Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Strange Murder of Hart Northey by William Thomas Stead 1908

The Strange Murder of Hart Northey by William Thomas Stead 1908

See also Warnings Of Peril And Death by William Thomas Stead 1921

"St. Eglos is situated about ten miles from the Atlantic, and not quite so far from the old market town of Trebodwina. Hart and George Northey were brothers, and from childhood their lives had been marked by the strongest brotherly affection. Hart and George Northey had never been separated from their birth until George became a sailor, Hart meantime joining his father in business. On the 8th of February, 1840, while George Northey's ship was lying in port at St. Helena, he had the following strange dream:

"'Last night I dreamt my brother was at Trebodwina Market, and that I was with him, quite close by his side, during the whole of the market transactions. Although I could see and hear everything which passed around me, I felt sure that it was not my bodily presence which thus accompanied him, but my shadow, or rather my spiritual presence, for he seemed quite unconscious that I was near him. I felt that my being thus present in this strange way betokened some hidden danger which he was destined to meet, and which I knew my presence could not avert, for I could not speak to warn him of his peril.'"

See also The Mystery, Interpretation & Psychology of Dreams - 60 Books on Cdrom

The brother having collected considerable money then started on his ride homeward. The story then continues:

"'My terror gradually increased as Hart approached the hamlet of Polkerrow, until I was in a perfect frenzy, frantically desirous, yet unable, to warn my brother in some way and prevent him going further. I suddenly became aware of two dark shadows thrown across the road. I felt my brother's hour had come, and I was powerless to aid him! Two men appeared, whom I instantly recognized as notorious poachers, who lived in a lonely wood near St. Eglos. The men wished him "Good-night," maister," civilly enough. He replied, and entered into conversation with them about some work he had promised them. After a few minutes they asked him for some money. The elder of the two brothers, who was standing near the horse's head, said, "Mr. Northey, we know you have just come from Trebodwina market with plenty of money in your pockets; we are desperate men, and you bean't going to leave this place until we've got that money, so hand over." My brother made no reply, except to slash at him with the whip and spur the horse at him.

"'The younger of the ruffians instantly drew a pistol and fired. Hart dropped lifeless from the saddle, and one of the villains held him by the throat with a grip of iron for some minutes, as though to make assurance doubly sure, and crush out any particle of life my poor brother might have left. The murderers secured the horse to a tree in the orchard, and, having rifled the corpse, they dragged it up the stream, concealing it under the overhanging banks of the water-course. They then carefully covered over all marks of blood on the road, and hid the pistol in the thatch of a disused hut close to the roadside; then, setting the horse free to gallop home alone, they decamped across the country to their own cottage.'

"The vessel left St. Helena next day, and reached Plymouth in due course. George Northey had, during the whole of the voyage home, never altered his conviction that Hart had been killed as he had dreamt, and that retribution was by his means to fall on the murderers."

The sequel shows that the murder was actually committed in precisely the manner in which it had appeared to the brother in the dream. The crime aroused universal horror and indignation, and every effort was made to discover the murderers and bring them to justice. Two brothers named Hightwood were suspected, and a search of their cottage revealed blood-stained garments, but no trace of the pistol was to be found, although the younger brother admitted having had one and lost it. The story continues:

"Both brothers were arrested and brought before the magistrates. The evidence against them was certainly not strong, but their manner seemed that of guilty men. They were ordered to take their trial at the forthcoming assizes at Trebodwina. They each confessed in the hope of saving their lives, and both were sentenced to be hanged. There was, however, some doubt about the pistol. Before the execution George Northey arrived from St. Helena, and declared that the pistol was in the thatch of the old cottage close by the place where they murdered Hart Northey, and where they hid it. 'How did you know?' he was asked. George Northey replied: 'I saw the foul deed committed in a dream I had the night of the murder, when at St. Helena.' A pistol was found, as George Northey had predicted, in the thatch of the ruined cottage."

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