John Bessac had a sleepless night following the near-mortal confrontation with his subordinate.
It was a devastating occurrence to John, who had never before threatened the life of a man. All the scenes from his past played in front of him. The picture of his beloved mother with tears streaming down her face, his father’s anguish in having to face the community and the church, and his uncle who had been so patient to ensure he learned his language lessons well, the same uncle who had treated him to the journey of Morocco and the northern side of Africa, and his own disobedience of the church.
John’s past created a mental conflict that he had been avoiding. The picture of him with bayonet in hand, pointed at a subordinates throat, was the catalyst that brought everything back. Yes, – – – – – indeed it was a sleepless night for John Bessac.
Over and over his thoughts were a mixture of what he had done to his parents when he so suddenly departed Montvalant, the teachings of the church which his mother had implored him to follow and what he may have done with that bayonet; the most unforgivable sin.
He wept like a child and murmured to himself over and over again;
“Je me leverai”
[I will get up]
“Et je men irai vers mon père”
[And I will go towards my father]
“Et je lui dirai”
[And I will say to him]
“Mon père j’ai péché contre le ciel et devant toi”
[My father, I have sinned against heaven and in front of you]
“Et je ne suis plus digne d’etre est appelé ton fils”
[And I no longer am worthy of being called your son.”
John no longer knew if he was the prodigal son of his father or of his God. He was confused and bitterly disappointed in what he thought he had become in Madrid.
He wondered if he was worthy of his father, worthy of his church, worthy of being a Royal Guardsman and most of all worthy of himself. His guilt, past and present, twisted his mind into thoughts he never knew were present within himself.
John Bessac would not allow himself to think about his lost love, the prettiest senorita in Madrid. It never dawned on him that his conflict with the subordinate may have been displaced anxiety over this loss. Was it possible that the crude insults of the subordinate against an innocent girl were, in John Bessac’s mind, insults against his first love? We will never know because John Bessac could not allow himself to enter into those painful thoughts.
At an early hour in the morning, too early to be knocking on anyone’s door, John Bessac was at the quarters of his superior; the sub-commandante` of the Royal Guards. The man, luckily for John, was a gentleman of the first degree, a noble and generous Frenchman.
John related what had happened between him and the subordinate the previous evening. His guilt had led him to make a confession to anyone who would listen. John begged the sub-commandante` to deem whether those actions were worthy beyond reproach. If not, John would submit his resignation from the Royal Guard and receive an honorable discharge.
The sub-commandante`, a colonel, laughed in a gracious way and without a hint of reproach in his tone. “If I had to discharge every soldier with similar offenses I would have none remaining in my command.”
The colonel sent John on his way with a promise. If John requested a discharge, when his committed year was up, then the colonel would sign it and allow him to leave the guard.
John finished his commitment.