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hours before, but no skill could have saved him if it had been
looked to without delay. He was then dying fast. As I turned my
eyes to the elder brother, I saw him looking down at this handsome
boy whose life was ebbing out, as if he were a wounded bird, or
hare, or rabbit; not at all as if he were a fellow-creature.
“’How has this been done, monsieur?’ said I.
“’A crazed young common dog! A serf! Forced my brother to draw
upon him, and has fallen by my brother’s sword-like a gentleman.’
“There was no touch of pity, sorrow, or kindred humanity, in this
answer. The speaker seemed to acknowledge that it was
inconvenient to have that different order of creature dying there,
and that it would have been better if he had died in the usual
obscure routine of his vermin kind. He was quite incapable of any
compassionate feeling about the boy, or about his fate.
“The boy’s eyes had slowly moved to him as he had spoken, and
they now slowly moved to me.
“’Doctor, they are very proud, these Nobles; but we common dogs
are proud too, sometimes. They plunder us, outrage us, beat us,
kill us; but we have a little pride left, sometimes. She-have you
seen her, Doctor?’ “The shrieks and the cries were audible there,
though subdued by the distance. He referred to them, as if she
were lying in our presence.
“I said, ‘I have seen her.’ “’She is my sister, Doctor. They have had
their shameful rights, these Nobles, in the modesty and virtue of
our sisters, many years, but we have had good girls among us. I
know it, and have heard my father say so. She was a good girl. She
was betrothed to a good young man, too: a tenant of his. We were
all tenants of his-that man’s who stands there. The other is his
brother, the worst of a bad race.’ “It was with the greatest difficulty
that the boy gathered bodily force to speak; but, his spirit spoke
with a dreadful emphasis.
“’We were so robbed by that man who stands there, as all we
common dogs are by those superior Beings-taxed by him without
mercy, obliged to work for him without pay, obliged to grind our
corn at his mill, obliged to feed scores of his tame birds on our
wretched crops, and forbidden for our lives to keep a single tame
bird of our own, pinaged and plundered to that degree that when
we chanced to have a bit of meat, we ate it in fear, with the door
barred and the shutters closed, that his people should not see it and
take it from us-I say, we were so robbed, and hunted, and were
made so poor, that our father told us it was a dreadful thing to
bring a child into the world, and that what we should most pray
for, was, that our women might be barren and our miserable race
die out!’ “I had never before seen the sense of being oppressed,