I knew, in that single moment, that the armory was on fire.

The people in the room were working at the barricade or loading their new guns, coughing and rubbing their eyes but not realizing-in the heat and excitement-the reason for that irritation. My eyes met Bochman's: at that second the knowledge came home to him, too, and his eyes went rushing white with horror.

A wave of rolling heat swept over us, and the roaring sound of burning and of screaming from below. The air thickened and the people looked up, startled-then terrified. They began pulling and heaving to clear a way through the barricade across the doorway. The legs of benches and the bars of the musket-stands were entangled. People began to fight each other to reach that barricade, and some stumbled and others tripped over them. The doorway was jammed now not only with the barricaded furniture but the thrashing men and women; and then they were all swept by a blind panic, and were screaming and clawing at the barricade and the doorways and the very plaster of the walls. Smoke and the stifling smell of fire descended across the room like a shutter; we moved through swirling grey gases and rubbery sheets of heat. Someone came hurtling against me and I fell. I scrambled up with a handkerchief over my mouth. Dozens were at each window, those in front twisting backward from the three-story fall, those in the rear shoving ahead; some fell, while others clung to the ledges.