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Colonel Quaritch, V.C. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 363 pages of information about Colonel Quaritch, V.C..

“Old Sir James laughed, and said that shoot him they might, but that he consigned his soul to the Devil if he would enrich them with his treasures, and then asked that his Bible might be brought to him that he might read therein and prepare himself for death.

“They gave him the Bible and left him.  Next morning at the dawn, a file of Roundheads marched him into the courtyard of the Castle and here he found Colonel Playfair and his officers waiting.

“‘Now, Sir James, for your last word,’ said the Roundhead.  ’Will you reveal where the treasure lies, or will you choose to die?’

“‘I will not reveal,’ answered the old man.  ’Murder me if ye will.  The deed is worthy of Holy Presbyters.  I have spoken and my mind is fixed.’

“‘Bethink you,’ said the Colonel.

“‘I have thought,’ he answered, ’and I am ready.  Slay me and seek the treasure.  But one thing I ask.  My young son is not here.  In France hath he been these three years, and nought knows he of where I have hid this gold.  Send to him this Bible when I am dead.  Nay, search it from page to page.  There is nought therein save what I have writ here upon this last sheet.  It is all I have left to give.’

“‘The book shall be searched,’ answered the Colonel, ’and if nought is found therein it shall be sent.  And now, in the name of God, I adjure you, Sir James, let not the love of lucre stand between you and your life.  Here I make you one last offer.  Discover but to us the ten thousand pounds whereof you speak in this writing,’ and he held up the letter to the King, ‘and you shall go free—­refuse and you die.’

“‘I refuse,’ he answered.

“‘Musqueteers, make ready,’ shouted the Colonel, and the file of men stepped forward.

“But at that moment there came up so furious a squall of wind, and with it such dense and cutting rain, that for a while the execution was delayed.  Presently it passed, the wild light of the November morning swept out from the sky, and revealed the doomed man kneeling in prayer upon the sodden turf, the water running from his white hair and beard.

“They called to him to stand up, but he would not, and continued praying.  So they shot him on his knees.”

“Well,” said Colonel Quaritch, “at any rate he died like a gallant gentleman.”

At that moment there was a knock at the door, and the servant came in.

“What is it?” asked the Squire.

“George is here, please, sir,” said the girl, “and says that he would like to see you.”

“Confound him,” growled the old gentleman; “he is always here after something or other.  I suppose it is about the Moat Farm.  He was going to see Janter to-day.  Will you excuse me, Quaritch?  My daughter will tell you the end of the story if you care to hear any more.  I will join you in the drawing-room.”

CHAPTER IV

The end of the tale

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