THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 37: AN AWFUL PREDICAMENT
I picked out a man humble enough in life to condescend to talk
with one so shabby as I, and got his account of the matter.
"There were sixteen slaves here. They rose against their master
in the night, and thou seest how it ended."
"Yes. How did it begin?"
"There was no witness but the slaves. They said the slave that
was most valuable got free of his bonds and escaped in some strange
way--by magic arts 'twas thought, by reason that he had no key,
and the locks were neither broke nor in any wise injured. When
the master discovered his loss, he was mad with despair, and threw
himself upon his people with his heavy stick, who resisted and
brake his back and in other and divers ways did give him hurts
that brought him swiftly to his end."
"This is dreadful. It will go hard with the slaves, no doubt,
upon the trial."
"Marry, the trial is over."
"Would they be a week, think you--and the matter so simple? They
were not the half of a quarter of an hour at it."
"Why, I don't see how they could determine which were the guilty
ones in so short a time."
"Which ones? Indeed, they considered not particulars like to that.
They condemned them in a body. Wit ye not the law?--which men
say the Romans left behind them here when they went--that if one
slave killeth his master all the slaves of that man must die for it."
"True. I had forgotten. And when will these die?"
"Belike within a four and twenty hours; albeit some say they will
wait a pair of days more, if peradventure they may find the missing
The missing one! It made me feel uncomfortable.