”‘Then,’ boomed out Malichus’s voice, ‘swing your sword and have done with it.’
”‘My baby, my baby! You can’t kill my baby! I won’t let you! Do you hear me? I won’t let you. He’s mine and nobody is going to take him from me!’ The mother, mad with fright and feeling for her child’ was pulling wildly on the arms of the soldier who was holding her baby.
”‘You’ll have to stand back, lady!’
”‘Stand back nothin’! He’s my baby, and I’m not gonna’ stand by and see him butchered! My baby! My dear sweet baby! Let him go! Let him go!’
”‘Lady, if you don’t get away from here, I’m going to have to—-’
”‘You can’t make me move! I shall never move!’
”‘Ah, but you shall!’ And the sharp edge of the soldier’s sword fell across the woman’s wrist. Quickly, so quickly, her hand was severed and went sailing to the floor. And quickly she moved back, overcome with pain. And quickly the sharp blade reached and struck again with another well-aimed swoop. Soon, amid the spurts of blood, the child’s head rolled and reached the floor to join the hand in pools of blood. Their job finished for the moment, the soldiers soon withdrew. The killer put his bloody sword back into its sheath. It would be stained by innocent blood many times over before the day was done.”
Herod shuddered involuntarily as he placed the goblet back on the stand. Then he straightened himself in his chair and looked at the speaker. ”It must have been quite a traumatic experience for you, especially at that age!”
”It certainly was. The sight of those things made me shiver, as their remembrance does somewhat even now. I left the house as quickly as possible, conveying as best I could to the dear woman, who was now hysterical, my deepest sympathies and promising to send a doctor if I could find one. Then, I ran as fast as I could. I ran through the town, keeping my eyes open for a doctor’s office. Having caught sight of one, I ran inside and, huffing and puffing, managed to inform the startled doctor of the poor woman’s plight. Then I ran on without stopping, my heart pounding, until at last I was out of that accursed town. Having reached the outskirts, I sat down to rest. And I thought. I thought how horrible it was. And I thought of what that woman had pointed out: that it was all because of one man’s whim that hundreds of innocent children must die. And that one man was sitting back and taking it easy in his nice plush palace, while his soldiers slaughtered innocent children by his command. What was the world coming to? It must be pretty rotten to allow such things, and pretty blind not to believe its own foul news, as many had not. I was disgusted with the world. I was disgusted with Herod, but more so with his men who feared so much to withstand him and refuse to carry out so hideous and order. Would he really have tortured and killed them? If they’d have gotten word out to all the soldiers, couldn’t they have withstood him? But, they didn’t think. They blindly went along. Right then and there I decided I would be different. I would be my own man, not duped, or blinded or ruled by anyone.”
”But you did return to the palace, didn’t you?” asked Herod, anxiously.
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