The story of Honour and the Sword is told by a number of different narrators, mostly through their interviews with the Abbé Fleuriot. Here are examples of some of the voices you will meet in the book.
There were noises from inside the Manor now, screams and yelling and what sounded like the clash of swords, it all came through the windows, which were open in the heat. Another crashed open right in front of us, and in the light of the flambeau I saw someone scrabbling out, a woman in a long white chemise, her movements clumsy and desperate. She was running before she even got properly upright, and as she lifted her head I recognized Mme Panthon who ran the kitchens, scary Mme Panthon who bawled at me when she caught Marie giving me a cake at the kitchen door. Her hair was loose and wild, her mouth was open and no sound coming out, she saw us and stretched out her arms as she ran. A bright yellow flash cracked in the darkness of the window behind her, a wad of something flew away from the side of her head, her face seemed to turn black, but her legs still ran on two more paces before she dropped in a heap, spattering a spray of water from the stones. Her nightdress was all bunched up round her body, I could see her naked legs.
I knew something was wrong from the first, when Don Francisco arrived so late and then all those soldiers kept coming in to whisper reports, but I could not guess what the final horror would be. The smell of partridge will always bring it back to me now, the sickly sound of the guitars playing 'Triste España', the sentimental tears on the face of Don Francisco, then the dreadful outburst of clapping and cheering at the news they had murdered a fifteen-year-old boy.
Colette managed much better than I, she behaved as if it were nothing to her at all, and continued to giggle with that good-looking enseigne with the boyish smile, the one she now calls Pablo. Even Florian covered his feelings better than I did, although I noticed he drank a great quantity of wine, which he is suffering for now. It was only I who was weak enough to beg to leave the table. Don Miguel was very kind, and told Don Francisco it was understandable I should be upset since I had known him personally, but he only peered at me as if I were a doll and said 'She is, d’Estrada, she really is, look, she's crying.'
It was over a year since I’d stood in the line, but the drill comes back pretty quickly in that situation, and I was legging it to the back before the echo even died. I’d forgotten the rest of it, though, the bitter smell of smoke, the roar in your ears, the instinct that reaches for your powder the second your hand’s off the trigger, I was only just in with the ramrod when the second rank fired. There was still a third, but the sergeant called them to hold, he knew once they discharged we were stuffed, we weren’t up with the reload. The cavalry saw us waiting, thought better of it, and backed off to regroup. Some of the civilians cheered, but not me, Abbé, I’d seen it all before. I knew what they’d do next.
And they did. They’d mustered more men for their next assault, so they halted just out of range, then sent up the first group with levelled pistols. It was only the bloody caracole, wasn’t it, and us a sitting target with three thin ranks to beat it.
Everyone shut up fast. Shouting and swearing outside, all in that Spanish, couldn’t understand a word. The young one, Little Pierre, he upped and looked through the window, said there’s soldiers outside and a wheel come off their cart. Didn’t seem much to me, seeing I saw Spaniards every day, but I looked over at Jacques, saw he’d turned dead white, scared half out his wits. His dad was quicker, on his feet right off, ordering Madame into the back room. ‘Now, Nell,’ he was saying, ‘Now.’ I understood that all right, Jacques’ mum was something, wasn’t a man in the Saillie didn’t feel it. Wasn’t much doubt what the Spaniards would do to her, and she knew it, out and in the back room with the little girl in a second.
But Jacques was just as panicky. ‘You too, André,’ he was saying. ‘Go on, quick.’
Didn’t see the need myself, Seigneur looked scruffy as the rest of us, but Jacques pulling at his arm, trying to make him hide. Seigneur shook him off, stayed right where he was. He said ‘I don’t run from Spaniards.’