“I cannot give you the man,” he was saying, “but I can give you justice.”
“Justice?” the spokesman of the peasants retorted bitterly–he wore the dress of a smith, and belonged to that craft. “Who ever heard but of one sort of justice for the poor man? Justice, Sir Governor, is the poor man’s right to be hung! The poor man’s right to be scourged! The 长沙桑拿论坛吧 poor man’s right to be broken on the wheel! To see his hut burned and his wife borne off! That is the justice”–rudely–“the poor man gets– be it high or low, king’s or lord’s!”
“Ay, ay!” the stern chorus rose from a hundred throats behind him, “that is the poor man’s justice!”
“It is to put an end to such things I am here!” des Ageaux replied, marking with a watchful eye the faces before him. He was far from easy, but he had handled men of their kind before, and thought that he knew them.
“There was never a beginning of such things, and there will never be an end!” the smith returned, the hopelessness of a thousand years of wrong in his words. “Never! But give us this man–he has done all these things, he and his master, and we will believe you.”
“I cannot give him to you,” des Ageaux answered. The same prisoner, one of Vlaye’s 长沙桑拿价格多少钱 followers, was in question whom the Old Crocans had yesterday required to be given up to them. “But I have told you and I tell you again,” the Lieutenant continued, reading mischief in the men’s faces, “that you shall have justice. If this man has wronged you and you can prove it—-”
“If!” the peasant cried, and baring his right arm he raised his clenched fist to heaven.
But the Lieutenant went on as if the man had not spoken. “If you can prove these things upon him by witnesses here present—-”
“You will give him to us?”
“No, I will not do that!”
“You will give him to us!” the smith repeated, refusing to hear the denial. And all along the line of scowling faces–the line that wavered ominously at moments of emotion as if it would break about the little group–ran a swift gleam of white teeth.
But des Ageaux did not blench. He raised his hand for silence, and his voice was steady as a rock as he made answer. “No,” he said, “I will not give him to you. He belongs neither
to me nor to you, but to God and the King, whose is justice.”
“To God!” the other snarled, “whose is justice! Rather, whose servants hold the lamb that the devils may flay it! And for the King, Sir Governor, a fig for him! Our own hands are worth a dozen kings!”
“Stay!” The line was swaying; in the nick of time des Ageaux’ voice, and perhaps something in his eye, stayed it. “Listen to me one moment,” he continued. “To-morrow morning–for I have not time to-day–the man you accuse shall be tried. If he be guilty, before noon he shall die. If he be not guilty, he shall go!”
A murmur of protest.
But des Ageaux raised his head higher and spoke more sternly. “He shall go!” he repeated–and for the moment he mastered them. “If he be innocent he shall go! What more do you claim? To what beyond have you a right? And now,” he continued, as he saw them pause angry but undecided, “for yourselves! I have told you, I tell you again that this is your last chance. That I and the offer I make you are your last hope! There is a man there”–with his forefinger he singled out a tall youth with a long, narrow face and light blue eyes–“who promises that when you are attacked he will wave his arm, and Vlaye and his riders will fall on their faces as fell the walls of Jericho! Do you believe him? Will you trust your wives and children to him? And another”–again he singled out a man, a beetle-browed dwarf, hideous of aspect, survivor of some ancient race–“who promises victory if you will sacrifice your captives on yonder stone! Do you believe him? And if you do not trust these, in what do you trust? Can naked men stand before mailed horses? Can you take castles with your bare hands? You have left your villages, you have 长沙桑拿预约 slain your oxen, you have burned your tools, you have slain your lords’ men, you have taken the field. Have peasants ever done these things–and not perished sooner or later on gibbets and in dungeons? And such will be your fate, and the fate of your women and your children, if you will go your way and will not listen!”
“What do you promise us?” The question in various forms broke from a dozen throats.
“First, justice on the chief of your oppressors.”
“The Captain of Vlaye?”