262 CONSTITUTION AND CHARACTER
The father immediately bade his wife farewell,
and putting himself upon the trail of the hostile
party he followed them with the utmost diligence.
He knew that the destiny of the poor prisoner was
most assuredly to be tortured to death by fire, and
he was going to offer himself for this sacrifice, in
order to obtain the ransom of his child.
He came up with the party of the enemy just as
they were making preparations to enjoy their cruel
revenge. He approached them with a signal which
was equivalent to a flag of truce in civilized war-
fare, and offered himself as a substitute for his son.
" My poor boy," said he, " is just entering upon
life. Do not cut him off so prematurely from the
enjoyment of it. He is vigorous and strong, too,
and is the hope of his mother, and he will be, for
many years, the stay and support of the family.
But I am old and infirm. My work will soon be
done, and I am of little value to my wife and chil-
dren. But I am just as good to be burned alive
for your revenge as he."
This, or something equivalent to this, the old
man said to his savage enemies. They acknowl-
edged the propriety of the proposal, and made the
exchange. They unbound the young man and
gave him his liberty. The father sent him away,
charging him to go home and take care of his