Cleopatra seduces Marc Antony

Julius Caesar’s assassination in March, 44 BC, left his lover and the mother of his son, Cleopatra, vulnerable. She may have been the Queen of Egypt but in Rome she was despised as that barbarian and whore. Even so, in the city at the time of his murder she did not flee immediately but remained long enough to see Caesar’s friend Marc Antony emerge as the new power in Rome.

Cleopatra returned to Egypt to await events aware that having already seduced one great Roman she could seduce another but he would have to come to her.

Antony needed money (he always needed money) but ruling in Rome as part of a triumvirate alongside Caesar’s nephew Octavian and the leading General, Lepidus and with a Senate led by Cicero largely hostile to him his access to funds was extremely limited. Knowing that Cleopatra as Pharaoh of Egypt had wealth in great abundance he had himself made ruler in the East while Octavian ruled in the West and Lepidus governed in Africa.

In 41 BC he summoned Cleopatra to meet with him at Tarsus on the coast of Turkey. She would travel as commanded to do but in a display of grandeur without parallel it was Antony who would stand in awe of her majesty.

Plutarch, the Roman historian in his Parallel Lives written some 150 years after the events he describes provides us with perhaps our most vivid description of Cleopatra and given his Greek origins perhaps a more sympathetic account than would be found elsewhere:

She came, sailing up the river Cydnus in a barge with gilded stern and outspread sails of purple, while oars of silver beat time to the music of flutes and fifes and harps. She herself lay all along, under a canopy of cloth of gold, dressed as Venus in a picture, and beautiful young boys, like painted Cupids, stood on each side to fan her. Her maids were dressed like Sea Nymphs and Graces, some steering at the rudder, some working at the ropes. Perfumes diffused themselves from the vessel to the shore, which was covered with multitudes, part following the galley up the river on either bank, part running out of the city to see the sight. The market place was quite emptied, and Antony at last was left alone sitting upon the tribunal; while the word went .through all the multitude, that Venus was come to feast with Bacchus for the common good of Asia.

On her arrival, Antony sent to invite her to supper. She thought it fitter he should come to her; so, willing to show his good humour and courtesy, he complied, and went. He found the preparations to receive him magnificent beyond expression, but nothing so admirable as the great number of lights; for on a sudden there was let down altogether so great a number of branches with lights in them so ingeniously disposed, some in squares, and some in circles, that the whole thing was a spectacle that had seldom been equalled for beauty.

The next day, Antony invited her to supper, and was very desirous to outdo her as well in magnificence as contrivance; but he found he was altogether beaten in both, and was so well convinced of it, that he was himself the first to jest and mock at his poverty of wit, and his rustic awkwardness. She, perceiving that his raillery was broad and gross, and savoured more of the soldier than the courtier, rejoined in the same taste, and fell into it at once, without any sort of reluctance or reserve.

For her actual beauty, it is said, was not in itself so remarkable that none could be compared with her, or that no one could see her without being struck by it, but the contact of her presence, if you lived with her, was irresistible; the attraction of her person, joining with the charm of her conversation, and the character that attended all she said or did, was something bewitching. It was a pleasure merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another; so that there were few of the barbarian nations that she answered by an interpreter.

Antony was so captivated by her, that while Fulvia his wife maintained his quarrels in Rome against Caesar by actual force of arms, and the Parthian troops…were assembled in Mesopotamia, and ready to enter Syria, he could yet suffer himself to be carried away by her to Alexandria, there to keep holiday, like a boy, in play and diversion, squandering and fooling away in enjoyment that most costly, as Antiphon says, of all valuables, time.

Were Antony serious or disposed to mirth, she had at any moment some new delight or charm to meet his wishes; at every turn she was upon him, and let him escape her neither by day nor by night. She played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him; and when he exercised in arms, she was there to see.

She played At night she would go rambling with him to disturb and torment people at their doors and windows, dressed like a servant woman for Antony also went in servant’s disguise, and from these expeditions he often came home very scathingly answered, and sometimes even beaten severely, though most people guessed who it was. However, the Alexandrians in general liked it all well enough, and joined good humouredly and kindly in his frolic and play, saying they were much obliged to Antony for acting his tragic parts at Rome, and keeping his comedy for them.”

 

 

 

 

Nero: Persecuting the Christians

On the night of 19 July 64 AD, a fire broke out near the Circus Maximus in the centre of Rome that was to rage for six full days unimpeded devastating the city and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without means, homeless and on the streets. It was the worst disaster to ever strike the city and few could believe it the result of an accident – someone must be to blame?

Despite having done his best to alleviate the suffering by opening up the Imperial Gardens and municipal buildings for use by the destitute, providing temporary shelters, and organising food shipments to the city the rumour soon began to spread that Emperor Nero had started the fire deliberately to clear away obstacles to the building of his opulent and colossal Golden House.

Given Nero’s reputation it was a rumour easily believed so he sought to deflect the blame and he knew a good scapegoat when he saw one – the Christians were a small but rapidly growing religious sect despised by many Roman’s for their arrogance and denial of the Gods.  They were to blame declared Nero and their leaders were arrested and tortured until they confessed to that effect.  Even so, many remained sceptical but Nero being the great impresario he was knew how to overcome such doubts. He would have the Christians killed in the most theatrical manner he could conjure up for the entertainment of the mob.

Many still doubted their guilt regarding the fire but few objected to them being punished.

The historian Tacitus was just a boy in Rome at the time but he remembered the events well and many decades later would write of them in his Annals, or History of Rome:

“Therefore, to stop the rumour, he falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition – repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea, – where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.

In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the dress of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot. For this cause a feeling of compassion arose towards the sufferers, though guilty and deserving of exemplary capital punishment, because they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but were victims of the ferocity of one man.”

 

 

The Execution of Louis XVI

On 21 June 1791, while the National Assembly in Paris toiled long into the night over the articles of a new constitution, King Louis XVI along with his Queen Marie Antoinette and their children fled the city in plain clothes, the curtains of their carriage tightly drawn. Their destination was the royalist stronghold of Montmedy from where they would be safely delivered into the hands of Marie Antoinette’s brother Leopold, Emperor of Austria. But their escort never arrived and stopped in the town of Varennes by the local postmaster who recognised the King from his image on recently issued paper money they were arrested and ignominiously escorted back to Paris. It was clear to many that the King could now no longer be trusted – the Bourbon Monarchy had reached the end of the road.

In September King Louis XVI was deposed and a Republic declared, soon after he would stand trial for his life accused of treason.  Found guilty his fate now lay in the hands of the by now National Convention. Passions ran high and the extremists among them Robespierre and Saint Just demanded his immediate execution while moderates such as Danton argued for exile. When the vote finally came it was closer than anyone could have imagined. While 361 Deputies were in favour of execution, 360 had opposed it – Louis XVI, the former King of France, had been condemned to death by just 1 vote.

At his own request Louis was accompanied the journey to his place of execution by an English priest Henry Essex Edgeworth who had to all intents and purposes become the Royal Family’s confessor.  This is his account of that fateful carriage ride and Louis Capet’s final few hours:

“The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near.

The procession lasted almost two hours; the streets were lined with citizens, all armed, some with pikes and some with guns, and the carriage was surrounded by a body of troops, formed of the most desperate people of Paris. As another precaution, they had placed before the horses a number of drums, intended to drown any noise or murmur in favour of the King; but how could they be heard? Nobody appeared either at the doors or windows, and in the street nothing was to be seen, but armed citizens – citizens, all rushing towards the commission of a crime, which perhaps they detested in their hearts.

The carriage proceeded thus in silence th the Place de Louis XV, and stopped in the middle of a large space that had been left around the scaffold: this space was surrounded by cannon, and beyond, an armed multitude extended as far as the eye could reach. As soon as the King perceived that the carriage had stopped, he turned and whispered to me, ‘We are arrived, if I mistake not.’ One of the guards came to open the carriage door, and the gendarmes would have jumped out but the King stopped them and leaning his arm on my knee, ‘Gentlemen,’ said he, with the tone of majesty, ‘ I recommend you this good man; take care that after my death no insult be offered to him – I charge you to prevent it.

As soon as the King had left the carriage, three guards surrounded him, and would have taken off his clothes, but he repulsed them with haughtiness- he undressed himself, untied his neck-cloth, opened his shirt, and arranged it himself. The guards, whom the determined countenance of the King had for a moment disconcerted, seemed to recover their audacity. They surrounded him again, and would have seized his hands. ‘What are you attempting?’ said the King, drawing back his hands. ‘To bind you,’ answered the wretches. ‘To bind me,’ said the King with an indignant air. ‘No, I shall never consent to that: do what you have been ordered, but you shall never bind me.’

 The path leading to the scaffold was extremely rough and difficult to pass; the King was obliged to lean on my arm, and from the slowness with which he proceeded, I feared for a moment that his courage might fail; but what was my astonishment, when arrived at the last step, I felt that he suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold; silence, by his look alone, fifteen or twenty drums that were placed opposite to me; and in a voice so loud, that it must have been heard it the Pont Tournant, I heard him pronounce distinctly these memorable words: ‘I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.’

 He was proceeding, when a man on horseback, in the national uniform, and with a ferocious cry, ordered the drums to beat. Many voices were at the same time heard encouraging the executioners. They seemed reanimated themselves, in seizing with violence the most virtuous of Kings, they dragged him under the axe of the guillotine, which with one stroke severed his head from his body. All this passed in a moment. The youngest of the guards, who seemed about eighteen, immediately seized the head, and showed it to the people as he walked round the scaffold; he accompanied this monstrous ceremony with the most atrocious and indecent gestures. At first an awful silence prevailed; at length some cries of ‘Vive la Republique!’ were heard. By degrees the voices multiplied and in less than ten minutes this cry, a thousand times repeated became the universal shout of the multitude, and every hat was in the air.”

                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witnessing the Blitz

By September 1940, it was clear that the Luftwaffe’s attempt to secure air superiority in the skies over Britain in preparation for Operation Sea Lion, Hitler’s plan for invasion, had been thwarted.  But the attacks on the country would not cease, rather they would intensify. If the British could not be beaten from the skies then they would be bombed from them, massively and relentlessly until the spirit of the people had broken and their will to resist destroyed – it was the tactics of terror.

The first bombing raid on London occurred on 7 September 1940 and did not cease until 11 May 1941. Including 57 consecutive raids both day and night.

Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent who would later report from North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific Theatre where he would later be killed.

In London at the time of the Blitz this is his account of one such raid:


They came just after dark, and somehow you could sense from the quick, bitter firing of the guns that there was to be no monkey business this night.

Shortly after the sirens wailed you could hear the Germans grinding overhead. In my room, with its black curtains drawn across the windows, you could feel the shake from the guns. You could hear the boom, crump, crump, crump, of heavy bombs at their work of tearing buildings apart. They were not too far away.

Half an hour after the firing started I gathered a couple of friends and went to a high, darkened balcony that gave us a view of a third of the entire circle of London. As we stepped out onto the balcony a vast inner excitement came over all of us-an excitement that had neither fear nor horror in it, because it was too full of awe.

You have all seen big fires, but I doubt if you have ever seen the whole horizon of a city lined with great fires – scores of them, perhaps hundreds.

There was something inspiring just in the awful savagery of it.

The closest fires were near enough for us to hear the crackling flames and the yells of firemen. Little fires grew into big ones even as we watched. Big ones died down under the firemen’s valor, only to break out again later.

About every two minutes a new wave of planes would be over. The motors seemed to grind rather than roar, and to have an angry pulsation, like a bee buzzing in blind fury.


The guns did not make a constant overwhelming din as in those terrible days of September. They were intermittent – sometimes a few seconds apart, sometimes a minute or more. Their sound was sharp, nearby and soft and muffled, far away. They were everywhere over London.

Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously. These white pin points would go out one by one, as the unseen heroes of the moment smothered them with sand. But also, while we watched, other pin points would burn on, and soon a yellow flame would leap up from the white center. They had done their work – another building was on fire.

The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape – so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly – the gigantic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St. Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions – growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield. 

The streets below us were semi-illuminated from the glow. Immediately above the fires the sky was red and angry, and overhead, making a ceiling in the vast heavens, there was a cloud of smoke all in pink. Up in that pink shrouding there were tiny, brilliant specks of flashing light-antiaircraft shells bursting. After the flash you could hear the sound.

Up there, too, the barrage balloons were standing out as clearly as if it were daytime, but now they were pink instead of silver. And now and then through a hole in that pink shroud there twinkled incongruously a permanent, genuine star – the old – fashioned kind that has always been there.

Below us the Thames grew lighter and all around were the shadows – the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece.

Later on I borrowed a tin hat and went out among the fires. That was exciting too; but the thing I shall always remember above all the other things in my life is the monstrous loveliness of that one single view of London on a holiday night – London stabbed with great fires, shaken by explosions, its dark regions along the Thames sparkling with the pin points of white-hot bombs, all of it roofed over with a ceiling of pink that held bursting shells, balloons, flares and the grind of vicious engines; and in yourself the excitement and anticipation and wonder in your soul that this could be happening at all.

These things all went together to make the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known.”

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Agincourt Eye

On 25 October, 1415, on a ploughed field made muddy by rain with storm clouds looming overhead a legend was made. Immortalised in the words of William Shakespeare, ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,’ it was St Crispin’s Day and the Battle of Agincourt was about to occur.

Henry V, King of England, was an ambitious man who desired to be King of France also, as was his right. But he had few means by which to do so and on that dull day hungry, sleepless, and soaked to the skin from the night before he stood with his six thousand archers and men-at-arms before an army at least three times the size of his own and led by the flower of the French nobility. With armoured knights in their thousands preparing to grind his little army into the dust annihilation beckoned but he had a weapon the French did not, his Welsh Longbow men. They had proved their worth before and now they would do so again.

Jean de Wavrin, who would later write one of the great Medieval Chronicles was just fifteen years of age when he observed the Battle of Agincourt from the safety of the French Camp, a battle in which both his father and older brother would be killed. Regardless of personal tragedy he would become a great admirer of the English, write one of its first great histories, and fight on its side later in the Hundred Years War. This is his account of the Battle of Agincourt:


“When the battalions of the French were thus formed, it was grand to see them; and as far as one could judge by the eye, they were in number fully six times as many as the English. And when this was done the French sat down by companies around their banners, waiting the approach of the English, and making their peace with one another; and then were laid aside many old aversions conceived long ago; some kissed and embraced each other, which it was affecting to witness; so that all quarrels and discords which they had had in time past were changed to great and perfect love. And there were some who breakfasted on what they had. And these Frenchmen remained thus till nine or ten o’clock in the morning, feeling quite assured that, considering their great force, the English could not escape them; however, there were at least some of the wisest who greatly feared a fight with them in open battle.

The French had arranged their battalions between two small thickets, one lying close to Agincourt, and the other to Tramecourt. The place was narrow, and very advantageous for the English, and, on the contrary, very ruinous for the French, for the said French had been all night on horseback, and it rained, and the pages, grooms, and others, in leading about the horses, had broken up the ground, which was so soft that the horses could with difficulty step out of the soil. And also the said French were so loaded with armour that they could not support themselves or move forward. In the first place they were armed with long coats of steel, reaching to the knees or lower, and very heavy, over the leg harness, and besides plate armour also most of them had hooded helmets; wherefore this weight of armour, with the softness of the wet ground, as has been said, kept them as if immovable, so that they could raise their dubs only with great difficulty, and with all these mischiefs there was this, that most of them were troubled with hunger and want of sleep.

Now let us return to the English. After the parley between the two armies was finished and the delegates had returned, each to their own people, the King of England, who had appointed a knight called Sir Thomas Erpingham to place his archers in front in two wings, trusted entirely to him, and Sir Thomas, to do his part, exhorted everyone to do well in the name of the King, begging them to fight vigorously against the French in order to secure and save their own lives. And thus the knight, who rode with two others only in front of the battalion, seeing that the hour was come, for all things were well arranged, threw up a baton which he held in his hand, saying ‘Now strike’ which was the signal for attack; then dismounted and joined the King, who was also on foot in the midst of his men, with his banner before him.


Then the English, seeing this signal, began suddenly to march, uttering a very loud cry, which greatly surprised the French. And when the English saw that the French did not approach them, they marched dashingly towards them in very fine order, and again raised a loud cry as they stopped to take breath.

Then the English archers, who, as I have said, were in the wings, saw that they were near enough, and began to send their arrows on the French with great vigour.

Then the French seeing the English come towards them in this manner, placed themselves together in order, everyone under his banner, their helmets on their heads. The Constable, the Marshal, the admirals, and the other princes earnestly exhorted their men to fight the English well and bravely; and when it came to the approach the trumpets and clarions resounded everywhere; but the French began to hold down their heads, especially those who had no bucklers, for the impetuosity of the English arrows, which fell so heavily that no one durst uncover or look up.

Thus they went forward a little, then made a little retreat, but before they could come to close quarters, many of the French were disabled and wounded by the arrows; and when they came quite up to the English, they were, as has been said, so closely pressed one against another that none of them could lift their arms to strike their enemies, except some that were in front…

The French knights struck into these English archers, who had their stakes fixed in front of them, their horses stumbled among the stakes, and they were speedily slain by the archers, which was a great pity. And most of the rest, through fear, gave way and fell back into their vanguard, to whom they were a great hindrance; and they opened their ranks in several places, and made them fall back and lose their footing in some land newly sown; for their horses had been so wounded by the arrows that the men could no longer manage them.

The French men-at-arms without number began to fall; and their horses feeling the arrows coming upon them took to flight before the enemy, and following their example many of the French turned and fled. Soon afterwards the English archers, seeing the vanguard thus shaken, issued from behind their stockade, threw away their bows and quivers, then took their swords, hatchets, mallets, axes, falcon-beaks and other weapons, and, pushing into the places where they saw these breaches, struck down and killed these Frenchmen without mercy, and never ceased to kill till the said vanguard which had fought little or not at all was completely overwhelmed, and these went on striking right and left till they came upon the second battalion, which was behind the advance guard, and there the King personally threw himself into the fight with his men-at-arms.

Henry V was winning the battle when he received news that his rear where those taken prisoner were being held was under attack and that French reinforcements were on their way. He could not risk the prisoners being freed and once again taking up arms against him. Regardless of the rich ransom they would bring he ordered their execution:

“When the King of England perceived them coming thus he caused it to be published that every one that had a prisoner should immediately kill him, which those who had any were unwilling to do, for they expected to get great ransoms for them. But when the King was informed of this he appointed a gentleman with two hundred archers whom he commanded to go through the host and kill all the prisoners, whoever they might be. This esquire, without delay or objection, fulfilled the command of his sovereign lord, which was a most pitiable thing, for in cold blood all the nobility of France was beheaded and inhumanly cut to pieces, and all through this accursed company, a sorry set compared with the noble captive chivalry, who when they saw that the English were ready to receive them, all immediately turned and fled, each to save his own life. Many of the cavalry escaped; but of those on foot there were many among the dead.”

 

 

Executing the Tsar and his Family

The war was going badly, shortages were commonplace, food scarce, protestors roamed the streets daily, violence threatened, and the demand for change was deafening. Something had to be done and Nicholas II would return from Army Headquarters with some urgency, but it would not be the Tsar who would do it. On 15 March 1917, the Imperial Train was halted on its way to St Petersburg and the Tsar forced to abdicate.  On the orders of the new Provisional Government the Imperial Family were placed under house arrest.

Treated with at least a degree of respect and dignity it was at first a benign captivity though it would become somewhat harsher when they were moved to Tobolsk for reasons of their own safety, and would change altogether when in October 1917 the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin seized power.

The attitude toward the Imperial Family now hardened; they were stripped of their household retinue and made to wear plain clothes, forced to live on soldiers rations and were regularly mocked by their guards.

At the end of April 1918 they were moved once more this time to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg soon to be known somewhat ominously as the House of Special Purpose. Here conditions hardened even further though the man under whose care they now fell, Yakov Yurovsky, did not seem entirely unsympathetic to their plight. He ordered the guards to behave with greater courtesy in their presence, returned goods that had previously been stolen from the family, and provided the tsar with the cigarettes he so craved, even sometimes coffee. Not that he should be seen as anything than a dedicated Bolshevik who saw the entire Romanov Dynasty as little more than a criminal enterprise worthy of revolutionary justice.

With plans to rescue the Imperial Family thwarted and negotiations for their exile abroad having come to nothing an atmosphere of despair prevailed at the Ipatiev House but one hope still remained; that the Civil War now underway might turn in their favour.  The sound of friendly gunfire could be heard in the distance, the White Russian Armies were closing in. Something would have to be done and soon.

Pavel Medvedev was one of those guarding the Imperial Family when on 16 July he was summoned into Yurovsky’s presence. This is his account of the nights events:

“In the evening between seven and eight pm, when the time of my duty had just begun; Commandant Yurovsky, ordered me to take all the Nagan revolvers from the guards and to bring them to him. I took twelve revolvers from the sentries as well as from some other of the guards and brought them to the commandant’s office.

Yurovsky said to me, ‘We must shoot them all tonight; so notify the guards not to be alarmed if they hear shots.’ I understood, therefore, that Yurovsky had it in his mind to shoot the whole of the Tsar’s family, as well as the doctor and the servants who lived with them, but I did not ask him where or by whom the decision had been made. At about ten o’clock in the evening in accordance with Yurovsky’s order I informed the guards not to be alarmed if they should hear firing.

About midnight Yurovsky woke up the Tsar’s family. I do not know if he told them the reason they had been awakened and where they were to be taken, but I positively affirm that it was Yurovsky who entered the room occupied by the Tsar’s family. In about an hour the whole of the family, the doctor, the maid and the waiters had all got up and washed and dressed themselves.

Just before Yurovsky went to awaken the family, two members of the Extraordinary Commission [of the Ekaterinburg Soviet] arrived at Ipatiev’s house. Shortly after one o’clock a.m., the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, their four daughters, the maid, the doctor, the cook and the waiters left their rooms. The Tsar carried the heir in his arms. The Emperor and the heir were dressed in soldiers’ shirts and wore caps. The Empress, her daughters and the others followed him. Yurovsky, his assistant and the two above-mentioned members of the Extraordinary Commission accompanied them. I was also present.

During my presence none of the Tsar’s family asked any questions. They did not weep or cry. Having descended the stairs to the first floor, we went out into the court and from there to the second door where we entered the ground floor of the house. When the room (which adjoins the store room with a sealed door) was reached, Yurovsky ordered chairs to be brought, and his assistant brought three chairs. One chair was given to the Emperor, one to the Empress, and the third to the heir.

The Empress sat by the wall by the window, near the black pillar of the arch. Behind her stood three of her daughters (I knew their faces very well, because I had seen them every day when they walked in the garden, but I didn’t know their names). The heir and the Emperor sat side by side almost in the middle of the room. Doctor Botkin stood behind the heir. The maid, a very tall woman, stood at the left of the door leading to the store room; by her side stood one of the Tsar’s daughters (the fourth). Two servants stood against the wall on the left from the entrance of the room.

The maid carried a pillow. The Tsar’s daughters also brought small pillows with them. One pillow was put on the Empress’s chair; another on the heir’s chair. It seemed as if all of them guessed their fate, but not one of them uttered a single sound. At this moment eleven men entered the room: Yurovsky, his assistant, two members of the Extraordinary Commission, and seven Cheka Secret Policemen.

Yurovsky ordered me to leave, saying, ‘Go on to the street, see if there is anybody there, and wait to see whether the shots have been heard.’ I went out to the court, which was enclosed by a fence, but before I got to the street I heard the firing. I returned to the house immediately (only two or three minutes having elapsed) and upon entering the room where the execution had taken place, I saw that all the members of the Tsar’s family were lying on the floor with many wounds in their bodies. The blood was running in streams. The doctor, the maid and two waiters had also been shot. When I entered the heir was still alive and moaned a little. Yurovsky went up and fired two or three more times at him. Then the heir was still.”

 

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Evacuating Dunkirk

On the night of 23 May 1940, Lord Gort, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, recognising that the battle for northern France had already been lost, ordered that it withdraw to the port of Dunkirk for possible evacuation despite having received instructions to the contrary. It was a brave decision, but it was also the right decision. The military situation was stark and his army was in danger of being cut off and destroyed. So, a perimeter was created, a corridor carved out, and a desperate rearguard action fought as hundreds of thousands of men hurried towards a port already under bombardment to take refuge among the sand dunes and burned out buildings hoping for rescue.

Even the most optimistic estimate suggested no more than 40,000 could be safely evacuated before the city fell when on 24 May, Adolf Hitler ordered his Panzer Divisions to halt. It provided time, priceless time, and the order went out for every available craft of shallow draft to assemble at the Channel ports, the soon-to-be famous ‘Flotilla of Little Ships.’

Operation Dynamo was underway – a miracle of deliverance would follow.

Arthur Devine manned a boat that ferried troops from the beach to larger vessels further offshore. This is his description of events:

“It was the queerest, most nondescript flotilla that ever was, and it was manned by every kind of Englishman, never more than two men, often only one, to each small boat. There were bankers and dentists, taxi drivers and yachtsmen, boys, engineers, fishermen and civil servants. . .

It was dark before we were well clear of the English coast. It wasn’t rough, but there was a little chop on, sufficient to make it very wet, and we soaked the Admiral to the skin. Soon, in the dark, the big boats began to overtake us. We were in a sort of dark traffic lane, full of strange ghosts and weird, unaccountable waves from the wash of the larger vessels. When destroyers went by, full tilt, the wash was a serious matter to us little fellows. We could only spin the wheel to try to head into the waves, hang on, and hope for the best. . .

Even before it was fully dark we had picked up the glow of the Dunkirk flames, and now as we drew nearer the sailing got better, for we could steer by them and see silhouetted the shapes of other ships, of boats coming home already loaded, and of low dark shadows that might be enemy motor torpedo boats.

Then aircraft started dropping parachute flares. We saw them hanging all about us in the night, like young moons. The sound of the firing and the bombing was with us always, growing steadily louder as we got nearer and nearer. The flames grew, too. From a glow they rose up to enormous plumes of fire that roared high into the everlasting pall of smoke. As we approached Dunkirk there was an air attack on the destroyers and for a little the night was brilliant with bursting bombs and the fountain sprays of tracer bullets.

The beach, black with men, illumined by the fires, seemed a perfect target, but no doubt the thick clouds of smoke were a useful screen.

The picture will always remain sharp-etched in my memory – the lines of men wearily and sleepily staggering across the beach from the dunes to the shallows, falling into little boats, great columns of men thrust out into the water among bomb and shell splashes. The foremost ranks were shoulder deep, moving forward under the command of young subalterns, themselves with their heads just above the little waves that rode in to the sand. As the front ranks were dragged aboard the boats, the rear ranks moved up, from ankle deep to knee deep, from knee deep to waist deep, until they, too, came to shoulder depth and their turn.

The little boats that ferried from the beach to the big ships in deep water listed drunkenly with the weight of men. The big ships slowly took on lists of their own with the enormous numbers crowded aboard. And always down the dunes and across the beach came new hordes of men, new columns, new lines.

On the beach was a destroyer, bombed and burned. At the water’s edge were ambulances, abandoned when their last load had been discharged.

There was always the red background, the red of Dunkirk burning. There was no water to check the fires and there were no men to be spared to fight them. Red, too, were the shell bursts, the flash of guns, the fountains of tracer bullets.

The din was infernal. The 5.9 batteries shelled ceaselessly and brilliantly. To the whistle of shells overhead was added the scream of falling bombs. Even the sky was full of noise – anti-aircraft shells, machine-gun fire, the snarl of falling planes, the angry hornet noise of dive bombers. One could not speak normally at any time against the roar of it and the noise of our own engines. We all developed ‘Dunkirk throat,’ a sore hoarseness that was the hallmark of those who had been there.

Yet through all the noise I will always remember the voices of the young subalterns as they sent their men aboard, and I will remember, too, the astonishing discipline of the men. They had fought through three weeks of retreat, always falling back without orders, often without support. Transport had failed. They had gone sleepless. They had been without food and water. Yet they kept ranks as they came down the beaches, and they obeyed commands. . .

We stayed there until everybody else had been sent back, and then went pottering about looking for stragglers. While we were doing that, a salvo of shells got one of our troopships alongside the mole. She was hit clean in the boilers and exploded in one terrific crash. There were then, I suppose, about 1000 Frenchmen on the mole. We had seen them crowding along its narrow crest, outlined against the flames. They had gone out under shellfire to board the boat, and now they had to go back again, still being shelled. It was quite the most tragic thing I ever have seen in my life. We could do nothing with our little park dinghy.

Going home, the Jerry dive bombers came over us five times, but somehow left us alone though three times they took up an attacking position. A little down the coast, towards Gravelines, we picked up a boatload of Frenchmen rowing off. We took them aboard. They were very much bothered as to our ‘ship’ and, said quite flatly that it was impossible to go to England in a thing like ours.

 

 

Julius Caesar: A Portrait

In his book The Twelve Caesars written in 121 AD the Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquilus, better known simply as Suetonius, provides us with our most vivid account of Julius Caesar, his physical appearance, his personality, and his character.  The man, who though he would never be Emperor himself destroyed the Roman Republic and paved the way for the greatest Empire the world had then seen; the man  whose name all future Emperor’s would take and would later be adapted to include Kaiser and Tsar. The man who would be assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BC, before his ambition could be realised by those he thought were his friends

This is the man Gaius Julius Caesar according to Suetonius:

“He was tall, of a fair complexion, round limbed, rather full faced, with eyes black and piercing; he enjoyed excellent health except toward the close of his life when he was subject to sudden fainting fits and disturbances in his sleep. He was likewise twice seized with the ‘falling sickness,’ while engaged in active service.

He was extremely nice in the care of his person, and kept the hair of his head closely cut and had his face smoothly shaved. His baldness gave him much uneasiness, having often found himself on that score exposed to the jibes of his enemies. He used therefore to brush forward the hair from the crown of his head, and of all the honours conferred on him by the Senate and People, there was none which he either accepted or used with greater pleasure than the right of wearing constantly a laurel crown.

It is said that he was particular in his dress, for he wore the (special toga only Roman senators could wear) with fringes about the wrists, and always had it girded about him, but rather loosely.

He was a notable lady’s man, and indulged in many intrigues; he was especially intimate with Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus,] for whom’ he purchased in his first consulship . . . a pearl which cost him 6,000,000 sesterces and in the Civil War, besides other presents assigned to her -for a trifling consideration -some valuable farms that had been set up at public auction.

He was perfect in the use of arms, an accomplished rider, and able to endure fatigue beyond all belief. On a march he used to go at the head of his troops, sometimes on horseback, but oftener on foot, with his head bare in all kinds of weather. He would travel post in a light carriage without baggage, at the rate of one hundred miles per day; and if he was stopped by floods in the rivers, he swam across, or floated on skins inflated in the wind, so that he often anticipated the tidings of his movements.

Often he rallied his troops by his own personal exertions, stopping those who fled, keeping others in their ranks, and seizing men by the throat, turned them again towards the enemy, although numbers were sometimes so terrified that an eagle bearer thus stopped made a thrust at him with the spearhead, and another on a like occasion left the standard in his hand.”

 

 

William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold

William Jennings Bryan’s famous Cross of Gold speech was delivered to the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago on July 9, 1896. The issue it addressed regarding a move away from strict adherence to the Gold Standard and the minting of silver coin to make money cheaper and more accessible, or bimetallism as it was known may appear arcane to us now but it had dominated American politics for many years.

When Bryan, who had long campaigned for ‘Free Silver,’ stood up to address the Convention he was not among the front runners for the Presidential nomination but by the end of his speech inside an electrified auditorium and with the delegates putty in his hands he was the only candidate left standing:

I would be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were a mere measuring of abilities; but this is not a contest between persons. The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. I come to speak to you in defense of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty-the cause of humanity.

When this debate is concluded, a motion will be made to lay upon the table the resolution offered in commendation of the Administration, and also, the resolution offered in condemnation of the Administration. We object to bringing this question down to the level of persons. The individual is but an atom; he is born, he acts, he dies; but principles are eternal; and this has been a contest over a principle.

Never before in the history of this country has there been witnessed such a contest as that through which we have just passed. Never before in the history of American politics has a great issue been fought out as this issue has been, by the voters of a great party. On the fourth of March 1895, a few Democrats, most of them members of Congress, issued an address to the Democrats of the nation, asserting that the money question was the paramount issue of the hour; declaring that a majority of the Democratic party had the right to control the action of the party on this paramount issue; and concluding with the request that the believers in the free coinage of silver in the Democratic party should organize, take charge of, and control the policy of the Democratic party. Three months later, at Memphis, an organization was perfected, and the silver Democrats went forth openly and courageously proclaiming their belief, and declaring that, if successful, they would crystallize into a platform the declaration which they had made. Then began the struggle. With a zeal approaching the zeal which inspired the Crusaders who followed Peter the Hermit, our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory until they are now assembled, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgement already rendered by the plain people of this country. In this contest brother has been arrayed against brother, father against son. The warmest ties of love, acquaintance, and association have been disregarded; old leaders have been cast aside when they have refused to give expression to the sentiments of those whom they would lead, and new leaders have sprung up to give direction to this cause of truth. Thus has the contest been waged, and we have assembled here under as binding and solemn instructions as were ever imposed upon representatives of the people.

We do not come as individuals. As individuals we might have been glad to compliment the gentleman from New York, but we know that the people for whom we speak would never be willing to put him in a position where he could thwart the will of the Democratic Party. I say it was not a question of persons; it was a question of principle, and it is not with gladness, my friends, that we find ourselves brought into conflict with those who are now arrayed on the other side. .

When you come before us and tell us that we are about to disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your course.

We say to you that you have made the definition of a business man too limited in its application. The man who is employed for wages is as much a business man as his employer; the attorney in a country town is as much a business man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis; the merchant at the cross-roads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York; the farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, who begins in the spring and toils all summer, and who by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of the country creates wealth, is as much a business man as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain; the miners who go down a thousand feet into the earth, or climb two thousand feet upon the cliffs, and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured into the channels of trade are as much business men as the few financial magnates who, in a back room, corner the money of the world. We come to speak of this broader class of business men.

Ah, my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the Atlantic Coast, but the hardy pioneers who have braved all the dangers of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose, the pioneers away out there [pointing to the West] who rear their children near to Nature’s heart, where they can mingle their voices with the voices of the birds-out there where they have erected schoolhouses for the education of their young, churches where they praise their Creator, and cemeteries where rest the ashes of their dead-these people, we say, are as deserving of the consideration of our party as any people in this country. It is for these that we speak. We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest; we are fighting in the defense of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them!

The gentleman from Wisconsin has said that he fears a Robespierre. My friends, in this land of the free you need not fear that a tyrant will spring up from among the people. What we need is an Andrew Jackson to stand, as Jackson stood, against the encroachments of organized wealth.

They tell us that this platform was made to catch votes. We reply to them that changing conditions make new issues; that the principles upon which Democracy rests are as everlasting as the hills, but that they must be applied to new conditions as they arise. Conditions have arisen, and we are here to meet those conditions. They tell us that the income tax ought not to be brought in here; that it is a new idea. They criticize us for our criticism of the Supreme Court of the United States. My friends, we have not criticized; we have simply called attention to what you already know. If you want criticisms read the dissenting opinions of the court. There you will find criticisms. They say that we passed an unconstitutional law; we deny it. The income tax was not unconstitutional when it was passed; it was not unconstitutional when it went before the Supreme Court for the first time; it did not become unconstitutional until one of the judges changed his mind, and we cannot be expected to know when a judge will change his mind. The income tax is just. It simply intends to put the burdens of government justly upon the backs of the people. I am in favor of an income tax. When I find a man who is not willing to bear his share of the burdens of the government which protects him, I find a man who is unworthy to enjoy the blessings of a government like ours.

They say that we are opposing national bank currency; it is true. If you will read what Thomas Benton said, you will find he said that, in searching history, he could find but one parallel to Andrew Jackson; that was Cicero, who destroyed the conspiracy of Cataline and saved Rome. Benton said that Cicero only did for Rome what Jackson did for us when he destroyed the bank conspiracy and saved America. We say in our platform we believe that the right to coin and issue money is a function of government. We believe it. We believe that it is a part of sovereignty, and can no more with safety be delegated to private individuals than we could afford to delegate to private individuals the power to make penal statutes or levy taxes. Mr. Jefferson, who was once regarded as good Democratic authority, seems to have differed in opinion from the gentleman who has addressed us on the part of the minority. Those who are opposed to this proposition tell us that the issue of paper money is a function of the bank, and that the government ought to go out of the banking business. I stand with Jefferson rather than with them, and tell them, as he did, that the issue of money is a function of government, and that the banks ought to go out of the governing business.

They complain about the plank which declares against life tenure in office. They have tried to strain it to mean that which it does not mean. What we oppose by that plank is the life tenure which is being built up in Washington, and which excludes from participation in official benefits the humbler members of society. .

And now, my friends, let me come to the paramount issue. If they ask us why it is that we say more on the money question than we say upon the tariff question, I reply that, if protection has slain its thousands, the gold standard has slain its tens of thousands. If they ask us why we do not embody in our platform all the things that we believe in, we reply that when we have restored the money of the Constitution, all other necessary reform will be possible; but that until this is done, there is no other reform that can be accomplished.

Why is it that within three months such a change has come over the country? Three months ago when it was confidently asserted that those who believed in the gold standard would frame our platform and nominate our candidates, even the advocates of the gold standard did not think that we could elect a President. And they had good reason for their doubt, because there is scarcely a State here today asking for the gold standard which is not in the absolute control of the Republican Party. But note the change. Mr. McKinley was nominated at St. Louis upon a platform which declared for the maintenance of the gold standard until it can be changed into bimetallism by international agreement. Mr. McKinley was the most popular man among the Republicans, and three months ago everybody in the Republican Party prophesied his election. How is it today? Why, the man who was once pleased to think that he looked like Napoleon-that man shudders today when he remembers that he was nominated on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.

Not only that, but as he listens, he can hear with ever increasing distinctness the sound of the waves as they beat upon the lonely shores at St Helena.

Why this change? Ah, my friends, is not the reason for the change evident to anyone who will look at the matter? No private character, however pure, no personal popularity, however great, can protect from the avenging wrath of an indignant people a man who will declare that he is in favor of fastening the gold standard upon this country, or who is willing to surrender the right of self-government and place the legislative control of our affairs in the hands of foreign potentates and powers.

We go forth confident that we shall win. Why? Because upon the paramount issue of this campaign there is not a spot of ground upon which the enemy will dare to challenge battle. If they tell us that the gold standard is a good thing, we shall point to their platform and tell them that their platform pledges the party to get rid of the gold standard and substitute bimetallism. If the gold standard is a good thing why try to get rid of it? I call your attention to the fact that some of the very people who are in this Convention today and who tell us that we ought to declare in favor of international himetallism-thereby declaring that the gold standard is wrong and that the principle of bimetallism is better-these very people four months ago were open and avowed advocates of the gold standard, and were then telling us that we could not legislate two metals together, even with the aid of all the world. If the gold standard is a good thing, we ought to declare in favor of its retention and not in favor of abandoning it; and if the gold standard is a bad thing why should we wait until other nations are willing to help us to let go? Here is the line of battle, and we care not upon which issue they force the fight; we are prepared to meet them on either issue or on both. If they tell us that the gold standard is the standard of civilization, we reply to them that this, the most enlightened of all the nations of the earth, has never declared for a gold standard and that both the great parties this year are declaring against it. If the gold standard is the standard of civilization, why, my friends, should we not have it? If they come to meet us on that issue we can present the history of our nation. More than that; we can tell them that they will search the pages of history in vain to find a single instance where the common people of any land have ever declared themselves in favor of the gold standard. They can find where the holders of fixed investments have declared for a gold standard, but not where the masses have. Mr. Carlisle said in 1878 that this was a struggle between the “idle holders of idle capital” and “the struggling masses, who produce the wealth and pay the taxes of the country,” and, my friends, the question we are to decide is: Upon which side will the Democratic party fight; upon the side of “the idle holders of idle capital” or upon the side of “the struggling masses”? That is the question which the party must answer first, and then it must be answered by each individual hereafter. The sympathies of the Democratic Party, as shown by the platform, are on the side of the struggling masses who have ever been the foundation of the Democratic party. There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.

You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.

My friends, we declare that this nation is able to legislate for its own people on every question, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation on earth; and upon that issue we expect to carry every state in the Union. I shall not slander the inhabitants of the fair state of Massachusetts nor the inhabitants of the state of New York by saying that, when they are confronted with the proposition, they will declare that this nation is not able to attend to its own business. It is the issue of 1776 over again. Our ancestors, when but three millions in number, had the courage to declare their political independence of every other nation; shall we, their descendants, when we have grown to seventy millions, declare that we are less independent than our forefathers?

No, my friends, that will never be the verdict of our people. Therefore, we care not upon what lines the battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good, but that we cannot have it until other nations help us, we reply, that instead of having a gold standard because England has, we will restore bimetallism, and then let England have bimetallism because the United States has it. If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

Pat Garrett kills Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid was not a man of the West, but was in fact born and spent most of his life in the slums of New York where he was known by his birth name of Henry McCarty. It was only when his widowed mother moved the family to Silver City, New Mexico to escape the deprivations of the city that the young Henry began to take on the character of Billy Bonney, a name common in the popular dime novels of the day. If this lends one to think he was of a romantic then he rarely showed it, though he wasn’t yet the ruthless killer he would become.

By 1877 he was working on the ranch of John Tunstall, an émigré Englishman who had dreams of creating a business empire in his new home. He was good to Billy and though he was by no means old enough John Henry Tunstall became something of a father figure to him, so when on 18 February 1878 he was murdered in the Lincoln County turf war Billy took it personally.  He vowed vengeance on those responsible, and was to prove as good as his word with both the local Sheriff and a Deputy among his first victims.

Billy was soon tracked down and arrested by Pat Garrett, the ex-occupier of a Louisiana Plantation and itinerant cowhand who had been elected the new Sheriff of Lincoln County.

Billy was found guilty of murder at his trial and with his plea of clemency denied was in prison awaiting execution when he escaped killing his two guards as he did so.  It once more fell to Pat Garrett to bring him to justice. Having received news that Billy was hiding out in an abandoned Fort he set off in pursuit.

Garrett’s attempt to arrest Billy the Kid would result in him being accused of having murdered the outlaw in cold blood. Taken from his book ‘The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid,’ written the year following the events described this is Pat Garrett’s account of what happened next:

I then concluded to go and have a talk with Peter Maxwell in whom I felt sure I could rely. We had ridden to within a short distance of Maxwell’s grounds when we found a man in camp and stopped. To Poe’s great surprise he recognised in the camper an old friend and former partner, in Texas, named Jacobs. We unsaddled here, got some coffee, and, on foot, entered an orchard which runs from this point down to a row of old buildings, some of them occupied by Mexicans, not more than sixty yards from Maxwell’s house. We approached these houses cautiously, and when within earshot, heard the sound of voices conversing in Spanish. We concealed ourselves quickly and listened; but the distance was too great to hear words, or even distinguish voices. Soon a man arose from the ground, in full view, but too far away to recognize. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, a dark vest and pants, and was in his shirtsleeves. With a few words, which fell like murmur on our ears, he went to the fence, jumped it, and walked down towards Maxwell’s house.

Little as we then suspected it, this man was the Kid. We learned, subsequently, that, when he left his companions that night, he went to the house of a Mexican friend, pulled off his hat and boots, threw himself on a bed, and commenced reading a newspaper. He soon, however, hailed his friend, who was sleeping in the room, told him to get up and make some coffee, adding: ‘Give me a butcher knife and I will go over to Pete’s and get some beef; I’m hungry.’ The Mexican arose, handed him the knife, and the Kid, hatless and in his stocking-feet, started to Maxwell’s, which was but a few steps distant.

When the Kid, by me unrecognized, left the orchard, I motioned to my companions, and we cautiously retreated a short distance, and, to avoid the persons whom we had heard at the houses, took another route, approaching Maxwell’s house from the opposite direction. When we reached the porch in front of the building, I left Poe and McKinney at the end of the porch, about twenty feet from the door of Pete’s room, and went in. It was near midnight and Pete was in bed. I walked to the head of the bed and sat down on it, beside him, near the pillow. I asked him as to the whereabouts of the Kid. He said that the Kid had certainly been about, but he did not know whether he had left or not. At that moment a man sprang quickly into the door, looking back, and called twice in Spanish, ‘Who comes there?’ No one replied and he came on in. He was bareheaded. From his step I could perceive he was either barefooted or in his stocking-feet, and held a revolver in his right hand and a butcher knife in his left.

He came directly towards me. Before he reached the bed, I whispered: ‘Who is it, Pete?’ but received no reply for a moment. It struck me that it might be Pete’s brother-in-law, Manuel Abreu, who had seen Poe and McKinney, and wanted to know their business. The intruder came close to me, leaned both hands on the bed, his right hand almost touching my knee, and asked, in a low tone: -‘Who are they Pete?’ -at the same instant Maxwell whispered to me. ‘That’s him!’ Simultaneously the Kid must have seen, or felt, the presence of a third person at the head of the bed. He raised quickly his pistol, a self-cocker, within a foot of my breast. Retreating rapidly across the room he cried: ‘Quien es? Quien es?’ ‘Who’s that? Who’s that?’) All this occurred in a moment. Quickly as possible I drew my revolver and fired, threw my body aside, and fired again. The second shot was useless; the Kid fell dead. He never spoke. A struggle or two, a little strangling sound as he gasped for breath, and the Kid was with his many victims.”