Tuesday, 25 October 2011

13 Days of Halloween: Excerpt from Day of Revenge

Excerpt from Day of Revenge 

by Deanna Proach

In the center of the city square, between the tall buildings and the Seine River stands the guillotine. Its wooden scaffold is tall—more than three feet higher than Henri’s head. A set of stairs lead up to the scaffold. Perpendicular to the base of the tall frame lays a six foot long plank where the condemned are forced to lay. Two sets of leather belts, attached to either side of the low plank, are used to tie them down to prevent them from escaping. A large basket stands on the opposite side of the platform to catch the heads when they fall. The basket and the scaffold surrounding the frame is painted red with the victims’ blood, and the large bloodstain on the triangular blade is a gruesome symbol of revolutionary justice.
The guillotine’s frame and heavy blade is visible to all. Any person looking out of his or her fourth-story apartment within the surrounding area can easily see the blade rise and fall each day.
Henri seethes when he sees a group of women set up wooden chairs around the guillotine’s scaffold. Well, Citoyen Robespierre is preparing for another mass murder and those old bitches can’t wait to see that cursed instrument be put to use.

I wonder what it would be like to be inside a revolutionary tribunal in France at that time...

The large chamber is filled with people to the point where no empty seat is to be found. Most of the people are Jacobin members; but a small number of peasants, tradesmen, merchants, and even priests, who had renounced their Catholic faith, are present. The wives of Jacobin members are the only women permitted to sit in the hearing of the trials. All of these women express their denunciations of the accused by spitting on them and shouting “Off with their heads.” One woman even carries a miniature guillotine and shows it to her group of friends. She rises and drops the tiny blade while laughing and mocking the imminent fate of the accused. “May the traitors burn in hell forever,” she shouts over and over again. Wooden guillotine earrings dangle from a number of the women’s ears.

All of the Jacobin members are clad in the revolutionary uniform—the men in blue and red carmagnole coats, plain white cotton or flannel shirts, and red and white striped slacks. All are wearing the familiar red night cap. The non-Jacobin members are clad in plain off-white flannel shirts, brown or beige trousers and frayed cotton stockings. These people, including the women, all wear a fist-sized blue, white and red cockade attached to their shirt or dress bodice. A large tri-colored ribbon extends across the entire tribunal, hung from the marble pillars on either side of the room which separates the audience from the judges and the condemned. The same ribbons also adorn the pulpit of the chief revolutionary judge Antoine-Quentin Fouquier-Tinville. Beside him on the left hand side sits Robespierre, while Robespierre’s most powerful colleagues, Citoyens Camille Desmoulins, Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette, Georges Danton, Georges Couthon and Louis de Saint-Just are seated beside the pulpit.

The large room is quite dark as it has narrow, medium sized windows situated close to the ceiling. The thick dust on the windows acts as a barrier to the daylight and since they are always closed, no fresh air enters the room to clear it of its musty smell. It is no wonder why many victims stutter or faint when they are seated before the cold and malicious Fouquier-Tinville. The loud jeers of the spectators also make the atmosphere of the tribunal room very hostile and terrifying even to the most confident and head-strong victims.

Visit Deanna Proach's at http://desstories.blogspot.com/ and http://www.deannaproach.com/.


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