One day he saw a knight coolly trip up a citizen (one of the king’s levy) in the midst of the camp and in broad daylight, and quietly cut away his purse, at least a score of persons looking on. But they were only retainers and slaves; there was no one whose word would for a moment have been received against the knight’s, who had observed this, and plundered the citizen with impunity. He flung the lesser coins to the crowd, keeping the gold and silver for himself, and walked off amidst their plaudits.
Felix saw a slave nailed to a tree, his arms put round it so as to clasp it, and then nails driven through them. There he was left in his agony to perish. No one knew what his fault had been; his master had simply taken a dislike to him. A guard was set that no one should relieve the miserable being. Felix’s horror and indignation could not have been expressed, but he was totally helpless.
His own condition of mind during this time was such as could not be well analysed. He did not himself understand whether his spirit had been broken, whether he was really degraded with the men with whom he lived, or why he remained with them, though there were moments when it dawned upon him that this education, rude as it was, was not without its value to him. He need not practise these evils, but it was well to know of their existence. Thus he remained, as it were, quiescent, and the days passed on. He really had not much to do, although the rest put their burdens upon him, for discipline was so lax, that the loosest attendance answered equally well with the most conscientious. The one thing all the men about him seemed to think of was the satisfying of their appetites; the one thing they rejoiced at was the fine dry weather, for, as his mates told him, the misery of camp life in rain was almost unendurable.
Twice Felix saw the king. Once there was a review of the horse outside the camp, and Felix, having to attend with his master’s third charger (a mere show and affectation, for there was not the least chance of his needing it), was now and then very near the monarch. For that day at least he looked every whit what fame had reported him to be. A man of unusual size, his bulk rendered him conspicuous in the front of the throng. His massive head seemed to accord well with the possession of despotic power.
The brow was a little bare, for he was no longer young, but the back of his head was covered with thick ringlets of brown hair, so thick as to partly conceal the coronet of gold which he wore. A short purple cloak, scarcely reaching to the waist, was thrown back off his shoulders, so that his steel corselet glistened in the sun. It was the only armour he had on; a long sword hung at his side. He rode a powerful black horse, full eighteen hands high, by far the finest animal on the ground; he required it, for his