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Newspaper Page Text
with smoke so that Bill was cut off
from the Cholos, save for their muf
fled crying. He clung to the bars.
They did not yield, but they burned
his hands like branding irons.
He heard voices in the passage and
running feet. Ramon was swearing
o er the lock. The gate clanged open,
and Bill saw him dragging the Cholos
across the floor. Other men helped
him; and outside in the street was
"That is all," Ramon gasped.
"Here!" Bill shouted. Then he
heard the footsteps die out in the pas
sageway. He waited. He watched the walls
around him turn into flame, with
brighter gaps for the doorways. He
no longer struggled with the bars.
He saw a man battling toward him
with a wet blanket that blazed on the
"You got my key?"
The five seconds it took to turn the
key in the lock were a century. Ram
on pried Bill's hands from the bars
and he stepped into the patio. Ramon
staggered and Bill propelled him to
ward the gate with his body, since his
hands were useless. They fled
through the passage. Bill could hear
a sudden crashing in the cells behind
The prisoners were huddled on the
benches in the courtroom, which was
at the end of the hall; and Bill was
left to guard them.
At twilight Ramon came into the
court room. He was blackened with
grime and smoke. "It is over," he said
to Bill, who stood beside the sheriff
and surveyed the ruins.
"It is a good thing," Ramon said
at last. "Theyjwill build a new one
now. I have tried to get them to
Bill turned back toward the court
house. "Where you goin' to put us
tonight? Number Ten looks like a
handful of ashes."
"The others will bunk, somehow,
in the courthouse Your time is out.'
"One more day," Bill said, filling
his lungs with the smoke-laden air
while there was time. He followed
Ramon into the sheriff's office.
"Smoke?" Ramon put cigars and a
handful of cigarets on the table.
Bill accepted a cigaret. He want
ed the pipe; but he would not have
taken the cigaret if it had been hu
manely possible to refuse it.
He tried to strike a match.
"Caramba!" murmured Ramon.
He insisted on bandaging Bill's
hands. He did it clumsily, first
spreading raices salve on the blister
Ramon gave him his papers of re
release, his unopened wallet, and the
two six-shooters. "The remainder of
your property is locked in the- corral
also your burros. The last day of
your time we will mark off for good
Bill accepted his freedom in si
lence. When he went out to the corral he
found his burros fat at the expense
of the' county.
Ramon joined him there. "Will
you be leaving?" he asked.
"Soon as 1 can lead these scor
pions." Ramon looked out over the dusty
town jthat lay in the hollow below the
jail. "I would like to get away from
this," he said. "Which way do you
"Out on the desert somewhere
"Scoutin' around a bit."
"No wife no nino?"
Bill looked him over "No," he
Ramon sighed as he watched the
sun drop down behind the distant
levee. "1 wish I could go with you
and get away for a time."
"Come along," Bill said lifelessly,
goaded to it by his obligation.
Ramon laughed His dark ees
lighted with the m esnonsibility of a
boy's. "When do we leave when do
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