight from justice, falling on hard times in his travels, eating first horses then the flesh of a comrade (who had committed suicide) to survive. Helm was suspected of other murders and horse thefts. In June of 1862 Helm appears in Florence.