“Wilt thou now, then, recant thine accursed doctrines?”
“What doctrines?” said I, to gain time.
“Those that are falsely called reformed.”
“Oh yes, all that are falsely called reformed.”
They stood at pause on this, and looked at one another.
“He gives in,” muttered one.
“Not a bit,” replied another. “He is only lying.”
“Well but, mark you, that’s no matter of ours,” said the first.
“I tell you it is!” roared the second, pushing him aside. “Let me take him in hand. You don’t know how to question him.” Then accosting me, in a defiant sort of way (he was far from sober), he said,
“Hark ye, young man. Now answer for your life. Give us no double meanings. What is your religion?”
“That which was brought us and taught us by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Do you believe in St. Peter?”
“And in the Virgin Mother of God?”
“The angel Gabriel called her blessed among women.”
“But do you worship her?”
“I reverence her, and worship her Divine Son.”
“Do you worship her, I say?” threatening me with the stirrup-leather.
“Son, son,” put in my father.
“Silence, old man!” and they hit him on the mouth.
“Do you worship her?”
“I do not.”
Then they beat the soles of my feet, till my father in anguish cried, “Oh, I cannot bear this—” but had to bear it. And so had I. But on their burning my soles with a red-hot iron, a merciful Providence took me out of their hands, by bringing me insensibility. How long they pursued their barbarities after I fainted, I know not; but when I came to myself, it was in cold and darkness, lying in the open street, where I suppose they had cast me, thinking me dead. How long a time must have passed! for the stars were shining above me. Where were my parents, my brothers and sisters? I tried to raise myself a little and look around, but was beaten and bruised so that I was in agonies of pain, and sank back on the ground. The cold made my wounded feet smart indescribably; but while, with closed eyes, I was inwardly murmuring, “Lord, help thy poor servant, for I cannot help myself;” something that made me wince with pain, but the next moment gave exquisite relief, was applied to the soles of my feet, and the next instant I heard the hushed voices of those who were dearest to me on earth, my mother and Madeleine “Can it be that we are too late?” said Madeleine. “No, his pulse yet beats, though as feebly as possible. Oh, what he must have suffered, and how I love him for not having given in!”
In pain though I was, a smile of joy broke over my face on this, and I opened my eyes.
“Praise the Lord, he revives!” said my mother. “How art thou, my son?”
“I shall do well, my mother—,” but I could not speak another word. I closed my eyes, and felt about to faint.