belonged to the volunteers, and they deployed upon the plain with
their band in front playing a jaunty quickstep, while their officers
galloped from one side to the other through the grass, seeking a
suitable place for the execution. Outside the line the band still
A few men and boys, who had been dragged out of their beds by the
music, moved about the ridges behind the soldiers, half-clothed,
unshaven, sleepy-eyed, yawning, stretching themselves nervously and
shivering in the cool, damp air of the morning.
Either owing to discipline or on account of the nature of their
errand, or because the men were still but half awake, there was no
talking in the ranks, and the soldiers stood motionless, leaning on
their rifles, with their backs turned to the town, looking out across
the plain to the hills.
The men in the crowd behind them were also grimly silent. They knew
that whatever they might say would be twisted into a word of sympathy
for the condemned man or a protest against the government. So no one
spoke; even the officers gave their orders in gruff whispers, and the
men in the crowd did not mix together, but looked suspiciously at one
another and kept apart.
As the light increased a mass of people came hurrying from the town
with two black figures leading them, and the soldiers drew up at
attention, and part of the double line fell back and left an opening
in the square.