Salcede, who had betrayed us, and would have done so again, not only did not speak, but retracted on the scaffold thanks to the duchess, who, in the suite of one of these card-bearers, had the courage to penetrate the crowd even to the place of execution, and made herself known to Salcede, at the risk of being pointed out.
The minister agrees with him completely, and steps to the window to consult the sky, clouds, and sun. Presently he cries out that it would be better to postpone the execution until the following day, as the clouds, sun, or sky at the present moment are not favourable to it, and that some misfortune to the king might probably result from it.
The day was unfortunately so hot, and the sun so scorching, that many persons fainted, others returned home stricken with fever, and some even died during the night, owing to sunstroke from exposure during the three hours occupied by the execution.
Nothing could prevent the execution of this prince's severe and irrevocable sentence, and the lives of the most deserving people in the city were just going to be sacrificed, when a young man of handsome mien pressed through the crowd till he came up to the grand vizier, and after he had kissed his hand, said, "Most excellent vizier, chief of the emirs of this court, and comforter of the poor, you are not guilty of the crime for which you stand here.
Most men of high destinies have high-sounding names. Pym and Habakkuk may do pretty well, but they must not think to cope with the Cromwells and Isaiahs. And you could not find a better case in point than that of the English Admirals. Drake and Rooke and Hawke are picked names for men of execution.
The resolve made the day before was the right one. To-day she would begin its execution. Whatever might happen, she was prepared for every contingency. Ere she went to her work she granted a second audience to the Roman envoy. Timagenes exerted all his powers of eloquence, skill in persuasion, wit, and ingenuity.
He then remarked that he was unable to award the prize he had proposed to present to the author of the painting which would seem to himself and court to embody the greatest degree of excellence, inasmuch as the picture which had been decided upon as possessing the most merit, in every department of its execution, had been sent to the gallery by unknown hands, and was the work of an unknown artist.
The consent of the bishop was all that remained necessary, who not only granted it, but offered to pay the pension, permitting me to retain the secular habit till they could judge by a trial what success they might have in my improvement. What a change! but I was obliged to submit; though I went to the seminary with about the same spirits as if they had been taking me to execution.
They had both forgotten what they were inflicting on the soldiers. He stood and faced them, smiling, and the carbines shook in their hands. "I am quite ready," he said. The lieutenant stepped forward, trembling a little with excitement. He had never given the word of command for an execution before. "Ready present fire!" The Gadfly staggered a little and recovered his balance.
Execution in the streets of Singan, the capital, was her favorite mode of punishment, and great nobles and ministers died by the axe before the eyes of curious multitudes. A Richelieu in her treatment of her enemies, she displayed the ability of a Richelieu in her control of the government. Her rule was a wise one, and the dignity of the nation never suffered in her hands.