FOUR YEARS FOR A LIFE
By John P. Roe
) No. 774 had caught meaning glanc
es from the convicts as they filed into
the foundry. He knew their meaning;
for weeks a revolt had been brewing
and, strangely enough, this time the
guards had no inkling of it. The se
cret had been well kept.
No. 774 was in for 20 years, and he
had served 16. At any time now he
might be paroled by the pardons
board. But the spirit of freedom was
strong in him. He had long since
ceased to reason, to be much more
than a dumb brute. He knew the
odds were fearfully against him. But
oijtside tne sun was shining, and
the birds were building. A mad hun
ger for freedom assailed him.
Only one man in the foundry was
ignorant of what was transpiring.
That was little 1,237, a boy of 20,
serving a life sentence for the mur
der of the man who had insulted his
sweetheart He had been there only
six months. No. 774 could read him
like a book. He knew the sudden out
breaks of frenzy, the hopelessness,
the longing to see the girl, the eel
tainty that she would forget him as
life increased and memories grew
fainter. Poor little 1,237!
The hardened men in the foundry
could not trust the boy. The plot had
been matured long ago. There was
a tense expectancy as they turned to
their work at the glowing forges.
The signal was to be the opening
of the outer gates to admit the pass
age of the trusties with their carts
of slag. No. 774 listened intently.
Creak! Creak! Creak!
A simultaneous yell. The men ran
toward the doors, brandishing their
red-hot bars of steel. The warders
shrank away in terror. They were
hopelessly overpowered. No. 774 was
being carried along in the press. At
his side, caught also in the crowd of
men, h.e saw the boy.
He moved like a man In a dream
He heard whistles blowing, he heard
a revolver spit spitefully and saw a
man near him pitch up his arms and
tumble forward. Then he was in the
A score of crowbars were hammer
ing upon the gates that shut the men
off from the outer court, behind
which lay freedom. Still dreaming,
774 saw a guard clamber upon the
surrounding wall and point a rifle.
Bang! Bang! Six shots rang out and
every time a yell or a fall indicated
"I Could Do That Bit on My Head."
that a bullet had gone home. But
the furious, cursing crowd had bat
tered down the gates.
They were in the outer court. The
gatekeeper, an old man with a white,
pointed beard, was trying to close the
gates. No. 774 saw a, crowbar de
scend crashing upon his skull. The
gatekeeper fell forward. The men
were in the open and racing down the
No. 774 came to a realization of
what had happened, because, as the
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