Caesar's Column eBook

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 355 pages of information about Caesar's Column.
beard white as snow.  He was prematurely aged—­his back was stooped—­his pallid complexion reminded one of plants grown in cellars; he had a dejected, timorous look, like one who had long been at the mercy of brutal masters; his hands were seamed and calloused with hard work; he was without a coat, and his nether garments had curious, tiger-like stripes upon them.  He was sobbing like a child in the arms of his wife.  He seemed very weak in body and mind.  Maximilian gave him a chair, and his mother sat down by him, weeping bitterly, and holding the poor calloused hands in her own, and patting them gently, while she murmured words of comfort and rejoicing.  The poor man looked bewildered, as if he could not quite collect his faculties; and occasionally he would glance anxiously at the door, as if he expected that, at any moment, his brutal masters would enter and take him back to his tasks.

“Gabriel,” said Maximilian,—­and his face was flushed and working,—­“this is—­or was—­my father.”

I took the poor hand in my own and kissed it, and spoke encouragingly to him.  And this, I thought, was once a wealthy, handsome, portly, learned gentleman; a scholar and a philanthropist; and his only crime was that he loved his fellow-men!  And upon how many such men have the prison doors of the world closed—­never to open again?

They took him away to the bath; they fed him; they put upon him the clothes of a gentleman.  He smiled in a childish way, and smoothed the fine cloth with his hands; and then he seemed to realize, for the first time, that he was, indeed, no longer a prisoner—­that his jailers had gone out of his life forever.

“I must go now,” said Maximilian, hurriedly; “I will be back this evening.  I have a duty to perform.”

He returned at nightfall.  There was a terrible light in his eyes.

“I have avenged my father,” he said to me, in a hoarse whisper.  “Come this way.”

He took me into the library, for he would not have the women hear the dreadful story.  I shut the door.  He said: 

“I had made all the necessary arrangements to prevent the escape of the Count and his accomplices.  I knew that he would fly, at the first alarm, to his yacht, which lies out in the harbor.  He had ruined my father by bribery; so I brought his own instrument to bear upon him, and bribed, with a large sum, his confidential friend, who was in command of his vessel, to deliver him up to me.  As I had anticipated, the cunning wretch fled to the yacht; they took him on board.  Then they made him prisoner.  He was shackled and chained to the mast.  He begged for his life and liberty.  He had brought a fortune with him in gold and jewels.  He offered the whole of it to his friend, as a bribe, for he surmised what was coming.  The faithful officer replied, as I had instructed him, that the Count could not offer that treasure, for he himself had already appropriated it to his own purposes.  The miscreant had always

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Caesar's Column from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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