OF THE WAY MY LORD GALMOY SAT IN JUDGMENT

The character of Lord Galmoy had recently gained an unenviable notoriety
by his barbarous murder of Cornet Charleton and Captain Dixie at Fermoy,
nor were there wanting those who asserted there were still darker stains
on his character as a soldier. Such a man, Gervase well knew, would not
stretch the laws of war in his favour, and it was more than likely that
this savage cavalry-leader would not be disposed to treat him as a
lawful enemy taken in battle, but as a rebel and a spy. For such there
was a short shrift and a long rope.

When they entered the kitchen, the scene was one of the liveliest
disorder and confusion. The room was filled with soldiers attired in
every describable costume, some smoking by the fire, some eating and
drinking, and all endeavouring to make themselves heard in a perfect
babel of tongues. Hats, cloaks, and swords were piled upon the table, at
the furthest end of which was seated a small knot of officers, among
whom Gervase recognized the little surgeon who had attended to his
wound, now busily engaged in discussing the contents of a pewter
measure. At the head of the table was an officer of superior rank, and
near him stood Hackett, with his hands bound behind his back and a great
gash on his forehead. He had evidently been under examination, and his
replies had not been satisfactory to the officer who was cross-examining
him. At a glance Gervase recognized Lord Galmoy. His wig was pushed
back, showing the closely-cropped black hair that came low down on the
forehead. His eyes were bloodshot and his lips trembled with passion.
Yet the face was a handsome one, though marked by the signs of excess
and unbridled indulgence; a face weak in its almost feminine regularity,
with delicately marked eyebrows, regular nose, and rounded chin; his
hands were small and white as those of a woman.

As De Laprade made his way through the troopers who turned to stare at
his companion, Galmoy said to the men who were in charge of Hackett, “Do
not remove him. I may have further questions to put to him. And now for
this young cock who crowed loud enough to bring the barn down about our
ears; I think we shall soon cut his spurs. How say you, Vicomte?”

“I am under obligations to the gentleman, my Lord,” said De Laprade, “I
trust your Lordship will not deal too harshly with him.”

“Why, damme, we shall all be under obligations presently, but we shall
see. And now, sir, what is your name?”

Gervase caught the eye of the Vicomte fixed on him with a look of
warning. “My name is Orme,” he said, feeling weak and faint with the
loss of blood and the great heat of the atmosphere.

“And your rank?”

“A private gentleman, now serving with other gentlemen of the North in
defence of our liberties.”

“And, prithee, who gave the gentlemen of the North commission to raise
regiments or levy war on His Majesty´s subjects? Do you know, sir, that
being found with arms in your hand without lawful authority to carry
them, ´tis my duty to string you up as a warning to other malcontents.
His Majesty has shown too much long-suffering, and had he been wise we
had stamped out this cursed rebellion in a month. There is one King in
Ireland, and with the help of God and His holy saints one King there
will be. You shall drink his health, and that, damme, in a bumper.”

“That, with your Lordship´s pardon, I shall not do,” said Gervase,
disregarding De Laprade´s gesture of warning. “I have taken the oath of
allegiance to William and Mary, and to do what your Lordship asks would
be an act either of disloyalty or hypocrisy.”

“We shall see,” Galmoy answered, with a smile that was full of meaning.
“Fill up a cup, Whitney, for no one shall say that we did not give this
damned rebel a chance. And now, sir, whither and on what errand were you
away when we interrupted your journey?”

“Our destination was Enniskillen, but for our errand, from answering on
that matter I pray your Lordship to hold me excused. My knowledge of our
real purpose was but slight and would advantage you little.”

“And do you refuse to answer a plain question, sir?”

“I have given your Lordship my answer.”

Galmoy pushed his chair back from the table and his face grew purple
with passion. Then he turned to the officers who were sitting round him,
bringing his hand heavily down on the table. “God´s blood, gentlemen,
what think you of that? I have been blamed by those who should know
better, for the practice of a little just severity, and His Majesty
would pet and pamper these rebels and treat them as faithful subjects
who had been led astray. And here you have the issue. Every peasant and
scurvy citizen struts about with armour on his back and a weapon in his
hand, as if by the grace of God he had divine right to use the same.
These are airs that will find no countenance while I am master of
ceremonies.”

“This young gentleman should know better,” said one of the officers with
a sneer, “for if I mistake not I have seen him before. Pray, sir, have
we not met in Dublin when you were of Mountjoy´s regiment?”

“You can do what you please,” said Gervase, forgetting the caution he
had promised himself to observe; “I am in your hands, but I will answer
no questions; and if it be your good pleasure to murder me, on your
heads is the infamy.”

“We will answer for ourselves whatever we do,” Galmoy answered. “But
remember, the toast is waiting, and no man in my presence will refuse to
drink to the health of His Majesty.”

“I will not drink it, and no man living will force me. I have already
given you my reasons.”

“In good time,” said Galmoy, “we shall see. How say you, Major? Do you
recognize this stiff-necked Whig as being lately in the service of His
Majesty?”

“On that head,” was the answer, “I have no doubt. He was lodged at the
Bunch of Grapes hard by the Castle, and though we were not intimate, I
have seen him too frequently to be mistaken.”

“Then, by Heaven, the cup of his transgression is full and the
provost-marshal must see that he drinks it. I will take the matter on my
own shoulders and answer for it to whomsoever may question me. Look you,
sergeant, take the prisoner without, and see that he drinks that measure
of wine. A lighted match, if properly applied, will bring him to reason.
In the morning you will see that he is shot before the door an hour
before we march, for I do not like these things arranged hurriedly. For
the other ´twere a pity he should not bear him company. Let them both go
together.”

Weakened as he was by the loss of blood, and unstrung by the ordeal he
had just passed through, Gervase tottered and fell on the bench beside
which he had been standing. The room swam round him, and though he
strove against it he felt that his senses were rapidly failing him. He
would have fallen upon the floor, but De Laprade springing forward and
placing his arm round him, supported him on the seat.

Then the Vicomte turned to Galmoy. “I have said nothing, my Lord,
because I did not wish to interfere, as I thought your Lordship would
have treated this gentleman as a fair prisoner of war. It is now my duty
to speak; I trust your Lordship will hear me.”

Galmoy had now recovered his temper and answered De Laprade with a show
of courtesy. “Certainly, my dear Vicomte, there is no one to whom I
listen with greater pleasure. But I trust you will not ask me to alter
this little arrangement.”

“You will pardon me; I have told you that I am under an obligation to
this gentleman, and but for that obligation I should have been lying
beside Luttrel on the high-road. I always endeavour to pay my debts of
honour, and if need be I borrow from my friends to discharge them.”

“Faith! my creditors will tell you that I find it hard enough to
discharge my own.”

“When the fight was over, the captain who has escaped showed a great
mind to pistol me, when this Monsieur Orme, at great peril to his life,
for I apprehended a pretty quarrel, stepped between us and compelled him
to forbear. To him I owe my life, and I should be wanting in gratitude
if I failed to avow the service he has done me.”

“There is not a traitor or a rebel in the country who has not a loyal
subject to plead for him. God´s wounds! Viscount, you forget that he
first attacked you on the high road, and that he has worn the uniform of
His Majesty, whom Heaven preserve.”




“But, my Lord, I do not forget. These rebels have not saved my life and
I do not intercede for them. I have lent my sword and service to the
King of England, but I do not forget that I am a gentleman and a man of
honour. In France we do not put our prisoners to the torture, nor will I
fight in the company of those who do. Rather would I break my sword
across my knees and disown the name I bear.”

“The Vicomte de Laprade is right, my Lord,” said the officer who had
recognized Gervase. “Gratitude is a most estimable virtue, and
exceedingly rare. In return for his services perhaps your Lordship will
pretermit the young gentleman´s drinking the health, and merely give him
his dry quietus in the morning.”

“With you, sir,” said De Laprade coldly, “I have no dealings now nor at
any future time. I ask you, my Lord, for this gentleman´s life. ´Tis the
only return I am likely to receive, and indeed it is all I ask.”

“I regret, my dear Vicomte, that I am unable to do your will in this
matter, but we must hold out a warning to others. However, as Butler has
suggested, he need not dance to-night. Sergeant, you need not apply the
thumbscrew. And for you, sir, you can make up your mind to set the
example you hinted at. As it is, you may thank Viscount de Laprade that
you have escaped a dram that was like to prove bitter enough, but had I
had my own way, you should have had both the dram and the halter for a
renegade deserter.”

“Am I then, my Lord Galmoy, to understand that you refuse to accede to
my request? and that the gentleman in whom your Lordship sees I am so
deeply interested must die in the morning?”

Galmoy nodded and motioned to the officer who sat nearest him to pass
the wine.

“I know not,” De Laprade continued, drawing himself up haughtily,
“whether it is because my sword and friendship are of so little value
and are held in so slight esteem, that this simple favour is denied me,
or because in this country gentlemen are deaf to the voice of
expediency. But I know that the brave Luttrel, and a braver man never
drew a sword, met his death because you, sir, have seen good to bring in
the executioner where the soldier fails.”

“Bah! we will not quarrel, though I will not answer for my temper should
you provoke me further. You do not understand these matters, but for my
part I hold it a safe rule to let every country manage its own affairs
according to its own customs. Damme, man, this is not the court of
Versailles, but the country of Whiggery and pestilent traitors, where
every Jack-pudding is up in arms against his king and master. In a few
months you will have learned not to be so whimsical.”

“I trust that I shall never learn to forget that I am a gentleman.”

De Laprade´s manner was so pointed and his tone so full of fine, studied
disdain that Galmoy, who could not fail to see that an insult was
intended, leapt to his feet and drew his sword. In an instant his
example was followed by the Vicomte. But they were not permitted to
fight out their quarrel, for several gentlemen threw themselves between
them, and succeeded in disarming them both; not, however, without
difficulty in the case of Galmoy, who seemed almost to have been
deprived of his reason in the excess of his passion. In vain they
endeavoured to assure him that no insult had been intended, and that he
had misinterpreted the Vicomte´s words, while the Vicomte himself stood
looking on with a smile playing round his lips, cool and unconcerned as
was his wont.

In the midst of the confusion Gervase was removed from the room into the
open air. His guards permitted him to sit down on the stone
drinking-trough outside the door, while one of them went to prepare a
place in which he might pass the night securely. Bending down till his
forehead touched his knees, he endeavoured vainly to collect his
thoughts and to realize what had happened, for his mind was still
confused and weak. He knew that he was about to die, but it seemed to
him at that moment as if it were another and not himself who had taken
part in the drama that had just concluded. For himself, he was drifting
blindly among shadows that grew thicker and darker as he sought to
dispel them. The voices he had heard were still ringing in his ears; the
faces he had seen were still coming and going. Then he heard the voice
of Hackett and looked up. The old sergeant was standing beside him with
his hands still bound behind his back, and his grey hair hanging, matted
and stained with blood, about his face.

“Be of good cheer, Mr. Orme, it will soon be over, sir,” he said, with
homely dignity. “I am proud to think that you bore yourself bravely, and
showed them that a gentleman and a Christian does not fear death. I
should have liked, if it had so pleased the Almighty, to have died on
the field of battle, but since ´tis His will, then His will be done. It
is not for us to complain or dispute the great decrees. I will see you
in the morning, sir,” he added, as his guards prepared to lead him away,
“and it may hap that we shall enter the Kingdom together.”

Gervase was conducted to a low outhouse where a quantity of fresh straw
had been spread for him, and one of the troopers, with rough goodnature,
threw a horse cloth over his shoulders, for the night had grown chilly
and he was shivering with cold. Then they withdrew, locking the door
behind them, and left him to await the arrival of the provost-marshal in
the morning.