This chapter comes to the Scarlet Pimpernel custom-made...
Dameon had been sitting in the dark cell for days, waiting for the Spaniards to come for him, and beginning to think that, maybe, there was an outside chance that they didn’t care about him anymore... No, of course not. They would never forget him while he was alive, and if he had his way, they would never forget him after his death either. His final act would be to teach these Spaniards that a good man never goes down until he is ready. Though from his angle in the cell below street level, he could not tell, the day was already far advanced. Dameon had lost track of time after he had been locked up, and now spent most of his time sleeping. Suddenly, he heard the sound of heavy boots echoing through the passage. He knew instantly that they were finally coming for him.
A moment later, a Spanish officer strode into the room, ordered Dameon to stand, and then tied his hands behind his back. Dameon did not resist, only thinking “So I’m supposed to escape and fight, am I? Well, these Spaniards don’t seem aware of that. I’ll just to have to carry the show on my own.” The Spaniard still refused to speak, simply pushing Dameon toward the door so that he stumbled awkwardly as he was crossing the threshold.
He had to blink several times before he was ready to mount the steps to enter the cart that had come to carry him to the square. Looking out at the crowd, Dameon saw that what must have been at least half the city had turned out to witness his execution. He had been expecting this. He had not been expecting to see any friendly faces. But then, in a matter of seconds, he saw them; the muscular man with the short blond hair, shaking his fist along with the others, but wearing an expression radically different from theirs. And then the other, the tall Portuguese, brandishing his sling and wearing the same expression as his friend. Both were trying to tell Dameon “Don’t lose hope! All will end well!”
The remainder of the ride seemed short to Dameon, cheered as he was by the fact that he would not die alone. As he had known he would, he mounted the scaffold gladly, fifteen minutes after he had exited the prison. As the executioner dropped the noose around his neck, Dameon began to look around for the friends he had seen in the crowd earlier. He grew disheartened at failing to spot them. “Maybe they were on their way out.” He thought. “They never said they would rescue me anyway. They only gave their word that they would get rid of Coinhara if they could.”
Looking up one last time, Dameon saw that the Spanish officer who was about to read the sentence was... Coinhara! Gathering his strength, Dameon shouted “The days of you and your kind are numbered, Coinhara!”
Coinhara looked up slowly from the paper he was holding. Then he looked down at it again. After a pause, he pronounced “Is it really necessary to read this? This is false anyway. Release him.” Tearing up the charges, Coinhara stood and smirked as the platform opened underneath Dameon’s feet and he dropped through.
Suddenly, as Dameon was still falling, he felt the bonds around his wrists fall away. A voice behind him said “I would say that was a good shot, but it was not the best my friend can do. He can split hairs if he wants to. Try not to move; he’s going to do it again. When I say ‘now’, make a grab for the rope and climb for your life with all your skill. Until then, act limp. They think you’re dying.”
The moment the voice had stopped speaking, the knife flew through the air again, this time cutting the noose just under the knot. The cry of ‘now’ came a split-second later, as Dameon was falling to the ground. Reaching up, he grabbed the rope and began pulling himself up, hand over hand, back through the hole in the platform. With a last effort, he leapt onto the scaffold shouting “For the phantom, for America, and for God!” Charging straight at Coinhara as that man stood frozen in shock, Dameon sidestepped him at the last possible moment and grabbed Coinhara’s sword from its sheath. “I stand ready to fight to death! Come at me who will!”
As as many as fifty soldiers came charging out of the crowd, Dameon leapt down among them, relishing the fight. The training the phantom had given him years ago underneath Edinburgh University was let loose in its full force for the final time. Not one of the soldiers could touch Dameon, who was in his element, with blade or rifle butt. He fought his way out into the center of the square, away from the scaffold, as he became aware that even more troops were coming against him. “Might as well,” he thought “I’ve sent so many on ahead already that there’s plenty of room on the wagon for more.” He never said another word, or even thought another thought. His mind was completely blank as he spun, slashed, hacked and parried his way into legend, waiting for the word that he might stop.
Finally, after several long minutes, when he was at last beginning to tire, he saw what he had been waiting for. She was there for a moment, and then disappeared again. His wife, Elspeth, who had died years ago, had just appeared before him in the midst of the ranks of soldiers. He knew now that the end was near. Even so, he kept fighting for several more minutes.
Finally, at long last, slowed by extreme weariness, he was unable to dodge the heavy blow of a rifle butt which came down upon his head. At the same moment, he felt a blade pierce him from behind. As he fell to the ground, he looked up and saw Coinhara still standing on the scaffold, watching the demise of his greatest foe. But even as Dameon watched in that instant only, Coinhara fell to the ground, revealing the two men who had aided Dameon earlier, cheering wildly in a last rousing send-off. With his last breath, Dameon cried out “God our Father! Have mercy on us!” A moment later, he collapsed to the ground, dead to the world.
Dameon was walking along an inexplicably bright hallway, which seemed to have no visible source of light. He was wearing his best dress uniform and carrying his hat under his left arm. He was not wearing his sword. He walked briskly, eager to reach the end of the hall.
Suddenly, an opening appeared in the wall. Through it stepped Elspeth, radiant with happiness. Dameon stopped short as she came up to him and asked “Was it hard?”
“No. Honestly, it was the easiest thing I’d ever done, knowing what would come of it.”
“When I saw you, you looked so tired.”
“Is it not right for one to be tired of life when God is near at hand?”
“I see what you mean. Is our John a good boy?”
“Yes, he is. A wiser man his age could not be found. He will be a great priest.”
“Then let us go.”
With that, the two stopped talking and both began to hurry down the hallway once more. In a short time, they had come to the door which Dameon had tried and failed to open in his dream. He knew, though, that this time it would open instantly, for his time had come. Turning the handle, he threw the door open wide.
At the sight of Dameon, Joseph rose from his place nearest the door and offered Dameon his hand, saying “Welcome, Dameon Mellino, honorable soldier of God, to the League of The Father.”