A Ghostly Avenger





In Cuthbert, Georgia, is a gravestone thus inscribed: Sacred to the

memory of Jim Brown. No date, no epitaph--for Jim Brown was hanged. And

this is the story: At the close of the Civil War a company of Federal

soldiers was stationed in Cuthbert, to enforce order pending the return

of its people to peaceful occupations. Charles Murphy was a lieutenant in

this company. His brother, an officer quartered in a neighboring town,

was sent to Cuthbert one day to receive funds for the payment of some

men, and left camp toward evening to return to his troop. That night

Charles Murphy was awakened by a violent flapping of his tent. It sounded

as though a gale was coming, but when he arose to make sure that the pegs

and poles of his canvas house were secure, the noise ceased, and he was

surprised to find that the air was clear and still. On returning to bed

the flapping began again, and this time he dressed himself and went out

to make a more careful examination. In the shadow of a tree a man stood

beckoning. It was his brother, who, in a low, grave voice, told him that

he was in trouble, and asked him to follow where he should lead him. The

lieutenant walked swiftly through fields and woods for some miles with

his relative--he had at once applied for and received a leave of absence

for a few hours--and they descended together a slope to the edge of a

swamp, where he stumbled against something. Looking down at the object on

which he had tripped, he saw that it was his brother's corpse--not newly

dead, but cold and rigid--the pockets rifled, the clothing soaked with

mire and blood.



Dazed and terrified, he returned to camp, roused some of his men, and at

daybreak secured the body. An effort to gain a clue to the murderer was

at once set on foot. It was not long before evidence was secured that led

to the arrest of Jim Brown, and there was a hint that his responsibility

for the crime was revealed through the same supernatural agency that had

apprised Lieutenant Murphy of his bereavement. Brown was an ignorant farm

laborer, who had conceived that it was right to kill Yankees, and whose

cupidity had been excited by learning that the officer had money

concealed about him. He had offered, for a trifling sum, to take his

victim by a short cut to his camp, but led him to the swamp instead,

where he had shot him through the heart. On the culprit's arrival in

Cuthbert he was lynched by the soldiers, but was cut down by their

commander before life was extinct, and was formally and conclusively

hanged in the next week, after trial and conviction.





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