The Cry of the Hangman by Susanna Calkins

The Cry of the Hangman by Susanna Calkins

Author:Susanna Calkins [Calkins, Susanna]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Severn House
Published: 2021-07-18T16:00:00+00:00


Gulping down some cold mutton and a bit of mash, Lucy waved to Master Aubrey and headed over to the Falcon. She had brought two true accounts of murder to sell, which she hoped would not take too long. As she walked the half mile to the tavern, she thought about how she would set the soap-seller’s piece later that afternoon. Master Aubrey wanted to read it over before she set it up, but she wanted to be ready if he had questions about which woodcuts and type she planned to use.

When she arrived at the tavern, it did not take her long to get started. ‘Gather round, gather round!’ she began to call. ‘Hear the true and most terrible story of a murder …’

She was still at the start of her story when a man strode up to her and ripped the account right from her hands and began to tear it up in front of her.

‘Hey!’ she exclaimed. ‘What are you doing?’

‘You should be ashamed of selling rubbish like this!’ he exclaimed. ‘These are all lies! Have you no conscience?’

Lucy stumbled back from the man’s fury, casting about the crowded street for help. Although a few merchants were watching the man from their shops and stalls, no one appeared ready to step forward to assist her, avoiding her eyes.

Then the man, who looked to be about her own age, reached down and picked her pack from the ground and held it up high. ‘More lies!’

‘Leave that be!’ She tried to grab her bag back, but he held it up, high above her reach.

He grinned down at her malevolently. ‘Why should I allow you to profit off the misery of others?’ He began to slowly turn the bag upside down over a puddle, muddy with slush.

Realizing his intent, Lucy grabbed his arm. ‘Stop! Please! This is my livelihood.’

‘What do I care about the livelihood of someone like you?’ He then dumped the bag into the puddle and stepped on it, so that it became submerged in the muddy water. ‘You call yourself truth-tellers but all you do is peddle lies! True accounts!’ he scoffed. ‘You don’t know the damage you reap!’

Lucy grabbed his arm as he started to stalk away. ‘How dare you ruin my wares? You must be accountable for the damage you have wrought!’

The man shook her off violently, so that she was knocked to the ground with some force.

At this point, the onlookers began to murmur among themselves in an uneasy way. They were not bothered by a man shouting at a young woman, but to see her assaulted by a stranger was another thing altogether.

A burly man set down a crate he’d been carrying and stood in front of him. ‘How about you leave the lass alone?’

‘Stay out of it,’ her abuser replied, squaring his shoulders.

A large matronly-looking woman came to stand beside the man. ‘We came to hear a good story. No need to stop the lass when she’s just trying to make a living.


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