The Headsman eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 470 pages of information about The Headsman.
a few travellers from England, for in that age England was deemed a distant country and sent forth but a few of her elite to represent her on such occasions, most of those from the adjoining territories who could afford the time and cost, and who by rank or character were entitled to the distinction, and the wives and families of the local officers who happened to be engaged as actors in the representation.  By the time the different parts of the principal procession were assembled in the square, all the seats of the estrade were crowded, with the exception of those reserved for the bailiff and his immediate friends.

Chapter XIV.

  So once were ranged the sons of ancient Rome,
  A noble show!  While Roscius trod the stage.

  Cowper.

The day was not yet far advanced, when all the component parts of the grand procession had arrived in the square.  Shortly after, a flourish of clarions gave notice of the approach of the authorities.  First came the bailiff, filled with the dignity of station, and watching, with a vigilant but covert eye, every indication of feeling that might prove of interest to his employers, even while he most affected sympathy with the occasion and self-abandonment to the follies of the hour; for Peter Hofmeister owed his long-established favor with the buergerschaft more to a never-slumbering regard to its exclusive interests and its undivided supremacy, than to any particular skill in the art of rendering men comfortable and happy.  Next to the worthy bailiff, for apart from an indomitable resolution to maintain the authority of his masters, for good or for evil, the Herr Hofmeister merited the appellation of a worthy man, came Roger de Blonay and his guest the Baron de Willading, marching, pari passu, at the side of the representative of Berne himself.  There might have been some question how far the bailiff was satisfied with this arrangement of the difficult point of etiquette, for he issued from his own gate with a sort of side-long movement that kept him nearly confronted to the Signor Grimaldi, though it left him the means of choosing his path and of observing the aspect of things in the crowd.  At any rate, the Genoese, though apparently occupying a secondary station, had no grounds to complain of indifference to his presence.  Most of the observances and not a few of the sallies of honest Peter, who had some local reputation as a joker and a bel esprit, as is apt to be the case with your municipal magistrate, more especially when he holds his authority independently of the community with whom he associates, and perhaps as little likely to be the fact when he depends on popular favor for his rank, were addressed to the Signor Grimaldi.  Most of these good things were returned in kind, the Genoese meeting the courtesies like a man accustomed to be the object of peculiar attentions, and possibly like one who rather rioted in the impunity from ceremonies and public observation, that he now happened to enjoy.  Adelheid, with a maiden of the house of Blonay, closed the little train.

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The Headsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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