With Us A Condemned Man Walks Only The Short Distance From His Cell
To The Scaffold Or The Electric Chair, Shielded From Sight By The
Prison Walls, And It Often Occurs Even Then That The Short Journey Is
Too Much For His Strength And Courage.
But the Spaniards on this morning made the prisoner walk for over a
half-mile across the broken surface of the fields.
I expected to
find the man, no matter what his strength at other times might be,
stumbling and faltering on this cruel journey; but as he came nearer
I saw that he led all the others, that the priests on either side of
him were taking two steps to his one, and that they were tripping on
their gowns and stumbling over the hollows in their efforts to keep
pace with him as he walked, erect and soldierly, at a quick step in
advance of them.
He had a handsome, gentle face of the peasant type, a light, pointed
beard, great wistful eyes, and a mass of curly black hair. He was
shockingly young for such a sacrifice, and looked more like a
Neapolitan than a Cuban. You could imagine him sitting on the quay
at Naples or Genoa lolling in the sun and showing his white teeth
when he laughed. Around his neck, hanging outside his linen blouse,
he wore a new scapular.
It seems a petty thing to have been pleased with at such a time, but
I confess to have felt a thrill of satisfaction when I saw, as the
Cuban passed me, that he held a cigarette between his lips, not
arrogantly nor with bravado, but with the nonchalance of a man who
meets his punishment fearlessly, and who will let his enemies see
that they can kill but cannot frighten him.
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