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Caesar's Column eBook

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Caesar's Column.

And still the Prince lay upon his back; and still he shrieked and moaned and screamed in agony, and begged for death.

An hour passed, and there was dead silence save for his cries; the mob had swept off to new scenes of slaughter.

The Prince heard the crackling of a stick, and then a stealthy step.  A thief, hunting for plunder, was approaching.  The Prince, by great effort, hushed his outcries.

“Come here,” said he, as the pale, mean face peered at him curiously through the shrubbery.  “Come nearer.”

The thief stood close to him.

“Would you kill a man for a hundred thousand dollars?” asked the Prince.

The thief grinned, and nodded his head; it signified that he would commit murder for the hundred thousandth part of that sum.

“I am mortally wounded and in dreadful pain,” growled the Prince, the suppressed sobs interrupting his speech.  “If I tell you where you can find a hundred thousand dollars, will you drive my knife through my heart?”

“Yes,” said the thief.

“Then take the knife,” he said.

The thief did so, eying {sic} it rapaciously—­for it was diamond-studded and gold-mounted.

“But,” said the Prince—­villain himself and anticipating all villainy in others,—­“if I tell you where the money is you will run away to seek it, and leave me here to die a slow and agonizing death.”

“No,” said the thief; “I promise you on my honor.”

A thief’s honor!

“I tell you what you must do,” said the Prince, after thinking a moment.  “Kneel down and lean over me; put your arms around me; I cannot hold you with my hands, for they are paralyzed; but put the lapel of your coat between my teeth.  I will then tell you where the treasure is; but I will hold on to you by my teeth until you kill me.  You will have to slay me to escape from me.

The thief did as he was directed; his arms were around the Prince; the lapel of his coat was between the Prince’s teeth; and then through his shut teeth, tight clenched on the coat, the Prince muttered: 

“It is in the satchel beneath me.”

Without a word the thief raised his right hand and drove the knife sidewise clear through the Prince’s heart.

The last of the accumulations of generations of wrong and robbery and extortion and cruelty had sufficed to purchase their heritor a miserable death,—­in the embrace of a thief!

CHAPTER XXXV.

THE LIBERATED PRISONER

About two o’clock that day Maximilian returned home.  He was covered with dust and powder-smoke, but there was no blood upon him.  I did not see him return; but when I entered the drawing-room I started back.  There was a stranger present.  I could not long doubt as to who he was.  He was locked in the arms of Max’s mother.  He was a pitiful sight.  A tall, gaunt man; his short hair and stubby

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