The Headsman eBook

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

Adelheid saw, by the cold perspiration that stood on the brow of Sigismund, how intensely he suffered, and she sought an immediate occasion to lead his thoughts to a less disturbing subject.  With the readiness of her sex, and with the sensitiveness and delicacy of a woman that sincerely loved, she found means to effect the charitable purpose, without again alarming his pride.  She succeeded so far in calming his feelings, that, when they rejoined their companions, the manner of the young man had entirely regained the quiet and proud composure in which he appeared to take refuge against the consciousness of the blot that darkened his hopes, frequently rendering life itself a burthen nearly too heavy to be borne.

Chapter XVI.

  —­Come apace, good Audrey, I will fetch
  Up your goats, Audrey:  and how, Audrey? am
  I the man yet?  Doth my simple features content
  You.

  As You Like It.

While the mummeries related were exhibiting in the great square, Maso, Pippo, Conrad, and the others concerned in the little disturbance connected with the affair of the dog, were eating their discontent within the walls of the guard-house.  Vevey has several squares, and the various ceremonies of the gods and demigods were now to be repeated in the smaller areas.  On one of the latter stands the town-house and prison.  The offenders in question had been summarily transferred to the gaol, in obedience to the command of the officer charged with preserving the peace.  By an act of grace, however, that properly belonged to the day, as well as to the character of the offence, the prisoners were permitted to occupy a part of the edifice that commanded a view of the square, and consequently were not precluded from all participation in the joyousness of the festivities.  This indulgence had been accorded on the condition that the parties should cease their wrangling, and otherwise conduct themselves in a way not to bring scandal on the exhibition in which the pride of every Vevaisan was so deeply enlisted.  All the captives, the innocent as well as the guilty, gladly subscribed to the terms; for they found themselves in a temporary duresse which did not admit of any fair argument of the merits of the case, and there is no leveller so effectual as a common misfortune.

The anger of Maso, though sudden and violent, the effect of a hot temperament, had quickly subsided in a calm which more probably belonged to his education and opinions, in all of which he was much superior to his profligate antagonist.  Contempt, therefore, soon took the place of resentment; and though too much accustomed to rude contact with men of the pilgrim’s class to be ashamed of what had occurred, the manner strove to forget the occurrence.  It was one of those moral disturbances to which he was scarcely less used than he was accustomed to encounter physical contests of the elements like that in which he had lately rendered so essential service on the Leman.

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The Headsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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