The deeds of the colonel, as related to me by the old man, had a unique and hideous twist.
"The colonel had ordered some of our young men to be held as captives. Meanwhile he built a fire of charcoal. I soon discovered what he was doing. He had an iron plate so big [indicating a plate about eight inches long, six inches wide, and a quarter of an inch thick]. He heated this until it was red hot. He had his men bring up one of the Lurs. Two soldiers held the prisoner, one on each side. A third soldier stood with a sword behind the prisoner. The colonel gave the signal. The man with the sword swung. As the sword hit the prisoner's neck, the colonel shouted, 'Run.' The head dropped to the ground. The colonel pressed the red hot plate on the stub of the man's neck. The headless man took a step and fell.
"'Give me the tall one,' the colonel shouted. 'He can run better than that.'
"The same process was repeated. The tall man, when beheaded, ran a few paces. Lur after Lur was beheaded. Again and again the plate was heated red hot and slapped on the stub of the neck. Once the colonel was slow with the plate; and the blood shot five feet in the air."
The old man stopped to wet his lips.
"The colonel started betting on how far these headless men could run. He and the soldiers would shout and yell, encouraging each victim to do his best."
The old man paused, his anger swelling up as he relived this experience.
"Who won the betting contest?" I asked.