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Martin Guerre

the door of a small room, they found a soldier soaked in blood lying on a rough
mat, and another soldier apparently attending on him with the utmost care.
"Who are you?" said one of the surgeons to the sufferer. "I don't think you belong
to our French troops."
"Help!" cried the soldier, "only help me! and may God bless you for it!"
"From the colour of that tunic," remarked the other surgeon, "I should wager the
rascal belongs to some Spanish gentleman. By what blunder was he brought
"For pity's sake! murmured the poor fellow, "I am in such pain."
"Die, wretch!" responded the last speaker, pushing him with his foot. "Die, like the
dog you are!"
But this brutality, answered as it was by an agonised groan, disgusted the other
"After all, he is a man, and a wounded man who implores help. Leave him to me,
Rene went out grumbling, and the one who remained proceeded to examine the
wound. A terrible arquebus-shot had passed through the leg, shattering the bone:
amputation was absolutely necessary.
Before proceeding to the operation, the surgeon turned to the other soldier, who
had retired into the darkest corner of the room.
"And you, who may you be?" he asked.
The man replied by coming forward into the light: no other answer was needed.
He resembled his companion so closely that no one could doubt they were
brothers-twin brothers, probably. Both were above middle height; both had olive-
brown complexions, black eyes, hooked noses, pointed chins, a slightly
projecting lower lip; both were round-shouldered, though this defect did not
amount to disfigurement: the whole personality suggested strength, and was not
destitute of masculine beauty. So strong a likeness is hardly ever seen; even
their ages appeared to agree, for one would not have supposed either to be more
than thirty-two; and the only difference noticeable, besides the pale countenance
of the wounded man, was that he was thin as compared with the moderate
fleshiness of the other, also that he had a large scar over the right eyebrow.
"Look well after your brother's soul," said the surgeon to the soldier, who
remained standing; "if it is in no better case than his body, it is much to be pitied."
"Is there no hope?" inquired the Sosia of the wounded man.
"The wound is too large and too deep," replied the man of science, "to be
cauterised with boiling oil, according to the ancient method. 'Delenda est causa
mali,' the source of evil must be destroyed, as says the learned Ambrose Pare; I
ought therefore 'secareferro,'--that is to say, take off the leg. May God grant that
he survive the operation!"
While seeking his instruments, he looked the supposed brother full in the face,
and added--
"But how is it that you are carrying muskets in opposing armies, for I see that you
belong to us, while this poor fellow wears Spanish uniform?"
"Oh, that would be a long story to tell," replied the soldier, shaking his head. "As
for me, I followed the career which was open to me, and took service of my own