Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth George Alfred Townsend

Letter IX: The Executions

Page 3 of 9

Table Of Contents: The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

It was a long waiting, and the roof of a high house outside the walls was seen to be densely packed with people. Others kept arriving moment by moment; soldiers were wondering when the swinging would begin and officers arguing that the four folks "deserved it, damn them!" Gentlemen of experience were telling over the number of such expiations they had witnessed. Analytic people were comparing the various modes of shooting, garroting, and guillotining. Cigars were sending up spirals of soothing smoke. There was a good deal of covert fear that a reprieve might be granted. Inquires were many and ingenuous for whisky, and one or two were so deeply expectant that they fell asleep.

How much those four dying, hoping, cringing, dreaming felons were grudged their little gasp of life! It was to be a scene, not a postponement or a prolongation. "Who was to be the executioner?" "Why had not the renowned and artistic Isaacs been sent for from New York?" "Would they probably die game, or grow weak-kneed in the last extremity?" Ah, the gallows' workmen have completed the job! "Now then we should have it."

Still there was delay. The sun peeped into the new-made graves and made blistering hot the gallows' floor. The old pump made its familiar music to the cool plash of blessed water. The grass withered in the fervid heat. The bronzed faces of the soldiers ran lumps of sweat. The file upon the jail walls looked down into the wide yard yawningly. No wind fluttered the two battle standards condemned to unfold their trophies upon this coming profanation. Not yet arrived. Why? The extent of grace has almost been attained. The sentence gave them only till two o'clock! Why are they so dilatory in wishing to be hanged?

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

Suddenly the wicket opens, the troops spring to their feet, and stand at order arms, the flags go up, the low order passes from company to company; the spectators huddle a little nearer to the scaffold; all the writers for the press produce their pencils and note-books.

First came a woman pinioned.

A middle-aged woman, dressed in black, bonnetted and veiled, walking between two bare-headed priests.

One of these held against his breast a crucifix of jet, and in the folds of his blue-fringed sash he carried an open breviary, while both of them muttered the service for the dead.

Four soldiers with musket at shoulder, followed, and a captain led the way to the gallows.

The second party escorted a small and shambling German, whose head had a long white cap upon it, rendering more filthy his dull complexion, and upon whose feet the chains clanked as he slowly advanced, preceded by two officers, flanked by a Lutheran clergyman, and followed, as his predecessor, by an armed squad.

The third, preacher and party, clustered about a shabby boy, whose limbs tottered as he progressed.

The fourth, walked in the shadow of a straight high stature, whose tawny hair and large blue eye were suggestive rather of the barbarian striding in his conqueror's triumph, than the assassin going to the gallows.

Page 3 of 9 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth
George Alfred Townsend

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2002