The Headsman eBook

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

At length the black mass of the cotes of Vaud took more distinct and regular forms.  Here and there, a tower or a tree betrayed its outlines against the sky, and then the objects on the margin of the lake began to stand out in gloomy relief from the land.  Lights flared along the strand, and cries reached them, from the shore.  A dark shapeless pile stood directly athwart their watery path, and, at the next moment, it took the aspect of a ruined castle-like edifice.  The canvass flapped and was handed, the Winkelried rose and set more slowly and with a gentler movement, and glided into the little, secure, artificial haven of La Tour de Peil.  A forest of latine yards and low masts lay before them, but, by giving the bark a rank sheer, Maso brought her to her berth, by the side of another lake craft, with a gentleness of collision that, as the mariners have it, would not have broken an egg.

A hundred voices greeted the travellers; for their approach had been seen and watched with intense anxiety.  Fifty eager Vevaisans poured upon her deck, in a noisy crowd, the instant it was possible.  Among others, a dark shaggy object bounded foremost.  It leaped wildly forward, and Maso found himself in the embraces of Nettuno.  A little later, when delight and a more tempered feeling permitted examination, a lock of human hair was discovered entangled in the teeth of the dog, and the following week the bodies of Baptiste and the peasant of Berne were found still clenched in the desperate death-gripe, washed upon the shores of Vaud.

Chapter VIII.

  The moon is up; by Heaven a lovely eve! 
  Long streams of light, o’er glancing waves expand,
  Now lads on shore may sigh and maids believe: 
  Such be our fate when we return to land!

  Byron.

The approach of the Winkelried had been seen from Vevey throughout the afternoon and evening.  The arrival of the Baron de Willading and his daughter was expected by many in the town, the rank and influence of the former in the great canton rendering him an object of interest to more than those who felt affection for his person and respect for his upright qualities.  Roger de Blonay had not been his only youthful friend, for the place contained another, with whom he was intimate by habit, if not from a community of those principles which are the best cement of friendships.

The officer charged with the especial supervision of the districts or circles, into which Berne had caused its dependent territory of Vaud to be divided, was termed a bailli, a title that our word bailiff will scarcely render, except as it may strictly mean a substitute for the exercise of authority that is the property of another, but which, for the want of a better term, we may be compelled occasionally to use.  The bailli, or bailiff, of Vevey was Peter Hofmeister, a member of one of those families of the buergerschaft, or the municipal aristocracy of the

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The Headsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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