“But why do you have to kill?” said Mercedes. “And steal? Surely a truly free man would be above such things.”

“Listen to yourself,” said Cooke. “The only reason people don’t have to take for themselves is because they’ve given that up. When you surrender your freedom to a king, you’re less likely to die in battle, more likely to die in bed. But the killing? The stealing? It doesn’t stop. It just moves. There are people killing and stealing for you every day of your life. Soldiers, sailors, merchants.”

“Only if they have to.”

“And we’re just doing what we have to,” Cooke said. “We take what we need to live as free men.”

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