|Chapter Title||HEARTRENDING CRUELTY.|
|Newspaper Title||Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 - 1938)|
|Trove Title||Two in a Fix|
CHILDREN'S STQBY. -
?-— ? ' — «M» ? TWO IN A FIX. CHAPTER I. HEARTRENDING CRUELTY. .
'The brute! Did you see that, Tedr'' Ted Watson's jaws set tight and he ad vanced menacingly towards the hulking mass of humanity whose brutal kick had sent a half-starved little terrier yelping into the., middle of the road. He 'was
just in time to save the dog from another attack. ' ' -V ' ? ' ' . 'you cowardly brute!' he': flung at the man. 'Do that again,' and Til knock you down.' ???..?-;?(:. .?? l; ??-.??-?,?? ???.-. For a moment-Bill -''Crawford, the terror ? of all the terrors of the little town of , Marlingford, was' too surprised to speak. For years the navvy had held undisputed sway' over the rougher elements or the town among whom he mixed, and now here was a youth not yet out of his teens— a well-set, broad-shouldered young fellow, it was true, but still a puny youth com pared with himself — threatening to knock him down for kicking a miserable little
brute. An evil sneer spread over his coarse race, while his ears wandered from Ted to the 'dog,- which Jimmy, Ted's younger brothre, was now fondling. ... ?? Then, with a quick movement, he snatched, the little animal from Jimmy s arm9 and with a loud -laugh huried^it across the road. ; : He meant to tell Ted to knock him down after that, but he hadn't time. For Ted Watson's right flashed out with startling force into his face, while the fol low-up blow which caught him squarely at the point of the jaw, sent him crashing
to the pavement. ,,,„,, n For a moment it seemed that Ted would fling himself on the navvy's prostrate form and continue his punishment, but he pulled himself together with a jerk, and. thrust ing his hands deep clown into his pockets, turned to -his younger brother. ,.-:., 'Come on, Jimmy,' he said. 'Let s get away before I'm tempted to pound tho lite out of tho beast.' 'I'm going to confiscate the dog, an nouneod Jimmy. 'That brute would kill .him if we left him hero.' As if understanding the boy s words the terrier crawled lamely from tho hedge in which it had taken refuge and crouched it e'That settles it,' laughed Ted. 'Come on doggie, come homo and be cared lor. You look as though n good nieal wouldn t ^Bili Crawford scrambled to his feet and made as if to stop the dog. But something in Ted's face drew him up. 'All riMit,' ho cried, as the brothers and thei' new friends set off down the road. 'All right, my beauties. Bill Craw ford ain't the one to get his face 1'^kecl off and never say a word. I 11 got ono hack on yer very soon.' . ?!?,?„.,?:.,, l.nmvl f.lm words and smiled up
into his elder brother's lace. ' You did give him b«M,ns, Ted, old man,', he said with admiration ringing in Ins voice. Ho won't get over it verv quickly. 'Ho deserved all lio got, and more be sides,' announced Ted, 'but— well— I m afraid I haven't much cause t-] - ooneratulale myself on what I've don,;. Bill Cvawtm-d /an uglv customer, and would stoop to anything 'for revenge Ah w,ll,' ho add ed after a pause, '1 had to tin it ioi the dog's sake, Poor httlo beasc. : Ho stooped and pat tod the terrier, now trotting oontontedly between him and ms brothel 'It's always worth wh. e to ware a. little pity for our dumb iriends, isn t »t,
doggie? We don't care for Bill Crawford, . do we, doggie We'll let him do his worst, doggie, and chance the consequences.' And at that very moment Bill Crawford was doing his worst. What he didn't caro to do alone Bill meant to accomplish in another way. He knew where to find some i of his- choicest friends, and, having foun-1 them, the rest was easy. The Watsons' house stood a short dis tance out of the town. No other residence was within half a mile of it. Everyone in Marlingford knew where John Watson, the manufacturer, lived, and Bill Crawford knew which roads to take to come up with the brothers. Ted and Jimmy were strolling leisurely along about a mile from home when they first had warning of the navvy's intentions. They had reached the outskirts of the town- and had turned down a narrow lane bordered on tho one side by a high wall, on. the other by a hedge, when the sound of hurrying feet on the road behind them caused Jimmy to turn. He gave a faint cry of surprise. 'Good- ness, Ted,' he said, 'the navvy and the three other chaps are pelting down the road after us.' ?? - ;;-;!? . ':?:?-:'?; Ted looked over -his f shoulderv ^''WKeiw,' he whistled, 'we're in for it how, young ster. It's either run or fight. Which shall it he?' . -;;V.V;--r IS. ;':/?.? ? / ? ? ;;r'-':r 'Fieht. of course.' sharmed Jim. . * v
Ted smiled. He knew that unless succour came they would both receive a sound driibV bing — perhaps something worse.' Yet he was glad Jimmy had chosen as he hadi jr } 'Right you are, youngster,' he' cried apt provingly. 'We'll fight by the wall 'liei;e] No chance of running away tlieii.' f^'j ^ v He swung round as he spoke 'ju$t;in tiine to receive the foremost of the.;meri:..rfl'ho came charging towards theni;-' ':;Next^iiio« ment the brothers were .nghtingijiForHheir. very lives. ??:;' '?''.'':'. ^|^.W--?''^H-: At the first onslaiight Jimmy wSnt' down with' a heavy blow on the heS'd;^but^h^was oh his feet again like a shot, : giving and taking blow after blow with a ;'yigor. that spoke of good training and. a stout heart. Ted was fighting like a Trojans Time and again he sent an opponent rollings to the ground. He knew how to use his fists, and never wasted a blow. When he couldn't hit effectively he contented himT self with warding off attack. : ' .' : But weight and numbers were, telling. . Again Jimmy was floored and again he. was on his. feet. ' Then Ted went down and for a moment Jimmy was left to face -..the cowardly gang alone. ? '
But help came to the brothers from a quite unexpected quarter. At ,the first rush of the men the terrier had taken » e- fuge in the hedge. But, apparently feel ing incumbent upon him to help those who had befriended him, he now rushed, for ward and distracted the navvies' attention by snapping and snarling at their, heels. . Ted and Jimmy took full advantage, of the momentary panic which the dog caused among the men and set about them with good will. But they were both feeling the stress of the fight, and their breath came in hard sobs that told their opponents that the end was near and encouraged them, to fresh efforts. ??;? --.' TWl's left eve was rapidly, closing, as. the
result, of the 'blow that felled Him, , while Jimmy's face looked pitiful in ; its .bruised ; and battered state. At last, with a shout of pain, Jimmy crashed to the .ground^. ^ His brother's cry seemed to imbue led ; with superhuman strength. / .,, ? _,;; '?; ;';:|-- /. He dashed among the men, hitting .right and left. Gone now was all the science which had done so much for him in the fio-ht. The cool, calculating Ted seemed txTrned to a fury. Blindly, furiously, he lashed out in all directions, the coarse, brutal laughs of tho men only spurring him to wilder efforts. The blows which were rained upon him seemed to fall on unfeel ing flesh. He never afterwards had a very clear recollection of what happened during those few minutes of madness. He knew that Jimmv was. lying senseless on the ground, hurled there bv hands that ought never to have been raised against a boy, and, knowing that, a wild lust for re vehgo took possession of him, and he fought as he had never fought, before. Then suddenly he became aware that the men beforo him were giving way. Dimly ho heard words of encouragement, rage, and threat from behind. Through the mist that was gradually shutting out his sight he saw three blue figures leap between him and his opponents ; heard savage oaths and heavy blows. ' Then hard hands took him in a kind em brace, a curtain of blackness fell, and he knew no more. CHAPTER II. THE HIDEOUS HUNCHBACK. Two days after the great fight Jimmy crawled from his bed in time to meet led on his arrival home from his business in the town. The doctor who had been called in liorl rtnniTnniirWl i-lin brothers to liOOP to
their beds for the greater part of a week, but Tod had gone to the bank as usual after a day's rest, and, in spite of all pro testations,' Jimmy had followed his lead and had risen late in the afternoon. _ Ho was anxious to know whether led had again seen anything of the little band of bluejackets who had come to their aid in the struggle with Bill Crawford's gang. For the flashes of blue which Ted had seen ere consciousness left him were the uniforms of four Jack Tars on leave, who, catching sight of the unequal struggle^ had joined in the fray with characteristic vigor, putting tho hulking navvies to ignomini our flight, and afterwards assisting the brothers homo in rough kindliness, and
then departing as hurriedly as they had appeared. But 5 o'clock came, then 6, and no Ted appeared. When the clock on the montel piece chimed 7 Jimnvy put on his hat and hurried off to the town. But the bank was in darkness and inquiries of the w-atchman only elicited the fact that all the clerks had left at the usual hour. Disconsolately Jimmy returned home, hoping against hope that 'led had made a call on his way, and would be waiting for him on his arrival. But the look on his mother's face as she opened the door to his knock told him that Ted had not yet arrived home. Mrs. Watson had grown more anxious with every minute that passed after the time for Ted's arrival. She had heard many rumors as to the doings of the rougher elements of Marlingford, and she feared for Ted's safety. Hour after hour passed and still Ted did not appear. Making all manner of vain excuses for his absence, Jimmy and his 'mother did their best to cheer each other. But both knew that only something extra ordinarily unusual could keep Ted away from home that evening. Mr. Watson was abroad on business, and his sons always made -o_ point of spending their evenings with their mother during : his frequent absences. Besides, Ted had
far from recovered from the effects of the -sight, . ?Even the terrier, the innocent cause of all the ? -;trouhle, who had quite installed himself in the Watson household, .seemed to know that something untoward had J thrown a gloom over his new friends, and nestled close up to' 'Jimmy as though to comfort him. - ''??'?.' ',' '?'. ;?;'; ?'?'?;'! 1 When midnight chimed the boy jumped to his feet: 'I can't stand this : suspense any longer, mother,' he cried ? ; 'I'm going but tolvunt for old Ted.' -.-£ ? ' '?.?? ?-_?:.': -;??''? ? ^Mrs. Watson demurred, but^Jimnry' .'was obdurate, and in her heart !,his7 mother praised Jim for his eagerness' to clear up the mystery. ,''',,' '.;.', ?? With a- cheery 'Don't you' worry, mo ther,'. Jimmy swung out of the house and down the drive into the lane. Arrived at the gate he paused, then turned to the right, and set off down the road at a steady pace. . ..-. . ;. Something, he knew riot what, seemed to be drawing him away from the town. A strange, iindefinable power told him that Ted was in danger somewhere, in that direction and dragged him forward; to the
rescue. . . Without stopping to ponder upon the ad-, disability of taking, the course upon .which he was set he dashed onwards.' Then stid denly a thought flashing through liis- brain set the blood tingling and caused him to break out into a run.' --???? ???-?? .?:?' '; About a mile further down the lane was an abandoned quarry. The place had been abandoned by the owners years before, ana many of the disused pits were now.- -half- filled with water. Jimmy knew -the. ??place, to be the haunts of such men as Crawford, who gambled away their money in the dilapidated huts that still stood around there. Jimmy now had no doubt that he d find his brother here. But would he be
A horrible dread seized him that Ted was pasF-'helpSn were capable- of ???almost any fiendish deed. - Perhaps* eyen'vnow his brotMr's.:' lifeless b%Jy.;.'was;ly:ing^ brie -''of the. 'pits. : '??''.',. ?'.' ?'..' '. ,, V-- j : Presently a dilapidated gate m the hedge toTd him that he had reached the quarry. Ho stopped - and gazed long and bitterly, into the blackness. Then, hastily climbing the gate he started off again. A light flickering away in the distance had caught his eye. He named it for. a lantern burning in one of the huts and spurred onwards. Perhaps Ted was in there, perhaps a gang of ruffians gamb ling. Anyway it was worth trying. ?\ few yards from the hut he paused and listened.' At first no sound reached his ears Then gradually a low mumbling voice came to him— a weird, haunting sound, strangely unnerving in that deso late place. Gradually, as he listened,^ sound increased, grow and grew, ? until, it was an awful piercing shriek— a, shriek uncanny and unreal. With eyes -fixed on the little square of glass which^servecLas a window for the hut, Jimmy; dropped Jo his knees. ? ' .:??; :- i*' ':;v ??- ';???? What could the souiutmean? . .. -_ -v Cautiously he crawled along towards the hut. A great fear grinped his heart .and. made him long to flee from that haunting, shriek, but ho called himself coward and crawled on. 1 w Suddenly the sound dropped to a. low moan. Then ceased altogether. - / Jimmv had reached the hut and was rais in«- himself to his feet, when again the cry ran' out wild and piercing like a being in torment. He paused, then clasping the sill of the window, peered cautiously within. The sicht that met his gaze held him spellbound, while great heads of perspira tion broke out over his forehead tor there in a corner of the hut, bound and holiness, Ted was lying, while round him danced a creature of such appearance that it was with difficulty that Jimmy.- repress ed a cry of horror. \ A little hideous, hunchbneked ererturo it was. 'dressed in rags, with long matted hair and beard that hung over a huge head and face, so hideous that ono wondered whether man could possibly be possessed of su^h features. . , . _ Spellbound, Jimmy watched the awtul shape dance round and round 1m brother, while Ted gazed with, horror-stricken eves upon tho form. As ho danced the hunch back gave vent' to the earsp'littine shrioks 1 that had so startled Jimmy, and flung out
long arms with hideous hands, as if intend ing to rend his prisoner limb from limb. All suddenly he ceased his gyrations and backed to the -other end of the hut, out of the watching boy's vision. ,')immy, gazing at his brother's face, saw it take on a look of horror such as he had never before -be- held. For creeping along the floor of the hut came the hunchback, his face working in hideous passion, in his hand a red-hot iron. ?--.?'.. With a loud cry Jimmy dropped from the window, and rushed to the door of the hut. But ere he could throw himself upon it the door opened, and the awful apparition he had seen within dashed out upon him. Jimmy saw the iron, heard one piercing shriek, then turned and fled into the darkness with the hunchback at his heels. But it was with no idea of running away from his brother that Jimmy took to flight. Even as the hunchback sprang towards him a plan flashed across his mind. He must draw this hideous being away from the but and return there himself. Once inside there with Ted he would trust to luck -to find a way out again. With this end in view, he dashed round the hut. With the hunchback less than' a yard behind him he reached the door and bounded within, clashing the door to in his pursuer's face with a wild laugh that spoke of nerves strung to the breaking point. Ere he could fasten thu door with the rough wooden staple that held it-' the hunchback flung himself upon- it, forcing the boy back. But with a superhuman 'ef- fort Jimmy regained himself and drove the staple home. ' - ? Barred as it was, he knew the door could not resist the onslaught which the hunch back was making upon it. but .'he had 'no fear of the iron now. Ted and-he were a match- for the murderous little villain,: ho knew. ; With a cry of joy he dashed, to where his brother lay,' and in less time than it -takes to tell Ted was -released from his bonds and was gripping his brother's hand in grate ful thankfulness. - '- ' 'The fiends!' he muttered.' 'Craw- ford's rang brought me here to that mad man. The brute seems to have lived her© for years. He's quite a harmless indi vidual normally, but the gang -told him I had been trying to get him turned .out and worked him up to such a pitch of fury be fore they left that he'd have killed me u ?-rvi-i Via^r-'+. pomp when vou did. Well,
you've saved my life ,yo\ingster.' _ Then the lads formed their scheme tor escape. They opened the door slightly. In rushed the hunchback, his, bar raised high He never had an opportunity to use it ? Ted's fist struck him full on the jaw arid he dropped to the floor like a log. Txiey shut the door on him and left him there.. When two policemen visited the quarry next dav he was nowhere to be ? io'und. Doubtless he had fled to make his abodejf.n sonie other piece of waste ground. lne same two policemen, calling at Bill^ra«v ford's cottage, discovered that that worthy had found it expedient to leave the dis trict without a word of farewell.. And not even Bill's wife and family were ever heard to express regret at his sudden Uo
P^The good folk of Marlingford ^whenever ?Jiininy:. and; the, terrier ™ss before them, point ^ to; the 'dog, and tell - each othei r how thermal nearly came to cause tho e of vbung Mr. Watson, and wjien led heaid Srif- Words- he smiles. 'I ; w as worth while,' he says.-'The Scout.'