“Wait a few hours, Armitage—let us sit down and talk it all over. We’re not as black as your imagination paints us!”
“Save your breath! You’ve had your fun so far, and now I’m going to have mine. You fellows are all right to sit in dark rooms and plot murder and treason; but you’re not made for work in the open. Forward!”
They were a worn company that drew up at the empty bungalow, where the lamp and candles flickered eerily. On the table still lay the sword, the cloak, the silver box, the insignia of noble orders.
“WHO ARE YOU, JOHN ARMITAGE?”
“Morbleu, Monsieur, you give me too much majesty,” said the Prince.—The History of Henry Esmond.
“These gentlemen doubtless wish to confer—let them sequester themselves!” and Armitage waved his hand to the line of empty sleeping-rooms. “I believe Monsieur Durand already knows the way about—he may wish to explore my trunks again,” and Armitage bowed to the two men, who, with their wrists tied behind them and a strap linking them together, looked the least bit absurd.
“Now, Claiborne, that foolish Oscar has a first-aid kit of some sort that he used on me a couple of weeks ago. Dig it out of his simple cell back there and we’ll clear up this mess in my shoulder. Twice on the same side,—but I believe they actually cracked a bone this time.”
He lay down on a long bench and Claiborne cut off his coat.
“I’d like to hold a little private execution for this,” growled the officer. “A little lower and it would have caught you in the heart.”
“Don’t be spiteful! I’m as sound as wheat. We have them down and the victory is ours. The great fun is to come when the good Baron von Marhof gets here. If I were dying I believe I could hold on for that.”
“You’re not going to die, thank God! Just a minute more until I pack this shoulder with cotton. I can’t do anything for that smashed bone, but Bledsoe is the best surgeon in the army, and he’ll fix you up in a jiffy.”
“That will do now. I must have on a coat when our honored guests arrive, even if we omit one sleeve—yes, I guess we’ll have to, though it does seem a bit affected. Dig out the brandy bottle from the cupboard there in the corner, and then kindly brush my hair and straighten up the chairs a bit. You might even toss a stick on the fire. That potato sack you may care to keep as a souvenir.”
“Be quiet, now! Remember, you are my prisoner, Mr. Armitage.”
“I am, I am! But I will wager ten courses at Sherry’s the Baron will be glad to let me off.”
He laughed softly and began repeating:
“’Why, hear you, my masters: was it for me to kill the heir apparent? Should I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest I am as valiant as Hercules; but beware instinct; the lion will not touch the true prince. Instinct is a great matter; I was a coward on instinct. I shall think the better of myself and thee during my life; I for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince.’”