Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), Thursday 31 January 1946, page 18


A strange experience recalls tragedy of many years ago


by A.

at the Crossroads



old Goldflelds-road
sinuous silver


the sandplain, taking the line of least resistance as all bush tracks do, until it merged of into the moonlight and shadow the timber. Some 50 oàj. years ago this was the highway to the Golden Mile and the grains of sand on its surface matched are by the grains of treasure from the "crock of found at the end of gold" Hannan his rainbow.


meditative cigarette as the crossroad in the shadow On the of a great acacia. track, side just of the where other a clump of mallee fringed the sandplain, a bare patch of ground sparkled frostily in the moonlight. There is a legend in the district that this particular spot is haunted by the ghosts of the victims of a murder perpetrated about five decades the eyes of the world were ago when on Coolgardie and a polyglot mob of adventurers from the five continents blazed this trail in search of fortune. A young couple, returning from the fields, were held up and killed apparently for the sake of the fine buckboard ¿ind pair they drove. The murderer, an eminent sheep

I smoked I stood by

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tive of the I smiled stition. A

at the hands dead girl. I recalled the superas trifle a ghost seemed its out of element in a young, mathister-of-fact community, whose tory began in the colourless Victorian era, and whose folklore is ready made and by the tales of Grimm Hans I conjured up the Andersen. in cigarette smoke murderer as I had his description an from old shearer. A squat powerful body surmounted by a face, which, though nondescript enough, became hideous in profile for its left iratures were


a death of a rela-

eliminated by a scar ning through eye to jawbone.
As of



I meditated I heard the sound hoof beats ringing on the frost bound track like hammer blows on anvil. an A horseman topped the rise half a mile away, riding hell for leather into the winter moonlight. As he approached he pulled his steed, a broken-winded grey with sides foam into covered, the scrub him and I heard crashing through the mallee. This noise soon ceased and he re-appeared below, walking up the track with a kit across his His shoulders. large black hat hid his face but every motion of his body expressed feverish haste and, though I was impelled to call out to him, for some reason

I refrained. He Went straight across to the bare patch of sand by the mallee and, taking a sharp pointed spade from his bluey, began to dig as though his very life depended

the superstition recalled conlocality the and I don't cerning mind flesh began to admitting that my the man's What was creep. purpose I could not make out, but he apto be a shallow peared digging 6ft, trench long. some Then, as I once I more heard the watched, sound of hoof beats from far across the plain and, in the clear night air, voices and occasional whip an crack. The digger heard also for and ran he ceased his work out to the edge of the scrub where he I
a wax flowering like the track a watching and buckboard as a hawk pair appeared on the crest and came down the slope with brake shoes screaming. Just as the driver was preparing to let his rein« slacken at




figure bottom, the crouching at the horses' heads and sprang into slewed them across the road a stunted gimlet gum, whilst the wheels of the vehicle scraped sidethe gravel surface, strikon ways fire ing from the iron tyres. Then the outfit overturned, throwing its two occupants clear. The aggressor, working like lightning, had the frightened horses out




^STORYÄ ^^^^^^^

a of the traces and haltered to He dashed tree in a second. round the buckboard. The driver, a fair haired young chap, was standing over a huddled figure on the road-




poured through


fingers as he held his hands to his forehead and he swayed on his feet. is it?" "Your gold; where The
digger's voice

harshly insistent.
the other
is all


gold," answered


in the

and he moved aside pointing to the figure at his feet. girl's face, beautiful It was in a in death, that was revealed, framed of hair rippling on a glorious mass It was the gravel. a wonderful red gold-the dream colour of the Arain the deceiving bian Nights-even

gold 1 have,"

it was the digger's Then I saw face for the first time. His hat was off and of the rolling the beams moon revealed an ugly countenance which became hideous as he turned his head, for the left features were practically eliminated by a scar running through eye to jawbone. In his he carried a pistol of right hand ancient he levelled, pattern which at the youth facing him. I Now understood for the digthe reason ger's preparation. The shallow trench was a grave, and here, before my very eyes, the legendary of the crossroads was to tragedy be re-enacted. Events, had been so

swift that I had rooted remained to the spot with surprise and fear. levelled man As the with the scar I shook off his ugly weapon my and lethargy forward with sprang yell which a mingled with the roar pistol. of the was a There snort of equine fear as my horse pulled the bridie rein around back on my I stopped with arm and jerk. a The old Goldfields road lay like silver serpent across a sinuous the

sandplain with




stantial on its bosom than a shadow. On the other side of the track, just where a clump of mallee fringed




bare digger

in and

sparkled ground the moonlight-but
were was


of the his



I shivered, pergone. the cold, and turned to

quieten with

my rolling terror.


whose flanks




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