He glanced up to see that worthy ensconced in a snug corner of the gateway and surrounded by his accustomed cronies the warders on duty. Plainly, there had been more than one replenishing of the black-jack that stood on the settle beside him, for his face was flushed and the purple veins in his high, bald forehead presented an inordinately swollen appearance.
He asked only for an impartial decision on the facts, from men of high principle, and he sat down conscious of having focussed the issue on the proper point and secured the sympathy of the public. The judges withdrew to their room, the jury retired to consider their verdict, and Etienne Rambert was removed between two warders.
Peer and his warders and a friend, his instructor during the time of his imprisonment, schoolmaster Jakobsen, were to sleep down in the schoolhouse, which was part of the farm property belonging to the old parsonage. Meals were to be carried from our house to the prisoner and Jakobsen.
Ponzardus was sent back to confinement and the warders were bidden to see that he suffered naught for what he had said. The rugged old master, Jacques de Molay, scarred by honourable wounds, the marks of many a battle with the infidel, was brought before the court and his alleged confession read to him.
"I beg your pardon, Commandant: that makes only one!" The commandant looked severely at his subordinate. "That is enough, Lieutenant!... Send for Corporal Vinson who occupied cell 26." "Right, Commandant!" Some minutes later there was a knock at the door: two warders with a prisoner stood on the threshold.
And I remember, too, how our footsteps, pattering through the vacant internals in search of that haggard utterance, made me think of the footsteps of hurrying warders roused in the night. And we found a parrot in a cage; that was all. It wanted water. We gave it water and went away to look things over, keeping pretty close together, all of us. In the quarters the table was set for four.
Yet they are already judged, and, I take it, justified, for the dead men sit as warders of a greater treasurehouse. "I think that we eleven and two of us near death were already half out of the body, for weariness and longing shift the mind from its moorings.
From the little street at the rear of the guillotine appeared a priest, walking backwards, and holding a crucifix high in his right hand, and behind him came the handsome hero, his body all crossed with cords, between two warders, who pressed against him and supported him on either side. He was certainly very young. He lifted his chin gallantly, but his face was incredibly white.
"Ye are careful warders," said Richard to his archers, in a tone of scornful reproach, as, aroused by the bustle of what had passed, in terror and tumult they now rushed into his tent; "watchful sentinels ye are, to leave me to do such hangman's work with my own hand. Be silent, all of you, and cease your senseless clamour! saw ye never a dead Turk before?
Now whatever might be the desire or wish of Hamilton, and however much he might on ordinary occasions depend upon the loyalty of his warders and his men, in this matter of the green crocodile he was entirely at their mercy, for he could not call them together asking them to speak no death of the Green One without magnifying the importance of Lieutenant Tibbetts' rash act.