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The Headswoman   By: (1859-1932)

Book cover

First Page:

The Headswoman

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE GOLDEN AGE DREAM DAYS PAGAN PAPERS

THE BODLEY HEAD

[Frontispiece: "Now that we have been properly introduced allow me to apologise"]

THE HEADSWOMAN

By Kenneth Grahame

With Illustrations in Colour and Woodcuts by

Marcia Lane Foster

[Decoration]

LONDON John Lane The Bodley Head Limited New York John Lane Company

First Published 1898 Illustrated Edition 1921

Printed In Great Britain by R. Clay & Sons, Ltd., Bungay, Suffolk.

List of Illustrations

"Now That we have been properly introduced allow me to apologise" Frontispiece

Facing page "You see I am Familiar with the Routine.... Good morning, Gentlemen!" 8

"Au revoir, Sir! If you should happen to be in the Market place any Morning" 28

Endeavouring to convey the Tardy Prisoner to the Scaffold 32

"Nay, pardon me, Sweet One, 'twas but a Jest of Mine" 36

But at this point a Hubbub arose at the Foot of the Scaffold 42

"Now, mark my Words, you Miserable Little Bladder o' Lard, see if I don't take this out of your Skin presently" 44

An Invitation arrived, backed by an Escort of Half a dozen very Tall Archers 46

The Headswoman

[Illustration]

I

It was a bland, sunny morning of a mediæval May, an old style May of the most typical quality; and the Council of the little town of St. Radegonde were assembled, as was their wont at that hour, in the picturesque upper chamber of the Hôtel de Ville, for the dispatch of the usual municipal business. Though the date was early sixteenth century, the members of this particular town council possessed considerable resemblance to those of similar assemblies in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and even the nineteenth centuries, in a general absence of any characteristic at all unless a pervading hopeless insignificance can be considered as such. All the character in the room, indeed, seemed to be concentrated in the girl who stood before the table, erect, yet at her ease, facing the members in general and Mr. Mayor in particular; a delicate handed, handsome girl of some eighteen summers, whose tall, supple figure was well set off by the quiet, though tasteful mourning in which she was clad.

"Well, gentlemen," the Mayor was saying, "this little business appears to be er quite in order, and it only remains for me to er review the facts. You are aware that the town has lately had the misfortune to lose its executioner, a gentleman who, I may say, performed the duties of his office with neatness and dispatch, and gave the fullest satisfaction to all with whom he er came in contact. But the Council has already, in a vote of condolence, expressed its sense of the er striking qualities of the deceased. You are doubtless also aware that the office is hereditary, being secured to a particular family in this town, so long as any one of its members is ready and willing to take it up. The deed lies before me, and appears to be er quite in order. It is true that on this occasion the Council might have been called upon to consider and examine the title of the claimant, the late lamented official having only left a daughter, she who now stands before you; but I am happy to say that Jeanne the young lady in question with what I am bound to call great good feeling on her part, has saved us all trouble in that respect, by formally applying for the family post, with all its er duties, privileges, and emoluments; and her application appears to be er quite in order. There is, therefore, under the circumstances, nothing left for us to do but to declare the said applicant duly elected... Continue reading book >>




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