Sheriff McDowell shows up at the Pembertons' house bright and early—there's been a murder, and he wants to question Serena about it. She's out riding around the camp, but Pemberton tells the sheriff he better watch his mouth.
McDowell informs Pemberton that Widow Jenkins's throat was slashed last night. He figures the person who did it was looking for information about Rachel and Jacob but didn't get anywhere.
So? Pemberton feigns confusion about why is wife would be involved in that.
It turns out there were two murderers there last night: a man and an accomplice with small feet and fancy shoes; there are bloody footprints everywhere.
Naturally Serena is a suspect. McDowell knows Pemberton has the coroner in his pocket, but he promises to be back with an arrest warrant.
At first, Pemberton panics. Did his wife do this? She's certainly capable and she had a knife in her hand last night…
He wants to ditch the knife. Everyone knows to dump the murder weapon, but it was a wedding present, so he's not so sure.
He calls the coroner and leaves a message for the guy to call him back pronto.
Then he makes his way into town to see McDowell. He tries to bribe the guy, but the sheriff won't budge.
Next up? He threatens him. Because that's a good plan.
Suddenly Pemberton realizes what the sheriff is doing: He's helping Rachel and Jacob get out of town so they aren't harmed.
McDowell tells Pemberton to back off or else he'll regret it big time.
As Pemberton rides back home, he looks at the mountain's cliff and thinks about what it would be like to jump off it.