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FISHER'S GHOST

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TWO VERSIONS OF AN AUSTRALIAN LEGEND


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Version 1 published in:
Household Words, March 1853
Version 2 published in
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 March 1936

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2018
Version Date: 2018-11-04
Produced by Roy Glashan

Only the original raw text of this book is in the public domain.
All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.



BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE

This RGL e-book offers two versions of a legendary Australian ghost story revolving around the murder, in 1826, of one Frederick Fisher, a resident of Campbelltown, New South Wales. The first was published in 1853 as an anonymous story in Charles Dickens' weekly magazine Household Words. The second, earlier, version appeared in the Australian press in 1836, ten years after the murder.




COLONIAL SECRETARY'S OFFICE, SEPT 22, 1826.

SUPPOSED MURDER.

WHEREAS FREDERICK FISHER,

by the Ship Atlas, holding a Ticket of Leave, and lately residing at Campbell Town, has disappeared within the last Three Months; it is hereby notified, that a REWARD of TWENTY POUNDS will be given for the Discovery of the Body of the said Frederick Fisher; or, if he shall have quitted the Colony, a Reward of FIVE POUNDS will be given to any Person or Persons who shall produce Proof of the same.

By His Excellency's Command,

ALEXANDER M'LEAY.

From The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 23 Sep 1836



FISHER'S GHOST : VERSION ONE

Illustration


IN the colony of New South Wales, at a place called Penrith, distant from Sydney about thirty-seven miles, lived a farmer named Fisher. He had been, originally, transported, but had become free by servitude. Unceasing toil, and great steadiness of character, had acquired for him a considerable property, for a person in his station of life. His lands and stock were not worth less than four thousand pounds. He was unmarried, and was about forty-five years old.

Suddenly Fisher disappeared; and one of his neighbours—a man named Smith—gave out that he had gone to England, but would return in two or three years. Smith produced a document, purporting to be executed by Fisher; and, according to this document, Fisher had appointed Smith to act as his agent during his absence. Fisher was a man of very singular habits and eccentric character, and his silence about his departure, instead of creating surprise, was declared to be "exactly like him."

About six months after Fisher's disappearance, an old man called Ben Weir, who had a small farm near Penrith, and who always drove his own cart to market, was returning from Sydney, one night, when he beheld, seated on a rail which bounded the road—Fisher. The night was very dark, and the distance of the fence from the middle of the road was, at least, twelve yards. Weir, nevertheless, saw Fisher's figure seated on the rail. He pulled his old mare up, and called out, "Fisher, is that you?" No answer was returned; but there, still on the rail, sat the form of the man with whom he had been on the most intimate terms. Weir—who was not drunk, though he had taken several glasses of strong liquor on the road—jumped off his cart, and approached the rail. To his surprise, the form vanished.

"Well," exclaimed old Weir, "this is very curious, anyhow;" and, breaking several branches of a sapling so as to mark the exact spot, he remounted his cart, put his old mare into a jog- trot, and soon reached his home.

Ben was not likely to keep this vision a secret from his old woman. All that he had seen he faithfully related to her.

"Hold your nonsense, Ben!" was old Betty's reply. "You know you have been a drinking and disturbing of your imagination. Ain't Fisher agone to England? And if he had a come back, do you think we shouldn't a heard on it?"

"Ay, Betty!" said old Ben, "but he'd a cruel gash in his forehead, and the blood was all fresh like. Faith, it makes me shudder to think on't. It were his ghost."

"How can you talk so foolish, Ben?" said the old woman. "You must be drunk surely to get on about ghosteses."

"I tell thee I am not drunk," rejoined old Ben, angrily. "There's been foul play, Betty; I'm sure on't. There sat Fisher on the rail—not more than a matter of two mile from this. Egad, it were on his own fence that he sat. There he was, in his shirt-sleeves, with his arms a-folded; just as he used to sit when he was a waiting for anybody coming up the road. Bless you, Betty, I seed 'im till I was as close as I am to thee; when, all on a sudden, he vanished, like smoke."

"Nonsense, Ben: don't talk of it," said old Betty, "or the neighbours will only laugh at you. Come to bed, and you'll forget all about it before to-morrow morning."

Old Ben went to bed; but he did not next morning forget all about what he had seen on the previous night: on the contrary, he was more positive than before. However, at the earnest, and often repeated request of the old woman, he promised not to mention having seen Fisher's ghost, for fear that it might expose him to ridicule.

On the following Thursday night, when old Ben was returning from market—again in his cart—he saw, seated upon the same rail, the identical apparition. He had purposely abstained from drinking that day, and was in the full possession of all his senses. On this occasion old Ben was too much alarmed to stop. He urged the old mare on, and got home as speedily as possible. As soon as he had unharnessed and fed the mare, and taken his purchases out of the cart, he entered his cottage, lighted his pipe, sat over the fire with his better half, and gave her an account of how he had disposed of his produce, and what he had brought back from Sydney in return. After this he said to her, "Well, Betty, I'm not drunk to-night, anyhow, am I?"

"No," said Betty. "You are quite sober, sensible like, tonight, Ben; and therefore you have come home without any ghost in your head. Ghosts! Don't believe there is such things."

"Well, you are satisfied I am not drunk; but perfectly sober," said the old man.

"Yes, Ben," said Betty.

"Well, then," said Ben, "I tell thee what, Betty. I saw Fisher tonight again!"

"Stuff!" cried old Betty.

"You may say stuff" said the old farmer; but I tell you what—I saw him as plainly as I did last Thursday night. Smith is a bad 'un. Do you think Fisher would ever have left this country without coming to bid you and me good-bye!"

"It's all fancy!" said old Betty. "Now drink your grog and smoke your pipe, and think no more about the ghost. I won't hear on't."

"I'm as fond of my grog and my pipe as most men," said old Ben; "but I'm not going to drink anything tonight. It may be all fancy, as you call it, but I am now going to tell Mr. Grafton all I saw, and what I think;" and with these words he got up, and left the house.

Mr. Grafton was a gentleman who lived about a mile from old Weir's farm. He had been formerly a lieutenant in the navy, but was now on half-pay, and was a settler in the new colony; he was, a magistrate, in the commission of the peace.

When old Ben arrived at Mr. Grafton's house, Mr. Grafton was about to retire to bed; but he requested old Ben might be shown in. He desired the farmer to take a seat by the fire, and then inquired what was the latest news in Sydney.

"The news in Sydney, sir, is very small," said old Ben; "wheat is falling, but maize still keeps its price—seven and sixpence a bushel: but I want to tell you, sir, something that will astonish you."

"What is it, Ben?" asked Mr. Grafton.

"Why, sir," resumed old Ben, "you know I am not a weak-minded man, nor a fool, exactly; for I was born and bred in Yorkshire."

"No, Ben, I don't believe you to be weak-minded, nor do I think you a fool," said Mr. Grafton; "but what can you have to say that you come at this late hour, and that you require such a preface!"

"That I have seen the ghost of Fisher, sir," said the old man; and he detailed the particulars of which the reader is already in possession.

Mr. Grafton was at first disposed to think with old Betty, that Ben had seen Fisher's ghost through an extra glass or two of rum on the first night; and that on the second night, when perfectly sober, he was unable to divest himself of the idea previously entertained. But after a little consideration the words "How very singular!" involuntarily escaped him.

"Go home, Ben," said Mr. Grafton, "and let me see you tomorrow at sunrise. We will go together to the place where you say you saw the ghost."

Mr. Grafton used to encourage the aboriginal natives of New South Wales (that race which has been very aptly described "the last link in the human chain") to remain about his premises. At the head of a little tribe then encamped on Mr. Grafton's estate, was a sharp young man named Johnny Crook. The peculiar faculty of the aboriginal natives of New South Wales, of tracking the human foot not only over grass but over the hardest rock; and of tracking the whereabouts of runaways by signs imperceptible to civilized eyes, is well known; and this man, Johnny Crook, was famous for his skill in this particular art of tracking. He had recently been instrumental in the apprehension of several desperate bushrangers whom he had tracked over twenty-seven miles of rocky country and fields, which they had crossed bare-footed, in the hope of checking the black fellow in the progress of his keen pursuit with the horse police.

When old Ben Weir made his appearance in the morning at Mr. Grafton's house, the black chief, Johnny Crook, was summoned to attend. He came and brought with him several of his subjects. The party set out, old Weir showing the way. The leaves on the branches of the saplings which he had broken on the first night of seeing the ghost were withered, and sufficiently pointed out the exact rail on which the phantom was represented to have sat. There were stains upon the rail. Johnny Crook, who had then no idea of what he was required for, pronounced these stains to be "White man's blood;" and, after searching about for some time, he pointed to a spot whereon he said a human body had been laid.

In New South Wales long droughts are not very uncommon; and not a single shower of rain had fallen for seven months previously—not sufficient even to lay the dust upon the roads.

In consequence of the time that had elapsed, Crook had no small difficulty to contend with; but in about two hours he succeeded in tracking the footsteps of one man to the unfrequented side of a pond at some distance. He gave it as his opinion that another man had been dragged thither. The savage walked round and round the pond, eagerly examining its borders and the sedges and weeds springing up around it. At first he seemed baffled. No clue had been washed ashore to show that anything unusual had been sunk in the pond; but, having finished this examination, he laid himself down on his face and looked keenly along the surface of the smooth and stagnant water. Presently he jumped up, uttered a cry peculiar to the natives when gratified by finding some long-sought object, clapped his hands, and, pointing to the middle of the pond to where the decomposition of some sunken substance had produced a slimy coating streaked with prismatic colours, he exclaimed, "White man's fat!" The pond was immediately searched; and, below the spot indicated, the remains of a body were discovered. A large stone and a rotted silk handkerchief were found near the body; these had been used to sink it.

That it was the body of Fisher there could be no question. It might have been identified by the teeth; but on the waistcoat there were some large brass buttons which were immediately recognised, both by Mr. Grafton and by old Ben Weir, as Fisher's property. He had worn those buttons on his waistcoat for several years.

Leaving the body by the side of the pond, and old Ben and the blacks to guard it, Mr. Grafton cantered up to Fisher's house. Smith was not only in possession of all the missing man's property, but had removed to Fisher's house. It was about a mile and a half distant. They inquired for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith, who was at breakfast, came out, and invited Mr. Grafton to alight; Mr. Grafton accepted the invitation, and after a few desultory observations said, "Mr. Smith, I am anxious to purchase a piece of land on the other side of the road, belonging to this estate, and I would give a fair price for it. Have you the power to sell?"

"Oh yes, sir," replied Smith. "The power which I hold from Fisher is a general power;" and he forthwith produced a document purporting to be signed by Fisher, but which was not witnessed.

"If you are not very busy, I should like to show you the piece of land I allude to," said Mr. Grafton.

"Oh certainly, sir. I am quite at your service," said Smith; and he then ordered his horse to be saddled.

It was necessary to pass the pond where the remains of Fisher's body were then exposed. When they came near to the spot, Mr. Grafton, looking Smith full in the face, said, "Mr. Smith, I wish to show you something. Look here!" He pointed to the decomposed body, and narrowly watching Mr. Smith's countenance, remarked: "These are the remains of Fisher. How do you account for their being found in this pond?"

Smith, with the greatest coolness, got off his horse, minutely examined the remains, and then admitted that there was no doubt they were Fisher's. He confessed himself at a loss to account for their discovery, unless it could be (he said) that somebody had waylaid him on the road when he left his home for Sydney; had murdered him for the gold and bank-notes which he had about his person, and had then thrown him into the pond. "My hands, thank Heaven!" he concluded, "are clean. If my old friend could come to life again, he would tell you that I had no hand in his horrible murder."

Mr. Grafton knew not what to think. He was not a believer in ghosts. Could it be possible, he began to ask himself, that old Weir had committed this crime, and—finding it weigh heavily on his conscience, and fearing that he might be detected—had trumped up the story about the ghost—had pretended that he was led to the spot by supernatural agency—and thus by bringing the murder voluntarily to light, hoped to stifle all suspicion. But then he considered Weir's excellent character, his kind disposition, and good nature. These at once put to flight his suspicion of Weir; but still he was by no means satisfied of Smith's guilt, much as appearances were against him.

Fisher's servants were examined, and stated that their master had often talked of going to England on a visit to his friends, and of leaving Mr. Smith to manage his farm; and that though they were surprised when Mr. Smith came, and said he had "gone at last," they did not think it at all unlikely that he had done so. An inquest was held, and a verdict of wilful murder found against Thomas Smith. He was thereupon transmitted to Sydney for trial, at the ensuing sessions, in the supreme court. The case naturally excited great interest in the colony; and public opinion respecting Smith's guilt was evenly balanced.

The day of trial came; and the court was crowded almost to suffocation. The Attorney-General very truly remarked that there were circumstances connected with the case which were without any precedent in the annals of jurisprudence. The only witnesses were old Weir and Mr. Grafton. Smith, who defended himself with great composure and ability, cross-examined them at considerable length, and with consummate skill. The prosecution having closed, Smith addressed the jury (which consisted of military officers) in his defence. He admitted that the circumstances were strong against him; but he most ingeniously proceeded to explain them. The power of attorney, which he produced, he contended had been regularly granted by Fisher, and he called several witnesses, who swore that they believed the signature to be that of the deceased. He, further, produced a will, which had been drawn up by Fisher's attorney, and by that will Fisher had appointed Smith his sole executor, in the event of his death. He declined, he said, to throw any suspicion on Weir; but he would appeal to the common sense of the jury whether the ghost story was entitled to any credit; and, if it were not, to ask themselves why it had been invented. He alluded to the fact—which in cross- examination Mr. Grafton swore to—that when the remains were first shown to him, he did not conduct himself as a guilty man would have been likely to do, although he was horror-stricken on beholding the hideous spectacle. He concluded by invoking the Almighty to bear witness that he was innocent of the diabolical crime for which he had been arraigned. The judge (the late Sir Francis Forbes) recapitulated the evidence. It was no easy matter to deal with that part of it which had reference to the apparition: and if the charge of the judge had any leaning one way or the other, it was decidedly in favour of an acquittal. The jury retired; but, after deliberating for seven hours, they returned to the court, with a verdict of Guilty.

The judge then sentenced the prisoner to be hanged on the following Monday. It was on a Thursday night that he was convicted. On the Sunday, Smith expressed a wish to see a clergyman. His wish was instantly attended to, when he confessed that he, and he alone, committed the murder; and that it was upon the very rail where Weir swore that he had seen Fisher's ghost sitting, that he had knocked out Fisher's brains with a tomahawk. The power of attorney he likewise confessed was a forgery, but declared that the will was genuine.

This is very extraordinary, but is, nevertheless, true in substance, if not in every particular. Most persons who have visited Sydney for any length of time will no doubt have had it narrated to them.



FISHER'S GHOST : VERSION TWO.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 March 1936

[The incidents related in the following tale must be familiar to many of our readers, especially to those in Campbelltown and its neighbourhood. We have trusted solely to memory in drawing up the statements, the inaccuracies, however (if there be any), can only be of minor importance; the principal portions of the tale may be relied on as strictly true. We leave others to solve the problem of the appearance of Fisher's Ghost, contenting ourselves with simply telling the tale as it was told to us. Most of those concerned in the investigation of the affair are still alive, and can bear testimony to its truth.]


READER, have you ever paid a visit to the town or rather the village of Campbelltown? If you have not, we advise you to do so speedily. We recommend you to do so the more willingly because we can speak from experience of tbe pleasure we have felt when domiciled in its comfortable little inn, enjoying a few days' relaxation from the bustle and dust of Sydney. If you have been there you can dispense with our description of its neat little church, its straggling appearance, and its pleasant situation, in short, of all the beauties which it presents to a toil-worn dust-blinded cit on his first visit—and enable us to come at once to the subject of our tale.

The visitant to Campbelltown must have observed as he strolled through the village, a large unfinished brick building fast mouldering to decay, which seems to have been intended at the time of its erection for a store; its appearance however shows that whatever may have been the intention in erecting it, something must have intervened to prevent the accomplishment of the object. It is now rapidly falling into decay, and the freshness of the grass which covers the sward around it shows that whatever the cause may be, the ruins are not much frequented by the inhabitants of the surrounding cottages.

The unfinished building and the land which surrounds it, were the property some few years ago of a man named Frederick Fisher, who occupied an adjoining cottage, of which scarcely a trace now remains. Fisher had been originally a prisoner, he had served his time in the employ of a gentleman in the neighbourhood, and had removed to the town when he obtained his ticket-of-leave. Some years previous to the commencement of our tale, he had received his certificate of freedom, having undergone his sentence which had been awarded to him by the laws of his country. He had also soon after he became free obtained a grant of a town allotment and had commenced the building referred to, intending on its completion to occupy one portion of it as a dwelling-house, and to convert the remaining part into a store.

Fisher was but a boy at the time of the commission of the offence which had led to his transportation. His relatives, enraged at the disgrace he had subjected them to by his misconduct, had taken little notice of him after that period; and as he could put no trust in those whom he saw around him placed in circumstances similar to his own, he had, consequently, formed no friendship which might have enabled him to pass pleasantly his vacant time; his education, also, had been much neglected in his youth by those very relatives who were so liberal of their censure after he had gone astray; it is not, therefore, matter of surprise, that his time should have, occasionally, hung heavy on his hands. His own fireside presented few attractions to him; his conduct, since his arrival in the colony, not having been such as to afford him much gratification in the retrospect; the resolutions of amendment he had made whilst in gaol and on the passage out, had melted like snow when exposed to the demoralising influence of the example set by those around him. Fisher, like most of his class, flew for refuge from unpleasant recollections, to the society which the neighbouring taproom afforded, and sought for that which he found not at home, in quaffing the flowing bowl.

The necessary consequences of conduct such as this soon became apparent, his business, to which on gaining his freedom, he had paid strict attention, was now neglected, but instead of endeavouring, by exertion, to extricate himself from the difficulties which began to surround him—he plunged yet deeper into a life of dissipation, frequenting the purlieus of the tap both night and day. His inevitable ruin soon became so apparent, that his creditors resolved no longer to brook delay; he was accordingly arrested and lodged in jail, at the instance of one of their number, for a debt of 150.

Although Fisher had been weak enough to allow the bad example of others to lead him astray, he was yet far from having reached that pitch of depravity which many of his associates had attained; although he had neglected his business, and spent in dissipation those means which ought to have been applied to the liquidation of his debts, he had yet sufficient moral principle remaining to shudder when one of his drunken associates named Worral, suggested the expediency of entering into a scheme to defraud his creditors by making over to him the whole of his property which yet remained; making, at the same time, a private engagement that it should be restored to him as soon as he was permitted to leave the jail.

The persuasions of Worral who represented to him the ease and safety with which he might thus revenge himself on his creditors and regain possession of his property without any incumbrance, soon overcame the feelings of repugnance which he had at first felt, and he consented to make a transfer of all he possesed to Worral, under these conditions.

Mr. P. at whose instance Fisher had been incarcerated, finding that he was not the owner of the property he had supposed, consented after some time, to his liberation, as the only means by which he was likely ever to recover the amount his claim. Fisher, immediately on his release, returned to Campbelltown, exulting in the success of his scheme.

Shortly after Fisher's return, he left his house one evening with the intention, it was supposed, of resorting, according to his usual custom, to some of the neighbouring ginshops. Morning came, but his continued absence excited no surprise, as it was supposed that he had got so drunk the previous night as to be unable to return home.

As the day wore on, and no signs of his appearance, a neighbour went to inquire at the various public houses whether he had been there. He had not been at any of his usual haunts, nor had any person seen him since the previous evening.

Many conjectures were made as to the cause of his protracted absence, but no feasible reason could be adduced until the afternoon. Worral returned from Sydney, whither he said he had accompanied Fisher on the previous evening, who had sailed early that morning for England, in order to avoid the importunities of his creditors, who had lately been rather troublesome to him, some of them having even threatened to lodge him again in jail. This was corroborated by the fact, that a vessel did sail for England on that day.

Worral's statements set completely at rest all the conjectures which had been previously afloat, as to the cause of Fisher's disappearance, and he was allowed to take undisputed possession of the property, on producing Fisher's conveyance.

Time wore on, and Fisher's name was almost forgotten or never alluded to, except by the the deluded creditors, who consoled themselves for their loss by venting imprecations and forming resolutions, never again to be so easily gulled.

About six weeks after Fisher's disappearance, Mr. Hurly, a respectable settler in the vicinity of Campbelltown, was returning thence to his residence; he had long been acquainted with Fisher, and it is by no mean improbable that his mind reverted to his sudden disappearance when passing the place where he had so long resided; be that as it may, however, no doubt as to Worral's statement ever entered his mind.

It was about ten o'clock at night when he left Campbelltown; the moon had risen, but her brilliance was obscured by clouds. After he had passed the late residence of Fisher, about from five to eight hundred yards, he observed the figure of a man sitting on the top of the fence on the same side of the road as the house. On approaching nearer, what was his surprise to recognize distinctly the features of Fisher, whom he had supposed then far on his way to England. He approached the figure with the intention of assuring himself that he had not been deceived by a fancied resemblance. The ghastly appearance which the features presented to his view on his near approach, struck such a chill of terror to his heart, as chained him motionless to the spot.

The figure, as he gazed, rose from the fence and waving its arm pointed in the direction of a small dry creek, which crosses the paddock at that place, and disappeared gradually from his view, apparently following the windings of the creek.

The terror which overpowered the faculties of Hurly at this sight, defies all power of description; in a state of stupefaction he left the spot, and endeavoured to obtain an entrance into the nearest house. How he managed to find his way to the house he has no recollection, but just as he approached it, his senses totally forsook him. The noise caused by his head striking the door as he fell alarmed the inmates, who on opening it found him in a death-like swoon; he was carried into the house, where he lay for a whole week in the delirium of a brain fever.

The frequent mention of the name of Fisher in his ravings, attracted the attention of those who attended him, and conjecture was soon busy at work to assertain what had driven him into such a state; his known character of sobriety, as well as the testimony of those who had parted from him only a few minutes before, forbade the supposition that it had been caused by drunkenness; and rumour, with her thousand tongues, turned the villagers' heads with vain conjectures as to its probable cause.

On the morning of the ninth day of Hurley's illness, he awoke after a long and refreshing sleep, in the full possession of his senses, and expressed a wish to those around him that the Police Magistrate should be sent for immediately.

William Howe, Esq., of Glenlee, who then filled the situation of Superintendent of Police for Campbelltown and the surrounding districts, was sent for, and came immediately on being made aware of the circumstances. To him Hurley disclosed what he had seen, and suspicion of Fisher's having met with foul play, which that sight impressed on his mind.

As soon as Hurley was able to leave his bed, Mr. Howe accompanied by a few constables, among whom was a native black named Gilbert, went, conducted by Hurley, to the place where the apparition had been seen. On closely examining the panel of fencing pointed out, Mr. Howe discovered spots of blood. An active search was commenced to discover further traces of the supposed murder, but nothing more was observed.

It was thought advisable to trace the course of the creek in the direction to which the apparition had pointed, and in which it had disappeared. Some small ponds of water still remained in the creek, and these Black Gilbert was directed to explore with his spear; he carefully examined each as he approached it, but the shake of the head denoted his want of success. On approaching a larger pond than any of those he had before searched, the standers by observed his eyes sparkle as he exclaimed in a tone of triumph, while yet at some distance from the spot, "white man's fat sit down here."

As soon as he reached the bank of the pond he thrust his spear into the water, and after some search, he pointed to a particular spot in the water, saying "white man there."

The constables were immediately set to work to clear away the water, which was soon effected—and on digging among the sand the remains of a human being in an advanced stage of decomposition, were disovered.

It became now obvious to all, that Fisher (if the remains which had been found were really his) had met with an untimely end. Suspicion alighted on Worral, who was the only person who had reaped any benefit from Fisher's death; and it was remembered #also that he it was who had first propagated the story of Fisher's return to England. Many circumstances, corroborative of this suspicion, flashed on the minds of the neighbours, which until now had escaped their notice.

Mr. Howe caused Worral to be arrested, and the suspicion being confirmed by a body of circumstantial evidence, he was committed to take his trial before the Supreme Court for the murder. The conviction that retributive justice was now about to overtake him had such an effect on his mind that he confessed his guilt.

His reason for so barbarrous a proceeding arose from the transaction mentioned in the former part of the narrative. Fisher overjoyed at the success of the scheme by which he had defrauded his creditors, forgot to regain possession of the deed of conveyance by which he had made over his properly to Worral. The thought occurred to Worral that if he could only get Fisher quietly out of the way, he would be able to claim possession of the property in right of that conveyance. This project had repeatedly occurred to him while Fisher was in jail, and he had resolved even then, either to regain possession of the private agreement which compelled him to restore the property, whenever it might be required, or to get rid of him entirely. Foiled in his scheme to obtain possession of this document by Fisher's unexpected liberation, he formed the diabolical scheme which he ultimately accomplished.

Under the mask of friendship, he was Fisher's companion during the day—and night after night he watched Fisher's motions from the time of his return from jail, but had accidentally been foiled in every attempt he had made, until the one on which the murder was committed.

On that night he was as usual prowling about Fisher's cottage, looking out for an opportunity to attain his ends, when Fisher, tempted by the beauty of the evening, left his house to take a walk, followed at some distance by Worral. At the place where the blood was afterwards discovered, Fisher stopped and leaned against the fence, apparently wrapped in deep thought. The assassin had now before him the opportunity he had so long waited for, and taking up a broken panel of the fence, he stole quietly behind him, and with one blow of his weapon stretched him lifeless on the ground; he carried the dead body from the scene of the murder to the place where it was afterwards discovered, and buried it deep in the sand.

A few weeks after he had made the confession, he expiated his crime on the scaffold, imploring with his last breath the forgiveness of his Maker.


THE END