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Newspaper Page Text
crowd separated, he was no longer
thrust forward among them. He
stopped, gasping. At his side was the
"boy. His long paarlyzed brain began
"Down here!" he gasped, indicat
ing a dry ditch beside the road.
He looked back quickly. They were
in a little depression which hid them
from the prison or any one on guard
there. There was nobody in sight.
No. 774 dropped flat among the tan
gle of briers, dragging the boy with
"We're hidden here," he said.
They'll never look for us so near.
And they'll get those other fellows as
sure as a gun."
"Let me go!" sobbed the boy. "I
don't care if they catch me after
wards. I've got to see "
"No, son," answered 774. "You lay
cool. It's our only chance of getting
A moment later the hue and cry
swept alonj the road. The warders
were running; the mounted squads
were riding hard after the prisoners.
Their attempts to escape were piti
able. From where they cowered the
two could see the tiny figures strung
out across the fiatB. The housemen,
separating, rode down each one. The
sounds of shouting came faintly to
the men's ears. Then the vast
emptiness of afternoon hung over all.
Slowly out of the distance came a
freight train. It rolled at a slow pace
along the meadow banks. It would
t- cross the road that forked with that
leading to the prison, and that was
. only a couple of hundred paces away.
- They could make it unobserved by
running along the gulley. And there
' was ample time.
No. 774 looked at the boy. He look-
ed like a striped caterpillar in his hid
eous convict garm. He himself, as a
5 first-class prisoner, wore the working
garb of any laborer.
"Strip, kid!" he said.
And, as the boy stared dumbly, he
began to take off his shirk He point-
6 cd toward the train.
"Hurry, kid!" he said.
The boy began suddenly to tear off
the stripes. In a few minutes the
transfer had been effected.
"You'll make the town by night
fall," said 774. "They won't catch
you if you jump off before you reach
"But you?" stammered the boy.'
"Four years more," answered 774,
easily. "I could do that bit on my
head. Hurry, Kid!"
A clasp of the hand, two faces dis
torted with grief and shame, and the
boy was running along the bottom of
No. 774 watched him as he ran.
He saw the train approach, slowly
as it went up the incline, saw the boy
scramble under a car. He held his
breath involuntarily. But nobody
had witnessed that sudden flash out
of the gulley into Jhe daylight The
train went on.
No. 774 sat still in the gulley. He
watched the mounted men ride back,
shepherding their captives. As they
came toward him 774 stepped into
the road. A mounted man dashed at
"Ah, put up your whip," said 774.
"I ran because I was scared. I've
been waiting for you."
He took his place in the dejected
crowd. A few minutes later they
passed through the outer gates,
where an old man with his head in a
bandage cursed them volubly.
No. 774 felt his heart leap in his
breast It was not murder, then ! And
his only offense was against the pris
on rules. They could take away his
four years of "copper," but they
could give him no more. You cannot
imprison a man for breaking the
prison rules by changing clothes, un
less you can prove but what could
"The boy knocked me down and
took 'em off me," muttered No. 774
He was back in his cell. Outside
the birds were pouring out their eve
ning song. He listened and looked
at the calendar upon the wa
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