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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/59

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39
THE COMPRACHICOS.

early part of William and Mary's reign hit the association of child-buyers hard. It was as the blow of a club to the Comprachicos, who were from that time pulverized. By the terms of this statute, those of the fellowship taken and duly convicted were to be branded with a red-hot iron, imprinting "R" on the shoulder, signifying rogue; on the left hand "T," signifying thief; and on the right hand "M," signifying man-slayer. The chiefs, "supposed to be rich, although beggars in appearance," were to be punished in the collistrigium, that is, the pillory,—and branded on the forehead with a "P, " besides having their goods confiscated and the trees in their woods rooted up. Those who did not inform against the Comprachicos were to be punished by confiscation and imprisonment for life, as for the crime of misprision. As for the women found among these men, they were to be punished by the cucking-stool. This is a sort of see-saw, the name of which is derived from the French word coquine, and the German stuhl. English law being endowed with remarkable longevity, this punishment for quarrelsome women still exists in English legislation. The cucking-stool is suspended over a river or a pond; the woman is seated upon it. The chair is then allowed to drop into the water, and then pulled out. This dipping of the woman is repeated three times, "to cool her anger," says the commentator, Chamberlayne.