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CHRISTMAS EVE WITH A BRIGAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 515, 22 December 1881, Supplement
CHRISTMAS EVE WITH A BRIGAND.
j ' A 1 True Tare. i? - \ A few years ago T was travelling through • a quiet Greek village ; called Kadekem, which is situated on the Asiatic shore of the Sea of Marmora, and as I intended visiting an old friend" of “mine, who had bken for some years a resident in the npwHwlV/Wl °f. v |l^?v,. l d t J?Wh'|is;T cduld do no hotter than spend liiy Christ-;, mas with him. After some little inquiry, I found that my friend’s house was about four miles from the.village, and this distance I determined to walk on Christmas Eve—the same evening, in fact, that I arrived in thh neighborhood. 1 I startrrV'off oh my •journey full of the pleasurable anticipations of meeting once more,ipy dpar old friend and his family., ancl having a good chat over old times. Little did I know, however, what was in stbre for me that same night, or that I should have been the means of doing my friend such a service as it ultimately turned out. So op after. XjtP.Wfedni thg clfiufis; begftn tq (! apd I, could sp^,.thaji,,^e ( ,jWpatjiqr. had; hepli fine,hitherto, 1 Was,, going to a change. I soon reached the place where ! intended passing, as I thought, such a pleasant evening, and truly a most hearty welcome was given me. It was not long, I can assure you, befoye I was comfortably seated round the fire, after having partaken of a capital supper, which I duly appreciated after my four mile walk. We had been chatting for about an hour whenwe heard the heavy hail and rain beating against the windows,, .and the wind howling terrifically‘outside.- - Once or twice we thought we heard someone knocking at the front door, but owing to the noise of the wind and hail, we took very little notice. At last my friend jumped up out of his chair, and said he was sure someone was knocking at the door. With this he at bnce proceeded to the door and opened
it, and to our surprise we found tfia there really was someone there. For some little time my friend was unab’e to make out who the nocturnal visitor was, or consisted of, or intended to represent. Almost hent with age, clothed in a most scanty style, and with filthy rags, stood, apparently, a wretched woman, who, in a most pitiable manner, begged for some food and shelter for the night. My friend seemed greatly surprised, and hesitated for some time at the propriety of giving either food or shelter to such an object, and at such a time of night—but as he possessed an English heart, and remembering.the joyful season of the year, he, with the spirit of. the good Samaritan, overcame any natural suspicions he may have felt, and determined to afford her shelter for the night.
The wife of rny friend and myself agreed to the admittance of the wanderer, and she was sent into the kitchen, where, it is almost needless to state, every comfort was shown her, and abundance of food and drink served out to her. I caught a glimpse of the creature’s expression just before she passed into the kitchen, and strange forebodings came over me as to the propriety of her being allowed to stop the night. During the conversation which ensued during the remainder of the evening, I mentioned the fact of my having noticed something very strange about the visitor’s, countenance. My friend then went out for the purpose of seeing that the woman, who complained so greatly of the fatigue, etc., was led to her bed. The room she was to occupy was on the third floor of the house and was empty, but a capital “ shake down ’ was provided for her on the floor.
After ta'king about old times, old friends, and the vicissitudes and changes in life which had come over my friend since last we met, and, having spent an extremely pleasant evening, we retired for rest, with the full intention of rising the following morning full of joy and that glorious feeling which a Christmas always calls forth during the life of an Englishman. I suppose that I had hardly lain on the bed more than twenty minutes or so before 1 found myself still awake and feeling very uncomfortable and uneasy. I fancied that for some reason or other the visitor should not have been allowed to enter my friend’s house. I imagined all sorts of things and I could get no rest at all. I could stand it no longer, and I determined that, come what might, 1 should go at once and find out the room where the woman was put.
It was about half-past twelve at night when I crept silently out of my room and made my way to the room where I had seen my friend order her into, and where the “ shake 'down ” was made. Very cautiously I stepped up to her door, I can assure you, but more than once during the short time which had elapsed, had I thought in my own mind that 1 was acting very foolishly indeed. What business was it of mine to interfere with my friend’s visitor, even if I had bad any unpleasant thoughts ? Still, the determination to see whether the room was safe from fire, or the fact of the visitor being still in her room made me in earnest. As soon as I went to the door of the room I noticed that the key was on the outside, and my first impulse was turn it and lock the door. I did so, and pulled the key out, and directly this was done my suspicions were at once aroused by a slight commotion which was made in the room, and a bright light, which streamed out of the keyhole, into the dark passage. Here then was a dual assurance that the mysterious anxiety, .which hung over me the whole evening had somehow or other the power of making me try to find out its cause. If ever I felt uncomfortable it was just then. I peeped through the key-hole, and there I saw our visitor standing ready clad, but certainly not in the same garments that she was introduced to my friend. Yes, sure enough, on one side were the veritable rags in which the creature came in, hut in her place stood a powerful Circassian, and armed to the teeth. The rags were evidently the sole relics of the pitiable hag that my friend had rpscurrl from the elements, but beside them' stood a far different species of humanity, whose tall brawny figure was exactly the reverse of what I had anticipated. There he stood, iu full dress, his leathern belt stuck full of pistols, while—honor !—he tried on his thumb the edge of a “ cama,” or long curved dagger. This was certainly far from pleasing, and I began to consider what kind of Christmas I should probably have enjoyed had this ruffian effected his errand of murder, for which, apparently, he came well prepared. Apparently satisfied with his “ cama,” and glancing at his equipment, he took two or three paces toward the door. From this point I could see the whole of his face, which plainly denoted the vidian'in every sense of the word. My first inclination was to shout out to my friend to como up and help to take -him l prisoner, but I thought tin’s would only‘show him 'that we were - frightened, apd'WWild have‘probably enabled him to rdsh otifiand tnurder us before we were ready. I determined to creep downstairs aoain to my own room, and try my revolver, which T always carry whilst travelling, and endeavor to awaken mj ’friend without any noise, if possible. This I soon did, and on considering the matter over in a very few hurried whispers with him, we decided that he should go to the nearest corps de gard for policemen, as from my description he cobid plainly see what kind of a customer wp had to deal with. A few minutes after mv friend left the house on this (brand I heard unmistakeable sounds from the direction of the visitor’s room, as if he were trying to force the door. I did not wait long, for presently the door opened with a hang, and out came our soi desant hag, without, apparently, a little regard for man, as if he was the possessor of the house and its contents already. I immediately took up my position at the foot of the stairs and waited, revolver in handj having safely locked the door of my friend’s Yoom, so that his wife and children would not he attacked without some little delay. In heavy marching order came this hold Circassian, his firm rapid footsteps bespoke determination, until within twelve feet ox where I was standing. I then thought that I should make my presence known to him, and prepared myself to see him attempt to retreat when ho found he was watched in his movements. “Stop!” I cried, “Go hack to your room.” The cool fellow never moved until he had taken a pistol from his belt, and had fired it in the direction he thought he had heard the j sound from Directly I had called out to him I knelt down on the ground, and
i fortunate it was that I had done so in time, for the bullet whizzed past my head as it was. X stood up and fired four shots in succession, and directly a solid lump of humanity rolled senseless to the bottom of the stairs, without so much as a word or a groan. Directly the five shots wore fired, a man rushed into the hall, and as I was extremely excited I could think of nothing but burglars, and I immediately let fly another chamber of my revolver at the intruder. The unfortunate individual I found out afterwards, was hit in the leg, hut as it was only a flesh wound he soon recovered. The yells he made were remarkable, and never shall I forget the poor fellow’s fright. Just as the servant disappeared, my friend arrived with about six policemen, but, as usual, they came of course when it was all over, as we expected. The police then searched the ruffiian whom I had shot, and we found that he was only severely wounded, but not fatally. He was then bound up and carried out on the lawn in front of the house. During the search a number of infamous-looking articles were found upon the insensible burglar, and the police, “as if with manner bred,” never forgot his pockets, which, on being turned out, revelled a very simple little tin whistle, innocentlooking, no doubt. I took it up and blew a shrill whistl. Immediately this was done four similarly-dressed ruffians rushed out of the shubbery near at hand, and fell into the hands of the police, who quickly bound and handcuffed their prisoners. v The four ruffians had evidently been misled by the whistle, as they appeared utterly helpless directly they saw their position,.and it was no very difficult matter to secure them, and ultimately they were carried off to the corps de garde, where summary justice was dealt out to the ruffians. ■
As may be expo ted, I did not feel very comfortable the whole of the Christmas day in my friend’s house, but I felt thankful that I had come upon the scene in time to be of some service, and never shall I" forget the events of that Christmas Eve on the Continent, and the encounter with my hrst and last, I hope, of I ’rigands.
CHRISTMAS EVE WITH A BRIGAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 515, 22 December 1881, Supplement
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