The Oakdale Affair (Chapter 6, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 6

With oaths and threats the mob, brainless and heartless, cowardly, bestial, filled with the lust for blood, pushed and jammed into the narrow corridor before the cell door where the two prisoners awaited their fate. The single guard was brushed away. A dozen men wielding three railroad ties battered upon the grating of the door, swinging the ties far back and then in unison bringing them heavily forward against the puny iron.

Bridge spoke to them once. "What are you going to do with us?" he asked.

"We're goin' to hang you higher 'n' Haman, you damned kidnappers an' murderers," yelled a man in the crowd.

"Why don't you give us a chance?" asked Bridge in an even tone, unaltered by fear or excitement. "You've nothing on us. As a matter of fact we are both innocent--"

"Oh, shut your damned mouth," interrupted another of the crowd.

Bridge shrugged his shoulders and turned toward the youth who stood very white but very straight in a far corner of the cell. The man noticed the bulging pockets of the ill fitting coat; and, for the first time that night, his heart stood still in the face of fear; but not for himself.

He crossed to the youth's side and put his arm around the slender figure. "There's no use arguing with them," he said. "They've made up their minds, or what they think are minds, that we're guilty; but principally they're out for a sensation. They want to see something die, and we're it. I doubt if anything could stop them now; they'd think we'd cheated them if we suddenly proved beyond doubt that we were innocent."

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