Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/264

This page needs to be proofread.


“And here I must say that, for the first time since our capture, I lost all hope. Five men for three of us, and two of the cartridges blank!

“The squad closed in and we were lined up in front of a table before another black-haired, greasy, villanous-looking reptile who read the death-warrant, as near as I could make out—he spoke so fast. Then he rose from his seat, bowed stiffly, and left the room. Next the sergeant saluted us, ordered his men to fall in, and left the room. Then the jailer stepped forward, shook our hands all around, and left the room.

“We were free!

“Outside, in the broad glare of the scorching sun, his boyish face in a broad grin, stood the consul, looking as if he had just stepped out of a bandbox.

“‘I am sorry you found me such a bore last night,’ he said, gay and debonair as an old beau at a wedding, ‘but there was nothing else to do. If I’d gone home earlier and let you crawl out of that hole, you would have been shot to a dead certainty. I knew a month ago you were at work on it, and when it was nearly finished I got permission to drop in on you. The plank that you ran up