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Perhaps you would like to come up and see for yourself, sir, said Charles.CHAPTER VI.
"When I was in Japan the first time, I was invited to be present at an execution, and, as I had a scientific reason for being there, I accepted the invitation. As a friend and myself approached the prison we met a large crowd, and were told that the prisoner was being paraded through the streets, so that the public could see him. There was quite a procession to escort the poor fellow, and the people seemed to have very little sympathy for him, as they were doubtless hardened by the frequency of these occurrences. In front of the procession there were two men bearing large placards, like banners. One of the placards announced the name and residence of the victim, and the other the crime of which he had been convicted, together with his sentence. Close behind these men was the prisoner, tied to the horse on which he rode, and guarded by a couple of soldiers. Following him were more soldiers, and then came a couple of officers, with their attendants; for at that time every officer had a certain number of retainers, who followed him everywhere. We joined the party and went to the prison-yard, where we found the ground ready prepared for the execution. But first, according to the usual custom, the prisoner was provided with a hearty breakfast; and it was rather an astonishing circumstance that he ate it with an excellent appetite, though he complained of one dish as being unhealthy. In half an hour or so he had finished, and was led to the spot where he was to lose his head. He was required to kneel behind a small hole that had been dug to receive his head; a bandage was tied around his eyes, and as it was fastened he said 'Sayonara' to his friends and everybody present. When all was ready, the officer in command gave the signal, and the executioner, with a single blow, severed the head from the body. It fell into the hole prepared for it, and was immediately picked up and washed. Then the procession was formed again, and the[Pg 222] head was taken to a mound by the side of the road, where it was placed on a post. According to law, it was to remain there six days, as a terror to all who were disposed to do wrong. It was the first Japanese execution I ever witnessed, and my last."I have done so already. I bought the freehold of the Club not so long ago, and I have given them notice that I shall not renew their lease in the summer.
Just Norah, he said.
Margaret raised her bright blue eyes, that had been as yet hidden by the long dark lashes, and the downcast lids; but, meeting the bold fixed gaze of the baron, they were instantly withdrawn, and the deep blush of one unaccustomed to the eyes of strangers, suffused her cheek and brow, and even her neck."Then you admit knowing where he is hidden?"
"Why, that it's worth losing all those things that I may get the one big thing I want. D?an't you see that Boarzell and Odiam are worth more to me than wife or family or than you, Alice. Come to that, you've got none o' them things either, and you haven't a farm to m?ake up fur it. So even if I wur sorry fur wot I'm not sorry fur, I'm still happier than you."