When the coarse jute noose tightened Samuel’s throat,
specks danced like fire sparks behind his eyes. The lynch
mob swayed before his vision, their angry sweat stinging
his senses as he dangled, toes outstretched to the halfopen
trap door. It hadn’t functioned correctly and was
now jammed at an angle. Samuel had placed his feet to
one side in a convulsive reflex to save his life. He now
twisted and turned on outstretched toes in a rhythmic
motion, his knees extended painfully, bare skin glued to
wood in a last, death-cheating effort. At each sway, the
rope dug deeper into his leathery neck, throttling the
breath out of him, as the disappointed crowd bayed from
the market square.
Roman candles now burst behind his bulging globes.
Sparks turned into light flashes. Samuel was gasping, his
deformed body writhing like a caught eel on the end of
the stretched rope. His lungs burned as excruciating pain
slowly extinguished his life-breath.
A pungent odour of mucky straw soiled with animal
comings and goings filled his nostrils as his feet finally
slipped. Exhaling a last choking gasp, the twisted body
convulsed in final death throes. He heard from afar, in a
distant consciousness:
‘Child murderer! Good riddance!’
The lynch mob fell silent as Samuel’s body finally hung
still, blue-faced, tongue and eyes bulging, the last spark of
his miserable life dampened out by ignorant hate.

The silence of a satiated crowd was broken by whispers
that now rippled through the market square, rising in
crescendo to a noisy hubbub.
‘They’ve found the real murderer.’
A deafening silence of many thoughts heavy with
realisation fell like molten lead, as villagers bowed heads
with sudden shame. The mob slowly dispersed. Daily
activities called. Samuel, the village outcast, hadn’t
murdered Lettie Blackman after all.

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