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List Of Contents | Contents of Karl Ludwig Sand, by Dumas, Pere
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could not have asked a better person."

"The gentleman knew Sand, then?"

"The gentleman is the governor of the prison in which Sand was
confined."

"Indeed?"

"For nine months--that is to say, from the day he left the hospital--
this gentleman saw him every day."

"Excellent!"

"But that is not all: this gentleman was with him in the carriage
that took him to execution; this gentleman was with him on the
scaffold; there's only one portrait of Sand in all Mannheim, and this
gentleman has it."

I was devouring every word; a mental alchemist, I was opening my
crucible and finding gold in it.

"Just ask," I resumed eagerly, "whether the gentleman will allow us
to take down in writing the particulars that he can give me."

My interpreter put another question, then, turning towards me, said,
"Granted."

Mr. G---- got into the carriage with us, and instead of going on to
Heidelberg, we returned to Mannheim, and alighted at the prison.

Mr. G--- did not once depart from the ready kindness that he had
shown.  In the most obliging manner, patient over the minutest
trifles, and remembering most happily, he went over every
circumstance, putting himself at my disposal like a professional
guide.  At last, when every particular about Sand had been sucked
dry, I began to ask him about the manner in which executions were
performed.  "As to that," said he, "I can offer you an introduction
to someone at Heidelberg who can give you all the information you can
wish for upon the subject."

I accepted gratefully, and as I was taking leave of Mr. G----, after
thanking him a thousand times, he handed me the offered letter.  It
bore this superscription : "To Herr-doctor Widemann, No. III High
Street, Heidelberg."

I turned to Mr. G---- once more.

"Is he, by chance, a relation of the man who executed Sand? "I asked.

"He is his son, and was standing by when the head fell.".

"What is his calling, then?"

"The same as that of his father, whom he succeeded."

"But you call him 'doctor'?"

"Certainly; with us, executioners have that title."

"But, then, doctors of what?"

"Of surgery."

"Really?" said I.  "With us it is just the contrary; surgeons are
called executioners."

"You will find him, moreover," added Mr.  G----, "a very
distinguished young man, who, although he was very young at that
time, has retained a vivid recollection of that event.  As for his
poor father, I think he would as willingly have cut off his own right
hand as have executed Sand; but if he had refused, someone else would
have been found.  So he had to do what he was ordered to do, and he
did his best."

I thanked Mr. G----, fully resolving to make use of his letter, and
we left for Heidelberg, where we arrived at eleven in the evening.

My first visit next day was to Dr. Widernann.  It was not without
some emotion, which, moreover, I saw reflected upon, the faces of my
travelling companions, that I rang at the door of the last judge, as
the Germans call him.  An old woman opened the door to us, and
ushered us into a pretty little study, on the left of a passage and
at the foot of a staircase, where we waited while Mr. Widemann
finished dressing.  This little room was full of curiosities,
madrepores, shells, stuffed birds, and dried plants; a double-
barrelled gun, a powder-flask, and a game-bag showed that Mr.
Widemann was a hunter.

After a moment we heard his footstep, and the door opened.  Mr.
Widemann was a very handsome young man, of thirty or thirty-two, with
black whiskers entirely surrounding his manly and expressive face;
his morning dress showed a certain rural elegance.  He seemed at
first not only embarrassed but pained by our visit.  The aimless
curiosity of which he seemed to be the object was indeed odd.  I
hastened to give him Mr. G -'s letter and to tell him what reason
brought me.  Then he gradually recovered himself, and at last showed
himself no less hospitable and obliging towards us than he to whom we
owed the introduction had been, the day before.

Mr. Widemann then gathered together all his remembrances; he, too,
had retained a vivid recollection of Sand, and he told us among other
things that his father, at the risk of bringing himself into ill
odour, had asked leave to have a new scaffold made at his own
expense, so that no other criminal might be executed upon the altar
of the martyr's death.  Permission had been given, and Mr. Widemann
had used the wood of the scaffold for the doors and windows of a
little country house standing in a vineyard.  Then for three or four
years this cottage became a shrine for pilgrims; but after a time,
little by little, the crowd grew less, and at the present day, when
some of those who wiped the blood from the scaffold with their
handkerchiefs have became public functionaries, receiving salaries
from Government, only foreigners ask, now and again, to see these
strange relics.

Mr. Widemann gave me a guide; for, after hearing everything, I wanted
to see everything.  The house stands half a league away from
Heidelberg, on the left of the road to Carlsruhe, and half-way up the
mountain-side.  It is perhaps the only monument of the kind that
exists in the world.

Our readers will judge better from this anecdote than from anything
more we could say, what sort of man he was who left such a memory in
the hearts of his gaoler and his executioner.







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