Patriotism



How many sons, how many generations,
For how long years hast thou bewept, and known,
Nor end of torment nor surcease of moan,
Rachel or Rizpah, wofullest of nations,
Crowned with the crowning sign of desolations,
—Swinburne, "Rizpah"


John Hardin has traced an invisible map on the wall of his cell and walks it with his fingers every day. He knows by heart to which rough stone he has assigned the locale of his childhood home, and to which he has assigned the role of prison.

There are three rivers between here and his brother. He knows where on the wall they lie.

"Ah, Valendia," he murmurs, remembering the question he asked with a cracked, trembling voice--And you will set me free?

A guard bangs on the door, just to remind him that there are guards and no opportunities for escape.

"Gods bless this land I love," he says, bitterly, his voice even harsher and more cracked than it was after he was put to torture.