He fell without a cry and floundered on the floor, gasping. Dan picked him up and shoved him through the door, bolting it behind him. A narrow hall opened before him and ran the length of the small building. He glanced into the room on one side. It was the kitchen and eating-room in one. He rushed into the one on the other side. Two men were there. One was Haines, sitting with his hands manacled. The other was the second guard, who ran for Dan, whipping his rifle to his shoulder. As flame spurted from the mouth of the gun, Dan dived at the man’s knees and brought him to the floor with a crash. He rose quickly and leaned over the fallen man, who lay without moving, his arms spread wide. He had struck on his forehead when he dropped. He was stunned for the moment, but not seriously hurt. Dan ran to Haines, who stood with his hands high above his head. Far away was the shout of the coming crowd.
“Shoot and be damned!” said Haines sullenly.
For answer Dan jerked down the hands of the lone rider and commenced to try the keys on the handcuffs. There were four keys. The fourth turned the lock. Haines shouted as his hands fell free.
“After me!” cried Dan, and raced for the stable.
As they swung into their saddles outside the shed, the lynchers raced their horses around the jail.
“Straightaway!” called Dan. “Through the cottonwoods and down the lane. After me. Satan!”
The stallion leaped into a full gallop, heading straight for a tall group of cottonwoods beyond which was a lane fenced in with barbed wire. Half a dozen of the pursuers were in a position to cut them off, and now rushed for the cottonwoods, yelling to their comrades to join them. A score of lights flashed like giant fireflies as the lynchers opened fire.
“They’ve blocked the way!” groaned Haines.
Three men had brought their horses to a sliding stop in front of the cottonwoods and their revolvers cracked straight in the faces of Dan and Haines. There was no other way for escape. Dan raised his revolver and fired twice, aiming low. Two of the horses reared and pitched to the ground. The third rider had a rifle at his shoulder. He was holding his fire until he had drawn a careful bead. Now his gun spurted and Dan bowed far over his saddle as if he had been struck from behind.
Before the rifleman could fire again Black Bart leaped high in the air. His teeth closed on the shoulder of the lyncher and the man catapulted from his saddle to the ground. With his yell in their ears, Dan and Haines galloped through the cottonwoods, and swept down the lane.
THE LONG RIDE
A cheer of triumph came from the lynchers. In fifty yards the fugitives learned the reason, for they glimpsed a high set of bars blocking the lane. Dan pulled back beside Haines.
“Can the bay make it?” he called.