Mr Merridawn’s Hum

It was strange to many in Little Costerbane that Mr. Merridawn—who only came to town once in every several years—could make his clients now and then smile on the occasion of his involving them in his sad labors. Mr. Merridawn was the hangman of the county assizes, and many other counties as well, thus making him a busy and prosperous man. Wearing a very large tricorne hat and a great black coat at all times, he was easily distinguished, but impossible to see, and thus, to know. Few would have made the effort anyway. As soon as he meets you, the hangman is soon solitary again. He is no man’s friend.

Pale and thick bodied, Mr. Merridawn sported long, reddish-brown hair that came well below his shoulders. What’s more, he wore a most voluptuous full beard that covered most of his remaining face like moss on a gravestone. His eyebrows bristled forth like thorns of a hedgerow. He was seen only to read the Book of Common Prayer and the King James, and thus was warranted a man of sound purpose and intellect.

A thrifty man, Mr. Merridawn would stay at Old Jack’s Hostelry where he kept his wagon, the many tools of his grim trade and put up his horses. These digs were much cheaper than the inn, or even the alehouse nearby. Though he never said as much, he clearly deemed them more suited to his station and calling. The polite folk of the town took that not amiss. Old Jack himself was a parsimonious sort who often said, “What you can’t see don’t matter, given how little most things matter when you can see ’em.” Hence few candles were put out of an evening. Those that were lit were made of tallow and stank horribly. The patrons were grateful that none were replaced once burnt. There by Old Jack’s hearth, in the light of a few candles, he would drink his strong beer, hum to himself, and chat of an evening with any man who dared chat back.

Late bibbers were reduced to firelight, but that was quite enough to see Mr. Merridawn’s coiled companion. Thirty feet of the finest half-inch hemp rope nested by him and never left his side. He oiled and worked it, tied and retied it, until the line—wrapped thirteen times about itself—slipped smoothly and without a hitch or tangle. He was a gifted expert like none other at his trade, however ironically anonymous he was as a man.

Within hours of Merridawn’s arrival in Little Costerbane, a carriage stopped at the town’s inn, as it always did during his dour visits. From it stepped a lone, veiled young woman in the black weeds of mourning. She would glide with the dignity of the grave to the inn’s finest room, and sequester herself until the day of public retribution, when her father went to work. She was Miranda, Mr. Merridawn’s daughter. She lifted her veil only to those few female servants permitted to be near her. At such moments, she disclosed the loveliest, palest, and sweetest face a virgin maid could offer. When the town turned out for the hangman’s entertainments, she too would slip quietly in mufti from her aerie.

Miranda was soft-spoken and tenderhearted. She yearned always for a pet, but she would not scruple to allow a little dog or cat to suffer the rigors of travel at her side while she followed her father over the land from gibbet to gibbet. Wherever she went, her kindness and beauty were such that young men and women yearned to be near her and serve her. She indulged them now and then in this passion with light conversation, but her true heart was elsewhere. A more steadfast love held Miranda, and that was to practice the hanging arts. She was drawn to men of the law whether they were bailiff or judge, petty criminal or felon. Then too, she loved men of all sorts with a discreet, but burning fascination that had nothing to do with jurisprudence.

Miranda loved men, for the most part, in the purest Christian sense with no taint of lascivious appetite, and she was careful to tell herself that almost daily. She would gaze at men all day long in pensive wonder. Some, however, she knew she secretly loved in ways that plucked at the buds of her bosom, and the tiny swelling between her thighs. She would think constantly of the eyes of younger men, now sparkling and now thoughtful. She compared their noses from long patrician slopes to upturned vales of impudence. She studied the shorn locks of farm lads at the dock, noting their sun-touched curls, as they were lead away for birching or flogging. Their broad backs and sturdy, rounded buttocks—encased in snug leather breeches—forever made her want to test their strength. She wept for them sincerely as they wept heartily under her father’s lash. Most of all, however, she pondered their penises. Far from ashamed of her feelings, she took this to be her secret vocation.

Until her majority, she had never touched a penis or seen one close enough to truly inspect its dimensions and contours. She would have liked to measure them, testing them, both erect and still, to see how they might differ or accord. She could see that penises were forever wrestling for freedom from the front of their young masters’ trousers, and clamored especially when such young men gazed and smiled at her. The penises of older men showed interest, but with more calm reserve. Those bouncing forth from the front of boys popped up and down with no rhyme or reason at all. She could readily imagine the shape of a penis rising swiftly in pursuit of its natural target. She felt certain she possessed fine and dainty ways to raise any sort of penis, if only by teasing their masters. In so doing she was sure that they should plainly be distracted from all concerns including their own safety. As she drifted off to sleep, penises in long rows would nightly dance across her thoughts like sheep. Her fingers often found ways to enhance these stiffening fantasies and thus, she was no stranger to her own body’s fragrant tastes and yearnings. What’s more she could fulfill them. Such is the burden of the father of a clever girl.

In her reveries, the flat bellies and deep chests of rustic men seemed a natural bed where she might rest herself in warm delight. Sadly, however, she never got to test her skill because those men who she found most appealing were forever swinging in her father’s noose before she could dally with their hanging parts. She was most drawn to young and handsome felons. She felt a naughty kinship with them, cut off as she was in the prime of her appetites as they were in the prime of their lives. Most of all, she hated the thought that they should suffer one second longer than the majesty of England’s law demanded. To be hanged until dead, in her view, was enough discomfort for any man, especially a pretty one. It should be shortly done.

She longed to hang these men well and kindly—in the way of her father—so that they might suffer no more than necessary. As a wee girl in London when her father was still an apprentice, she had watched bread-stealing street urchins and near starved whores hanged at Tyburn Hill. Often the executioner’s weight had to be added by gripping their feet to help them swing with more finality. It was an unskillful business for often the head departed from the body leaving the corpse and hangman to fall in the reeking muck below. Other days were devoted to horrid tricks like splitting noses and branding wrongdoers. Such sights and screams of agony broke her little heart. She foreswore herself to the virtuous, though difficult, ideal of perfection.

Of Merridawn himself, those who met his gaze would mutter, “He’s more in the company of death than life, let him keep the company of the shroud about him.” Those unseeing souls who saw him thus could not, or would not, look beyond him to the slender dark shadow of his daughter, our sweet Miranda. It was perhaps just as well, for she was got out of wedlock with a laundress who proved over fond of opium until her deathly lapse into the chilly Thames. It is assumed she was carried out with the tide along with the day’s other refuse.

Thus Mr. Merridawn determined that he and his daughter should ride the county circuits in the wake of the assizes to do their punitive chores. For if father and daughter had no home, at least their temporary dwellings bore not the rotting stink of London’s prisons. She was the object of his total care and adoration, and his every effort was devoted to her pleasure and satisfaction. She in turn, showed strict obedience. That might have made for a stunted nature in a lesser woman, but Miranda was possessed of a fine and active mind for which rebellion was unnecessary. She did not repulse confinement; she simply found ways to do exactly as she wished. Merridawn had no sons nor would he ever, being now of too great an age, he felt, to take a wife. He would thus be the last Merridawn to hang.

His daughter’s girlish tragedy need hardly be stated. No woman in England then or now, could hold the scabrous post of hangman. What would such a woman be called, “hangwoman,” a word absurdly far too long? Hangstresse then? Any judge would think such a merciless task unbefitting for the mothering heart of a woman. But Miranda had one aspect now and then seen in womenfolk. She was stubborn as well as clever. It was that silent, stone-hard, and unendingly persistent stubbornness that only females can muster. She did not beg but fumed like well-dried peat. Her father, who loved her beyond his own salvation, relented and allowed her to become his secret apprentice to assuage her, knowing all the while she could never practice the trade. Discretion, timing, and a measure of disguise along with some sleight of hand, made this study surprisingly easy.

Our modern hangmen are in some sense stage magicians. In cruder days, the object was to watch the penitent gag, wretch and twitch his last at rope’s end. It was thought instruction from the damned, but as time went on the crimes for hanging increased in number many times over. The crowds grew restless as they looked upon the jigging sufferers.

Science came to the aid of justice and so the draped scaffold with its ‘long drop’ hid all. Like the rabbit fetched forth by magic from the hat, the hangman pulled a lever and made the miscreant disappear. All that remained was silence, save for the creaking of the rope upon the gibbet’s beam. Mr. Merridawn always wrapped the shroud himself after taking down the corpse to check his work. So the shroud was indeed his close companion and, though no one knew it, he had family there—his daughter—to witness his success.

And why should this worthy man not be at home by the shroud? He was born to it. His father had been a hangman before him in the West Country. His father’s father had hanged many low fellows and even a few fat merchants in the area near Dover. His family, due to an understandable lack of popularity, moved about a great deal, but they were faithful to the hangman’s trade even when in harsher times the work was meaner. They shouldered nasty tasks like maiming, branding or splitting tongues and noses. What’s more, back when the Roundheads and the Royals were at each other, the demand had been quite ceaseless.

They felt it was their destiny to hang. Indeed it might have been, for it was secretly believed that Clodrose Merridawn had been one of the two masked, wigged, and costumed hangmen who had clean struck off the head of Charles Stuart at White Hall Palace in 1649. It had been, after all, a top-notch job.

Mr. Merridawn never let on to anyone that his first name was Prospero, save his daughter, for he thought it too flighty a name for a hangman. The name was a drunken fancy of his father who liked the theatre. Miranda thought it very grand though and often called him Wizard, when she wished, like any impish girl, to get her father’s goat.

Otherwise, she attentively scoured the iron spikes and washed the baskets of the sticky residue that would harden and smell unpleasant if it was not quickly scrubbed off. She saw to it that the braziers were filled with hot coals and then emptied before they were put into his caravan, and she made sure all the blades were sharp and that there was a sufficiency of fagots to light the sundry fires and tubs of pitch.

Her greatest pleasure was ensuring that all of the strands of the various whips, especially the cats, were neatly untangled, oiled and polished so that the lead balls fastened at intervals along each strand glittered smartly at least for the start of each flogging. She was not a cruel girl, and saw the law as the savior of order and peace. That was so in her eyes because the terrible fate of those who were caught in the law’s vengeance, served to warn others to stay clear of its leonine jaws and claws.

She did, however, have a deep weakness for hanging owing to the fact that it so often befell the youngest and prettiest of men who were nimble enough to try—but not to succeed—at poaching, robbing the high roads, and sheep stealing. She would comfort them in the night by singing to them softly before they dropped away from the light at dawn. On more than one occasion she had noticed that despite all the unattractive results of hanging, many of these men were taken down with their cocks still hotly erect and they had clearly ejaculated at their final moment. This was for her a new discovery, and something to consider when thinking of a stiff prick.

Ever since she had reached her majority, she had been fascinated by this awesome tribute to love, that young and strapping men should in the instant of their passing, not think of salvation, but rather of the flesh. She was unaware that their ardor was involuntary, and so thought it a serious matter that showed either their courage or the peril of their souls, or both. As she lay in her bed night after night, her hands would glide over her body as she thought about these things, her fingers finally settling in such places producing more direct and verdant pleasures, made evermore manifest as she thought about those handsome bodies in demise. And so it was with the heaviest of hearts that Miranda Merridawn had returned to Little Costerbane on the news that the assizes had left work again for the hangman. The convicted was a man of perhaps two and twenty years, and thus but a year or two older than she. She went to the jail, unable to make herself do otherwise, and asked boldly to see him. She was instantly refused, in the name of decency, despite the claim that she had come to measure his height and ask his weight as a service to her father, since she said, “He is down by gout.” This was an outrageous and childish lie. She was rebuked and told she deserved an appointment with the birch rod. This was a sentence she knew her father would rather die than carry out, but her appetite was great to see the tall young man, and the turnkey’s refusal only served to make it greater.

So with the help of a chambermaid at the inn she contrived to dress herself in rags that the maid brought from the back of a common peasant girl. Once thoroughly washed and draped in a cunning way, even the rags acquired a certain charm on the person of Miranda Merridawn. They revealed just enough of her golden hair, the swell of her young body and gave center place to the wonder of her large blue-violet eyes. Even so, she could pass through the market town streets attracting no more notice than any blood and dung spattered farm girl.

After a stop at the herbalist, she bought meat, fresh bread and a small, warm pudding along with two large drafts of strong beer. These she took for the condemned man’s dinner, for he was to hang upon the morrow at the usual hour of dawn. The squire of Little Costerbane set great store by hanging, and so it was the assize’s first resort as punishment when they passed judgments. The judges knew that a contented gentry makes for a long and peaceful tenure on the bench.

She found the young man of her desires in the darkest cell of the jail. He was not in good fettle and he stank. He had been left there for a week or two and was now in need of bathing. Plus he had been fed the usual offal boiled in swill that jailers give out as it saves money that can fatten their own dinners with sausages and cheese.

Miranda was possessed of great charm, and now seeming a mere peasant slag, she could, in the name of Christian charity, persuade the turnkey to let the young man out of the jail in her charge as her brother to make his peace with God. The turnkey, fairly drunk already, downed one of her drafts of strong beer. The lad was freed on Miranda’s solemn promise that she would return him by dawn to face the hangman. The turnkey smiled warmly, and fell face forward to the floor, as was his wont at that late hour of the day. Miranda had learned at her father’s side that a mean man may well be stupid but that a stupid man need not be mean. She wisely took the turnkey for the latter and concluded that, in the unlikely event he awoke before dawn, he would not raise the alarm. Otherwise she would have bashed his skull with his beer tankard to guarantee his silence.

The young man was a stranger to the town and so he caused no stir in his sorry attire when led away by what appeared to be his peasant wife. He stank no more than a peasant on the road. They repaired to a barn on a farm that was the family digs of the inn’s chambermaid. Once inside, they were served by the silver moonlight that poured in through the open door. No other light was needed on that warm and pleasant night.

Such was Miranda’s charm that the country maid had agreed to this trespass even though its discovery would at the very least lead to being stripped and whipped raw by her father, and perhaps worse if this criminal harboring of felons was discovered by the bailiff. But Miranda’s great blue eyes and gentle touch were not to be denied. Once nestled in the barn, she stripped her convict, fed him, bathed his every inch, and carefully shaved him by moonlight. She had expected him to be terribly thin, but instead she found he was a man of great muscular beauty and strength if a bit poor due to prison fare.

To her utter delight, she had a sterling penis to herself for close inspection and he was happy to oblige. How sweetly did her fingers glide along the velvet sides. How interesting were the fat and throbbing veins that wrapped about the silky shaft. How thick and fragrant was the plump mushroom that capped the feast before her eyes. She touched; she licked a little, nuzzled here and there, brushed it with all sorts of touches and watched it bounce in varying replies. Slowly she came to see that cocks were independent souls, much like herself, and with this one she took delight in thinking she found a like-minded friend of some considerable standing.

She turned him round and pressing her tiny hands upon his cheeks she spread him wide for her to see. There within was the dark little star much like her own, but bigger. This she pressed and wheedled with her finger and soon discovered that the cock rose in acknowledgement of her attentions. This new surprise was quite amazing to her. She probed the hole while she stroked his cock until the young man seemed close to fainting at her touch.

He hardly spoke in his amazement at his fortune in finding this beautiful woman tending every single inch of his body to make it clean and quite perked enough to dance. At last, when she was satisfied, he lifted her chin on his own initiative, and slowly pressed his lips to hers. They yielded with a happy acquiescence that neither lover could deny. But yet it was not so easy for them to part. It was as though some flow of power from his mouth to hers had welded them together. A more objective eye would have remarked that in truth, she could not move with his arms fully wrapped and closed around her. She broke free, however, and was soon shed of her clothes. In the light from the loft they fell to playing in the straw. They rolled and kissed, tickled and scratched, probed and fiddled, as lovers will. They found their voices in sighs and giggles, and just as soon lost all capacity for words for their mouths seemed always full of some delicious part of each other.

He took her wrists in one of his large hands and held her still as he kissed and kissed every inch of her, worshipping her as his prisoner. The fragrances of her body—now tangy, now buttery and sweet—mixed with the scent of the straw and the beasts in their stalls. Her fingers beat a light, brisk tattoo upon his nipples, which she then kissed and tweaked while letting her hands wander over his body through its soft and sparse blonde hair. When she came once more to his root, clustered all round with its own furry hedgerow, her advance slowed. She let her nails trace lines along his belly slipping this way and then lashing down harder in that direction until he winced.

“I see,” she said with satisfaction as though making note of some scientific revelation.

Then she ambled along the bones of his hips and down his thighs until she worked her way between his knees in a harmless investigation of their bony hardness. All the while, her nipple had come to rest just at the head of his cock where the cleft in the mushroom cap closed at the back just below the tip. She could see its livid color growing deeper, even to a deep violet, but better still; she could feel its hot pulsation against her breast. He seemed, in the turmoil this aroused, unable to relent or rebel against her attentions. She found that to her liking.

Thus fired, the man seized her and pressed his hot member to penetrate her at once, but she held it firmly squeezing it hard in her little hand at the soft entry to her cunt.

“No, not yet,” she said, “I want to look at it and taste it.”

What young adventurer of substantial parts could deny this simple and flattering request? He lay back in the hay, carefully removing any rudely intrusive strands of straw, and settled himself with his legs wide apart. She rose and let the rest of her clothing fall away. Free now to move, she knelt between his legs and first slipped her fingers under his balls. These she raised as high as they would go, stretching the skin on them until he moaned softly. She allowed her nails to graze the surface of the skin as she slowly released it. Then she cupped his balls in her little hand and was delighted to see that her palm was hardly large enough to contain them. She gently massaged them until his cock began to bounce in a clear demand for more immediate attention.

This she provided by running her tongue slowly up its underside and down again until she let its firm tip burrow in the recess were his cock met his balls. His reaction was most satisfactory in that he arched his back and thrust his hips upward in a silent plea for more. Instead she found this a fine chance to cup the roundness of his bottom in her two hands and test its springy resilience, which was, in fact, quite excellent.

By sheer instinct she decided next to throw her leg over his face and settle her cunt on his mouth. It proved the right decision. His tongue dove and lapped in the moist sea of her pussy, reveling like a sea serpent as she wiggled her rump down firmly onto his face. His view was now entirely consumed by the perfect cleft of her bottom and it was a vista of pure delight to him. His senses filled with the warm, wet taste and smell of her body. Soon she was bucking and clamping her thighs to press herself more tightly down onto his mouth.

To her surprise, his hands reached up to pinch her nipples. A sharp but exquisite pain raced from them to her cunt until she could not help but grind her sopping pussy into his face with all her might until she squealed and bucked even harder at the pleasures of his mouth. He came like a bull let out to pasture for the first time since winter.

She collapsed in a dreamy fog only to find herself facing his cock once again. This she took into her mouth at once and commenced a fevered sucking as she drove her head up and down so that the head of it nearly went down her throat. Dissatisfied with this, she wheeled around and screwed herself furiously down onto the shaft of his fat, smooth cock. Some young ladies know how to do these things by instinct. She had mastered the idea through a combination of pleasuring herself and studying the lie of stiff cocks pressing against the pants that enclosed them.

What’s more she was no longer a virgin as one might guess. Instead, she had been deflowered during a midnight tryst with a cucumber in a warm bath. She had accounted it no great loss and now found it a positive sign of good fortune.

She now fucked the young felon until at last an herbal draft that she had slipped into his ale took hold of him. He fell into a heavy torpor at which point the sullen chambermaid appeared as instructed in the barn. She and Miranda placed the young man in a dogcart, and hauled him back to his cell past the jailer who was still recumbent in his cups on the floor.

Shortly before dawn the young man awoke to find Mr. Merridawn seated across from him in his cell. He was for once not carrying his rope, as that now swung from the gallows outside, which was soon to find employment. Mr. Merridawn smiled and hummed, saying nothing. The young man made to rise but he was still somewhat affected by the night’s amusements and in any case the parson, the bailiff and his two local louts arrived before any conversation could begin.

In this passive state, the young man was lead to the scaffold. There he was placed on the trap and after a few brief words from the local squire on the majesty of the law, felt the noose placed around his neck.

Mr. Merridawn paused in his hum to lean close to the young man’s ear and whisper, “I won’t use the hood, Son. For you’ve nothing to fear. My daughter’s waiting for you below.” Thinking this some hope of salvation, the young man smiled. Then the hangman took up his hum once again, stepped back to the lever and satisfied that all was in order, pulled it.

From below Miranda looked up into the rising light of day to see her lover as he plummeted to his death. All the while she had her fingers firmly at play in her pussy. When the young man hit the end of the rope, being of a virile age, he exploded immediately, coming in his trousers, though he was soon quite dead. Miranda made sure, with her carefully honed skills of the gallows, to come at the same time, and of course to avoid being struck by his swinging, still jerking, corpse. Once sated, she would cut the rope, as any hangman’s assistant should, and let the man fall to earth where the bailiff’s lout would see to his burial. The only sound heard was Mr. Merridawn’s hum.

© 2007 Cervo. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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