Thursday, May 26, 2016

Murder Will Out by George Carter Stent 1878

MURDER WILL OUT by George Carter Stent 1878

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Not a long time ago there occurred in Peking
What most will pronounce a remarkable thing!
I'll relate it: for really it proves beyond doubt
The truth of the saying, that "murder will out."

After waiting all day without getting a fare,
A carter was going off home in despair,
When an old fellow hailed him, and bidding him wait,
Climbed into his cart near the Victory Gate.

"Please, Sir," asked the carter, "which way shall I drive?"
"To the south," cried the old man; "now, then, look alive!"
He did look alive, and 'twas pleasant to see
How cheerful the poor carter now seemed to be.

The old mule indulged in a long swinging trot,
But she suddenly stopped in a dark, lonely spot.
This the carter imputed to mischief or spite,
But the mule knew much better-'twas out of sheer fright.

"This is strange," said the man; "what the deuce is amiss?
The old mule has never before been like this."
Coaxing, swearing, and flogging, he each in turn tried;
But the mule stood, as if all her legs had been tied.

"You had better get out," cried the carter, much chafed.
His fare remained still, and no answer vouchsafed.
"Get out! Are ye deaf?"-here he turned round his head,
And perceived that the old man had fallen back-dead.

This, then, was the reason the mule wouldn't go:
Her instinct had told her a corpse was de trop.
For the very same reason for which the mule stopped,
The carter would gladly have run till he dropped.

In a cold perspiration and trembling with fear,
The carter remembered a watch-house was near.
He shouted aloud, till he made himself hoarse,
But the watch were asleep-as a matter of course.

The carter, himself, to the watch-house now ran,
And brought back two watchmen to guard the dead man,
While he hastened off and reported the case,
And conducted the magistrate back to the place.

The corpse was now placed by the side of the road;
And the mule, thus relieved from her horrible load,
Got over her fright and dashed off in a trot,
Growing bolder the farther she got from the spot.

The magistrate said, when he heard the man's tale,
He would go at the first break of dawn, without fail;
He was too busy now-besides, 'twas too late;
And as for the watchmen and corpse-they must wait.

The two men, meanwhile, sat there watching the dead,
And the time dragged its way slowly on;
It grew darker and darker; the clouds overhead
Portended a storm;-they were both filled with dread
What a long time the carter seemed gone!

The cold air of night struck a chill to their bones;
They trembled with cold and with fear;
The wind wailed a dirge, too, in sad plaintive tones,
And, in fancy, they heard quite a chorus of groans
From a graveyard, alas! much too near.

'Twas midnight; the body lay quiet and still;-
On the whole, that was "so far so good;"
His presence, alone made the two men feel chill,-
They shivered-they would have a fire, come what will;
So they went off to gather some wood.

They returned, made a fire with the wood they had found,
And sat in its warm, ruddy glare;
When one of the watchmen by chance looking round,
Gave a cry of dismay, and sprang up from the ground-
The corpse of the man wasn't there!

Yes, while they were busy in gathering sticks,
The corpse had been up to some outlandish tricks.
It had gone; and the watchmen were now in a fix!
   When the magistrate heard of the case,
Though they told him the truth, he'd declare 'twas a lie.
"I've got it!" quoth one; "suppose you and I
Steal a fresh-coffined corpse from the graveyard close by,
And substitute that in his place!"

Off they started at once, "for they'd no time to waste,-
Broke open a new-looking coffin in haste,
And took out the corpse, which they carefully placed
On the ground where the other had been.
This done, they sat down without saying a word,
Surprised and astonished at what had occurred;
There they sat by the fire then, and never once stirred,
Till the magistrate came on the scene.

 But, oh! who can picture the scene which took place,
When the magistrate bade them uncover the face-
At seeing a maiden scarce eighteen years old!
The sight made the blood of the stoutest run cold.

For round her white neck was a dark streak of blue-
A sign she'd been strangled; her arms were bruised too,
As if she had struggled but been overpowered
By one who was murderer, ruffian, and coward.

This horrible sight, it is needless to say,
Filled the two watchmen with dread and dismay,
And, thinking for once the bare truth would be best,
Each, without hesitation, soon made a clean breast.

His Worship, believing their tale to be true,
Conceived he had now got one end of a clue;
This he traced with such consummate skill, that at last
He knew, and had got, the girl's murderer fast.

It seems, the girl's father-his wife being dead-
Had recently taken it into his head
To purchase another, his old age to cheer-
Little dreaming his purchase would cost him so dear.

The person by whom his new wife had been sold
Was her husband-although the old man had been told
They were brother and sister, and, as such was the case,
No harm could ensue should he visit the place.

 He came at all hours, when the merchant was out;
Yet the old man was free from suspicion or doubt.
But not so the girl, she detected their plan,
And watched them, unheeding the risk that she ran.

Her father soon after left home for a week,
And the two now determined their vengeance to wreak
On her who had seen through their villainous schemes:
They strangled the girl, spite of struggles and screams.

All signs of the murderous deed were effaced,
And the corpse of the girl in a coffin was placed;
This was put in the graveyard, and now the vile pair
Feeling safe from suspicion, went home free from care.

On the father's return he was told by his wife
That his daughter had died of a fever then rife.
This the wife told with tears, and the father, though grieved,
The base woman's plausible story believed.

The murderers met with the fate they deserved;
They had strangled the girl-they themselves were thus served.
Thus strangely was brought a vile murder to light,
Through the trance of a man and a stubborn mule's fright.

 This story is done; it remains but to tell,
That the old fellow soon turned up, hearty and well;
He was subject to fits, and while in one of those,
The old mule had jibbed-hence the blunder arose.

While the watchmen were absent collecting the wood,
The old man had roused, and at once understood
That the carter had left him there, thinking him dead.
He knew better, and getting up, trudged home to bed.

The finger of Heaven we distinctly can trace
From beginning to end of this singular case;
Each actor and act, one can see, too, quite plain,'
Were but separate links in His wonderful chain.

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