|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Falling Cross - Two Christmas Days|
After ft few weeks bad pawed without Treffle returning to Melbourne from Sydney, the Kopers began to wonder whether he had gone through without coming to see them again. A letter sent to Luoy Treffle drew from her the information that her husband had gone on bueinefls into the interior, possibly to be absent for some months, bates his letter to her had conveyed the impreBiicn that he did not wish to have the matter dis cussed more than was neoessary, here to Mazy Boper was in terms still more vague, Ab she did not appear to intend to be com municative the Boners determined to trait until they should be enlightened, and they forbore to make further enquiries.
About five months after Treifie had been so barbarously left a poor woman came to the door of the Kopers' house, and begged Patty to come and Bee a man, her lodger, who was very ill. It was no nnusual summons for Patty, and, as she had some knowledge of the woman, she followed her to her dwelling, which was in one of the poorest Btreets of the neighbourhood. The man had come there nearly a fortnight previously in a low state of health, and since then be had taken cold, followed by an attaok of inflamma tion of the lungs. A doctor had seen him, and had said that it was a very donbtf nl oase, and that removal to the hospital would be too hazardous. Patty could, not do much for him beyond providing him with some comforts which the woman was unable to bestow, and he appeared grateful for these. When, however, she offered to read to him he declined, though he followed her move ments with wiBtfnl eyes, and when she left he begged her to come again.
On the following day Patty was again at the bedside of the patient, who was weaker. He assented when she again offered to read to him, but he was restless, and his thoughts for the greater part of the time were evi dently far away. Several times be, seemed to be on the point of Baying something, and Patty oonld hear him murmur to himBelf, " not yet, not yet." She came again in the evening, bat he was asloop, under the in fluence of a draught which the dootor had given to him; and the woman of the house told Patty that she was sure he bad some thing on hie mind that he was anxiouB to tell, and that he had several times asked when she, Patty, would be back again.
Next morning there was a decided ohange for the worse, and the doctor, who had been round early, had told the patient that he had .not many hours to live, so that if he wished to tend any messages to his friends he must do it at onc6, The man, who waa quite oonsoious, understood him perfectly, bnt was seemingly unmoved by the announcement,
Patty found the woman waiting for her arrival, as ahe wished to go out, but oould not leave her lodger alone. As soon as she was gone the latter unburdened his mind, and his story was one which filled Patty with horror. It was clearly and fully told, the speaker's strength only failing suddenly when he approaohed the end; but aB it 1b already known to the reader down to the point when the man, who was JenkinB, reached Adelaide with Stoper, it is only neoes sary to relate what happened subsequently.
The worthy pair arrived in town on a Saturday afternoon, and as a fitting termina tion to their sucoessful adventure they deter mined to celebrate it by what they called a glorious spree. They bad sense enongh, how ever, to wish to deposit their gold in a place ai Bafety before oommenoing thiB, and as they could not plaoe it in a Bank, wnich they had intended doing before the following Monday, they hired a trap, and drove to the nearest point of the hills, where they bnried it in a seoiuded gaily, using every oare not to be observed. Jenkins took the,precaution o writing down an exaot description of the spot, and the marks by which the gully was to be found on going out from town, as he distrusted the strength of their memory after their spree. The paper he put,oarefauy in a tin tonaooo box which he had in his pocket. They had withdrawn a few ounces, about twenty pounds' worth, and with minds a ? ease they returned to town to oommence their orgie. Thoy had no difficulty in find ing a person to give them cash at a libera^ discount for their gold, representing theme selves as coming irom Teetulpa, and the fine sample exhibited in the shop window next week no doubt gave a wholesome fillip to the excitement about the diggings there.
They did not sit down to their intellectual amusement, but roved from bar to bar, treat ing a fresh group of loafera at each. Stoper was more quiokly affected by the liquor than Jenkins (though the latter was becoming excited), and its first effect was to render bim quarrelsome and obstinate. When he expressed hie determination to go forthwith and dig np the gold Jenkins told him flatly that he shonld do nothing of the kind, and he then tried to evade the latter in the Btreet. Jenkins, however, was not to, be shaken offj and when Stoper saw this he sullenly marched away, as steadily as circumstances would permit, without knowing or oaring whither he went. Down King William-road, aoross the bridge, and into the Park lands on the right, Jenkins following like a shadow; and though the street lamps had been left behind the light, of a bright moon more than supplied their plaoe. Every now and then Jenkins made some earoastie remark upon its being a pleasant sight tor a walk, or begged Mb friend not to ehorten this on hiB account, and though Stoper vouchsafed no reply he granted fiercely with rising wrath.^ At last he turned savagely upon Jenkins, and, striking at him, cloBed, and tbey rolled on the ground together. Slotting np again, they renewed their fight, and at last Stoper pulled out the revolver and tried to shoot Jenkins, but as it had been emptied and not reloaded, the look choked harmlessly. Then JenkinB rushed m and planted a heavy blow upon the ear of Stoper who fell to the ground with a deep groan, and lay motionlesB. Jenkins,sainted hun with a hick in the ribs, telling him to get up, and as be did not stir he turned him over so that the moon shone full on his faoe.
The walk and the subsequent struggle had done much to dissipate the fumes of the liqnor whioh Jenkins had taken, and the sight of the fixed white face, with, its open staring eyes, completely recalled him to his senses. He placed his band upon Stopers heart, but it was still, and indeed the aotion was enperflnous|, aa Hie faoe told its tale too sorely, and he knew that he had murdered Mb oompanion. Bis first impulse was to glance fearfully around, to see that there had
Men no witness of the deed, and his next was to flee from the spot. Before he had gone twenty yards he was overwhelmed with the
thought that the body mut be hidden, and be unwittingly returned. He then deaoried the revolver lying on the ground, and putting it in hie pooket he considered what nan to be
The place was within & few yards of the river, and near to the Government bridge. Jenkins looked at the water and it appeared to be deep, but what if the body should float ? With feverish haste he collected some stones, running to the road for the purpose, but trembling lest he ehonld be seen; and soon the ghastly object was lying at the bottom of the pool, tbe bosom and pockets staffed with stones to keep it there.
When Jenkins awoke on the calm Sunday morning he did not at first realize what had
happened, but aoon the full horror of it | ruBhed upon him. Many a time before had
he killed people in idea, and if he had | possessed brutal courage equal to hie will he might perhaps have been a murderer in fact long ere this. He had not, however, the combination of attributea requisite to render him one of the most dangerous olass, being a cur at heart, and, now that the consumma tion had come upon him unawares, the shock was stunning.
He was possessed by a dread that the body
was floating, and he oould not refrain from [ revisiting the eoene of the murder, but of
course nothing was visible, and he breathed J more freely. He wished to disaesooiate him self from all oonneotion with the orime bb for bb he could, and he was on the point of
throwing the revolver into the water, | but seeing some people lounging about
the bridge be dared not do so at the | time. He afterwards changed his mind about this, and kept the pistol. Leaving the place after his glance at the water, he con tinued onwards by the river until he reached the Haokney Bndge, which he crossed in order to return to town through the park. He felt that he could not bring himself to toueh the gold at present, but he would get away from Adelaide as quiokly as possible and return some day to obtain it. In the meantime he wished even to get rid of the written clue to its position, ae he feared that it might be evidence against him if found on his person, and he lucked for eome safe place that he would not forget, in which to put the tobacco-box containing it. He saw a mark whioh he considered suitable, and he buried
the box beneath it a few inches under-1 ground.
It was one thing to have put his friend's body out of sight, but quite another to get rid of its presence, whioh JenkinB could not do. Night and day the faoe of the dead man, gleaming ghastly and white in the moonlight, haunted him, and, as he could not Bleep without constantly starting np from fearful dreams, he became ill. He had left Adelaide for Melbourne by the first steamer, and after changing hie lodgingB frequently ne had at
last came to the poor room where Patty found j him, the money which he had brought with 1 him nearly gone.
Patty waB greatly upBet by being made the recipient of such a dreadful secret, and would have wished to have had some other partici pator, but Jenkins would not have consented to tbie. His story told he began to show symptoms of collapse, and she could not leave him. At tbe last he could scarcely speak, and Bhe nerved herself to do what she thought most needful while there was time. What wbb tbe name of the murdered man, and of
the one who died in the bush 1 The one ! Jenkins had spoken of as Stoper, and It might be bis real name or not, but tbe other —what was it? Jenkins tried to oolleot hie ecattered faculties, but he could ecaroely remember " Ah! Tnrton, or something like it." He thought his revolver bad a name on it, Then oame silence, and Patty thought that all was over, but Jenkins managed to Bpeak again elowlyand faintly. " Get—the—gold—for— Xnrton's—widow," " Where is the tobacco
box?" Patty asked. " Under—falling—cross | —park"—were Jenkins's last and scarcely ]
If tbe Ropers were shocked at Patty s recital, what was their horror when the
dead man's poor reUos were examined and , the name Edward Treffle was seen engraved on tbe revolver. Luoy Treffle evidently knew nothing of her husband's sad fate, or she would have written, and she was even now in all probability joyfully anticipating his return. The intelligence had to be conveyed to her somehow, but what was the best way of lightening the shock. After a long family consultation it was considered advisable tbat
Patty should go to Adelaide at once and break the news personally. She would then
be able to give her sympathy and the comfort | that her presenoe would afford under the
afilioting circumstances, as well as to answer j the host of questions which Luoy would wish j to ask, and it was deemed beet not even to telegraph that ehe was coming.
It was afternoon when Patty alighted from tbe tramoar, and valise in hand, walked towards Mrs, Treffle's house, not a hundred
yards distant. Sbe had to skirt the fence at j
the rear of the house, and, as she did so, she heard the voice of Luoy, ringing while she was engaged upon some work at the back, and all unconscions of the blow that was about to fall. Patty's tender heart bled as
she thought how eoon Lucy's joy would be i turned to unutterable sorrow, and for tbe space of a minute she leaned against the fence unable to prooeed. It had to be done, however, and she went to her bitter task.
side of the house to go round to the baok, end : as she turned the corner her heart seemed to leap into her mouth, when ehe found herself face to faoe with Treffle. epade in hand and very much alive. " Why, Patty!" he Bald "ThisiBan unexpected pleasure;" but the
next moment he rushed forward to oatoh her j