“It is not death,” said the aide-de-camp.
Hornblower looked; he tried to speak, but no word came from his open mouth. And the aide-de-camp was trying to force a smile too — an ingratiating smile.
“There is news from Belgium,” said the aide-de-camp. “The Emperor has been defeated in a great battle. At a place called Waterloo. Already Wellington and Blücher are over the frontier and marching on Paris. The Emperor is there already and the Senate are demanding that he abdicate again.”
Hornblower’s heart was pounding so hard that he was still incapable of speech.
“His Excellency the General,” went on the aide-de-camp, “has decided that in this case the executions are not to take place this morning.”
Hornblower found speech at last.
“I will not insist,” he said.
The aide-de-camp went on to say something about the restoration of His Most Christian Majesty, but Hornblower did not listen to him. He was wondering about Richard. And Barbara.
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