THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 5: AN INSPIRATION
I allowed silence to accumulate while I got my impressiveness
together, and then said:
"How long have I been shut up in this hole?"
"Ye were shut up when yesterday was well spent. It is 9 of
the morning now."
"No! Then I have slept well, sure enough. Nine in the morning
now! And yet it is the very complexion of midnight, to a shade.
This is the 20th, then?"
"And I am to be burned alive to-morrow." The boy shuddered.
"At what hour?"
"At high noon."
"Now then, I will tell you what to say." I paused, and stood over
that cowering lad a whole minute in awful silence; then, in a voice
deep, measured, charged with doom, I began, and rose by dramatically
graded stages to my colossal climax, which I delivered in as sublime
and noble a way as ever I did such a thing in my life: "Go back
and tell the king that at that hour I will smother the whole world
in the dead blackness of midnight; I will blot out the sun, and he
shall never shine again; the fruits of the earth shall rot for lack
of light and warmth, and the peoples of the earth shall famish
and die, to the last man!"
I had to carry the boy out myself, he sunk into such a collapse.
I handed him over to the soldiers, and went back.