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The Headsman eBook

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

“I will go with thee to Italy,” answered Christine, looking calm and resolved, while a glow of holy hope bloomed on each cheek; “when all is over, we will go together to a happier world!”

Adelheid folded the stricken and sensitive plant to her bosom.  Again they wept together, but it was with a milder and sweeter sorrow than before.

Chapter XX.

  I’ll show thee the best springs; I’ll pluck thee berries.

  Tempest.

The day dawned clear and cloudless on the Leman, the morning that succeeded the Abbaye des Vignerons.  Hundreds among the frugal and time-saving Swiss had left the town before the appearance of the light, and many strangers were crowding into the barks, as the sun came bright and cheerfully over the rounded and smiling summits of the neighboring cotes.  At this early hour, all in and around the rock-seated castle of Blonay were astir, and in motion.  Menials were running, with hurried air, from room to room, from court to terrace and from lawn to tower.  The peasants in the adjoining fields rested on their utensils of husbandry, in gaping, admiring attention to the preparations of their superiors.  For though we are not writing of a strictly feudal age, the events it is our business to record took place long before the occurrence of those great political events, which have since so materially changed the social state of Europe.  Switzerland was then a sealed country to most of those who dwelt even in the adjoining nations, and the present advanced condition of roads and inns was quite unknown, not only to these mountaineers, but throughout the rest of what was then much more properly called the exclusively civilized portion of the globe, than it is to-day.  Even horses were not often used in the passage of the Alps, but recourse was had to the surer-footed mule by the traveller, and, not unfrequently, by the more practised carrier and smuggler of those rude paths.  Roads existed, it is true, as in other parts of Europe, in the countries of the plain, if any portion of the great undulating surface of that region deserve the name; but once within the mountains, with the exception of very inartificial wheel-tracks in the straitened and glen-like valleys, the hoof alone was to be trusted or indeed used.

The long train of travellers, then, that left the gates of Blonay just as the fog began to stir on the wide alluvial meadows of the Rhone, were all in the saddle.  A courier, accompanied by a sumpter-mule, had departed over-night to prepare the way for those who were to follow, and active young mountaineers had succeeded, from time to time, charged with different orders, issued in behalf of their comforts.

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