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

As to the conversation which ensued between the old nobles, we momentarily drop the curtain, to proceed to other incidents of our narrative.  It may, however, be generally observed that the day passed quietly away, without the occurrence of any event which it is necessary to relate, all in the chateau, with the exception of the travellers, being principally occupied by the approaching festivities.  The Signor Grimaldi sought an occasion to have a long and confidential communication with Sigismund, who, on his part, carefully avoided being seen again by her who had so great an influence on his feelings, until both had time to recover their self-command.

Chapter XIII.

  Hold, hurt him not, for God’s sake;—­he is mad.

  Comedy of Errors.

The festivals of Bacchus are supposed to have been the models of those long-continued festivities, which are still known in Switzerland by the name of the Abbaye des Vignerons.

This fete was originally of a simple and rustic character, being far from possessing the labored ceremonies and classical allegories of a later day, the severity of monkish discipline most probably prohibiting the introduction of allusions to the Heathen mythology, as was afterwards practised; for certain religious communities that were the proprietors of large vineyards in that vicinity appear to have been the first known patrons of the custom.  So long as a severe simplicity reigned in the festivities, they were annually observed; but, when heavier expenses and greater preparations became necessary, longer intervals succeeded; the Abbaye, at first, causing its festival to become triennial, and subsequently extending the period of vacation to six years.  As greater time was obtained for the collection of means and inclination, the festival gained in eclat, until it came at length to be a species of jubilee, to which the idle, the curious, and the observant of all the adjacent territories were accustomed to resort in crowds.  The town of Vevey profited by the circumstance, the usual motive of interest being enlisted in behalf of the usage, and, down to the epoch of the great European revolution, there would seem to have been an unbroken succession of the fetes.  The occasion to which there has so often been allusion, was one of the regular and long-expected festivals; and, as report had spoken largely of the preparations, the attendance was even more numerous than usual.

Early on the morning of the second day after the arrival of our travellers at the neighboring castle of Blonay, a body of men, dressed in the guise of halberdiers, a species of troops then known in most of the courts of Europe, marched into the great square of Vevey, taking possession of all its centre, and posting its sentries in such a manner as to interdict the usual passages of the place.  This was the preliminary step in the coming festivities; for this was the spot chosen for the scene of most of the ceremonies of the day.  The curious were not long behind the guards, and by the time the sun had fairly arisen above the hills of Fribourg, some thousands of spectators were pressing in and about the avenues of the square, and boats from the opposite shores of Savoy were arriving at each instant, crowded to the water’s edge with peasants and their families.

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