Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Maroon: A Romance of the Carib. >> Page 244

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Page 244

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
instant. Every show of manhood was forgotten. There was no pride
to keep up appearances no struggle to maintain a decent show of
fortitude and firmness but the miserable culprit sunk down into the
most lamentable imbecility to the shame of all around him.
"Mercy! mercy! For the sake of the Blessed Virgin, have mercy
upon me, Don Velasquez," he shrieked rather than pleaded, when
the determined aspects of the men appointed to convey him to the
boat, and the violent grasp of Juan, upon his shoulder, silenced all
doubts as to the real intentions of his tyrant, to carry out his sentence,
in full, as it had been delivered. The hard-souled sailors, as much in
scorn as in pity, recoiled from the piercing feminine entreaty of the
victim, and left him free for the moment, as if in doubt whether
Velasquez might not yield to supplications, which were urged with
such a humiliating disregard to manhood. Falling upon his knees,
he crawled toward the spot where sat the arbiter of his fate, glowring
in the enjoyment of that bitter-sweet morsel of revenge which is so
grateful to the malignant nature. In his eyes, had those of the
victim not been blinded by his own tears had he not been too base to
venture to accompany his entreaties by a resolute look upon the face
of him upon whose word his fate rested he might have seen how
hopeless were all his pleadings. But he saw nothing, as he crawled
along the deck to the feet of the tyrant, but the terrible danger
which he was anxious to escape. Could he have seen the inexpressible
scorn which dilated the nostrils and curled the lips of the woman,
could he have heard her bitter and only half suppressed accents of
loathing muttered between her gnashing teeth!—But they could not
have changed his nature!
"Can he not die! Can he not die! Anything but this! And yet," she
continued herself unconscious that she spoke "Yet how should it
be that one who had not the soul to slay his enemy, in the moment
when all that made life precious lay in the blow, how should it be
that he should aim the weapon at his own bloodless heart, though to
escape this most loathsome tyranny!),
"Beware! "—was the single word, whispered close beside her ear,
from the lips of Juan de Silva. "Beware! lest a worse fate befall thee
even than his! Would'st thou peril life for such a reptile!"
She was silent at the suggestion. Not that she had any fears of
death ; but, just then, her quick thought and resolute spirit suddenly