‘Oh prenez misericorde! Ayez pitie de moi!’ exclaimed the Frenchman. [ Oh mercy! Just an ounce of mercy! ]
‘Moy isn’t enough,’ said Pistol. ‘I want at least forty moys or I’ll cut your throat.’
The Frenchman moved his head desperately from side to side. ‘Est-impossible d’echapper la force de ton bras?’ [ Is it impossible to change a heart of brass? ]
Pistol raised his sword high above his captive’s head. ‘Brass, cur? You damned, lecherous mountain goat. Are you offering me brass?’
The man shrieked. ‘Oh pardonne-mois!’
‘Are you offering me that?’ said Pistol. ‘Did you say a ton of moys? Come here, boy. Ask this slave – in French – what his name is.’
‘Ecoutez,’ said the boy. ‘Comment etes-vous appele?
‘Monsieur le Fer,’ the man said.
‘He says his name is Mr Fer.’
‘Mister Fer?’ said Pistol. ‘I’ll fer him and firk him and ferret him. Inform him of that in French.’
‘I don’t know the French for fer and ferret and firk,’ said the boy.
‘Tell him to prepare himself. I’m going to cut his throat.’
The Frenchman looked at the boy in alarm. ‘Quil dit-il, monsieur?’ [ What did he say, sir? ]
‘Il me commande a vous dire que vous faites vous pret, car ce soldat ici est dispose tout a cette heure de couper votre gorge,’ the boy said. [ He told me to tell you to prepare yourself, because this soldier here is disposed to cut your throat right now. ]
Pistol nodded gravely. ‘Ah wee,’ he said. ‘Coopay la gorge!’ He drew his finger along his throat and put on his sternest face. ‘Peasant, unless you give me crowns, genuine crowns. Or you’re going to be mangled by my sword.’
Tears filled the Frenchman’s eyes. ‘Oh je vous supplie, pour l’amour de Dieu, me pardonner. Je suis gentilhomme de bonne maison. Gardez ma vie, et je vous donnerai deux cents ecus.’ [ I beg you, for the love of God, let me go. I am a gentleman of good family. Spare my life and I’ll give you two hundred gold coins. ]
Pistol nodded. ‘What did he say?’
‘He begs you to save his life. He is a gentleman of a good house and he will give you two hundred crowns for his ransom.’
‘Tell him my fury is about to subside. I’ll take the money.’
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