There is always a grim sort of curiosity regarding the way in which notoriously desperate men meet their end; and perhaps this is as natural as is the curiosity regarding the manner in which they lived.
“Did he die game?” is one of the questions asked by bad men among themselves. “Did he die with his boots on?” is another. The last was the test of actual or, as it were, of professional badness. One who admitted himself bad was willing to die with his boots on. Honest men were not, and more than one early Western man fatally shot had his friends take off his boots before he died, so that he might not go with the stain of desperadoism attached to his name.
Some bad men died unrepentant and defiant. Others broke down and wept and begged. A great oblivion enshrouds most of these utterances, for few Vigilante movements ever reached importance enough to permit those who participated to make publicly known their own participation in them. Indeed, no man ever concerned in a law and order execution ever liked to talk about it.