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Anne the sword/Katherine the axe
June 12, 2011
2:34 am
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Sophie1536
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I know this is pretty lame question but why was a skilled swordsman sent for from France? Was there no skilled swordsmen in England???

I find that hard to believe or was it that Henry knew Anne loved everything French and that somewhere inside him he thought he was being slighty kind to her doing it this way?

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June 12, 2011
8:48 am
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It was the way in France, for aristocracy to be beheaded by sword rather than the axe as in England.. It was quite fitting thatAnne was dispatched by a French swordsman. I think Henry was beyond doing anyone other than himself any kindness, Cromwell organised the execution didn't he? Maybe he thought it would be more fitting for an anointed Queen Consort (an unprecedented affair) to die by the  sophisticated, humane sword, rather than the more gruesome axe.. I wish she had somehow escaped with her brother and lived out her days in the French court or some lovely little french village… I wonder how Anne would feel about that?

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

June 13, 2011
11:15 am
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Sharon
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England wasn't known for using the sword for executions.  That is why Henry looked to France for a swordsman.  I think he wanted to be sure the job was done professionally.  Cromwell may have been involved in the planning of the trials and when and where the executions occurred, but Henry was the only one who could have ordered the method of death. Cromwell didn't have any where near that kind of authority.

June 13, 2011
12:06 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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Anne was always more French than English, so it's fitting for her death to be conducted in the French aristocratic style. A kindness by Henry? Perhaps in the context of the 16th century, when Henry could have easily burnt her (as Anne's orginal sentence recommended), or sent her to the block to be beheaded by a drunken axeman (poor Lady Salisbury). Rather he chose the most profession way (as Sharon pointed out), and dispatched her wil skill and accuracy. Over and done with for Henry.

C C Humphrey's wrote a fictional account of Jean Rombaud (Anne's executioner) after he kills her. I don't remember a lot about the book, even though I own it. I do recall something about Rombaud vowing to bury Anne's sixth finger.

As for poor Katherine Howard. Even as Queen she was sent to the block and to meet the fate of so many traitors. Anne's treatment seems humane compared to Katherine's end. Yet, Katherine showed courage at the end and died with the dignity deserving of a Queen, even if she was not permitted the skill and professionalism of a French executioner.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

June 13, 2011
1:03 pm
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Sharon
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This is just my personal opinion, but I am such a cynic when it comes to Henry's motivations. 

 I know Anne loved everything French, but for me, believing that this might have been the reason Henry ordered the swordsman from France is just too much to ask.  I still think he was more worried about the way the world would see this execution, than he was of caring whether Anne, because she loved everything french, would appreciate the swordsman.  Yell  That even makes me dislike him more. 

 I'm going with the possibility that someone told him it would look better for Henry if the Queen of England died swiftly with one stroke of the sword rather than take the chance of the axe not hitting it's mark the first time. And Henry always wanted to look good.  I can't buy into Henry's humanity.  If there was a touch of humanity in him, I don't believe he would have been on that barge going to Jane as soon as he heard the cannon fire proclaiming Anne's death. 

June 13, 2011
2:49 pm
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MegC
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Sharon said:

This is just my personal opinion, but I am such a cynic when it comes to Henry's motivations. 

 I know Anne loved everything French, but for me, believing that this might have been the reason Henry ordered the swordsman from France is just too much to ask.  I still think he was more worried about the way the world would see this execution, than he was of caring whether Anne, because she loved everything french, would appreciate the swordsman.  Yell  That even makes me dislike him more. 

 I'm going with the possibility that someone told him it would look better for Henry if the Queen of England died swiftly with one stroke of the sword rather than take the chance of the axe not hitting it's mark the first time. And Henry always wanted to look good.  I can't buy into Henry's humanity.  If there was a touch of humanity in him, I don't believe he would have been on that barge going to Jane as soon as he heard the cannon fire proclaiming Anne's death. 


I agree 100%

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

June 23, 2011
7:56 am
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Sharon said:

England wasn't known for using the sword for executions.  That is why Henry looked to France for a swordsman.  I think he wanted to be sure the job was done professionally.  Cromwell may have been involved in the planning of the trials and when and where the executions occurred, but Henry was the only one who could have ordered the method of death. Cromwell didn't have any where near that kind of authority.


But how do we know? I got the impression Henry was off with the women, too busy with the Seymour and found the whole thing distasteful so left it mainly to Cromwell. Of course Henry would have to sign the death warrant etc but I thought he wanted to know as little detail as possible…

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

June 23, 2011
12:14 pm
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Sharon
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Hi E,

this is what I was able to find about Henry's involvement in Anne's death,

Ives says:  “The king responded by whipping up a purient self-righteousness which anesthetized all doubt.  He declared that his wife had been unfaithful with more than a hundred men, and was morbidly concerned about the plans for the executions, even to the making of the scaffolds.” (L&P) Found on page 351 of my really worn and bookmarked to death copy of Ive's book, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn.”

“The king was at his most nauseous in making arrangements–even perhaps in advance of the trial–to bring over the executioner of Calais to kill Anne.”  (L&P) Found on page 351 of Ives' book.

“Arrangements were by now in hand for the Queen's execution.  Henry VIII had gone to the extraordinary trouble of sending for “the hangman of Calais,” “Calais then being an English possession.”  (chronicles of Calais) “Decapitation by the sword was very rare in England, but widely used in Europe, it was a much cleaner, kinder, and more precise method of execution than death by the axe.”  (Abbott) “Evidently “the sword of Calais” was of some renown, being an expert executioner known for his swiftness and skill in cutting off heads.”  Page 250 of my copy of The Lady in the Tower, by, Alison Weir.

Henry was off at night on his barge to see Jane, but he was very involved with the planning of Anne's death.  “The result was a series of romantic night-time assignations and river trips which actually began to win poular sympathy for Anne.”  “No man,” Chapuys reported, ever paraded with such regularity the fact that his wife had cuckholded him, and with so little sign that he minded.”  (L&P) Page 327 of Ives' book.

Ives also said that the warrant for Anne's execution states Henry was moved by pity to have the manner of death be beheading instead of burning.

I think it is a sure bet that Henry was very involved in Anne's death.

June 23, 2011
1:29 pm
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Louise
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Hello Sharon,

I completely agree that Henry was very much involved in Anne's death. Not only did he organise the swordsman prior to Anne's trial, he also had involvement in the men's executions by ordering that the scaffold should be built extra high so that the crowd could have a good view. Nice!

He had no doubt that the jury would do their duty.

I find it hard to believe Henry didn't know they were all innocent. Maybe Anne's enemies 'convnced' him of her guilt, but if Henry was as intelligent as his apologists give him credit for, it was only because he let them.

I think Cromwell did what he knew Henry wanted him to do. For Cromwell to have gone to Henry with an allegation of Anne's guilt he would have had to have been 100% certain that Henry would swallow the allegation without digging too much into the truth of it. For Cromwell to have been that certain he must have been given an indication by Henry in advance. If not then I cannot believe Cromwell would have taken such a risk.

June 24, 2011
8:46 am
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Sharon said:

Hi E,

this is what I was able to find about Henry's involvement in Anne's death,

Ives says:  “The king responded by whipping up a purient self-righteousness which anesthetized all doubt.  He declared that his wife had been unfaithful with more than a hundred men, and was morbidly concerned about the plans for the executions, even to the making of the scaffolds.” (L&P) Found on page 351 of my really worn and bookmarked to death copy of Ive's book, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn.”

“The king was at his most nauseous in making arrangements–even perhaps in advance of the trial–to bring over the executioner of Calais to kill Anne.”  (L&P) Found on page 351 of Ives' book.

“Arrangements were by now in hand for the Queen's execution.  Henry VIII had gone to the extraordinary trouble of sending for “the hangman of Calais,” “Calais then being an English possession.”  (chronicles of Calais) “Decapitation by the sword was very rare in England, but widely used in Europe, it was a much cleaner, kinder, and more precise method of execution than death by the axe.”  (Abbott) “Evidently “the sword of Calais” was of some renown, being an expert executioner known for his swiftness and skill in cutting off heads.”  Page 250 of my copy of The Lady in the Tower, by, Alison Weir.

Henry was off at night on his barge to see Jane, but he was very involved with the planning of Anne's death.  “The result was a series of romantic night-time assignations and river trips which actually began to win poular sympathy for Anne.”  “No man,” Chapuys reported, ever paraded with such regularity the fact that his wife had cuckholded him, and with so little sign that he minded.”  (L&P) Page 327 of Ives' book.

Ives also said that the warrant for Anne's execution states Henry was moved by pity to have the manner of death be beheading instead of burning.

I think it is a sure bet that Henry was very involved in Anne's death.

Hi Sharon, I understand the above references, having read them myself. Don't you question them though? Someone reporting Henry VIII's actions was possibly not speaking specifically of Henry VIII himself. So Ives has made reference to Henry's involvement of the fine details of Anne's execution, but every thing else you have mentioned doesn't really point to that.. Plus each historian has their own slant on events. I don't think it's a sure bet at all, but something we will never know as we are 475years away from the event.

My post is just a thought, we are here to discuss possibilities, not just rehash what is already written by Ives, Weir etc..


"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

June 24, 2011
11:18 am
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Sharon
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E,

 You asked how I knew the swordsman was retrieved by Henry; and I thought you were questioning Henry's involvement in the planning of the executions. Maybe I misunderstood you and gave you historical data about these two points of which you were not looking for at all.  Confused

If we are speculating, then I believe Henry was involved up to his eyeballs with the planning of Anne's and the men's executions.  As I stated earlier, for the first time in England's history, a Queen was being put to death, even though she wasn't technically Queen when she went to the scaffold. To believe that Henry would leave the planning of her death to others, while the whole world was watching, is for me, too much of a leap.  Cromwell always did Henry's bidding, so it is possible Cromwell took orders and put them into action; but  in my opinion, Henry gave those orders. 

 I  am also of the opinion that Henry actually knew Anne and the men were innocent.  I believe Cromwell was acting with Henry's nod of approval in bringing forth the charges.  Otherwise, Thomas would have lost his head a bit sooner than he did.  I also think that Henry needed to hear from Anne's enemies that she was guilty. He loved a good pity party.  I think he covered his eyes and peeked through his fingers hoping to see he had convinced everyone that he actually believed in Anne's guilt.  And I believe that Henry ordered the swordsman.  Henry may have gone to see Jane at night, but he was in control of the plans against his wife, IMO.

Some of this is based on what I have read and some of it is based on my very own assessment of Henry.  I am not a fan of Henry's at this time in his career.  Actually, I'm not a fan of Henry's throughout most of his career.  Everything was always about Henry. He wanted everyone to feel for him, he wanted everyone to agree with him and he wanted everyone to think he was the greatest king ever.  I see parts of the tyrant in Henry beginning with his first years as king, and his tryanny evolved as he aged.

 Wink I'm sure there are others who don't take my strong stance against Henry, but as you said, we are here to discuss possibilities.

June 24, 2011
12:13 pm
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Anne fan
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The sentence of burning or beheading at the king's pleasure wasn't the law in England at the time – traitorous women were supposed to be burned. I think the reason for the difference is what happened on the afternoon of May 17. The papers have been lost but we know this is when Cranmer annulled Henry and Anne's marriage. I know there is a theory that she was given the promise of life in return for agreeing to annul the marriage but I think execution by sword was held out to her as the easiest death available at the time. I also think Henry was behind it as he wouldn't want a repeat of Catherine of Aragon's refusal.

 

As for poor Catherine Howard that is possibly an even nastier story. I don't think she did commit adultery with Culpepper (he only confessed to wanting to) but she died by Act of Attainder in which anyone who had indulged in horizontal jogging before marrying Henry was guilty of treason. This act was applied retrospectively so Catherine was caught by her shenanigans with Dereham. How could she have known that a youthful fling (common enough then as now) would be treason years later?

June 25, 2011
8:06 am
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It's terrible for Catheryn isn't it? What a ridiculous state the legal system was in during Henry's reign! It would sit better with me if Henry stood up and said: “Right. Im a tyrant. Anyone of you who argues with me- ever- will be boiled alive. Actually, this could happen at any moment to any of you if I decide it. Next.”

Sharon- it's all speculative, I'm of the view we can't know anything as it is so far away from us, but we get given little scraps from which we must draw our own conclusions. I may be the most recent victim of Henry's charm- and I am not a fan of that cretin- I've mentioned before that every one around Henry gets the blame for Henry's actions.. I think my post reflects the fact that I cannot reconcile the mans actions toward the woman he adored and chased for seven or so years!

My mind boggles that he could organise the murder of Anne- beautiful, vibrant, charming, intelligent, fashionable Anne during the day and then visit JANE SEYMOUR at all. I mean really- does Jane bother any one else as much as I? That boring, nasty, heinously ugly weeping sore of a woman – he was interested in her at all??? But killed his wife for her?? And his wife was Anne??!!!

EverythingsfineeverythingsfineeverythingsfinedeepbreathsdeepbreathsandIamzen.

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

June 29, 2011
7:21 am
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MegC
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E said:

It's terrible for Catheryn isn't it? What a ridiculous state the legal system was in during Henry's reign! It would sit better with me if Henry stood up and said: “Right. Im a tyrant. Anyone of you who argues with me- ever- will be boiled alive. Actually, this could happen at any moment to any of you if I decide it. Next.”

Sharon- it's all speculative, I'm of the view we can't know anything as it is so far away from us, but we get given little scraps from which we must draw our own conclusions. I may be the most recent victim of Henry's charm- and I am not a fan of that cretin- I've mentioned before that every one around Henry gets the blame for Henry's actions.. I think my post reflects the fact that I cannot reconcile the mans actions toward the woman he adored and chased for seven or so years!

My mind boggles that he could organise the murder of Anne- beautiful, vibrant, charming, intelligent, fashionable Anne during the day and then visit JANE SEYMOUR at all. I mean really- does Jane bother any one else as much as I? That boring, nasty, heinously ugly weeping sore of a woman – he was interested in her at all??? But killed his wife for her?? And his wife was Anne??!!!

EverythingsfineeverythingsfineeverythingsfinedeepbreathsdeepbreathsandIamzen.


It's certainly true that Jane Seymour was not Anne in any way.  In fact, it seems that the only thing the two women had in common was Henry, but I don't think it's fair to Jane to call her boring, nasty, or even heinously ugly.  Reports of Jane Seymour readily admit that she wasn't an amazing beauty–in fact, I think at least one source notes that she was actually pretty plain, but this is Henry VIII that we're talking about.  Jane had to be at least marginally attractive to catch Henry's attention to begin with.  I think we assume Jane Seymour was boring because so little is written about her and because we know Henry explicitly told her to stay out of politics, and, to Jane's credit, she was smart enough to do just that.  Had she survived Edward's birth, she probably would have been allowed more freedom and probably could have accomplished a lot at court.  It is unfortunate for her that history views her as so one-dimensional.  As for nasty, I don't think that Jane liked Anne at all, but Jane was hardly alone in this.  For all of Anne's admirable qualities, she was also a very polarizing figure at court and had succeeded in making more than a few enemies.  I don't think that anyone can say that Anne's attitude toward Katherine of Aragon was exactly gracious, either, so it's hardly fair for us to condemn Jane of the same behavior. 

I don't think that Henry killed Anne “for” Jane Seymour.  It's not like Jane asked Henry to have Anne executed–ultimately, Jane had nothing to do with Anne's execution.  Henry had Anne executed because it's what he wanted and because he could.  Henry wanted Jane because she was the exact opposite of Anne–even her religious views were different.  Henry wanted out of a marriage that had some pretty serious issues–granted, Henry was the reason for most of those issues, but there was no such thing as marriage counseling back then.  

Both women played the game.  Both women got involved with a married man, which isn't right no matter how you cut it.  Despite their differences, once it came to marrying Henry and rising to become queen, both women follow a similar plotline and both wind up dead.  But it isn't fair to “excuse” Anne for doing what she did and then turn around and call Jane Seymour names for doing the exact same thing.  True that Katherine of Aragon wasn't executed, but the method of elimination was entirely up to Henry. 

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

June 29, 2011
9:05 am
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Neil Kemp
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Meg, I have to agree with your comment that, “both women played the game” and Jane in many ways fitted the requirements that were needed after Anne. To quote Starkey: “Jane on the other hand, was everything that Anne was not. She was calm, quite, soft-spoken (when she spoke at all) and profoundly submissive, at least to Henry. In short, after Anne's flagrant defiance of convention, Jane was the sixteenth-century's ideal woman (or at least the sixteenth-century male's ideal woman)…….Everybody – Henry, Jane and the Court – was happy.”

In short, I agree totally with your viewpoint, that to excuse Anne but blame Jane for doing essentially what Anne had done before her, is obviously unfair. Jane played the game, as Anne had done before her and also won the “prize”. She could have had no knowledge, or for that matter desire, to see how Anne's demise would become so final and must have remained fearful thereafter for her own well-being, now knowing what Henry was capable of.

June 29, 2011
9:44 am
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Elliemarianna
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I don't think that Henry killed Anne “for” Jane Seymour.  It's not like Jane asked Henry to have Anne executed–ultimately, Jane had nothing to do with Anne's execution.  Henry had Anne executed because it's what he wanted and because he could.  Henry wanted Jane because she was the exact opposite of Anne–even her religious views were different.  Henry wanted out of a marriage that had some pretty serious issues–granted, Henry was the reason for most of those issues, but there was no such thing as marriage counseling back then.  

Both women played the game.  Both women got involved with a married man, which isn't right no matter how you cut it.  Despite their differences, once it came to marrying Henry and rising to become queen, both women follow a similar plotline and both wind up dead.  But it isn't fair to “excuse” Anne for doing what she did and then turn around and call Jane Seymour names for doing the exact same thing.  True that Katherine of Aragon wasn't executed, but the method of elimination was entirely up to Henry. 


I don't think its was Jane's looks that attracted Henry's attention, although maybe her blonde hair and blue eyes gave her an air of 'innocence', in comparison to Anne's dark, smouldering looks. Jane had been at court for a very long time, even serving Katherine when she was queen. If Henry had been drawn to her physically he would of acted on it earlier – he was a ladies man after all! He even commented on the fact that he wished he had sampled the other more attractive ladies at court before marrying Jane, as he thought he could of done better in the looks department. I think what drew him to Jane was her manner – quiet, submissive, calm AND most importantly virginal. She seduced him with simpering smiles and little looks, adopting Anne's behaviour at the beginning of the courtship to keep him interested. She knew what she was doing, she would of witnessed Henry and Anne's arguments and heated debates – Anne's sharp tongue and Henry's violent temper. I believe she was pushed to attract Henry by her family and made herself the opposite of Anne because she knew that was what he wanted. The grass is always greener after all… I find it hard to believe that Jane loved Henry as Anne did – By the time Anne was executed Henry was already overweight and smelly and his violent tendencies began to show. From what I have read of Henry's treatment of Jane – he doesn't appear to have been particularly nice to her… I don't think he would of dared to tell Anne to shut up haha! Jane was someone he could rule, Anne wasnt.

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

June 30, 2011
2:39 am
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I agree Ellimarianna, Jane knew exactly what she was doing. I think of the Seymour as “fake” which is probably why I dislike her so much. She showed her true colours by playing Henry!

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

June 30, 2011
5:12 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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I think 'playing Henry' was a pretty popular pastime at court. You could rise fast and fall faster, though, so it was a dangerous game.

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          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

June 30, 2011
6:39 pm
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MegC
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E said:

I agree Ellimarianna, Jane knew exactly what she was doing. I think of the Seymour as “fake” which is probably why I dislike her so much. She showed her true colours by playing Henry!


Then I guess my next question is:  Do you feel the same about Katheryn Howard?  We all know that she didn't love Henry–that she was placed where she was by her Uncle and dazzled by the pretty dresses and jewels and the attention lavished on her by the King and his court and all the things that she was never able to have growing up.  

Of course Jane knew what she was doing–she wasn't stupid.  Just like Anne knew what she was doing.  Politics was and still is a game, and that's exactly what it was.  It was all about marrying your daughters and sons to the right people, rubbing elbows with the right people and knowing when to distance yourself from those same people when it was clear their star was waning.  And, in Henry's court, being on the right side–which was always whatever side Henry was on at the moment. 

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

June 30, 2011
7:19 pm
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Anyanka
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Exactly Impish and Meg.

There were some people like Brandon and Cramner who weathered the Henry storm due to luck, skill and personal attributes. And those who were fair-weather friends like Cromwell and Wolsey who out-lived thier usefulness.

 

As for KH, I'm looking at Hugh Hefffner who's last “girl-friend” dumped him a few days before thier marriage and less than a week later HH had a new fiancee…H8 was like that. He needed a replacement close to hand  before changing to a new model.

It's always bunnies.

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