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The Headswoman
     

The Headswoman

by Kenneth Grahame
 

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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

Overview

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. I would wish, however, before
I--er--sit down, to make it quite clear to the--er--fair petitioner,
that if a laudable desire to save the Council trouble in the matter has
led her to a--er--hasty conclusion, it is quite open to her to
reconsider her position. Should she determine not to press her claim,
the succession to the post would then apparently devolve upon her cousin
Enguerrand, well known to you all as a practising advocate in the courts
of this town. Though the youth has not, I admit, up to now proved a
conspicuous success in the profession he has chosen, still there is no
reason why a bad lawyer should not make an excellent executioner; and in
view of the close friendship--may I even say attachment?--existing
between the cousins, it is possible that this young lady may, in due
course, practically enjoy the solid emoluments of the position without
the necessity of discharging its (to some girls) uncongenial duties. And
so, though not the rose herself, she would still be--er--near the rose!"
And the Mayor resumed his seat, chuckling over his little pleasantry,
which the keener wits of the Council proceeded to explain at length to
the more obtuse.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013475731
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
11/30/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
25 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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