Sitting, watching flies faint in the heat, I stared from the first floor veranda of the Miling Hotel; this office, my office. Being one of diminished cognitive ability, a lack of chlorine within the gene pool the apparent reason, although, I personally believe it is because Maw and Paw are related. I deduced that the tale I was to write today was, whilst told to me years ago, lacked certain specifics I either do not recall, or was not told of. Those being the exact date, and the exact number of those killed, however, I believe that I am within a decade of accurate; although the number of the dead I have included are probably many less than the actual amount murdered. I have used ‘eight’, yet I think that the true number is around 14.
“They’ve been in again!” she said. “the fourth time in as many months!”
“What have the bastard’s pinched this time, dear?”
“Manners maketh the man dear! Two tins of powdered milk, the remains of that tin of butter I had put aside, everything from the meat safe.” She said. “Oh, and a tin of kumquat jam Hazel gave me at the Picnic Races; I had been saving that. Do you think they are the same ones that have been spearing cattle?”
“Most likely dear. I’ll string up more barbed wire around the house, try and shoot a kangaroo for meat, and then try to figure out some other way to keep them out whenever we are away. I don’t want you home alone and exposed should someone with a spear come wandering by. Old Joe down the creek was speared a fortnight ago, and Brown’s dog was speared just after.”
February sun, hot and forceful, had warmed the tin on the roof of her scrub surrounded home; its ‘tinkling’ and ‘popping’ creating the most common of household noises. Her floor, dark and polished, was made from nearby ant hills her husband had dug out, transported, placed as footing and floor, then covered with sump oil. The effect it created was a mixture of hardened cement, and when swept and washed, gave an odd shimmering reflection during daylight, and a warm glow of the evening under the flickering light of a kerosene lamp. Mud and straw, the easiest of renders encapsulated her two room home, leaving only the eyes of glassless windows to break its drab monotony, hessian bag curtains flapping in the breeze of the afternoon. A tiny yard surrounded this, her home of two summers, yet little grew regardless of sweat and heartache. Without water, you only get dust. The only thing to have sprouted from the ground of her yard was that of a small headstone, a reminder to her of the seven months that had passed after the loss of their first and only child; a monument which stood alone in the shade of a now dead sapling, adding deeper despair to the sorry little picture of her 19 years of life. Sitting on the makeshift nuptial bed, upon a quilt she had made from rags and cut off linen, she wept and wept and wept; alone and lonely in her sorrow.
After a time, standing, she said “enough”, and walked from the bedroom to the kitchen come dining come lounge room. Slowly stoking the fire, Mrs. C. tried to conjure up the idea of a meal, yet on inspection of the pantry shelf once more, all she could find was three quarters of a tin of milk powder the locals had missed, and half a large jar of skull and cross bone labelled strychnine, the strong and lethal poison her husband used to bait wild dogs.
Head hanging, the roan Police horse was spent, blowing and puffing under the shade of her newly erected veranda. Muzzle sucking at the remains of water in a leaky trough, made from a dugout York Gum.
“Sorry for the intrusion Mrs. C.” said Senior Constable Q, doffing his hat in vague respect to a society that could not be further away from her small patch of hell. “No, I won’t come in, this is an official visit. Now Mrs. C, I am not aware if you have heard or not of the deaths of eight natives? They perished probably four or five days ago, and were discovered yesterday morning by Reverend P. He alerted me to this, and after number of enquiries, I need to know what type of powdered milk you use?”
“Mrs. C.” the circuit Magistrate said. “After finding you guilty of the crime of the murder of eight natives, names unknown, by strychnine poisoning. You did take it upon yourself to mix this poison into a tin of powdered milk, leaving it openly and obviously placed, with the full intention of it to be taken by apparent repeat intruders into your home, on the 29th, of February, this year, 1874. You are to be hanged by the neck until dead, this is your sentence. Good day.”
Impotently, her husband looked on in despair; a’swinging she did go.
The house was never ransacked again, and people still speak of her ghost, oft seen beside the grave of her child.
So, that said, Happy Friday, have a cracker of a weekend, and click the picture above, a wee bit of R,P,S. and ‘Lady Marmalade’ to start the weekend with.
All posts and associated media affiliate of ‘therebemonstershere.com’ remains ©The World Turned Upside Down.