Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Pen and the Sword: Under the Red Robe

I played with him a little while, watching the sweat gather on his brow, and the shadow of the church tower fall deeper and deeper, like the shadow of doom, on his face. Not out of cruelty - God knows I have never erred in that direction! but because, for the first time in my life, I felt a strange reluctance to strike the blow. The curls clung to his forehead; his breath came and went in gasps; I heard the men behind me murmur, and one or two of them drop an oath; and then I slipped - slipped, and was down in a moment on my right side, my elbow striking the pavement so sharply that the arm grew numb to the wrist.

He held off. I heard a dozen voices cry, 'Now! now you have him!' But he held off. He stood back and waited with his breast heaving and his point lowered until I had risen and stood again on my guard.

'Enough! enough!' a rough voice behind me cried. 'Don't hurt the man after that.'

'On guard, sir!' I answered coldly - for he seemed to waver, and be in doubt. 'It was an accident. It shall not avail you again.'

Several voices cried 'Shame!' and one, 'You coward!' But the Englishman stepped forward, a fixed look in his blue eyes. He took his place without a word. I read in his drawn white face that he had made his mind up to the worst, and his courage so won my admiration that I would gladfully and thankfully have set one of the lookers-on — any of the lookers-on — in his place; but that could not be. So I thought of Zaton’s closed to me, of Pombal’s insult, of the sneers and slights I had long kept at sword point; and, pressing him suddenly in a heat of affected anger, I thrust strongly over his guard, which had grown feeble, and ran him through the chest.

- Under the Red Robe, Stanley J. Weyman

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like someone rolled a fumble. His opponent paid for not being ready to capitalize on it.
    Sounds like a campaign.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly - that's one of the reasons I like FB's fumble tables, is that they can produce a result just like this in actual play.

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  2. Yeah, for some reason, I was thinking about FB myself...
    I'm sure you can guess the reason, actually.
    Granted, they're not the only way to get such a result in actual play, but they're one of the ways, and are good at it!

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