|Newspaper Title||The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934)|
|Trove Title||Bill Hawkins and the Mystery of the Black Forest|
The sun was just sinking "behind a dark cloud which threatened n heavy storm, on the evening of the ihivd day .succeeding the escape of Bill and Smith from the Melbourne lock-up. It-wanted only an .hour wlieu total darkness woidd set in, uud to all appearance the night would be anylhiug but a pleasant one to spend in tlio busb. The wind began to whistle through Ihc branches ,of the huge trees
most melaiiehoty si rain, and the hcaveus clearly indicated a very unsettled state of things. Kvery now and 'again ouc of the " monsters of fhc forest" measured its length upon the spot that hud nourished it, perhaps for centuries, creating in its downward career a loud and dismal noise, simitar to tho descent of an avalanche in the frozen regions. As the last faint glimmer of daylight was dying out in tho midst of the Black Forest, a solitary individual was employed in ..pulling down branches from tho young saplings for tho purpose of making a shelter from the coming storm. There was something in tho appear ance of this man that was of the very opposite of prepossessing: not that ho was bad-looking, but his peculiar look, when he moved his restless eves, and frowned as lie gazed upon the gathering storm, conveyed to the beholder a. very disagreeable impression of the nlan. In height he appeared about six feet, ami well builC every iibre of his frame being well developed, and displaying great muscular st rength; lita age being about thirty livo years, judging from external appearance.
Tho"mimi" the num was inakiiig had hardly received its lust bough when the rain began Ui pour down in torrents, uud the stranger cusoonsod himself, as best he could, with his blankets wrapped round him, witliiu the narrow pivcincls of his prcmitive abode.
More-pork! More-pork! More-pork! Has the reader ever heard this dismal wail in the
wild hush when he has been camped by him self; If not, he cannot appreciate the'lenely impression it conveys. It is without exception tlic most doleful note emitted by any of the inhabitants of the Australian continent. No words can adequately paint the doleful sound. It savours of tho unhealthy, and once heard is never forgotten. Tliis was tho music that lulled the stranger to sleep, while tho paltering rain trickled down tlio beams that formed the
covering -without of his mimi. The fire he J had lit before the storm began, had dwindled j down to a pure spark. "When tlie rain ceased, lie woke up-with a start, and looked carefully round. Observingthatthcfire was nearly extinct, he roused luniself and got from underneath his " bough cottage*' to replenish the fuel. "\Vhilo thus employed he thought he saw someUilng 'moving through the bushes at a short distance from, where ho was . standing, but could distinguish nothing beyond a black object, that - scorned' • to glide along in a ;mysterious manner,' and he thought he heard .the clinking of metal. Although a brave man, lie felt a certain -undefined sensation of awe .or fear creeping over him, but be resolved, if pos sible, to iind out who or what the mysterious
object was. In furtherance of this determina tion he made towards the clump of bushes where he had seen the movement of liis unknown visitor, but could see nothing. "What ever it was, it had vanished like a dream. He examined the bushes with a lighted stick, and plainly saw the traces of something that re sembled the dragging of a chain through the grass, and hem and there the bark wa3 bruised upon the small stems of .the young saplings. il "What could it be ?" he asked himself.. That it was something real and tangible he had not the slightest doubt, but to give it "form," or explain to himself the phenomenon, he could not. ne stood and listened, at the same time carefully surveying the locality within, tho line of his vision, which was very .limited, in couseqticncc of the intc-usc darkness, but he could hear nothing but tho sad notes of the " more-porks," and the whistling of the wind through the trees. Although the rain had sub sided, the heavy clouds still hung overhead, and presented a'threatvning aspect.
, " What could that have been r" the stranger exclaimed aloud. " I'll swear I saw some tiling."
. " Good evening, male," said a voice close to
• The stranger started as if he had been sbbt, for, although he had asked himself the question aloud as to what it could have been he had i secu, he really began to persuade himself tliat
| ho bad been" deluded, when the voice of the ' now comer startled him, and in his excitement : he bad turned round with the large firc-stick
lie held iu his hand, and assumed a threatening defensive attitude. . •
." Who are you," he asked of the intruder.
to get under an old tree down the hilt there, where I would have stayed all night if 1 had been able to get a fire, but all my matches got wet, and I got cramped with the.cold, sol started up the hill to get along a bit to warm mc, when ! saw your fire, audyou sec hero I am." *
I>ut was it not yon who was. in those bushes a few minutes ago r"
"31c? no I I tell you I came up the hill I
nr the m.nl'I along the road."
Well its veryMrango. fori saw something
moving in those Lushes just before you came | up, and heard a noise like a chain rattling
15ut never miiul, como up to tho fire and warm | yourself and weTl have a chnl."
the fire was now at a very low ebb, the two jiicn gathered some togs and small wood for the purpose of repleuislung it, aud in a few minutes there was a blazing llame that illumed tlic spot for many yards round the camp.
. "Where did you como from?" asked the | stranger from the new comer.
" »om Bendigo."
" Were vou disrginsr ?" "Yes."*
" How did you succeed " Pretty well."
" Is there an opening ? . Do you
Here hi3 questioning was cut short, aud he I rose to his feet, mechanically, staring in a wild 1 manner in the direction of the spot where his
companion had surprised him. I
" Look thcro!" said the stranger, poiuliug to |
Tho new comer followed the instructions given him, turning life eyes in the direction indicated, and in a moment he seemed to rfeo to liis legs involuntarily. They both stood gazing on the same spot, neither being able to speak or move. They were literally dutu-' founded, and transfixed to where tliey stood.
The object of their terror was distant ouly I some fifty yards, where there could bo seen | from amid the branches of the clump of bushes, ! the outlino of a densely black form, standing 1 erect, with a pair of eyes that shono iu the darkness like two bright stars or diamonds, but conveying, as they peered through the leaves, an impression that they were tho orbs of the evil one.' Xot a move was to be seen in those glistening circles, they seemed to be fixed stars without a flicker.
It was a striking tobkau to see the two men standing in mute terror, the one having a hand extended, the other with both arms hanging helplessly by his side, while both had their heads cast forward in the direction of tlic bushes, the eyes of each fixed and ready to start from their sockets, aud the cause of their disquietude, facing tlieni, with, to all appear ance, tho same fear aud • inability to move
break tho chaiiu that bouud all three.
How long Ihcy might have contiuued to occupy thoir respective attitudes it is difficult to say had not souio extraneous circumstance arisen to break tho spell, but certain it fe that both the men were suffering excruciating tor ture of suspense, although but a few minutes had elapsed aiucu the appearauee of the object that had caused their terror—when a very simple incident relieved them. This was nothing move nor less than the shrill cry of an old opossum just above the head of the darkj mysterious intruder, which caused it- first to look up, then to givo a piteous howl, and Then turn and scamper through the dark defile below, still leaving behind it the clear aT\d distinct
clinking of a heavy ch:tin^-0£ such at sounded.
i the ears of tho two men who remained look
| ing in tlio direction for somo minutes, perfectly,
aghast. 7 t
"Wkeu ajl U^d fceoii quiet for socio three
minutes, the two men turned about and looked at each other, their countenances being aa palo as death, while the eyes of each eeemcd to enquire of the, other an explanation of'tho horrible visitant. Neither was able to speak for some time, but stood facing each other in utter amazement. At last the atranger'fouhd ?
his tongue, and said—
"Didn't .I tell you I saw something down'
ehull aguin, for I am sure it was the Devil."
• " Well, although I don t altogether think it was his Satanic majesty, it was very much, like .what .ho is represented to be, and it has so unmanned Die that I should not like to see it again."
" Amen!" say I.
Tlie two now resumed their seats and at tempted a connected conversation, but it' was no use, their minds had been too much upset to admit of their doing so; for their thonghts wandered away to the inexplicable mystery
wliich had disturbed them. After several vain efforts to. talk.they fell into a reclining position and stared at the fire, being to all appearances oblivious to each other and all around them. They had lain thus- for some half-boor when they were disturbed by the wild and heart-rending cry, or howl, that they liad heard before. Both men jumped to their feet simultaneously as, if an electric current liad passed through - them. They looked in the old quarter from whence the sound had proceeded, but conld see nothing/ hut they could again hear the clink, clink, clink, clink, of the chain away down the gully . "X say mate," said the new comer, supposing we ? make tracks from this place. I tell yon right out I am not going to stay here any longer than it will take me to tie up my swag, .and instead of going through this back road to Melbourne, as X had intended, I'll go hack to Kvneton with you and take the coach for it." •
"•I am quite agreeable to start," the stranger answered, " for there is some evil spirit haunt ing tliis spot."
No lime was lost in packing up, and the" travellers humped their swags, and started through tho gloomy forest, with comparatively light hearts to think that they were getting away from a spot inhabited by beings from the
The sun was just rising above the eastern horizon the morning succeeding the singular appearance and disappearance of the unex plainable monster that had so terrified the two meii, and had led to their precipitate retreat when they came in sight of the township of Kyueton." They had travelled all night, and each, having a pretty heavy swag, they'felt tired out. The new coiner, as we have desig nated him, in contradistinction to the stranger,
"let's go and have some breakfast at the Old Glasgow, mate." •
" All right. "What do they charger"
" That's very high for a feed."
"Yes, but you can't get it less." '•
« Well, then, I suppose we must pay what's "going." • ' ?=. ' .'.'" '
i'That we musb'er 6tarvc; for these hotel kccpcrs-'aro doing such a'stroke' that they don't make many beans about, telling you to clear out if yon grumble at tlieir charges or the fare tbey offer you." ' ' ' ' ?
AVithoul further parley they directed 'their steps to tlio hotel named, and entered the tap room, where they threw down their swags, and retired to the back yard to have a wash at the pump preparatory to breakfast, which made its appearance in due course smoking hot."
The public tire really too inconsiderate in their demands ou the time of hard-worked men. Mr. Thackeray, in one of his " Round about Papers.-" was most pathetic in his de scription of tlie thorns in an editor's cushion. And now, Mr. Herbert Spencer, the eminent sociologist, lias been compelled to announce by a lithographed circular, tluit he is so deeply cngaged in liis special studies that he can no longer answerinqnties, requests forautographs, and other miscellaneous demands made upon
Good Ci'Stomeus.—A Belgian hotel keeper is ;especially "sweet" ou Russian customers.
Tliey are" large, see you," lie states; " they ? dispute not the nccounts. Once lodged himself at mo a Count he relates. " When he arrived I was nor. I returned home from my circle: my wife was all frightened. Sho cry to me, 1 Go,"speak to tlie Mister Russian; lie beat all the waiters—lie is in anger—but what an anger!' I ask of what it is question. . One tells mo iliat the count he insist that tlie waiters take him off his boots. .They are brave Belgians: tbey will not. Tie striko tliem,'ami say stern follies. I had courage, I: I feared me not of him. I go to his room and say. Mr. tho Count, I am tho proprietor: .what* will you?" 'Sir, he say, 'I will pull me off the boots!" Mv first sentiment is ile lui liibngtr mw chi'iue—to give him a snmok; but-1 master myself and say, ' Wait only two,'minute^, Mr. tho Count; I liave an order to give.' So I run to my wife, and tell her to give mo my dtoa coat, gloves, my groy-pearl, my gibus, my
pautaloons black. In two'minutes behold me. . of great Uiim. I go back to tho count;' I say liim,,' Only in dress of gala can the proprietor of this liolel take off your boots,' and, my faith. I tako liim them off in oue, two! Herais himself, bow liimsell", ami tliaukmc very politely. By-nnd-bye, in threeweeks, lie ask for his bill I inscribe oil it, as 'extras, ' To taking off Mi. the Count's:boot3 bv the proprietor in a dres
cc.-.t and grey-pearl- gloves^-lOO-francs:' 11' ?frown his eye-brows when ho read that, bnt he not say one word." Ho pay that addilion-in tegrally. Never lie ask 'me' more to serve liim as a pull-boot. . But conic regularly, three, four ycars lie unite, to my hotel; and ho' always says to hie, ' Mr. . vou are a brave—you are sU