By Geoffrey Abbott, G. (Geoffrey) Abbott, Jeremy Beadle
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Then she, kneeling down on the cushion resolutely and praying, groped for the block. ’ With his assistant holding her still with one hand on her back, Simon Bull brought down the axe, only to have his blow go badly off-aim, striking the knot of the blindfold and apparently stunning her. Again he struck, this time with more success, though in order to sever the head completely, he had perforce to cut through a little gristle with his knife. The contemporary account continued, ‘The executioner then lifted up the head to the view of all the assembly and bade ‘God save the Queen’ [Queen Elizabeth, of course].
Far from being cowed into submission, the now no longer good-looking author proceeded to publish pamphlets criticising the bishops, hardly a wise move, for once again he was brought to trial. In court a member of the bench ordered the usher to expose the prisoner’s scars. The official did so, pushing back Prynne’s flowing locks to reveal a stub of gristle protruding from one side of his head. ’ Determined to deprive him of what little remained of his sole surviving aural organ, the court sentenced him to lose the stub, to be branded and imprisoned for life – and to be fined another £5,000.
At that moment her entire body was seized with a convulsion so violent that the second letter ‘V’ was applied, not to her shoulder, but on her breast, her beautiful breast. Mme de la Motte’s tortured body writhed in one last convulsive moment. Somehow she found strength enough to turn and sink her teeth into the executioner’s shoulder, through the leather vest, to the flesh, bringing blood. ’ On recovering she was taken back by coach to the prison where, as the vehicle slowed down, she tried to throw herself under the wheels.