Now, this tale, is one of hearsay, rather than personal experience, occurring in New Norcia; exactly when it happened, who was there, even the location of the household specific to the incident are unknown to me. My guess would be that this happened between 1920 and 1950.
Most importantly, if any of the terminology below causes offense, I am truly sorry. However, I am relaying the story as it was told to me, read on.
On a “truly wild night”, surrounding the kitchen table, “a family of natives were playing cards”. Much laughter and merriment was had, and as the night wore on, the storm getting fiercer and fiercer all the while, the children of the house started to come inside from their play around their home.
Sometime after the last child made it inside, a bang at the door, louder than the wind blowing around it, shocked the family into silence. Not sure if it was merely a noise of the night, or if it were a visitor at the door. Slowly rising, the man of the house approached the door; stretching his gnarled and wisened hand to the handle, an enormous banging happened once more. In fright the man’s dark feet left the swept dirt floor, and the hushed silence deepened within.
Who would be out on a night like this?
Swallowing any fear he may have held, the large man opened the door, to find a tall, long coat wearing, and thoroughly drenched stranger standing there before him. Beckoning him in, the stranger followed, and oddly did not utter a word, yet, by appearance at least, happily joined the table, and the card game recommenced.
Children, being what children are, were still slinking around, doing the best to pretend they were under no circumstance tired, and playing quietly amongst themselves. One child, “the little mite was probably about bloody four” years of age took it to crawl around on the floor, again in the manner of children the world over, and decided that it could hear the grown ups at the table, and have the perfect hiding place beneath it. The child, squeezing between chair legs, as well as legs of the barefoot variety, and finally made it into the darkness the table provided.
A minute or so passed, and the child under the table “let out an almighty bloody scream!”, banged its head beneath the table, making all effort to escape its confine with all speed possible. “The pickaninny moved like a bat out of hell!” Causing an upset of cards on the table, the adults revelry was brought abruptly to a halt. The child told to “bloody well settle down!” which the child did not.
At exactly the same moment as the little one was being silenced, the tall stranger, long coat still on him, pushed his chair back from the table and the game. Not uttering a word, he turned to the door, and let himself out into the raging storm and the night.
Believing the man’s sudden departure was in direct response to the behaviour of the noisy bairn the child was admonished further. When asked “what the hell was that bloody racket about anyway?!”, the child said, “the man had hairy goat legs, and goat feet.”
“Well, you could have heard a bloody pin drop and a mouse sneeze…..”, the wind continued to howl, and the kerosine lamp over the table guttered and fluttered. Had the devil just dropped in for a visit?
As always, I have hidden something within the small picture of the girl with the candle. Click on it to dig it out.
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