Renata pauses at the door and turns to Teresa. "No matter what happens, I am ready now to accept my fate. I surrender to God's will and I am sheltered beneath Mary's veil."
A strong gust of wind blows up against the two women, lifting their skirts and sending dust and grit into their eyes. Renata turns to open the door.
"Renata, wait!" It's Arthur. "Can I please go in with you?"
She studies him. She shrugs. "I guess there will be no harm in that."
He's up the stairs as she opens the door. He gently cups her elbow.
As they step inside, a shiver goes up Renata's back. The pitiful cell where she spent so many many weeks is now occupied by a man with dark skin and long black straight hair. He has a single braid hanging by his face.
Renata stares at the jailer, who is asleep, his feet propped on the wooden table.
"Hello," she says. He doesn't respond. She approaches the table and sets her hand on his leg and shakes him awake. He's disoriented, but his first instinct is to reach for his keys dangling from his belt. The keys jangle, sparking another horrible memory in Renata's mind.
In a moment he is on his feet and leaning forward over the desk. "What....what the hell, it's you, YOU! You came back!"
She stands and faces him in silence. Her eyes are closed. Art is at one side, Teresa on the other.
"Well so, I gotta get you back in the cell," he says, standing. "And then I gotta tell the judge and the sheriff."
"You don't have to put me in the cell," Renata says. "I came here of my own free will. I am not going anywhere, I am here to prove to all of you that I am innocent."
The jailer cackles and shakes his head. "You're dreaming lady," he says, "But whatever. Take a seat on the bench there, and I'll be right back."
Renata remains standing, as do the other two. All of them are staring at the man in the cell. He sits with his face down, resting in one hand.
The jailer is gone about 20 minutes. When he reenters, he's followed by the sheriff. They stand face to face with Renata, Teresa and Art.
The sheriff speaks. "You do realize that we have every intention of carrying out the hanging," he says. He has his thumbs hooked on his suspenders. Renata sees what looks to be a gleam in the man's eye, and a smile on his bearded face.
"I am fully aware of that," Renata says. "I am prepared to hang.
The sheriff is shaking his head no. "I'm afraid we can't go back into trial," he said, "there is no precedent for..."
Suddenly the judge, wearing a black suit, appears at the door. He places one hand on the sheriff's arm."
"Jed, let me handle this."
The judge studies Renata, and glances at Teresa and Art. "I am willing to allow you one more hour in the courtroom," he says, and the sheriff begins to speak. The judge raises his hand, signaling silence."
The the judge goes on. "Be at the courthouse at 9 a.m. sharp tomorrow and we will let you have one more chance to speak." He turns to speak to the sheriff, whose face is pinched with anger. "Jed, what difference does one hour make after all this time?"
He faces Renata. "I am assuming," he says, "that you have another witness?"
Renata nods. "We have a document," she says, "a very important document that wasn't available in the trial."
"Whatever you've got, bring it with you tomorrow, I will give you an hour, tops. Do you understand?"
"Yes sir," she says. "Thank you for doing this."
The judge turns and he and the sheriff walk out the door.
"You sure you don't want even one more night here in this nice jail cell?" The jailer leers. He takes a step closer toward Renata, who can smell whiskey on this breath. Art steps between them.
"Let's get going ladies," Art says. The three of them head out the door into the late afternoon sunshine.
"We've got to find couple of rooms," Art says.
And with that they climb into the wagon and head for the skyblue house where Kelly lives.