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208 N ow I am come to a period on which I shall not dwell, nor repeat a tale of suffering greater than that I had yet endured. All the first night of this new imprisonment I tossed on my wretched bed in pain and misery. A strange and surly soldier came and went, bringing bread and water; but when I asked that a physician be sent me, he replied, with a vile oath, that the devil should be my only surgeon. Soon he came again, accompanied by another soldier, and put irons on me. With what quietness I could I asked him by whose orders this was done; but he vouchsafed no reply save that I was to “go bound to fires of hell.” “There is no journeying there,” I answered; “here is the place itself.” Then a chain was roughly put round my injured ankle, and it gave me such agony that I turned sick, but I kept back groaning, for I would not have these varlets catch me quaking. “I’ll have you grilled for this one day,” said I. “You are no men, but butchers. Can you not see my ankle has been sorely hurt?” “You are for killing,” was the gruff reply, “and here’s a taste of it.” With that he drew the chain with a jerk round the hurt member, so that it drove me to madness. I caught him by the throat and hurled him back against the wall, and, snatching a pistol from his comrade’s belt, aimed it at his head. I was beside myself with pain, and if he had been Chapter XVIII The Steep Path of Conquest 209 further violent I should straightway have shot him. His fellow dared not stir in his defence, for the pistol was trained on him too surely; and so at last the wretch, promising better treatment, crawled to his feet, and made motion for the pistol to be given him. But I would not yield it, telling him it should be a guarantee of truce. Presently the door closed behind them, and I sank back upon the half-fettered chains. I must have sat for more than an hour, when there was a noise without , and there entered the commandant, the Marquis de Montcalm, and the Seigneur Duvarney. The pistol was in my hand, and I did not put it down, but struggled to my feet, and waited for them to speak. For a moment there was silence, and then the commandant said, “Your guards have brought me word, Monsieur le Capitaine, that you are violent. You have resisted them, and have threatened them with their own pistols.” “With one pistol, monsieur le commandant,” answered I. Then, in bitter words, I told them of my treatment by those rascals, and I showed them how my ankle had been tortured. “I have no fear of death,” said I, “but I will not lie and let dogs bite me with ‘I thank you.’ Death should come but once; it is a damned brutality to make one die a hundred and yet live—the work of Turks, not Christians! If you want my life, why, take it and have done.” The Marquis de Montcalm whispered to the commandant. The Seigneur Duvarney, to whom I had not yet spoken, nor he to me, stood leaning against the wall, gazing at me seriously and kindly. Presently Ramesay, the Commandant, spoke, not unkindly: “It was ordered you should wear chains, but not that you should be maltreated. A surgeon shall be sent to you, and this chain shall be taken from your ankle. Meanwhile, your guards shall be changed.” I held out the pistol, and he took it. “I can not hope for justice here,” said I, “but men are men, and not dogs, and I ask for humane usage till my hour comes and my country is your jailer.” The Marquis smiled, and his gay eyes sparkled. “Some find comfort 210 in daily bread, and some in prophecy,” he rejoined. “One should envy your spirit, Captain Moray.” “Permit me, your Excellency,” replied I; “all Englishmen must envy the spirit of the Marquis de Montcalm, though none is envious of his cause.” He bowed gravely. “Causes are good or bad as they are ours or our neighbours’. The lion has a good cause when it goes hunting for its young; the deer has a good cause when it resists the lion’s leap upon its fawn.” I did...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781771120456
Related ISBN
9781771120449
MARC Record
OCLC
966771243
Pages
408
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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