. Finally, she decided that I was right, and, grabbing her bags, began packing madly. The baby was crawling joyfully about; not suspecting what might be his fate. And then came the fatal knock. She straightened, petrified with fright. ‘It’s them!’ she exclaimed, ‘and I forgot to bolt the door!’ In my own anxiety, I too had failed to think about the door. In they marched, that horrid hoard of armor, with Malichus at their head. I cringed.”
”Did they recognize you?” asked Herod.
”If they did, they didn’t show it. Malichus looked straight at the woman. ‘Madam,’ he said gruffly, ‘I’m sorry to inform you that Herod has ordered us to kill all boy babies in this city of two and under.’
”‘Aha!’ cried one of the soldiers, spotting the child. ‘There’s one of the little rascals now. I know he’s not yet two.’
”‘Grab him, Cassias!’ and he did.
”The woman ran over to the soldier and began pulling at him. ‘You leave my baby alone! He’s my baby, do y’ hear me? My baby!’
Malichus walked calmly up to the woman and grabbed her wrists. “Yes, we know, lady. You got any more of two or under?’
”‘No, no! Just my Jonathan. He’s the only one I have. My poor, poor Jonathan! My baby!’
”‘Well, we’ll see about that! Marcus, search the house!’ And the big soldier disappeared behind an open door.
”‘Shall we wait for him, boss, or shall we go ahead?’
”By this time, the woman had managed to struggle free of Malichus’ grasp and started pulling at him. ‘Go ahead and what, you beast?! Offhand that child! He’s mine, do y’ hear me? He’s my baby! An’ we’re good upstandin’ citizens. Why should you want my baby?’
”He shook himself free of her. ‘I’m sorry, lady, but orders is orders. They can’t be changed just for you. Herod said all boy babies two and under and that includes him.’
”‘But you can’t, you can’t!’ she screamed, pulling at him, ‘I won’t let you kill my baby!’
”‘Oh yeah? Listen, lady, don’t make it any harder on us than it is already. Personally, we’d rather not kill your baby. But, you know what happens to us if we disobey an order from Herod, don’t you? We get killed, that’s what. An’ it’s no quick an’ easy death either. It’s torture – slow torture. So, it’s either your baby or us lady, and I think you know which it is that we favor.’
”‘So you must kill my baby – my little Jonathan – and all because of one man’s whim? What is this world coming to, when one man can do so much against so many? I hate that tyrant, Herod, and all of you, his dupes too! I’ll hate you all until I die!’
”The big soldier returned to the room. ‘That’s it, boss. I searched every space in this shack and found no one.’
”‘Thank you, Marcus.’
”‘Ah!’ cried another soldier, ‘then we can proceed!’
Malichus smiled a cynical smile. ”‘You seem a bit anxious, Anthony.”
”‘And so I am–anxious to get this blood business over with.’
”‘Then,’ boomed out Malichus’s voice, ‘swing your sword and have done with it.’
”‘My baby, my baby! You can’t kill my baby! I won’t let you! Do you hear me? I won’t let you. He’s mine and nobody is going to take him from me!’ The mother, mad with fright and feeling for her child’ was pulling wildly on the arms of the soldier who was holding her baby.
”‘You’ll have to stand back, lady!’
”‘Stand back nothin’! He’s my baby, and I’m not gonna’ stand by and see him butchered! My baby! My dear sweet baby! Let him go! Let him go!’
”‘Lady, if you don’t get away from here, I’m going to have to---’
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