Imagine you are lying on a beach, under a warm sun. No one else is around you. The only sounds you hear are any you're making, the distant calls of birds, and the rhythmic lapping of the growing waves of the incoming tide. Pleasant, isn't it?

Now imagine you've been bound and gagged, punished for a minor crime or infraction. The waves slowly rise, slightly faster than you can inch your way up the beach, with inevitable results. Scream all you want; those responsible for your plight left an hour ago. This is what was called, as late as the early 19th century, faleste, a most terrifying form of capital punishment.

The malefactor would be apprehended, and if they were on shore where a deep tide would be expected soon, they were tied up and left alone to drown minutes (or perhaps hours) later when the tide came in.

In fact, it is documented that at least one pair of scoundrels met their fate in this manner. The records show that Britons Thomas Wadham and Samuel Hall, both aged 23, were executed in this manner in 1797, in response of the beating death of a third unidentified seaman at Wool Bay, Australia. There is no mention of additional details of the execution or the crime itself, nor if the bodies of the two guilty men were ever recovered.

The word itself originates from the Norman falese, meaning "sands, rocks and/or cliff."

Source: John Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1839.

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