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A Man of Mark by Anthony Hope

He has used it to destroy liberty


"The

last thing we should desire, gentlemen," he said, "is to resort to force. But the time for explanation is short. The people of Aureataland have at last risen against the tyranny they have so long endured. General Whittingham has proved a traitor to the cause of freedom; he won his position in the name of liberty; he has used it to destroy liberty. The voice of the people has declared him to have forfeited his high office. The people have placed in my hand the sword of vengeance. Armed with this mighty sanction, I have appealed to the army. The army has proved true to its traditions--true to its character of the protector, not the oppressor, of the people. Gentlemen, will you who lead the army take your proper place?"

There was no reply to this moving appeal. He advanced closer to them, and went on:

"There is no middle way. You are patriots or traitors--friends of liberty or friends of tyranny. I stand here to offer you either a traitor's death, or, if you will, life, honor, and the satisfaction of all your just claims. Do you mistrust the people? I, as their representative, here offer you every just due the people owes you--debts which had long been paid but for the greed of that great traitor."

As he said this he took from his men some bags of money, and threw them on the table with a loud chink. Major DeChair glanced at the bags, and glanced at his comrades, and said:

style="text-align: justify;">"In the cause of liberty God forbid we should be behind. Down with the tyrant!"

And all the pack yelped in chorus!

"Then, gentlemen, to the head of your men," said the colonel, and going to the window, he cried to the throng:

"Men, your noble officers are with us."

A cheer answered him. I wiped my forehead, and said to myself, "That's well over."

I will not weary the reader with our further proceedings. Suffice it to say we marshaled our host and marched down to the Piazza. The news had spread by now, and in the dimly breaking morning light we saw the Square full of people--men, women, and children. As we marched in there was a cheer, not very hearty--a cheer propitiatory, for they did not know what we meant to do. The colonel made them a brief speech, promising peace, security, liberty, plenty, and all the goods of heaven. In a few stern words he cautioned them against "treachery," and announced that any rebellion against the Provisional Government would meet with swift punishment. Then he posted his army in companies, to keep watch till all was quiet. And at last he said:

"Now, Martin, come back to the Golden House, and let's put that fellow in a safe place."

"Yes," said I; "and have a look for the money." For really, in the excitement, it seemed as if there was a danger of the most important thing of all being forgotten.

The dawn was now far advanced, and as we left the Piazza, we could see the Golden House at the other end of the avenue. All looked quiet, and the sentries were gently pacing to and fro. Drawing nearer, we saw two or three of the President's servants busied about their ordinary tasks. One woman was already deleting Johnny Carr's life-blood with a mop and a pail of water; and a carpenter was at work repairing the front-door. Standing by it was the doctor's brougham.

"Come to see Carr, I suppose," said I.


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