This is from Gilbert Krebs [] who posted it on the Groaners listserv.

Back in the days of the Old West, somewhere in Kansas, there lived a rancher named Fred Holt. One day Fred found himself in need of supplies so he headed off to town to restock. After picking up all he needed, Fred decided to stop off at the local saloon for a warm one (no refrigerators in the Old West). As he was standing there quietly drinking his beer, who should approach but his neighbor Sam Leed.

Now Sam was in a vile mood concerning a certain fence that Fred had recently erected. Sam felt that open range should remain open and told Fred this in no uncertain terms. A violent argument ensued, ending only when the two parties were pulled off of each other and escorted out of town.

Fred went on back to his homestead and settled in for the night, but about midnight was suddenly awakened by a commotion. He looked out and discovered that his house was on fire. Quickly he gathered his family and managed to get them all to safety. The house was a total loss, however.

Fred hitched up his wagon and headed off to town. When he told the people what had happened, they were outraged. There was law coming into Kansas and this wasn’t tolerable. A possee was immediately formed and Sam was arrested.

Now it just so happened that that great detective Charlie Chan happened to be passing through town on his way to California. It seemed that something was funny about this case, so he decided to stay awhile and investigate. He headed out to Fred’s ranch and proceeded to look for clues. Right away, it was apparent that the fire had been set. An empty kerosene can and a suspicious odor said that this was no accident.

Poking around a bit, Mr. Chan found buried in the dust an old, really dirty breechcloth, possibly discarded by one of the conscript labor party that had built the railroad. This was most interesting, since the railroad tracks were ten miles distant. He was onto something, but needed another clue to tie it up. He found it in the form of a handbill, crumpled and discarded in the corner of the barn.

Unfolding it he read “Have you seen this coin? This 1832 half dollar is worth over $1000. We will pay you hard cash for this coin and others like it. Write for free list. J. Abernathy, coin broker, Boston”.

Now he had all he needed to free Sam. He headed back toward town. When he arrived, he noticed that no one was around. The town was deserted, and worse still, the jail was empty, its door smashed.

Realizing that trouble was brewing, Charlie started running. As he neared Hanging Rock, he could hear the angry roar of mob justice. He entered the clearing and fought his way through the crowd while yelling “Stop. You are making a big mistake. You are about to hang the wrong man. The real culprit is The Lone Ranger.”

The crowd stopped and gasped. Sam, a rope already placed around his neck, looked visibly relieved. The mob leader looked down and asked “The Lone Ranger? How could that possibly be?”

Charlie paused, smiled, and replied “It has to be. All the clues point to it…

A fiery ‘stead with the spite of Leed
A clout of dust
And a hearty ‘Buy old Silver’

Who else could it have been?”

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