The Criminal and His Executioner

The criminal was led to the chopping block. Some officials were there to watch. When placing his head on the block, the criminal took the unorthodox liberty of orienting his face toward the ceiling. That way the executioner could get right at his jugular and make it snappy. What’s more, he had a good view of his surroundings. The executioner stood over him with an unexpected timidity plain on her face. She looked awfully funny holding the big axe over him like that. She didn’t want to be killing anyone; her expression made that clear. “She’s quite a dame for an executioner,” he thought. And she was, with her sad brown eyes and her curly hair that looked like so many sine curves. So the criminal said to her, “Let me kiss you before you take off my head.” The loveliest little grin bloomed on her solemn face, and she nodded. The officials begrudgingly gave their consent. The criminal rose and embraced his executioner. She responded with a sort of wistful alacrity. After a full minute or so the two pulled apart, and the criminal said to the girl, “Well, that just about makes this all worth it.” He laid his head back on the block, and smiled at her. She smiled, too, tearfully. She really didn’t want to be killing anyone.

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