Open main menu

Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/49

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
29
THE ROAD TO VERSAILLES

shoved her back with their pikes, and finally one of them struck her for her persistence.

"Pierre, look at her old mother; ah, Holy Virgin, what a stubborn lot are these heretics."

Her mother! Great powers of heaven, could it be possible? My indignation blazed out against the inhuman guard.

"Why do ye this most un-Christian thing?" and to the crowd:

"Do you call yourselves men to stand by and witness this?"

At my words one sturdy young fellow, of the better, peasant-farmer class, broke from those who held him and would have thrown himself unarmed against the mail-clad guard. Many strong arms kept him back. He struggled furiously for a while, then sank in the sheer desperation of exhaustion upon the road. As soon as he was quiet the mob, gathering about the more attractive spectacle, left him quite alone. I went up to him, laid my hand upon his shoulder, and spoke to him kindly. He looked up, surprised that one wearing a uniform should show him human sympathy. He had a good, honest face, blue-eyed and frank, yet such an expression of utter hopelessness as never marred a mortal countenance. It haunts me to this day.

I was touched by the man's sullen apathy, succeeding so quickly to the desperate energy I had seen him display, and asked concerning his trouble.

"Oh, God, Monsieur, my wife, Celeste, my young wife! Only a year married, Monsieur." He raised upon