The Massacre of the Innocents part 4

They
made their way toward the Golden Sun and knocked at the door. It was opened
with some hesitancy, and the Spaniards entered, warmed themselves before the
fire, and demanded ale. They then left the inn, taking with them pots,
pitchers, and bread for their companions, and the old man with the white beard
who stood waiting among his soldiers.

 As the street was still deserted, the
commanding officer sent off some horsemen behind the houses to guard the
village on the side facing the open country, and ordered the footmen to bring
to him all children two years old or under, as he intended to massacre them, in
accordance with what is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The
men went first to the small inn of the Green Cabbage and the barber’s hut,
which stood close to each other in the central part of the street. One of them
opened the pigsty and a whole litter of pigs escaped and roamed about through
the village. The innkeeper and the barber came out of their houses and humbly
inquired of the soldiers what was wanted, but the Spaniards understood no
Flemish, and entered the houses in search of the children.

The
innkeeper had one who, dressed in its little shirt, was sitting on the dinner
table, crying. One of the soldiers took it in his arms and carried it off out
under the apple trees, while its parents followed weeping.

Stables of the barrel-maker

The
foot-soldiers next threw open the stables of the barrel-maker, the blacksmith,
and the cobbler, and cows, calves, asses, pigs, goats and sheep wandered here
and there over the square. When they broke the windows of the carpenter’s
house, a number of the wealthiest and oldest peasants of the parish gathered in
the street and advanced toward the Spaniards.

They
respectfully took off their caps and hats to the velvet-clad chief, asking him
what he intended to do, but he too did not understand their language, and one
of them ran off to get the cur6. He was about to go to Benediction, and was
putting on his golden chasuble in the sacristy.

The peasants cried, “The Spaniards are in the orchard!” Terror stricken, he ran to the church door, followed by the choir-boys carrying their censers and candles. From the door he could see the cattle and other animals set loose from their stables wandering over the grass and snow, the Spanish horsemen, the foot-soldiers before the doors of the houses, horses tied to trees all along the street, and men and women supplicating the soldier who carried the child still clad in its shirt.

He hastened into the churchyard, the peasants turning anxiously toward him, their priest, who arrived like a god covered with gold, out there among the pear-trees. They pressed close about him as he stood facing the white-bearded man. He spoke both in Flemish and Latin, but the officer slowly shrugged his shoulders to show that he failed to understand.

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