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At the moment a woman was standing before Mr. McKinley. The trouble at the door apparently subsided and the woman gave way to a well dressed man. He grasped the president's hand warmly and spoke a few words, then the crowd pushed him on.
The next was a burly colored man, whom the President greeted with the same smile Secret Service Agents Foster and Ireland were standing directly across from the president, closely scanning each man and woman passing along in the line.
When the next man appeared, the government officers saw before them a quietly-dressed, intelligent appearing young man with reddish hair and smooth shaven cheeks. His right hand was thrust beneath the lapel of his coat and a handkerchief was wrapped about it in such a way as to give the impression that the hand had been injured.
The man turned his eyes squarely upon the president's face and extended his left hand.
Mr. McKinley observed that the man before him was offering his left hand instead of his right, and his eyes wandered to the hand thrust beneath the coat. Then his own right hand closed about the fingers of the man who, like Judas, was to betray him.
The touch of Mr. McKinley's hand seemed to rouse the man to action. He leaned suddenly forward, at the same time holding the president's hand in a vise-like hold. He drew Mr. McKinley the barest trifle toward him and the right hand flashed from beneath the coat lapel.
The hand and fingers were hidden by the folds of the handkerchief. The man thrust the hand fairly against the president's breast and pulled the trigger of the weapon that the white bit of cloth was hiding.
Two pistol shots rang out sharply and echoed back from the walls of the Temple. President McKinley dropped the man's hand and staggered back. Upon his face was a look of angry surprise.
Secretary Cortelyou and President Milburn, who were standing a little behind him, caught him as he was falling and drew him into a chair. The president's first words were: "May God forgive him."
At the sound of the shots Detective Ireland of the secret service force leaped upon the man like a tiger and close behind him came the colored man who had just shaken hands with the president. They were struggling with him on the floor when the president reached the chair. Turning his head to Detective Gerry, another member of his bodyguard, he asked:
"Am I shot?"
He had evidently been so stunned by surprise that he had not felt the impact of the bullets. Meanwhile Secretary Cortelyou had torn open the president's vest. Blood was on his shirt front, and Detective Gerry, answering his question, said: "I fear you are, Mr. President."
Secretary Cortelyou sank on one knee at the side of the president and looked anxiously into his face.
"Do not be alarmed," said the president, "it is nothing." Then his head sank forward into his hands for a moment, but he raised it, despite the stream of crimson which came from the wound in his breast and spread in an ever widening circle on his white shirt front.
"But you are wounded," exclaimed Mr. Cortelyou; "let me examine."
"No, no," insisted the president, "I am not badly injured, I assure you."
The guards were driving the crowds out of the building. Mr. Cortelyou asked the president if he felt any pain. Mr. McKinley slipped his hand through his shirt front and pressed his fingers against his breast.
"I feel a sharp pain here," he said. Then, as he withdrew his hand and saw blood dripping from his finger tips, he compressed his lips tightly, then turned to those about him and said, in a whisper:
"I trust Mrs. McKinley will not be informed of this. At least try to see that what she must know of it be not exaggerated in the telling."
Mr. McKinley's head sank back on the chair and he seemed to be drowsy. Tears filled the eyes of those who were watching at his side, but there was not a sound to break the dead silence that had followed his last utterance.
Then there was a commotion just outside the little circle, and Minister Aspiroz, of Mexico, forced his way to a place close beside Mr. McKinley, crying: "O God, Mr. President, are you shot?"
Mr. McKinley roused himself and smiled sadly. "Yes—I believe I—am," he gasped. His head sank back again but only for a moment. Suddenly straightening up in his chair, he gripped the arms tightly and thrust his feet out in front of him with a quick, nervous movement. Thus he sat, with his lips tightly closed, an example of superb selfcontrol, until the ambulance arrived.
When the secret service men and the colored man first threw themselves upon the assassin, pinning him to the floor, lest he should try to use the revolver again, twenty more men hurled themselves upon the scrambling quartet and buried him from sight. Every man in that struggling, crazy throng was striving to get hold of the assassin, to strike him, to rend him, to wreak upon him the mad fury which possessed them the instant they realized what he had done.
The greater part of the crowd was stunned for an instant by the enormity of the crime they witnessed, but when the reaction came they surged forward like wild beasts, the strongest pushing the weakest aside and forcing themselves forward to where the prisoner was held by his captors.
A tumult of sound filled the place—a hollow roar at first, punctuated by the shrieks of women and swelling into a medley of yells and curses.
A little force of exposition guards, penned in by the clamoring mob, fought desperately to hold their prisoner from the blood-thirsty crowd.
They had him, safe and fast. His revolver had been wrenched from him in the instant that Detective Ireland fell upon him, and he was helpless, bruised and bleeding. His face was cut when he was thrown to the floor and a dozen eager hands had struck at him and reached him over the heads of the officers.
Slowly, very slowly, the little force of police made way through the crowd, dragging the prisoner between them. They were determined there should be no lynching.
From outside the building, where the news had spread from lip to lip, still other thousands were endeavoring to get in. More police came plunging into the crowd from headquarters, where the direful news had sped. They hurled themselves upon the swaying mob, they struck and pushed and shouted commands. Massing their men where they could best handle the excited crowd, they cleared a passage to one of the doors for the bearing away of the president, and on the stretcher of an ambulance which had come clanging to the door, he was tenderly carried from the building and borne in the ambulance to the emergency hospital, near the service building, in the exposition grounds.
Through the crowd the policemen dragged their prisoner, until they reached a little room just off the west stage of the Temple of Music. His face was still bleeding from the blows given him by the negro, Parker, who had cried, as he was torn away from him, "Oh, only for ten seconds more!"
Once inside the little room, the door was closed with a bang, but the mob, with its blind impulse, surging against the building, fairly made the walls creak.
The scene in the little room was all confusion. Officers were hurrying in and out. Some were trying to conceal the fact that the man was there, and others betrayed it in a loud voice as soon as they left the room. One excited exposition official called upon the people to "go in and get the man."
In the room with the prisoner were nine officers. He was hurled upon a table and sat there, putting his sleeve to his lips at intervals, looking at the floor, and nervously rubbing his shoes together. Now and