The Headsman eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 470 pages of information about The Headsman.

“Have it as thou wilt,” returned the Genoese whose countenance continued to express distrust and thought, for his own experience had made him wary on the subject of doubtful or ill-assorted alliances; “let his origin be what it may, he shall not need gold.  I charge myself with seeing that the lands of Willading shall be fairly balanced:  and here comes our hospitable host to be witness of the pledge.”

Roger de Blonay advanced upon the terrace to greet his guests, as the Signor Grimaldi concluded.  The three old men continued their walk for an hour longer, discussing the fortunes of the young pair, for Melchior de Willading was as little disposed to make a secret of his intentions with one of his friends as with the other.

Chapter X.

  —­But I have not the time to pause
  Upon these gewgaws of the heart.

  Werner.

Though the word castle is of common use in Europe, as applied to ancient baronial edifices, the thing itself is very different in style, extent, and cost, in different countries.  Security, united to dignity and the means of accommodating a train of followers suited to the means of the noble, being the common object, the position and defences of the place necessarily varied according to the general aspect of the region in which it stood.  Thus ditches and other broad expanses of water were much depended on in all low countries, as in Flanders, Holland, parts of Germany, and much of France; while hills, spurs of mountains, and more especially the summits of conical rocks, were sought in Switzerland, Italy, and wherever else these natural means of protection could readily found.  Other circumstances, such as climate wealth, the habits of a people, and the nature of the feudal rights, also served greatly to modify the appearance and extent of the building.  The ancient hold in Switzerland was originally little more than a square solid tower, perched upon a rock, with turrets at its angles.  Proof against fire from without, it had ladders to mount from floor to floor and often contained its beds in the deep recesses of the windows, or in alcoves wrought in the massive wall.  As greater security or greater means enabled, offices and constructions of more importance arcse around its base, inclosing a court.  These necessarily followed the formation of the rock, until, in time, the confused and inartificial piles, which are now seen mouldering on so many of the minor spurs of the Alps, were created.

As is usual in all ancient holds, the Rittersaal—­the Salle des Chevaliers—­or the knights’ hall, of Blonay, as it is differently called in different languages, was both the largest and the most laboriously decorated apartment of the edifice.  It was no longer in the rude gaol-like keep that grew, as it were, from the living rock, on which it had been reared with so much skill as to render it difficult to ascertain where nature ceased and art commenced; but it had

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The Headsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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