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Phantom Horse (1928)

Phantom Horse (1928)

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Sunday Times 1928 (Feb 19)
Sunday Times 1928 (Feb 19)

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jul 04, 2014
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Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), Sunday 19 February 1928, page 14National Library of Australiahttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122808199
PHANTOMHORSE
CLIMBSTHROUGHA
WALL
TRAILOFDISASTER
The
road
to
theFederal
city
whichstretches
from
Goulburn
to
Queanbeyan,
is
a
fine
andnobleartery.
Sidetracks
off
this,
however,lead
toremote
andlittle-knownhamlets,which,nestling
under
themountains,
seem
toreck
little
ofmodernprogress,and
are
contenttobaskin
thegloriousIf
you
follow
one
ofthese
little
tracks,
alongwhichonly
one
vehicle
maypass
comfortably
at
the
came
time,youwill
come
to
Crosbie.Crosbie
israther
a
pretentious
oldetone
house
built
with
all
thesolidityof
the
last
century
and
convict
labor.It
is
after
theold
English
styleofarchitecture ?-solid,roomy
and
com
fortable.
JohnSmithers,the
originalowner,
thought
that
thespothehad
selected
on
his
arrival
in
Australia
looked
so
much
likehis
nativeKentthathe
set
aboutmaking
it
evenmore
so.
Tallpoplarsmake
a
shady
avenue.
Silverbirch.es,
stately
larches,
andelms
tosstheir
heads
at
thepenitentwillowswhichmarkthe
course
of
the
creeknotfar
fromthehouseandhawthornhedgesmark
off
little
pocket
bandkerchief
paddocks
until
theillusion
of
rural
England
is
complete.
John
imported
some
excellent
sheepfrom
England,
and
thesewaxed
fat
and
multiplied,
bringing,
ifnot
wealth,
atleast
a
comfortable
livingto
him
andhis
family
ofsix
sturdy
young
Aus
tralians.
Something
thatJohnbroughtfrom
England
thathewouldratherhave
left
behind,however,
was
the
curse
of
Crosbie.
Intheold
Englishhome
in
theKent
ish
hills,
from
whenceJohn
came,notto
have
a
familyghost
was
almost
as
great
a
social
faux
pas
as
eating
peas
with
a
knife.
TheSmithers
werea
branch
of
a
wealthyfamily,
who,
if
not
 county,
were
held
in
high
esteem
by
all.
The
curse
of
Crosbie
was
an
oldstandingsuperstitionthat
everysecond
or
thirdgeneration
would
be
visited
by
a
scriesof
violentdeaths.John sgrandfatherhadbeen
killed
John sgrandfatherhadbeen
killedin
the
hunting
field.
Hisbrother
was
shot
by
a
poacher,
and
several
relatives
had
fallen
underthe
curse
beforeSmithersdecided
to
seekhis
fortune
inAustralia.Arrived
here,he
took
up
land
_,
and
named
his
new
homeCrosbie,afterthe
old.
Heworkedhardandprospered
formanyyearsuntil
hethoughtoftheCrosbie
curseas
some
old
myth
which
madefine
talk
for
grandmothers
around
the
fire
of
a
wintry
night,
butthat
wasnil.
So
it
was
forgotten.The
returnof
thelong-forgotten
oc
curredin
a
sensational
manner.
During
theearlypart
ofthis
century,Smithers,findinghehadoutgrown
hisarea,
and
thinking,of
providingfor his
sons
anddaughters,
then
growin g
up,tookup
furtherlandadjoining
his
own
under
leasehold.
Laterheadded
still
furthertohis
holding,
andit
was
about
thistime
that
a
sensationalaccidentoccurred.John
wentto
Goulburn
on
businessconcerning
thisland.
Hoarranged
matters
with
the
Crownlandagent
verysatisfactorily,and
wasseen
in
Goulburn
by
friends,
whocongratulatedhim
on
Ms
luck.
That
was
the
lasttime
he
was
seen
alive.
Themembers
of
thefamily
at
Crosbie
were
seatedin
thebigdining-room
aftertea.
The
mother
was
sewing,
one
of
theolderboys
was
mending
a
gun,two
others
were
lolling
about
after
a
hardday swork.
They
were
expectingthefather
?
toarriveatanymoment.
Themeasured
canterof
a
horse
was
heard
drumming
softlyin
the
distance.
One
of
theboys
wentto
the
doortowelcomehisfather.
There
was
a
jingle
of
a
bridle,
thenthe
opening
and
closing
of
a
gate.
The
listeners
couldhearthecreak
as
thegate
swung
back
on
rustyhinges.Thehorse
was
urged
into
a
gentle
canter
again.
By
this
timethewholefamilyhadgathered
on
thewide
veran
dah.The
moonrose
clear
and
full
 
dah.The
moonrose
clear
and
full
over
the
tall
poplarswhichborderedthedrive
upto
thehouse,
and
a
horse,
coalblackand
fiery,
came
swinging
round
thebend
of
the
drive.Itsaccoutrementsglistenedlike
frosted
silver
inthemonolight,but
it
was
riderless.
Thewife
caught
herbreath
in
anguish.Therehadbeen
an
accident,
she
wassure.
The
youngstersstood
by,
nonplussed.The
horse
came
on,
still
at
the
same
pace,
right
uptothesteps,
and,neitherswerving
to
right
or
left,
seemed
toriseup
and
go
rightthroughthe
house.
Thinking
itwas
a
fright-mad-
^
denedanimal,thewatchers
ex
pected
tohear
a
terrificcrash,butthe
animalmade
never
a
sound.Awestruckanddumbfounded,they
listened,when
sharp
andclear
on
the
still
night
air
came
the
measured
beatof
a
canterinchorse
on
theotherside
ofthebuilding.
HEHADGONERIGHTTHROUGHTHEHOUSE.The
boy
whohadbeencleaningandreloading
his
riflewas
the
first
to
re
gain
his
senses.
He
rushedto
theback
of
thehouse
andfiredat
theblackbulk
of
a
retreat
inghorsewhich
was
cantering
measuredly
into
thedistance.
They
watched
it
spellbound,
and
sawit
disappearintothe
night.
Next
morning
the
dead
body
of
JohnSmithers
was
foundfive
milesalongtheroad.Hebadevidently
been
thrownheavily
fromhishorse,
butthere
wasno
sign
ofhis
horse
or
anything
thatwould
cause
an
accident
of
the
soit.
Thecorner sverdict
was
death
by
misadventure
but
Mrs.Smithers,who
went
back
to
Crosbie,
thought
differently.
The
taleof
whattheyhad
seen
made
such
improbable
tellinginthe
daytimethat
the
familymembers
even
beganto
think
that
they
must
havebeen
deluded
themselves
so
they
spoke
vciylittle
of
it
toanyone.
©
Themonthslengthenedinto
years,
andtheepisode
was
almostforgottenwhen
it
was
brought
back
into
memory
againwith
startlingsuddenness.
Onenightthe
eldest
boy
was
expected
toreturn
home.It
was
abouteight
o clockand
a
bright
moonlight
night.
Asthey
sat
waiting
softlyin
the
dis
Asthey
sat
waiting
softlyin
the
distance
came
the
drumming
ofhoofsalong
the
dusty
road.
There
was
thesound
of
a
gatebeingopened,
and
thenoise
of
it
swing
ingback
on
rustyhinges.A
little
later
came
the
soundsof
thehorsecantering
up
the
drive.
The
mothersprangto
her
feetinterror
Erictheboy
rode
a
motorbikeIn
factsince
hisfather s
death
hecouldnot
be
persuaded
togo
near
a
horse.
Themother
sprangto
her
feetand
with
a
scream,
ordered.thebig
oak
door
to
befastened.Oneoftheboyshurriedly
shot
home
thebolts
anddrewback
horror-stricken.
Thelong
blackform
 
of
a
horsestretched
outin
an
at
titudeofspeed
as
if
cantering
was
silhouettedagainstthe
wall,
and
passed
just
as
quickly.
There
wasan
awfulsilencefor
a
second
or
two,and
then
thesteadydrum
of
hoofbeatsreceding
into
thedistance.Thefamily
was
stupefied,and
were
onlyaroused
fromthis
lethargy
by
the
soundof
a
heavy
fall.
Theirmotherhad
fainted.
.
Nobody
slept
that
night.
The
morning
found
themwaiting
for
the
news
they
felt
was
bound
to
come.
It
came
at
breakfasttime.~The
eldest
boy
hadmet
with
an
accidentwhilstshearing
at
a
neighboring
station,and
haddiedduringthe
night.
Thetimeof
hisdeath
synchronisedwiththe
appearanceof
the
riderless
black
horse.
The
same
thing
happened
again
six
months
later.
jl1110
Liiixuliiuuyjyf
nuu-uuuuuiicu
the
door
againsttheghostlyhorse
was
thevictim.Mrs.Smithers
was
sit
ting
inthekitchen
at
dusk.Herdaughter
was
sent
intothe
din
ing
room
to
bring
out
a
recipe
book
thatshe
wantedto
examinewhen
a
piercingshriek
rent
the
air.
Shealmost
fell
intothe
kitchen Theblack
horse.I
have
seen
it,
she
screamedand
 
fainted
away.
The-
drumming
of
steadyhoofbeats
verified
her
words
as
her
motherpeered
terrified
through
the
duskat
an
animal s
figure
rapidlydissolving
inthedistance.That
nightGordondid
not
come
home.Aweek
of
franticsearchingfoundhim
deadin
a
gully,
where
he
had
fallenfrom
a
treein
endeavoring
toget
a
young
nativebear
forhis
youngest
sister.A
petshehadlong
desired.Ifyouturn
off
at
anarrow
little
 
Ifyouturn
off
at
anarrow
little
bridle
path
that
meets
theGoulburn
Queanbeyan
roadyouwill,
if
youfollow
the
narrow
wheel-tracked
path
ar
riveat
Crosbie
falling
swiftly
to
de-.
cay.
Therabbits
are
living
inthehawthornhedges,whichhave
grown
almostimpenetrable,andthe
stately
poplars
still
sigh
in
thewind
as
theydid
on
thenights
of
theghostlyvisi
tations.
ButtheSmithersfamily
are
livingin
another
state.
The
old
lady
is
dead,
and
onlythe
elder
onesstill
talkof
Crosbie
and
the
riderlesshorse,
coalblackand
fiery,
that
came
at
thegallop
when
deathanddesolation
came
into
aonce
happy
home.

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