Hang him! Hang the bastard!

The crowd bayed for blood, as the guards forced Peter Brown up the lane to the old oak tree, where a rope and a donkey were being readied for service by a group of men with grisly business in their eyes.

I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it! Peter Brown protested, his face bloodied from the beating the Sheriff’s horsemen gave him when they caught him fleeing through the woods.

Sure you didn’t, you bastard! We hope you rot in hell!

A stone flew in from the crowd, missing him by inches but hitting a guard on his head. The guard flinched, but his leathern helmet took most of the force. The fist didn’t miss him, though; it landed square on the nose, with force; a jet of blood spurted out.

Leave him be! a guard bellowed and clunked the puncher on the head with base of his pike staff.

The Abbot came out of smithie’s door imploring the crowd to forgive him his sins. Brethren! Judge not, lest ye be judged!

Shut up, pig! Lest ye be hanged with him!

There is no PROOF he did wrong! the abbot protested

Proof enough for us, Abbot Hogden!

Nobody saw him do anything! Did ye? Or ye?

We know it was he! Murderer! ‘Angin’s too good for he! a man in a red cape shouted from a stable door. Strangle him, like he strangled her!

Is that how she died? the Abbot asked.

Yes, but nobody but the Sherrif or us knew that, Oswald! one guard said to the other.

Seize him! the other guard called out.  You, boy! Run ahead and inform the Sherrif that Tom Boucher is the murderer and we have him in custody. The boy ran ahead, as he was told.

The crowd seized Tom and beat him senseless. Peter Brown was freed, but still got another beating from the baying mob. Peter Brown vowed to get his revenge, when he had recovered sufficiently, for he knew exactly who had done what to him; Edgar Cooper, Arthur Fletcher, Frederick Winterson will all get theirs.

The Sherrif arrived on his mare. Is this he? he asked the Guards.

It is he, Sherrif, Sir.

First the Sherrif booted Tom in the face, then asked Tom Butcher how he knew the girl was strangled.

It was the rumour, my Lord.

Not good enough. He’s guilty as charged, said the Sherrif and called the Guards to fetch him up the lane to the oak tree.

No! Tom protested, but to no avail.

The crowd beat him all the way up to the oak tree. The donkey was removed, a dirty old sack  was placed on his head and the noose was tightened around his neck by the guards, who kneed him in the groin for good measure.

As the Abbot prayed for Tom , three voulunteers pulled on the rope with sudden force, lifting him flying into the air. When they let the rope loose, he landed on the ground with a thud, but there was no reprieve as they did this eleven more times.

Tom lay in a crumpled mess on the ground, barely able to breathe; the guards removed the sack from his head.

Do you confess? the Sherrif asked loudly; but Tom could not answer if he tried.

There was a large table nearby that the Guards dragged Tom onto; a dagger was drawn from the Sherrif’s belt. A cross was cut diagonally into Tom Butcher’s abdomen; blood seeped out. A Guard put his hands into the gaping wound and grabbed at the innards. The crowd gasped in awe, disgust and satisfaction as blood-soaked organs were ripped out from Tom, who was barely breathing at all by now and was doomed to a death of excrutiating pain.

The Abbot checked Tom’s pulse; there was nothing and the breathing stopped. Dead to bits. The Sherrif signalled the Guards to carry-on their gruesome task, taking their hatchets to Tom’s arma and legs; hung, drawn and quartered. Half the crowd had left; no stomach to witness what they had demanded. Some of the crowd had passed out and lay unconscious in the blood- and vomit-soaked lane, dispossessed of any coins, shoes, boots and clothing of any worth.