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|The Adventures of Gerard||Arthur Conan Doyle|
How The Brigadier Captured Saragossa
|Page 6 of 16||
The question is, what has become of him?"
"You wish me to go and see?"
"Precisely. Is he ill, or wounded, or dead? Shall we still wait for him, or shall we attempt the attack elsewhere?
We cannot determine this until we have heard from him. This is a map of the town, Captain Gerard.
You perceive that within this ring of convents and monasteries are a number of streets which branch off from a central square. If you come so far as this square you will find the cathedral at one corner. In that corner is the street of Toledo. Hubert lives in a small house between a cobbler's and a wine-shop, on the right-hand side as you go from the cathedral. Do you follow me?"
"You are to reach that house, to see him, and to find out if his plan is still feasible or if we must abandon it."
He produced what appeared to be a roll of dirty brown flannel. "This is the dress of a Franciscan friar," said he. "You will find it the most useful disguise."
I shrank away from it.
"It turns me into a spy," I cried. "Surely I can go in my uniform?"
"Impossible! How could you hope to pass through the streets of the city? Remember, also, that the Spaniards take no prisoners, and that your fate will be the same in whatever dress you are taken."
It was true, and I had been long enough in Spain to know that that fate was likely to be something more serious than mere death. All the way from the frontier I had heard grim tales of torture and mutilation. I enveloped myself in the Franciscan gown.
"Now I am ready."
"Are you armed?"
"They will hear it clank. Take this knife, and leave your sword. Tell Hubert that at four o'clock, before dawn, the storming party will again be ready. There is a sergeant outside who will show you how to get into the city. Good-night, and good luck!"
Before I had left the room, the two generals had their cocked hats touching each other over the map. At the door an under-officer of engineers was waiting for me.
I tied the girdle of my gown, and taking off my busby, I drew the cowl over my head. My spurs I removed. Then in silence I followed my guide.
It was necessary to move with caution, for the walls above were lined by the Spanish sentries, who fired down continually at our advance posts. Slinking along under the very shadow of the great convent, we picked our way slowly and carefully among the piles of ruins until we came to a large chestnut tree. Here the sergeant stopped.
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|The Adventures of Gerard
Arthur Conan Doyle
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